Bowery Beef Team Plans Restaurant With Raw Bar on First Avenue

forrentKathy Grayson

The owners of Bowery Beef, the sandwich shop inside the Bowery Poetry Club that closed during the summer, are returning to the neighborhood and opening a café at 125-127 First Avenue, near St. Marks Place. Ray LeMoine and Michael Herman are teaming up with Jamie Manza, an architect who also runs an upstate farm with his father, to open a restaurant that may source some of its ingredients from the farm, as well as shellfish from Gloucester, Mass. A former Bowery Beef customer, Mitch Zukor, will also be involved in the project.

Mr. Manza, 32, said that he and Mr. LeMoine, who is an East Village resident and a contributor to The Local, were previously business partners in a t-shirt company, started in 1999, that sold “Yankees Suck” shirts at Fenway Park. The business proved lucrative, and the duo traveled the world together – an experience that helped turn Mr. Manza into a confessed foodie.

“In 2000 we went to Paris,” he said. “We saw a restaurant where there was $100 lobster on the menu. We were standing outside this place and we were like, ‘Oh my God, there’s such a thing as $100 lobster. We have to eat $100 lobster from now on.”

Still, Mr. Manza said he wanted the as-yet unnamed café, where he will be the general manager, to be an “every-day eatery,” adding, “we want writers to be able to read and write and work in there during the day.”

forrent2Kathy Grayson

To that end, the café will likely serve gourmet coffee as well as the $5 roast beef roll previously on offer at Bowery Beef (Mr. Manza created the Big Manza sandwich at that shop). During the night, Mr. Manza said he hoped for a “Gloucester seafood slant,” with a raw bar and a wine list focused on French and German whites.

Though a chef has yet to be hired, Mr. Manza said ingredients, once the cafe opens in spring, would be locally and seasonally sourced where possible. He said that the budding farm he runs with his father, Hathorn Farm in Warwick, N.Y., grew some wild watercress and organic squash for Blue Hill at Stone Barns, where Mr. Manza was a food runner for a year and a half. Mr. Manza said he also hoped to encourage an uncle who owns Manza Family Farm in Montgomery, N.Y. to grow produce for the restaurant.

As for the 70-seat dining room’s decor, Mr. Manza said the team is in talks with a gallery owner who may set the tone. The restaurant’s owners were not yet ready to release the gallerist’s name because the extent of her involvement is uncertain, but Mr. Manza said that she had “been running an elite gallery in Manhattan for a long time and has access to great artists.”