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!