When Jay Grossman and his business partners were approached by an investment group about starting a new style of restaurant, he knew that he wanted to have a place with a “Cheers” feel to it, a neighborhood location that was a far cry from the more elegant, upscale establishments that he lent his name to in the past.
“It’s not a place to come on a Tuesday for a quick bite,” he said recently of his other restaurants. “ is; in this demographic, in this time, in this economy, in this world, that’s what the formula is.”
Loosely translating to “What fun” in the Costa Rican Spanish slang dialect that it imbues, the self-billed “cocina and tequila bar” held its grand opening February 21 with the .
“It’s a place that’s really meant to address the needs of the people that work in the area and live in the area,” Grossman, also the restaurant’s managing partner, said of the location on Union Turnpike in New Hyde Park.
The location was previously vacant after being left emptied by restaurants “The Royal Answer” and “Harper’s” several years ago. Grossman and his group bought the property as it was unoccupied for several years and converted it to “Two,” after his group’s other locale, “Four,” which is on Route 110 in Melville, which he also still owns.
“We got approached by an investment group that wanted to roll out a casual, fun concept across the East Coast – they wanted to do multi-unit – and they were coming to me to look for a concept and a location and I said to them ‘I have a perfect spot – the one you’re sitting in’,” he said at the opening. “I really feel this area was craving a place that really could be an extension of the neighborhood and the home.”
Grossman and his other partners, Ray Sidhom, John Guirguis and executive chef James McDevitt, whose resume includes Le Cirque in Manhattan, the title of “Best New Chef” by Food & Wine and a stint as a judge on “Top Chef” in addition to his work at “Four” for the past 5 years, have put a spin on the modern Mexican genre.
“It just was the next step for us,” Grossman said. “This still has an exciting, fun experience as does ‘Four.’ We’ve kind of really tried to put a lot of thought into what’s going to get a reaction out of people and really kind of have fun with dining.”
While a private dining area for business people, Grossman says that they can appeal to all residents and families with value and accessible food in an atmosphere of “interesting” music “as opposed to the usual no-vocal classical background music that’s just there.”
The menu includes Queso Fundido, a fajita-style entree as well as chicken, steak and “Mexi-shrimp” with grits, a “Mexi-q” or Mexican barbecue served for two or more that is a combination of barbecue chicken, skirt steak and shrimp with sides that the entire table can share.
“There’s always a common thread,” he said, “and that’s to have a really fun, worthwhile dining experience and value.”