Crain’s reports today what many had already guessed: Grayz will close at the end of the year. Kunz was pushed out of the restaurant six months ago, and it made no sense to continue operating a place named for a guy who’s no longer there. On our last visit, we found Grayz less than half full. There was some terrific food, but the whole misguided concept was designed for an economic climate that no longer exists.
The owners will re-open as “Gneiss” (“nice”) in the same space, with Kunz’s former chef de cuisine, Martin Brock, still in place. We don’t have much hope for this reincarnation, starting with one of the dumbest names we’ve seen. The story of Grayz is that of one fumble after another. These owners still don’t know how to run a restaurant.
While technically true, neither Cafe Gray nor Grayz was really Kunz’s restaurant. The first was a gilded deathtrap, that not even Fernand Point himself could have broken out of, and Grayz, with its strange corporate concept, was a similarly Sisyphean struggle.
Café Gray was Kunz’s concept. He is as accountable for the failure as anybody. (We’re not sure if “gilded deathtrap” accurately describes Café Gray in any case; Cutlets, the ultimate cheeseburger guy, is probably not the one to understand such places.) Kunz was very much the minority partner in Grayz, but in signing up for the concept, he must take some knocks for its demise.
Kunz is one of this town’s best chefs, but he has turned out to be a terrible business man. Both Grayz and Café Gray suffered from conceptual flaws that Kunz either failed to see or couldn’t correct. Kunz needs a backer with better business instincts—a Drew Nieporent or a Danny Meyer—so that he can concentrate on the one thing he does well, which is to cook.