Left: Café Gray; Right: Grayz
Café Gray will be closing on Saturday, June 21, about a week earlier than originally planned. On my last visit, I found it almost a ghost town, so I’m not surprised they’re closing early. I won’t miss the ugly, poorly-designed dining room, though it was sky-high rents, and not the interior designer, that killed the place. A branch of A Voce, most likely destined for mediocrity, will replace it.
Meanwhile, Gray Kunz’s other restaurant, Grayz, will close on August 10, re-opening on September 1 “as a full-fledged restaurant…with a new format and a renovated downstairs dining area.” This is a welcome development.
The original concept for Grayz—allegedly a “lounge and event space”—was a blunder on all counts. I suspect that private events were supposed to pay most of the freight, and the lounge would have been gravy. The trouble is that catering is a feast-or-famine business: on the days it’s not booked, the restaurant earns zero. The downstairs “event” space was in use the first time I visited, but empty the second. In these tough economic times, I suspect the “empty” nights predominated.
The lounge space over-estimated the market for three-star bar food. To be sure, Kunz tweaked the concept over time. When I re-visited about a month ago, Grayz was finally serving a proper restaurant menu—a position it evolved into gradually. But he was still stuck with a lounge vibe, and the aftershocks of mixed reviews.
I assume that Grayz 2.0 will serve a Café Gray-like menu in the former event space downstairs, so that the upstairs can be what it was meant to be: a lounge. I’ve only had a peek at the subterranean dining room, but it looks like it could be turned into an elegant restaurant without much trouble—albeit, without windows.
Then again, if you know what Kunz did when he had windows—at Café Gray—perhaps that’s not much of a loss.