Thursday, March 31, 2011

Any Day Now - Chavela's Comes to Franklin

The buzz has been building for months, and any day now, Chavella's, the beloved Mexican restaurant on Classon between Park and Prospect, is set to open an almost-eponymous spot on Franklin and Sterling. Last week, ILFA had the pleasure of tagging along to a soft opening at their gorgeous new digs, where we heard all about what is sure to be a huge draw on Franklin for years to come. Lots of people are asking questions - here are a few of the answers:

Q: Chavela's? Surely you mean Chavella's!
A: Nope - after a few years of correcting well-meaning high-school Spanish champions who pronounced his mother's name cha-VEY-A, proprietor Arturo Leonar has decided to drop the second L in the interest of hearing it said correctly (no matter how you see it spelled, it's cha-VELL-a).

Q: Their Classon location is legendarily tiny - how many folks will the new restaurant hold?
A: The gorgeous new space (high tin ceilings, rustic chandeliers, dark woods and colorful tiles) is laid out to seat 45 comfortably. There's a big chef's table at the back for larger parties, with small tables all along the wall, and another 15 stools at the bar. If all goes to plan, there'll be patio seating along Sterling this summer as well.

Q: The bar! Is that a full bar I see?
A: You betcha. When it's fully armed and operational, Chavela's will have fifty tequilas on offer, as well as margaritas and sangria on draft, a line of signature cocktails (mango chili, cucumber lime, and more), and bottled Mexican beers. As for the lovely tiles, they're handmade and imported from the source.

Q: And after I've had a few, will the menu be familiar?
A: For now, it'll be exactly the same as the Classon menu, though Arturo and his team will start sneaking in specials and new twists as inspiration strikes.

Q: What about the Classon location? They're not closing it, right? RIGHT?!
A: This is the first question anyone who lives west of Franklin asks, often with the same look of panic that would accompany a query about a meteor strike. Do not fear, good people of Classon Avenue, Chavella's shall remain! There are plans in the works down the line to get creative, both with the space and the menu, but I've said too much already.

Q: What does this all mean for Franklin Avenue? Is this a coming of age for the nascent nightlife scene? A tipping point for gentrification? The end/beginning of an era?
A: I'm kicking this one to the readers, with two observations to keep in mind. First, the Chavela's guys are community-minded folks, active in the Franklin Avenue Merchants Association and well-liked by customers, neighbors, and fellow merchants on Classon for over four years. They've hired locally, both for the construction of the new space and the waitstaff, and their new neighbors on Franklin (About Time, Lily & Fig, and others) are as excited as the Brooklynians to have them on the block. Second, by my imprecise count, they are the 30th new business to open on Franklin since summer 2008. By any measure, that is rapid change, and it's worth keeping that trajectory in mind.

Q: I thought you were kicking the final answer to us readers - what's this next question?
A: Merely a chance to thank all the readers (and facebook and twitter followers), the folks on Brooklynian and Nostrand Park, the CHCA and those who attend their meetings, the Franklin Park Reading Series, and LaunchPad events, and everyone else who's engaged in the ongoing conversation about Franklin Avenue over the past few years. See you at Chavela's!


  1. This is a great addition to Franklin and could be a "game changer" for the immediate vicinity, especially the addition of sidewalk seating. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to make this neighborhood safe and enjoyable for everyone who lives here and visits. Only a couple of weeks ago, a 20 year old kid was shot to death less than block away from the new Chavela site.

  2. Crime is everywhere. This is the best thing to happen to the area since Franklin Park. Yes the writing is on the wall. Smith St., Vanderbilt, 5th Ave. here comes Franklin...

  3. I lived near Smith Street in the early 1980's and Vanderbilt in the early 1990's, and at their absolute worst, the crime in these areas wasn't a fraction of what it is on and near Franklin Avenue. There is a very weird parallel reality here--kids are regularly getting shot and killed as others revel in the increasing availability of new, upscale goods and services.

    1. Let's not forget that the new, upscale goods & services pretty much lock these kids out of their own neighborhood as they are at new, upscale prices. And make the Territory even more of a commodity seemingly worth killing over.

  4. I am a little put off by the second "anonymous" post. The last time I was on Smith Street in seemed like a parody of a "cool" street. Is there anywhere one can get a relatively inexpensive meal on 5th Avenue in Park Slope? How much gentrification is needed, how many new bars are necessary?

  5. guns are portable and can go into any neighborhood. Anyways, wish Chavela's (drop the extra L) had a twitter or something so I know when theyre opening.

  6. I agree with the poster who wrote "there is a very weird parallel reality here -- kids are regularly getting shot and killed as others revel in the increasing availability of new, upscale goods and services." We who live in this neighborhood have got to figure out how our neighborhood can accommodate and nurture two very different cultural groups. I think people are working on this (shout out, CHCA), but too often I hear neighbors echoing the sentiments of the second "Anonymous" poster: a higher density of establishments catering to newer residents is proposed as a final solution. Sure, the demographics of Crown Heights are changing, but in the meantime working-class property ownership, rent control, Section 8 housing, etc. mean that lower-income residents are going to be a part of this neighborhood for many years to come. And I'm not even addressing the issues of fairness raised by a solution that expects only to push people out of the neighborhood that they call home.

  7. No, crimes not evrerywhere
    I am sick of this bullsihit statment, go ahead and stay here
    I hope you will be victim one day. I done with this ghetto

  8. Have you guys gone to housing in craigslist, and typed in "Franklin Ave"?

    Are those prices for real? Are people really paying that?

  9. These gentrification comments read to me as if people believe the neighborhood has never changed before, and will never change again.

    New flash: Just as neighborhoods become more wealthy, they can also become poorer.

    Yes, when a neighborhood becomes more wealthy, residents are priced out. However, when a neighborhood gets poorer, people simply flee or are afraid to leave their apartments.

    Until I can't afford to live here any longer, I'll enjoy the increasing neighborhood wealth. sure beats living in a neighborhood that is getting poorer.

  10. "There is a very weird parallel reality here--kids are regularly getting shot and killed as others revel in the increasing availability of new, upscale goods and services."

    Park Slope, Prospect Heights, the Lower East Side, Harlem, Upper West side, etc. all experienced similar things as they gentrified. I'm not sure I find it weird.

  11. Yay Chavela's! Really looking forward to the new place. Thanks for all the info, Nick.

  12. You should mention to the owner that (at least with the new version 4 of Firefox) his site is being flagged as a malware/attacker site. I get the warning "This page requires AC_RunActiveContent.js", so my computer is refusing to view it. I don't know if this is because someone hacked their site and it's a legit warning or if it's just a precaution, but either way, it's not viewable. I will check it out again when I log off Windows and back onto Linux, where I'll be safe. Just thought I'd get this out there. People viewing the site with IE might be opening their computers up to attack.

  13. I also cant open the site.
    When will Chavelas open?

  14. Anyone know what the story is with Chavela's? When are they opening?


  16. FYI, as of today, still not open.

  17. Chavela's, on the corner of Franklin and Sterling will finally be opening today, Wed the 24th of August!!! =) Come hungry and leave happy!!