By: joseph riley land
The DEN isn’t dead after all. Remember last May when they closed the doors and told us they would be back, new and improved, by the end of the summer – and then it did not happen? Well, I spoke with Jack Correia, owner of The DEN, this afternoon and he tells me that things just got a little off track. The restaurant, which is being relocated from their old location on 5th Avenue and 132nd, will soon reside in what is quickly becoming a hot spot in South Central Harlem: Lenox Avenue between 119th and 120th Streets. Just across the street from Settepani, two doors down from Il Caffe Latte, and diagonally situated from the soon-to-be oneBAR, The DEN will soon find itself nestled into one of the coziest blocks north of Central Park.
According to Correia, plans have been delayed due to a decision to rethink the design of the space. Rather than just recreating the old DEN in the space, they have worked with renowned architect, Kevin Bergen, who has worked with clients such as Leonardo DeCaprio and Giorgio Armani. “We wanted to create a space that makes you want to come back. Yes, great food is important, but an inviting atmosphere is just as important,” Corriea explains. “When The DEN first opened, we were the ‘uptown king of the downtown scene,’ but now we have more competition from places like MOJO, Hudson River Café, 67 Orange Street: we had to step our game up so we don’t get left behind.”
When The DEN opens – Correia says it will probably be mid-spring. Old favorites (like the What Had Happened Was…, the soul sushi rolls, the open mic night with Jaiden and KimberlyNichole) will still be around. They are, however, adding a lunch menu, more live performances, hotter guest DJs, and a renewed dedication to providing quality service.
In the meantime, Correia says he is getting daily correspondence from former customers on The DEN’s facebook page, twitter account and via email. “Everyone wants to know when we’re reopening, he says. “And that’s a good thing.”
Follow The DEN’s progress on twitter @thedenharlem.