Working in a family business can be both a privilege and a burden. If you are a young person with a last name that looms, it is perhaps natural to want to create something of your own.
So it is with Oliver Zabar, a son of Eli Zabar, whose name blankets the Upper East Side on food markets, takeout shops, wine and beer bars, a wholesale bakery, a restaurant and a wine shop. For the last few years, the younger Mr. Zabar, 27, has managed Eli’s Night Shift at 79th Street and Third Avenue, a grab-and-go cafe by day and a busy, convivial beer bar by night.
Now, he is stepping out and away. This fall, he will open Devon, a casual restaurant and cocktail bar, in an old tenement building on the Lower East Side, with an adjacent retail bakery that will supply the restaurant with breads and pastries. Devon will offer what Mr. Zabar calls “elevated American bar food” with a French influence.
In a departure from family tradition, Devon is named after his mother, Devon Fredericks, who Mr. Zabar said is a creative behind-the-scenes force in the Eli’s empire.
Although Kilian Robin, who is also the wine director for Eli Zabar, is involved in the project (smartly choosing the concise wine list, which focuses on tradition-minded producers, with prices that are more modest than those at Eli Zabar’s restaurant and wine bars uptown), Oliver Zabar insisted that Devon was not a family collaboration.
“From start to finish, this has been my project,” he said. “If you knew me, you would say: ‘It’s very Oliver: He would choose that color, that material.’ It’s my concept. I’ve been working on it a long time.”
The chef is Ken Addington, who cooked at Five Leaves in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Cocktails will be the domain of Sean Saunders, who has worked at Slowly Shirley and the Happiest Hour in the West Village. Many of the drinks will include sodas made at the restaurant, and Devon will feature beers made in New York City.
“I set out to create my ideal neighborhood spot,” said Mr. Zabar, who lives a few blocks away. “Good, accessible food; great drinks and a comfortable environment where you can feel at home.”
Devon 252 Broome Street (between Orchard and Ludlow Streets), devonnyc.com, October.
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