When the first Fatty ‘Cue opened in March of 2010, it was a long time coming. Corwin, Robbie, Andrew, Steve, Jori and I had been conspiring, collaborating and conversing about combining the Fatty flavors with sweet smoke for a couple years prior. We could not believe no one had beat us to the punch.
I have written about the inspiration and flavor combinations, on many occasions. What I have not written about, however, is our uphill battle to work within the confines of our funky little space under the Williamsburg Bridge. Similar to many buildings in downtown Manhattan, the diminutive size of our spot belied the grand infrastructure issues that assaulted us like camouflaged batteries on the offensive.
We had charged Jori with the responsibility of the design and, due to frequent unforeseen structural issues, we continued to chip away at her design budget. In the end, the job she accomplished was admirable — even more so when considering the whittled down allocation with which she had to play. She set to making the sconces, lamps and “disco pig” centerpiece herself to keep costs down. All the while, the infrastructure creeps were quietly plotting their next attack behind the sloping brick walls of our funky Xanadu.
Chugging away, the smoking train never stopped. It hiccupped a couple of times. Good folks came and went, like in all ventures, but the ‘Cue continued to improve as Steve and his crew became the smoke whisperers. There is no one in New York smoking food as well as those guys. No one. And it’s not me back there. It’s Steve and Corwin and their guys, they’re finessing these giant, cumbersome, hot-dry smoke belching, antiquated machines to produce brisket that’s a point. A combi oven or sous-vide could not produce a better texture, yet an uphill battle ensued as the walls began to crumble (both literally and figuratively).
But there is no other Brooklyn ‘Cue! It lives on South 6th Street, dammit! And that is where it will remain. The guys and gals of the crew wisely determined that the months of Jan./Feb. made the most sense to tackle the issues at hand, to fix aging power lines, to remedy HVAC inconsistencies. To shore up that which requires shoring and, while at it, to do some of the things to the dining room that were contemplated a while ago. The crew enlisted the assistance of our friends at Design Bureaux, the folks who designed ‘Cue West Village, to put some finer, distinctly ‘Cue Brooklyn touches on the back dining room. It will be cool…and maybe this time we can keep the infrastructure creeps at bay long enough to gain some real traction…oh Sisyphus.
When I think about the time and attention that restaurants require in terms of managing people, managing products, vendors, utilities and landlords, I’m overwhelmed. When I further that thought, I dive head first into the rabbit hole and begin understanding the physical space as an organic thing; a giant mass constantly moving, succumbing to the force of gravity, the abuse of human traffic and weather I think we’re all fucking nuts for trying to bring permanence to these fragile sand structures. But, I guess I’m cool with fucking nuts.
And, perhaps, next time we break boundaries, we’ll tread more softly. Knowing this Crew, it’s not likely. What I do know for sure is it will be smoky, boozy, spicy and a whole helluva lot of fun! We’ll all just have to wait for March.