Levine & Shah Battle Over Sons of Essex, ‘Bodega

Matt Levine outside Sons of Essex.

Matt Levine outside Sons of Essex.

Yesterday, nightlife operator Matt Levine told Eater that one of his establishments, Cocktail Bodega at 205 Chrystie St., would be closed for an extended period due to “building issues,” which he said were related to plumbing problems.  Then a few hours later, Eater posted an update, including a statement from a rep for Levine’s partner, Michael Shah.

“IndieFork Hospitality has parted ways with Matt Levine effective immediately,” the statement read. “We are grateful for all Matt has done for us, and wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors.”  The company also operates Sons of Essex, which the duo opened at 133 Essex St. in 2011.  The plan is, apparently, to reopen Cocktail Bodega “with a brand new concept.”

My LES: Matt Levine


For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked recently with Matt Levine of the celebrity hot spot Sons of Essex. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.

What do you do?

I wear many different hats (and I purchased them all on Orchard Street. Haha, kidding). Hospitality and operations are my passions. I co-own Cocktail Bodega and Sons of Essex with my business partner, Michael Shah. (I guess you can say I am a restaurateur.) I also own a branding, marketing and special events company based out of the LES, Brandsway Creative, with my business partner there, Kelly Brady.

New Restaurant, “Sons of Essex,” Begins Hiring Saturday

Wanna work at “Sons of Essex,” the soon-to-open successor to Mason Dixon?  There’s an open call for all positions Saturday afternoon.  The interviews will take place from 2-4 p.m. at the restaurant, 133 Essex Street.  By the way, the wood shed has come down, revealing a new facade.  Still to come: more painting and other finishing touches. Owner Matt Levine (previously of The Eldridge) has been pretty secretive about the chef, menu, etc. In appearances before Community Board 3 earlier this year, he said the restaurant would serve “New American” cuisine, paying homage to the neighborhood’s immigrant roots.  Stay tuned!

Essex Street Mural Part of Global, Participatory Project

You’ve probably noticed the new wheat-paste mural adorning the facade of 133 Essex Street, formerly the home of the rowdy (and defunct) bar, Mason Dixon. It’s the work of the semi-anonymous street artist JR, who’s the recipient of the prestigious 2011 TED Prize.

The image is part of Inside Out, JR’s ambitious international project meant to “transform messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work.” In the past few days, JR uploaded a trailer to YouTube explaining what Inside Out is all about:

CB3 Approves New Joint in Mason Dixon Space

At last night’s Community Board 3 meeting, there was more drama surrounding Mason Dixon, the always controversial-now defunct bar at 133 Essex Street. In the end, the board voted (31-3, with 1 abstention) to approve nightlife operator Matt Levine’s proposal to take over the troubled spot.

Now the State Liquor Authority must decide whether to grant a liquor license for a still-to-be named restaurant.  Residents living in the apartments above Mason Dixon, who are suing current owner Rob Shamlian, strongly objected to the new establishment’s proposed 4 a.m. closing time.

Last night’s debate was similar to the discussion that took place during an SLA Committee hearing earlier in the month. We won’t rehash the whole Mason Dixon saga here (you can read our previous coverage for background).

There were, however, some new wrinkles during the full board meeting. At one point, David McWater, a CB3 member and bar owner, rose to his feet in an angry confrontation with members of 133 Essex’s board of directors.  The question at hand: did residents who bought apartments know beforehand that there was going to be a bar featuring a mechanical bull on the ground floor of their building?  The residents said “no.”  Raising his voice and speaking over condo board president Wesley Gaus, McWater asked, “did you find out before or after” purchasing an apartment?  Although his explanation was mostly drowned out, Gaus said he and other residents had not been aware of the bar until it was too late to do anything about it.

Food Wire: Xi’an Famous Foods, Pulino’s, Hotel on Rivington

Xi'an Famous Foods. Photo credit: Village Voice.

In Lower East Side food news:

  • Xi’an Famous Foods is about to open a second location next to the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard Street.
  • Eater reports the Hotel on Rivington has “inked a deal with corporate food provider Chef and Company… the new partnership, (hopes) to piggyback off the success of Beauty and Essex, (by) converting Matt Levine’s former Levant East area into a restaurant focused on small plates and sharing.”  CV, the hotel’s small nightlife venue, “will turn into a tequila bar, including a taco stand.”

Matt Levine Hopes to Take Over Mason Dixon Space

Mason Dixon, 133 Essex Street.

We’re sweating it out tonight at Community Board 3’s dreaded SLA Committee meeting. The below-Houston main event so far: a proposal from nightlife operator Matt Levine to take over the shuttered Mason Dixon space at 133 Essex Street.

Armed with a temporary restraining order, the 7th Precinct put a stop to the beer soaked mechanical bull antics at Mason Dixon last Friday evening (we understand the two sides are due in court tomorrow).

Summer Sunday Afternoon Drinks with a View – and a Soak?

Grub Street reports that the penthouse suite in the Hotel on Rivington will be opening its doors to the public this summer and using its hot-tub rooftop as a bar:

20090513_rooftop_146x97 Matt Levine’s project in the Hotel on Rivington, called LEVANTeast (your guess is as good as ours). Here’s the interesting part: It’s in the penthouse suite, where the rooftop hot tub is located. Normally this has been used for private parties, but a hotel receptionist tells us that starting next month, it’ll be open as a bar during summer Sundays from 1 p.m. till 9 p.m.

Not a bad spot for a drink with a great view and maybe a dip?

Read more here.