B.East Aftermath: The New Pop-Up Speakeasies

by Ross Kenneth Urken · February 22, 2011

Ron Castellano has announced that he will close B. East, his LES underground speakeasy. Andre Balazs, rumored to have his eyes on the place, won't be in for the taking. Like many slash and burn policies in the club jungle, this offers the opportunity for self-regeneration. Cue the hipster pop-ups!

The joint, New York mag's pick for best speakeasy in 2009, outlasted its upstairs dining counterpart, Broadway East, and served as the apotheosis of a prohibition era pot house.

As Castellano told Grubstreet, his decision came "in order to focus on his plan to bring pop-up projects to the bi-level space."

He will open his next as yet unnamed restaurant in April with PPX Hospitality,  bringing in Top Chef and Iron Chef folks to handle the vittles and top-notch mixologists to take care of the booze.

Castellano, who also runs Hester Street Fair, may be taking a page from the flea market playbook and focusing on a bazaar feel with an ever-rotating line-up of chefs and environments. He had a reputation for blowing through chefs when Broadway East remained open, so this fly-by-night restaurant strategy allows him to maintain his main managerial modus operandi in perhaps a more intentional manner. Variety is his go-to.

Though Balazs and Harbour chef Joe Isidori were reputed to have their eyes on the location, Castellano looks committed to this potentially exciting selection of offerings. The mini pop-up trend may be something to look for this year.