Restauranteur John Meadow on Barchetta, His New Art-Centric Chelsea Seafood Restaurant
(Photo by Alice Gao)
John Meadow's LDV Hospitality portfolio includes 23 venues across the country, including Scarpetta, American Cut and No. 8, a collaboration with Chelsea nightlife maven Amy Sacco. Also in Chelsea is his brand new seafood restaurant, Barchetta, where fish whisperer Dave Pasternack is on board as chef (he will also remain as the chef at Midtown's Esca). Meadow, 33, chatted on the phone today after leaving a meeting where he cemented yet another deal.
Where are you?
Walking in Midtown so you may hear sirens. I just left a very interesting meeting working out the details on the lease for my second Corso Coffee in New York. It'll be an Italian-style coffee bar by day and a wine bar by night in the NoMad area. It should be open by the end of the year.
How are things going so far at Barchetta?
We've only been open since Thursday and I'm very happy we're getting a great mix of people. We don't want to be pigeonholed as an art restaurant or a fashion restaurant or a sceney restaurant. We are a casual seafood trattoria, come one, come all.
How did you persuade Dave Pasternack to come work with you?
He's always been one of my favorite chefs. His whole approach to cuisine is humble, showcasing the ingredients rather than an egocentric, artistic approach. What he does is simple but not easy, finding the perfect local sources for fish and combining it with the right olive oil. He's a master. We had a casual, serendipitous conversation when I was at the bar at Esca. I nonchalantly asked him and he said yes.
At Barchetta you're focused on showcasing contemporary artists. How did you end up with Alexandra Posen's [Zac Posen's sister] beeswax pieces?
Our designer Chris Sheffield of SL Design, rather than taking a fee, came in as a partner. He's connected to the artistic community and has a relationship with her gallerist. We're so excited to support her work.
And you'll be showing other artists' work as well?
At American Cut we have art by Anna Higgie, who's British, and she was so enthusiastic about Barchetta she donated a piece. One of Dave Pasternack's best customers is Eddie Milstein, a real estate mogul who also does paintings. He donated a piece, too, a gargantuan abstract painting, and we hope to have a rotating gallery of his work.
Since you have several branches of Scarpetta and American Cut, will you duplicate Barchetta?
No, it's not a traveling concept. This is my passion project. Barchetta is more personal, more vulnerable for me.
How do you manage to oversee 23 places across the country?
My personal life and work life balance hasn't been perfected yet. Most weeks I travel for two or three days. From Friday night to Monday morning I'm home on the Upper West Side with my wife and daughter. I barely even get in a cab. My wife's pregnant and she's making demands about modifying my schedule.
Since you're on planes so much do you have any travel secrets?
One key to not being jetlagged is to eat light. Flying is the only opportunity I have to watch movies or TV shows. Since November I've seen all six seasons of Breaking Bad on airplanes.
You did a pop-up with Amy Sacco at the Cannes film festival last year. Will you be doing it again in May?
We're taking over a villa and programming it for three nights as Bungalow 8. Amy Sacco will be there and we're having a great DJ named Benji Boko. Grandmaster Flash will be there, too.
Will you be there?
I had a fight with my wife about all my travel so I'm going to pass. I won't be going to Cuba this weekend for a bachelor party either. She's giving birth to our second daughter in July so I need to be home more.
Are you a workaholic?
I think so. For me it's fun work. I can't imagine ever stopping or doing anything else.
Barchetta, 461 W. 23rd St., New York; 212-255-7400