Earlier today, I reported that the July Community Board 1 agendas include a liquor-license application for the former Cercle Rouge at 241 W. Broadway; the name attached to it is Sean Cunningham, who has a pub in the Meatpacking District called the Brass Monkey. Cunningham called just now to clarify that while he is indeed an investor in the project, it’s not his baby. Instead, the restaurant will be helmed by Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr, who gained notoriety working for Keith McNally. As Eater reported in 2013, when they left McNally’s operation, the two chefs “opened the seminal Balthazar with McNally in 1997, setting off a string of collaborative hits across downtown Manhattan in the 16 years that followed. In addition to running the kitchen and maintaining standards at Balthazar, Hanson and Nasr served as co-executive-chefs of Pastis, Schiller’s Liquor Bar, and most recently, Minetta Tavern.” Last we had heard about them around here, they were mulling the former Capsouto Frères, which of course ended up becoming China Blue.
Cunningham said the new place will definitely be more of a restaurant than a bar. We’ll learn all of the details on July 13. Given that the hours on the application are 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., the restaurant appears to be positioning itself as a worthy competitor to McNally’s all-day Augustine at the Beekman hotel.