For decades, this was a warehouse until a Eurofusion restaurant called Brasa opened here in the early-1990s.
Escafé's coming back, baby. As first reported in the Hook, the venerable Downtown Mall restaurant with the hip nightlife recently packed its bags from its longtime home in the shadow of the Omni hotel with plans to open up in the former home of Oxo, which ended a nine-year run in 2008.
"It's merging what Oxo was with what Escafé wants to be," enthuses the 44-year-old owner-operator, Todd Howard.
And that could be one dynamic combo. It's the first breath of life in nearly four years for the Water Street site which, as Oxo, was a chef-centric place whose white-on-white interior kept the emphasis on the food while promoting a pretty wild late-night scene at the same time.
Under Howard, however, the walls are starting to see some color again. And anyone who remembers the upper seating area as a place of quietude may be in for a surprise as a pair of ceiling-mounted speakers have just been installed up there at what Howard calls "the terrace" to help the popular Wednesday night Karaoke and Saturday night music video dance parties rock. (He says that sound shouldn't intrude on the rest of the restaurant.)
One thing that won't change is the famous two-top perched over the kitchen– a special place to watch the chef. Inaugurated under Oxo, the kitchen-in-the-dining room concept is more than just a way to give eager eaters a cooking lesson; it's a way to improve every guest's experience.
"You have eyes on every plate, every table," says Howard. "You get that real time feedback."
Although he received the keys to the place in late December and it looked like a cluttered construction zone during a January 11 reporter's visit, Howard vows to open the doors for a grand opening during the last weekend in January with a soft opening "next week, hopefully."