Inside Exchange Alley: New Orleans Flair from an Employees Only Owner

Back in June, Paul Gerard, the chef who took over the short-lived Zi’Pep space on Ninth Street, told us he would open Exchange Alley with Billy Gilroy, a partner in West Village hotspot Employees Only. So what does “New York with a New Orleans flair” look like? Watch our video of yesterday’s opening night festivities to find out.

Yesterday Mr. Gerard, who was a chef in New Orleans before most recently serving as chef of Soho House, said he would be preparing a frequently changing menu using, in part, ingredients from a backyard garden that he hoped would be used by local schoolchildren. “Some days I’m enamored with pasta, other days I’m enamored with tomatoes,” he said. “By the time the tomato season is just about over, I’ll be enamored with root vegetables and game.” The bar, backed by mirror-finished stainless steel, will serve beer-and-wine cocktails till 2 a.m. on weekends.

The walls are decorated with photos of some of Mr. Gerard’s creative inspirations, including downtowners like Lou Reed and Miguel Piñero. The chef is hoping to tap into the new make-up of the neighborhood, which has changed a lot since his younger days living in Alphabet City.

“The creative vibe of the East Village now is more above-ground. It was very much underground before. It was a wild west atmosphere and for lack of a better term you had to have big balls to hang out in the East Village back then,” he said. “Now it’s a lot more accepted and where you had 5,000 or maybe even 500 people from the ’50s up to the ’70 and mid-’80s, now you have 500,000 people who are artists and creative and they want to be part of the New York City vibe.”

Watch The Local’s video to see how Mr. Gerard will be catering to them.

Exchange Alley, 424 East Ninth Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A); 212-228-8525