Same Song, New Re: Verse
The beat goes on: Kansas City now has two restaurants called Mezzaluna, but it’s a pretty common name for Italian restaurants across the country. The best-known Mezzaluna was the restaurant on San Vicente in Los Angeles, where waiter Ron Goldman worked until the fateful night of June 12, 1994, when he drove to the home of Nicole Brown Simpson to return her sunglasses. Goldman and Simpson were murdered and so, apparently, was Mezzaluna: It closed down a short time later and is now a coffeeshop.
A catchy name isn’t going to hurt or help a restaurant, which earns its reputation on its food, service, and ambience, but a good name is worth keeping around. Take La Bodega (703 Southwest Boulevard), which has no connection to the eclectic storefront bistro of the same name that used to occupy the space at 651 E. 59th Street (that spot is now the laid-back, lunch-only Sarah’s). The place now named La Bodega belongs to restaurateur James Taylor (no connection to the “Sweet Baby James” singer); it serves Mediterranean-style tapas and paella and still boasts the paprika-colored walls of its former tenant, Boulevard Cafe.
James Taylor’s new project is to give a name to what was once Loy Edge‘s no-name restaurant that stood on the Plaza corner once occupied by La Bonne Bouché Bakery. Edge (who vanished off to Los Angeles) created a gimmick with his nameless restaurant, but an attractive space and expensive tile floor do not necessarily add up to success when the food is mediocre (and sometimes worse) and a tiny clientele of Z-list “celebrities” hangs out at the bar.
Taylor has a new name, a nearly new name, and a story to go with both of them. “We wanted to call the place after a fictional poet that I created, Alfred Elijah Sazerac. He moved from Eureka Springs to New York in the 1940s and inspired all the beat poets. Like Jack Kerouac. You know, there really is a cocktail called a Sazerac, made of Pernod, bitters, whiskey, and lemon peel. Shaken, not stirred.”
Taylor notes that in the film Live and Let Die, Roger Moore‘s James Bond actually requested a Sazerac instead of his usual martini. It is a great name but, alas, is already trademarked. So Taylor kept his attention on poetry to find yet a newer name. “The apartment buildings across the street are named for famous poets,” he says. “I wanted to reflect that and still give the essence of beat poetry, since our menu will be influenced by the food of Morocco, where Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg went to meet up with William Burroughs.”
Taylor won’t reveal the actual name of the place: “Just say it’s used in the construction of a poem,” he hints.
But there are some name games this writer won’t play for long. So I called another source: “The restaurant will be called Re: Verse,” he told me.
Re: Verse opens in mid-February, serving tapas, meze, and coastal Mediterranean fare, if all goes well. Mark Zukaitis is to oversee the kitchen, and Jennifer Van Tynan, formerly of J. Alexander’s, has joined the management staff.
Although Taylor isn’t calling anyone names, he did have this to say about the no-name restaurant’s bon vivant creator, Loy Edge: “He wasn’t really a food guy.