There's a glimmer of hope for beloved Hell's Kitchen wine bar and market Kashkaval, which is expected to close at the end of the month. We spoke with owners Corey Samuels and Daniel Assaf this morning and the duo told us that after months of trying they've finally secured a meeting with their landlord Joe Restuccia, Executive Director of the Clinton Housing Development Company.
"We've been trying to contact them to enter meetings, we've written letters, we've actually physically gone over there a few times to try to schedule a meeting, and we've just never heard back from them," Samuels explained. "So we reached out to our council rep, Gale Brewer...and she reached out to Clinton Housing on our behalf, and she was able to schedule a meeting with them for Monday, which she agreed to mediate."
Samuels and Assaf are hopeful that next week's meeting will at least shed some light on why the CHDC decided not to renew their lease. "We've been good tenants so there's no real reason for [not renewing] and we don't really know why but it seems as though this situation with Clinton...it doesn't make sense to us. There shouldn't be a reason why he wouldn't want to renew with us, and that's kind of where we find ourselves." They're also hoping a face-to-face plea would help sway Restuccio. "It's much easier to put 30 people out of work without giving any reason without actually seeing them in person or putting a face to it."
While the owners and their PR team are quick to say they're not interested in running a smear campaign against CHDC, they are frustrated with what they call the "political angle" in their predicament. Kimberly McBryan, who's been handling the restaurant's public relations, makes several observations on that point:
He has several current grants that I know of from New York City, I'm sure there's some—I mean I don't know for certain but there has been in the past—funding from HUD, which is a federal agency. So his reason for being, the whole organization's reason for being is to be devoted to the community and these are 30 jobs in the community that are going to be gone. And a beloved community space and restaurant owned by two local people, Daniel and Corey live in the community and that's going to be gone.
The team has been attempting to find a resolution to their plight since February, when CHDC first revealed, without explanation, they won't be renewing the lease. If this Hail Mary meeting doesn't turn in the restaurant's favor, they'll need to vacate by September 30th.
Despite the tumultuous times, the support from the community has been encouraging. "We started getting a lot of positive comments and outpouring from people all over the place, a lot of local people, international people, everywhere," Assaf said. "We were recently at the community board floor meeting...and people came up to us and said, 'Oh, you're from Kashkaval, love that place, it's a great place for the community.' "