Nearly 18 months ago we first reported the exciting news that Vendy Award-winning Calexico would be taking over Blue Ribbon Sushi's spot on 5th Avenue between Garfield and 1st. Since then, we've been waiting...and waiting...and waiting. According to co-owner, Peter Oleyer, a perfect storm of bureaucratic/permit issues, staffing issues, and generally just living and learning caused the hold-up, but the good news is that they are optimistically shooting to open in early January 2014.
Peter has lived in the Slope for 8 years, and while he doesn't have kids himself (Baller!), he has wanted to open a restaurant on 5th Avenue for a while, so he and his partners jumped at the chance to snag that space, even though losing Blue Ribbon Sushi was bittersweet, since it was his go-to spot for a special occasion dinner in the neighborhood.
A little history on the Calexico empire: Peter co-owns the restaurant with three bothers from Southern California. They started with one cart on Prince and Wooster in 2006, won the Vendy Award in 2008, and by 2009 they had two more carts and the taqueria in Red Hook.* In 2011, they opened their first full service restaurant and bar in Greenpoint, and earlier this year they opened another on Rivington on the Lower East Side.
The Park Slope location will be most similar to Greenpoint, with a few twists. Peter walked me through the space earlier this week, and they haven't changed the layout much. There will be an entry area dedicated to takeout and delivery, with some counter space and stools where you can wait for your food or for your table in the main dining room. The dining room itself will have larger windows at the front, which will open in good weather. There will be a large bar, with an expanded liquor menu and lots of craft beers on tap (natch). There will definitely be items for kids, though they are still deciding whether or not to have a formal kids menu, but they know there are a ton of families in the neighborhood and all will be welcome. For the first time in one of their venues, there will be a baby changing station in the bathroom.
On weekends, there will be drink specials and some brunch items, in addition to the regular full menu. Funny story: Peter says that the one time he almost "broke" Calexico was when he tried to do a brunch only menu on weekends in Greenpoint. People were literally walking out the door when they couldn't get their tacos! They will stay open later on Fridays and Saturdays, but being "flanked by the godfathers of late-night food -- Blue Ribbon -- and Pork Slope," they will see how much they want to stretch it.
So, there you have it. January 2014. Tacos, burritos, margaritas. Can't wait!
* Okay, fine, the Columbia Street Waterfront. Whatevs.