New Dining Option To Open In Morningside Heights
Written by Bwog Staff
|Remodeled facade of soon-to-be-open Cafe Bagutta|
Fashion designer Marc Bagutta is opening an eatery in the empty space once occupied by Cafe Fresh.
Serving its first customers this Saturday with brunch, the eponymous Cafe Bagutta will offer continental cuisine, coffee, and wine seven days a week, but the new owner also has a grander scheme in mind.
Bagutta is a first-time restaurateur, but he is by no means new to the world of business. He designs his own line of high-end dress shirts and was the man Russell Simmons turned to for help in launch the Phat Farm clothing line in the early 1990s. Until recently, Bagutta also operated an upscale boutique in SoHo that sold, among other items, $18,000 coats and $13,000 gowns to the likes of Johnny Depp and Julianne Moore.
So why is a businessman so intimately tied to the fashion industry opening a cafe next to Columbia?
“I have always wanted to open a restaurant,” he begins. “and I came here to be shown this space for sale. I hated [Cafe Fresh], but I fell in love with the location.”
A little less than two months later, and Bagutta’s dream appears to be rapidly coming true. That’s not to say there haven’t been any bumps along the way—extensive remodeling was needed to rehabilitate the space and a neighbor’s complaints to the city brought work to a temporary halt in early July—but now, as Bagutta puts it, “the West Village has come uptown.”
Perhaps the most obvious way in which Cafe Bagutta hopes to create this fusion is through regular art exhibitions. Empty frames hanging along the bar counter Wednesday afternoon were soon to be filled with photos and prints from artists whom Bagutta knows personally, including commercial photographer Rob Zuckerman, National Portrait Gallery artist Benjamin Anderson, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Music performances are also on the slate for the cafe, which now has more open dining room floor space thanks to a recessed bar and kitchen area. Furnishings are sparse and tasteful, relying on wood and aluminum in keeping with the Art Deco feel Bagutta seeks to cultivate. “I want this to be like the literary cafes in Berlin in the 1920s,” he says.
But that doesn’t mean bring your laptop. Despite sharing the neighborhood with a major university and its thousands of WiFi-hungry students, Cafe Bagutta will not be offering its tables as a makeshift study lounge.
“This is not a place where you come with your computer and hang out for five hours,” Bagutta explains. “I want this to be a more creative, artistic place. I want this to be a place for people to express their individuality.”
As of Wednesday, workers are still putting the finishing touches on the interior, which Bagutta designed himself. Only a few of the kitchen appliances have been installed, and the lettering on the cafe’s windows is not complete. Even the menu is not set yet—Bagutta says he is still placing bulk food orders for Saturday’s grand opening.
But Bagutta fully expects his new cafe to be open for business by the weekend, ready to serve the steadily increasing trickle of students returning to campus for the fall semester.
“I’m putting my heart and soul into this,” he says.
Entrees at Cafe Bagutta will be priced between $6 and $14. A Web site—including a complete menu—will be up and running later this month.