Customers react to the new Chavela’s
After the delicious guacamole and Elotes Callejeros (grilled corn) the most exciting aspect of Chavella’s Restaurant in Crown Heights, Brooklyn—is the cozy and welcoming vibe of the authentic Mexican Restaurant. “It was homey and inviting. You felt like you were in a very cool person’s apartment and they were serving you delicious food,” claimed Keola Racela, 30.
The limited size of both the kitchen and seating area of this restaurant has forced the owners to expand their business with a new location just two blocks away. The new location was set to open in late April, but complications have delayed the opening indefinitely. The new Chavela’s has adopted similar colors and styles from the original Chavella’s–from the red and green font reading “Chavela’s” on the street corner entrance to the authentic Mexican decor on the interior. One change is in the spelling of the restaurant’s name—one “L” has been dropped to make it easier to pronounce.
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The new place waits on the corner of Franklin Avenue; dark plastic wrap covers the windows like a present waiting to be opened on Christmas Day by the residents of Crown Heights. Before the new location has even opened, loyal customers are already expressing their thoughts of the new place. MaryLeigh Krasniewicz, 27, of Brooklyn has reason to believe the new location will only help their success. “I absolutely think that the new location will succeed as much as the old. They have put in some great work into the building and people will come at first to see the new place and I think continue to come because there will be more room to sit, it will be on their way home or to the subway as they walk down Franklin Avenue, and because the old location was often busy enough that Chavella’s could use a second place for spillover customers.”
By having a more accessible and larger location, you would assume the success should be greater than the previous location—but how much of that success came from the original locations uniqueness that the new location may not be able to replicate.
It seems as though customers are not concerned about the new locations ability to succeed because of its advantages over the previous location, but some customers won’t give a second thought on going back to the original if the food isn’t as good. Jennifer Macchiarelli, 24, of Manhattan contested, “I’ll always try a new location out, but if the food isn’t as good, I’ll go back to the original.” When asked if she had seen a restaurant fail at impressing her with a new location, Macchiarelli responded, “The atmosphere is always going to vary by location in the end, but the food should be just as great. An example of this would be Artichoke & Basil’s Pizza on 14th Street in Manhattan. The original is simply amazing. But recently I went to one of their newer locations on MacDougal Street and my slice just didn’t taste as good as the original.”
Krasniewicz seemed hesitant to say that the vibe would be the same as the original, but she seemed optimistic that it wasn’t a bad thing and that the new location will be able to succeed in areas in which the original could not. “Being able to accommodate more customers and be a more visible part of the community will be positive changes. The exterior of the new building is really beautiful, with a gorgeous decorative exterior and unfortunately the business that was previously using it did not display it to its full effect,” said Krasniewicz.
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Four years after the opening of his dream restaurant in Crown Heights, Brooklyn–Arturo Leonar is looking to duplicate his success just a few blocks away. The original Chavella’s restaurant located on Classon Avenue between Prospect Avenue and Park Place has been the staple of Mexican food in Crown Heights for the past four years.
There is no doubt that Leonar has seen an opportunity to take his success to the next level and has taken the opportunity. “I think Chavella’s has seen an opportunity to expand their business, and they’re taking advantage of moving in to an area under much development and scrutiny,” claimed Macchiarelli. Racela also seemed to take note of the location choice, “Franklin Avenue is diversifying and growing in a big way, and I think Chavella’s moving to Franklin Avenue is a big indication of that. I think that for a long time Franklin (Avenue) had a stigma as being violent or troubled, and maybe some of that was well earned. But when businesses move into the neighborhood it is a signal that things are changing.”
The new restaurant will boast the same menu, so loyal customers need not worry about that—they can also expect daily specials and additions to the menu. The new location—as opposed to the original—will have a very large kitchen, making it possible to expand the menu. So all those fans of the simple, yet delectable Milanesa torta (breaded chicken sandwich with avocado) which customers seem to label as their favorite—can expect that same sandwich to be served at the new place. They will still serve their basic dishes of grilled Mexican corn and the black bean dish that are also popular amongst the regulars. Furthermore, unlike the original small dining room that had about five or six tables, the new dining room will seat approximately 45 people comfortably.
The only question now is; when it will open. “I am very excited for the new Chavella’s to open- and I think most of the rest of the neighborhood is as well,” said Krasniewicz.