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Don’t worry New York, while the recent shuttering of Calexico at 99 Second Avenue may have been disheartening, the team is already getting ready to reopen the space as a brand new concept.
Calexico is a popular Mexican restaurant founded by Calexico natives Brian, David, and Jesse Vendley. While New York is known for its wide diversity of food options, the Vendley’s found the representation of authentic Calexico cuisine to be lacking. So they set up shop on a sidewalk in SoHo and started slinging tacos and burritos from their tiny street cart. Today, their authentic Calexico burritos are sold in seven restaurants across the world, including Detroit and Bahrain.
For a few years, the team successfully operated a Calexico at 99 Second Avenue, but it sadly closed in 2021. While the website lists the location as “temporarily closed”, residents have been wondering for some time when it would be scheduled to reopen, if ever. Now though, more information has been revealed about the Vendley’s plans for the space, which will see the location transformed into an entirely new concept called Big Cat.
Big Cat is described as a “restaurant and cocktail bar serving Asian/Latin fusion cuisine and a mix of classic cocktails, regional draft beers, and a modest wine list.” Operated by the same owners behind Calexico, Big Cat will resemble an upscale lounge, with “lots of plush fabrics, low lights, and cool, mellow music.” Big Cat will serve Asian/Latin fusion tacos and wraps like Baja fish tacos and Japanese pork tacos as as well as small plates and entrees like banh mi burgers and fried chicken platters.
At the moment, the owners are meeting with the community board in order to acquire an on-premises liquor license for Big Cat. At the moment, they are proposing operating hours of 11:00 AM – 2:00 AM daily, though those hours are subject to change should the board deem it necessary. The space is expected to be able to accommodate a total of 42 seats inside. While Big Cat is still too early into development to have its own social media profile, you can follow the Calexico team on Instagram for further updates about all their new projects and locations.