. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: What's Up Clinton Street

Saturday, June 07, 2008

What's Up Clinton Street

Today was kind of a sad day; Punch and Judy's plug has been pulled, squelching the few desperate hopes to see it resuscitated after a prolonged attachment to small-business life support.
Here's a little more detail on the saga that became Punch and Judy's unfortunate legacy. Almost 2 years ago, or maybe a little less than that, Punch and Judy was closed by the police for missing documentation. The ownership changed, and when they applied to transfer the previous owners' liquor license, they were denied. Since then, the spot has been on the market to be sold, without much success I might add. The gate was almost always down, but occasionally the broker would open it up to show it to potential buyers. The inside was exactly the same as it ever was; the bar, the chairs, the kitchen, the plates, the glasses the silverware and the bottles were exactly in the same spots. Imagine my surprise when today, they emptied out the entire place! Now, you might be wondering why I care so much about a place that has been closed for a good few months now, and there are several reasons. But the most important of them is simple: I really thought that something would happen to bring it back to life! Punch and Judy was opened originally by two good friends of mine, Constantine and Giacomo, and during De Vino's early stages, I spend a lot of time in there talking with my friends and savoring some great food. Dominique Giuliano was the first chef to set up the kitchen. He used convection burners and ovens, so no gas was needed, and he set up a simple but well thought-out menu, while Giacomo and Constantine chose the wines. After Dominique Jason took the chef position (right around the time I signed the lease for De Vino), I ate there almost 3 times a week. Jason, now owner of a few restaurants in California, is a very talented chef - his sweetbread plate was to die for, not to mention several bottles of excellent wine shared with them, including old vintages of Lopez de Heredia white and red Rioja and 10-plus year old J.J. Prum Rieslings. Good times... that now, unfortunately, are permanently confined to the form of memories. This morning, I came to open the store and I saw Dominique, who is now is the head chef for the new ownership, which is a corporation that owns a number of restaurants and bars around the city. They were moving everything that wasn't nailed down out of the building. That day had finally come, and they gave up on the lease and sold everything that could have been sold, included the chairs and the bar.
So, after 71 Clinton and Lotus, yet another Clinton street icon has closed its doors. Hopefully they will be replaced by somebody that will keep the high level of quality and professionalism that this street has had for many years now, and maintain the integrity that we hold ourselves to.
Buona Bevuta a Tutti


Tracie B. said...

there's a punch and judy a napoli. any relation?

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.