A Midtown East restaurant forced to close its doors in 2008 due to a deadly crane collapse has found a new home and a new life. Zagat editor James Mulcahy filed the following report on the new and improved Crave Fishbar.
A remarkable restaurant comeback story has taken place in Midtown East. In March 2008, a devastating crane collapse on East 51st Street destroyed a number of buildings, including the one that housed the recently opened Crave Ceviche Bar.
Owner Brian Owens and his team were left shocked, and unable to salvage the space.
"Our space, I would say half of it was completely destroyed. The other half we weren't allowed back into because it was condemned," says Owens.
Though they originally planned to launch a new location within nine months, red tape surrounding the accident caused delays and team members went their separate ways.
Owens was left frustrated by the process, explaining, "We tried to regroup and get back open, but we realized our landlord wasn't looking for us to reopen. I always say you start making money the day you sign your lease, and there are plenty of landlords willing to sign good leases out there, just not good leases."
Despite these frustrations, Owens eventually found a new storefront, reuniting the team and finally opening over four years later.
Chef Todd Mitgang has expanded the concept, featuring a seafood-centric menu that offers more than the original ceviche.
"Across the street, when we opened that, it was a very unique concept at the time," says Mitgang. "Now, four or five years later, I've had the opportunity to open up some other restaurants, and I kind of felt like I wanted an environment where we had no limitations."
Now dubbed "Crave Fishbar," the new restaurant is directly across the street from the site of the accident. The operators are happy to be back in the neighborhood, and based on the reception since the opening, the feeling is mutual among area diners.
Owens is glad to see some familiar faces, saying, "I'm really amazed about how many old customer still live here, still remember us, and have been really supportive about our opening. It's a real story for people who live around here. It really touched a lot of peoples lives and impacted peoples' businesses. I must tell that story five times a night, at least."
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