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401 W 52nd St
Ted and Shaun Red Stache Wine Bars Hells Kitchen Midtown West

West Side wine lovers can raise a glass at the opening of The Red Stache tonight (Thursday) — the newest Hell’s Kitchen hospitality venture from proprietors Ted Arenas and Shaun Dunn. 

The W52nd Street wine bar — one of several new watering holes on the busy block — will serve a wide-ranging selection of vino, curated by Shaun, a former bartender at the late luxury hotel The NoMad. The 80 to 90 bottle list is “all over the place,” said Shaun, who told W42ST that he’s built a beverage program with both Old World and more contemporary wines from vineyards in Oregon and Washington. “Everything’s at different price points,” said Shaun. “There are entry-level wines for people who just want to have a casual glass of wine after work, and if we have people come in who want to be more of a big spender, we have some hidden gems in there too.” The Red Stache will also serve wine-based cocktails with homemade purees in combinations that Shaun declared would be pleasing and “familiar” to new patrons. 

As for food, “the primary menu is kind of designed around things you want to eat with wine,” added Shaun. In addition to entree items like a housemade mac and cheese, pork belly sandwiches and French dip, the menu will feature “a lot of meat and charcuterie, a lot of cold appetizers and easy finger food,” said Shaun, noting the addition of a hummus plate as well as housemade bread with herb-infused butter and spices. 

The Red Stache was born of a long-running collaboration between Shaun and Ted, who also operates popular Hell’s Kitchen LGBTQ bars Rise and The Spot. “Shaun’s been working with me for I don't know how many years,” Ted told W42ST. “We started talking about opening up a wine bar — because I wanted to do something that was more inclusive of everybody, not just the LGBTQ community,” he added. “Shaun has a background in food and he was passionate about doing it, so we decided that we would do a wine bar.”

The new bar takes over the space that previously housed wine and cheese specialty cafe Casellula, which closed in February after its new ownership terminated the staff. Casellula workers protested against the actions of Vin Sur Vingt, petitioned the Community Board and set up a #SaveCasellula campaign on social media, without success.

As for bringing in new patrons, “I think that the followers that we have at Rise and Spot,” will be willing to try The Red Stache, said Ted, adding: “Some of the more sophisticated and older clientele we have that don't necessarily want to be around the younger people want to be in a quieter atmosphere and have a conversation at more of a date night spot.” He also hopes that an additional client base will come from Spot and Rise’s many drag brunchers who will look to The Red Stache for their evening plans. “We also have a lot of people coming that work in corporate jobs that have been booking parties at Rise and Spot, who don’t necessarily want to be going out for nightlife but are more looking for a date night type of place that they'd want to go to,” added Ted.

For other Hell’s Kitchen wine enthusiasts, The Red Stache’s later closing hours could usher in a new chapter for those desperately looking for an after-theater late-night bite, added Ted. “If we can keep the tradition of people coming in after theater here — which I think is in line with what a lot of wine bars get — I'm sure that we'll also get that crowd as well!” 

The Red Stache is located at 401 W52nd Street (between 9/10th Avenue) and will be open from 4pm to midnight Sunday through Wednesday, until 1am on Thursday and 2am on Friday and Saturday. 

This story originally was published on W42ST in August 2023.

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Ted and Shaun Red Stache Wine Bars Hells Kitchen Midtown West
The Red Stache interior Wine Bars Hells Kitchen Midtown West
The Red Stache Wine Bars Hells Kitchen Midtown West

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Husband-and-wife duo Roberto and Tanya Passon's symbiotic relationship is evident at their Hell's Kitchen wine bar, Briciola, where Roberto runs the kitchen and Tanya is responsible for the wine. The evolution of their professional and personal relationships has always been a parallel journey. Both long-time restaurateurs, the couple met while Roberto was running his now-defunct eponymous restaurant and Tanya was managing wine bar Xai Xai, just across the street from Briciola. They married several years later, and Briciola opened just as the couple was expecting their first child in 2011. Three years on, the Italian wine bar has gained a following throughout Hell's Kitchen and beyond on the strength of its intimate atmosphere, excellent cuisine, and top-notch imported wine. Even after expanding into the storefront next door, which doubled Briciola's square footage, the restaurant is tiny, but the close quarters only add to the ambience. This is not the place to go if one does not want to interact with fellow diners: the seating is communal, with high counters made of subway tile for a clean, polished look. The design is simple, befitting the restaurant's tight quarters. Low-hanging light fixtures and candles on each of the tables give the restaurant a cozy feeling, and the walls function as an aesthetically fitting storage space, with hundreds of wine bottles set side by side in wine racks. Rather than competing for attention, Briciola's food and wine complement each other perfectly, thanks to Roberto and Tanya's ability to work together. Marina, a server, explained to us that Tanya is largely responsible for the elegant layout of the restaurant; she added her "feminine touch" with everything from the candles at each setting to miniature chalkboards detailing the day's wine specials. The kitchen, Roberto's domain, is miniscule, folded into the back of one half of the restaurant; because there is absolutely no storage space, all of the ingredients arrive fresh daily. Briciola serves mainly ciccheti (small plates) of charcuterie, salads, oysters, and every type of pasta imaginable. There is also a dessert menu; a gentleman sitting at the bar told us that the tiramisu is especially incredible. Particularly clever is the menu where the prices are all the same in each category. Roberto explained that he did not want the dollar amount to influence someone's choices. After having enjoyed a pleasant conversation with Roberto one afternoon when riding by on my bike, as I was leaving, he called out to me, "Finally someone appreciates the side streets. " I rode off smiling.

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