By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The owner of popular West Village restaurant Rosemary’s will be opening a fifth location, this time on the East Side, taking over the space that was formerly occupied by Petite Abeille and Vamos! at the corner of First Avenue and East 20th Street. The new spot, which will include a space for private events, a vegetable garden just outside the restaurant, a sidewalk cafe and a dedicated space for takeout orders, is expected to open by next spring.
Carlos Suarez’s Casa Nela restaurant group owns Rosemary’s and until now, the most recent addition to their roster was Roey’s on Perry Street in the West Village in 2018, which originally opened as Rosemary’s Pizza, Eater reported at the time.
Suarez said during the announcement of the new restaurant on Tuesday night at Resident Services in Stuy Town that Rosemary’s was created with the intention of giving the neighborhood a space to feel comfortable.
“I named my restaurant Rosemary’s after my mother because I felt that the West Village needed a place to take care of the neighborhood, open all the time, offering a wide variety of delicious food that’s healthy and homemade, all at a reasonable price point,” he said. “I wanted to create the kind of place that would be welcoming to a diverse audience from students and young adults and seniors alike. So the name, the concept and the vision of the original Rosemary’s, and now Roey’s, my mom’s nickname, were all decided with the intention of making our West Village neighborhood a better place to live, to work and to visit.”
Casa Nela operates Rosemary’s in addition to Roey’s on Perry Street, Bobo and Claudette, all in the West Village. The new restaurant on East 20th and First, which will likely be known as Roey’s Stuy Town, is the first restaurant on the East Side for the company.
Since Petite Abeille and Vamos both closed by this year, StuyTown Property Services general manager Rick Hayduk said that management was not only looking for a business to fill the space but a partner that would be invested in the community.
“What drew us to Carlos wasn’t simply because he ran successful restaurants across town,” Hayduk said. “It’s because of what he did in the neighborhood. He opened Bobo in 2007 and those in Greenwich Village will tell you he was a catalyst for so much of what Greenwich Village is today. He’s focused on great restaurants as part of a neighborhood and a community.”
Hayduk noted that other components that management was looking for in their restaurant “unicorn” were a place that would encourage return visitors like a true neighborhood restaurant, space for customers to pick up takeout and a private dining room for special events, in addition to good food.
Rosemary’s in the West Village has a garden on the rooftop that Chef Wade Moises gets vegetables from to use the fresh produce as much as possible, and the planted area in front of the space on First Avenue is expected to be used as a garden for this restaurant. Hayduk said that management has already taken over ownership of the plantings currently there from the Parks Department and has continued to maintain it, so it shouldn’t be an issue for the restaurant to use it.
Suarez said that the plan to open the new restaurant in Peter Cooper Village has been finalized since this past spring. He explained that the design for the new restaurant required them to completely gut the space but Hayduk noted that the noisiest part of the work on the space is already complete since the demolition has finished. The goal is to have the restaurant open by the time the weather starts getting warm again.
“We saw this as an opportunity to help grow and position our community as the gateway to Peter Cooper Village and the crossway to Stuyvesant Town,” Hayduk said. “With this location, we asked ourselves if there was an owner-operator that saw their restaurant as one with the responsibility for the neighborhood along with their craft. We amassed a pretty good team to find our restaurant unicorn, and we found our unicorn.”