TCQ&A: Walt Chefitz

The rules: Answer as many of the 47 questions as you like (but a minimum of 15, and you must answer #1–4). Please limit most answers to the general geographic area.

1. How long have you lived in the area? Where did you move from? Where are you originally from? I grew up in Miami. I moved to Tribeca eight years ago from Los Angeles. I spent seven years there, first developing software and then launching a start-up of my own. I discovered that software was not my passion. I found my passion at night school—metalsmithing and designing jewelry. With a small portfolio and several interviews I landed a job in Tribeca working for David Yurman. David’s office is on Vestry Street. I found a home within walking distance, closed my software company and moved across the country to start a new career.

2. Married? Partnered? If so, what’s his/her name and occupation? My girlfriend, Adena, is a tropical fruit farmer, chef and has a stand at a farmer’s market in Miami every weekend. This means I am traveling a lot, but always have a substantial supply of sapodilla, canistel, mamay, and sweetheart lychees—whatever might be in season.

3. Kids? Pets? None, yet.

4. Where do you live? I live on Murray, between Church and West Broadway.

5. What do you do for a living? I’m a jewelry designer and entrepreneur. I launched my own jewelry line last year named for my grandfather, Walt Adler. [Left: A Walt Adler dome ring.]

6. Most-frequented restaurants: I usually have three or four in rotation. Right now Tiny’s has the best kale salad and meatballs. Blaue Gans serves the fastest dinner in the hood—seriously fast: time them. I love everything at Tamarind—I prefer to sit at the bar, so it feel less like a hotel lobby, and let them order for you. The gefilte fish at Kutsher’s is kick ass—ask for some extra horseradish. The burger at Smith & Mills is decadent and great late night. I still miss Bouley Upstairs almost every day. It was my neighborhood Cheers.

7. For special occasions, I go to: The big Bouley. There simply isn’t any competition. Their attention to detail is beyond ordinary. Go for lunch, it’s the best deal in town and can easily go over three hours. Don’t schedule anything else for the rest of the day.

8. The best deal around: The smoked fish [right] from the Blue Moon Fish stand at the Saturday farmer’s market. For a couple bucks you get an amazing breakfast.

9. Best sandwich: Does open face count? The tomato and egg bruschetta at Terroir is to die for. The bread is crispy, but you can still cut it. The egg whites are mixed into the tomatoes creating a tartare-like texture and the yolk makes it rich and creamy. That and a hoppy beer will suffice for dinner many nights.

10. Sweet-tooth satisfaction: …a chocolate malted shake at the Cosmopolitan Café. By the way, there’s a secret back room and they serve wine.

11. Most delicious cocktail: The Bourbon Bramble at Weather Up is perfection. They have the best ice in the neighborhood. I call it a bourbon snow cone. It’s the only drink that can last a good 30 minutes getting better as the ice gets slushy and the blackberries disintegrate. I don’t think it’s on the menu.

12. I usually order in from               , and I always order the                 .   I rarely order in, unless I’m sick—and then it’s the best pho I can find.

13. I can’t resist popping into: Kaffe 1668 in the mornings for a coffee.

14. The last non-essential item I bought: a red watch band.

15. When I walk into my apartment, the first thing I see that I bought around here is: A purple Dyson vacuum cleaner. Well, I actually didn’t buy it. I found on trash day in front of my building. It was missing a piece which Dyson sent me for free. People throw out some amazing things in the neighborhood.

16. I’m so glad good friends live in the neighborhood, because without them I’d have to leave Tribeca. We call it the 10pm club…. Around 10 p.m. anyone available meets up for a quick nightcap and debrief on the day. It’s a wonderful way to wind down and catch up.

17. How I stay fit: On nice weekends, I ride my bicycle out to Nyack. I take a bunch of spin and yoga classes at Equinox every week. I’ve recently started running along west side highway during lunch. It’s a perfect break in the day to reset.

19. What’s the area’s best-kept secret? Sarabeth’s [left] gives away their leftover pastries around 10 p.m. if you’re at the bar.

27. I’ve never been to the miniature golf or volleyball courts on Pier 25 and I don’t know why.

29. How does MaryAnn’s stay in business?

33. Pet peeve: Delivery guys on electric bikes riding against traffic.

35. A doctor I’d recommend: Tribeca Dental.

36. My most memorable celebrity sighting: I am horrible at recognizing celebrities.

39. Tribeca could use more specialty grocers and fewer jackhammers and barricades.

41: A business I’d like to have here: I’d love to open my own jewelry salon and design studio.

42: My best Tribeca story: 178 years ago Martin Guitars was founded on the corner of Vestry and Hudson, where the 200 Hudson building now stands. Nicole Bartelme had an idea for a commemorative plaque and asked David Yurman, whose office occupies the top floors, if he would create the plaque. Besides jewelry projects, I always got the odd jobs, so this one landed on my desk. This one was different than usual. It was for the community—my community. I set out to design something meaningful. We chose two of their most iconic guitars and used their motifs for the background. The details were imperative to the Martin family. When we sent them the design proof, they said the pattern was the wrong wood grain. Now the background is rose wood like their guitars. Nicole’s vision is to have several plaques throughout the neighborhood, much like the Freedom Trail in Boston. I think it would be a wonderful addition to the area. I see people stop to read the plaque all the time.

43. The best Tribeca story I won’t tell: A couple years ago I lost some books, and it pains me to relive the story. A friend lent me several irreplaceable books (about Tribeca!) and I left the bag in Ward III. I put up a hundred posters in the area. We never found the books :(

44. Someone who lives here who I really think you should meet: Brooke. She’s in the 10 p.m. club.

45. Proof that change is good: When I moved here, my subway entrance was closed on the weekends.

46. If I couldn’t live here, I’d live in…. New Orleans.

Recent TCQ&As:
Marie-Joelle Parent
Zak Profera
Joya Dass
George Carroll
Dana Mass

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1 Comment

  1. Probably the most informative piece of this type I’ve seen here yet. Great rundown of local dining and drinking tips.