You don’t have to be part of the in-crowd to eat with them. But we’re not saying it doesn’t help.
Artan Gjoni, the managing partner of the eatery who was previously at Mercer Kitchen and Norwood, says the clientele at this painfully chic restaurant didn’t happen by accident.
“I come from a good line of work places, so I’ve always had very loyal customers and friends coming by,” he explains of the large number of regulars. “I always had the ‘West Village client.’ For this place I wanted to get more of an artsy feel of the Lower East Side, more than people who were just eaters and tastemakers—I wanted to get the young, intellectual crowd who also appreciated our menu—and we’re getting that so far.”
Ken & Cook—whose name is a homage to its location on Kenmare Street—is drawing quite a set of A-listers to boot. Right after it opened its doors in the former Travertine space, the restaurant held the after party for the film Hick, which drew the likes of Emma Roberts, Chloë Grace Moretz, Rory Culkin and Charlotte Ronson.
“I was pretty shocked to see Russell Simmons here during the Cinema Society [party for Hick],” a star-struck Chef Richard Diamonte, who also worked at Mercer Kitchen, admitted. In July, Ken & Cook also hosted the Ponies premiere after party, where it housed Michael Stipe, Vincent Piazza, Parker Posey and Natasha Lyonne. While celebrities may make appearances, it’s models and the art crowd that are the norm. “There are a lot of photography and modeling agencies around here,” Gjoni adds. That was the point. And if it’s a scene you’re looking for, he advises you come between 9:30 p.m.-10 p.m. when the restaurant, which is done-up like a 1960s brasserie, is at its busiest with late night diners. But don’t expect to get a reservation without knowing someone. “I try to please everyone, but it’s kind of biting me back,” the handsome managing partner sighs. “We don’t take reservations so the best way to do it is to know somebody here and call.”