Curtis Brown Will Open The Cardinal With American Apparel’s Dov Charney as Investor

curtis-Courtesy of Curtis Brown

Curtis Brown, the former frontman of rock band Bad Wizard who became chef at Bubby’s, has left his gig at the Tribeca comfort-food standby and will open his own place at 234 East Fourth Street. Named after the bird of his home state of North Carolina (Mr. Brown was born in Asheville in 1972 and moved to New York City in 1996), The Cardinal is expected to open around Aug. 14, and will offer a “90 percent Southern” menu consisting of Memphis-style ribs, North Carolina-style pulled pork, and Texas-style brisket, as well as non-barbecue items such as lard biscuits, fried chicken, and fried pork chops with red-eye gravy.  Among the restaurant’s investors is Dov Charney, the notorious founder of American Apparel.

Mr. Brown’s front-of-house partner in the restaurant is Leanne Hebert-Nguyen, who worked at the clothing company for two years (before that, she was a manager at restaurants in Montreal). “He’s a friend of hers and we were looking for investors and he got involved,” said Mr. Brown of Mr. Charney’s “hands-off” role. “He’ll be here opening night— that kind of situation. And he gives us any support he can, helping us find stuff like light fixtures for the restaurant.”

leanne-1Leanne Hebert-Nguyen

Meanwhile, the menu will reflect the relationships with purveyors that Mr. Brown developed at Bubby’s. He’ll source beef from Fleischer’s, the popular butcher of grass-fed and organic meats in Kingston, and plans to get whole pigs from Heritage Foods USA so that he can stuff his own breakfast sausages and hot links, make headcheese, and cure his own ham.

Mr. Brown described the offerings as “all the stuff I grew up eating”— including mac and cheese, slow-cooked pole beans, okra, pickled trotters, and pickled eggs. He’ll also nod to his more recently acquired tastes, like rabbit and whole red snapper. And don’t rule out the possibility of a Canadian influence— another investor, Alexander Baldwin, owns Dominion Square Tavern and Baldwin Barmacie in Montreal.

In order to stay close to his Southern Pride smoker, Mr. Brown has just moved from Tribeca to an apartment above the small bi-level restaurant. “It’s like real New York here still,” he said of his new neighborhood. “There’s a lot of families that have been here a long time and also people that have moved into this neighborhood, and young people going to school or getting their first few jobs out of school. It seems like a really good mix.”