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Celeb Chef Opening Eatery in Former Son Cubano Space After Earlier Denial

By Maya Rajamani | August 10, 2017 3:50pm
 The former Son Cubano space at 544 W. 27th St., between 10th and 11th avenues.
The former Son Cubano space at 544 W. 27th St., between 10th and 11th avenues.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

CHELSEA — A celebrity chef whose original plan to open a pair of eateries on Seventh Avenue was shot down by locals upset over the space's previous restaurant has picked another site for her venture.

Kristin Sollenne — who has appeared as a judge on the Food Network show “Beat Bobby Flay” and is starring in a new Health & Wellness Channel show this fall — plans to open a “Mediterranean-inspired” restaurant at 544 W. 27th St. between 10th and 11th avenues, her attorney told Community Board 4’s Business Licenses and Permits committee Tuesday.

The space was previously occupied by Cuban eatery Son Cubano.


Fun morning on set with the one and only @bobbyflay @foodnetwork #chef #yum #delish #cooking #fun #beatbobbyflay #italian

A post shared by Kristin Sollenne (@kristinsollenne) on

Sollenne had previously hoped to secure a liquor license for the space formerly occupied by complaint-plagued Italian eatery Il Bastardo, but faced fierce opposition from neighbors who said they didn’t want to see another boozy venue move in after years of dealing with late-night parties and drunken patrons there.

Neighbors had also expressed concerns about her husband’s past business connection with Il Bastardo’s owner, but Sollenne on Tuesday assured the committee the new eatery would have “no association with that.”

“[I] don’t want to revisit that,” she said of the tense meeting last month.

The new eatery would seat around 270 patrons and serve lunch and dinner seven days a week, attorney Martin Mehler said.

The restaurant would stay open until 2 a.m. each night and host the occasional private event, added Sollenne, who up until recently was the culinary director for all three Bocca di Bacco locations.

While a few committee members initially expressed concerns about the late closing time, co-chair Frank Holozubiec noted that around 400 people leave the theatrical performance Sleep No More at the nearby McKittrick Hotel around 10:30 or 11 p.m. after its curtains close.

“You probably don’t want [the restaurant] also closing at the same time,” he said.

None of the residents who protested the chef’s previous plans attended the meeting to oppose her new application, and the committee ultimately approved it.

“She heard loud and clear last month that what she was trying to do was the wrong place,” Holozubiec said. “So rather than push forward with that, they’ve gone to a more suitable neighborhood.”