Sometimes, a supper club becomes so popular that it needs to evolve into something more. That’s the story with Worth Kitchen, the supper club created by husband-and-wife duo Felipe and Tamy Donnelly. What started as an underground dinner-for-six in their apartment (until the DOH had their say), grew into one of New York’s most sought-after supper clubs, selling out every week. All in under two years. And the itch to turn this passion project into something more kept scratching away.
What else to call your supper club-turned-restaurant than Cómodo, Spanish for comfortable? Opening on July 18th (it’s already fully booked for the first two days), the restaurant is just as you’d expect. Warm, rustic, a handful of tables. Felipe will be cooking, with the delightful Evita, a videographer-turned-friend, as manager.
But good news for fans of Worth Kitchen: the supper club will live on. You now just have somewhere else to get your fix of Felipe and Tamy’s special recipe of good food and great ambiance.
Why open a restaurant?
When we started the supper club, we had no idea what we were doing. We had no idea the term supper club even existed! It just felt like a dinner party, something totally different. For me, it was a natural progression to open a restaurant. I’ve always wanted to go into the restaurant business, and so the last two years we were taking baby steps to get to this point.
Mike Lee (of Studiofeast) once said to me, “don’t do the restaurant thing!” and I laughed because his events are so amazingly conceptual and high energy, and he’s always thinking of the next big, crazy concept. But I love the environment of bringing people together, like dinner parties, so opening a restaurant really resonates with me.
And our supper club will not end. We want to continue doing Worth Kitchen here too.
How do you go from cooking on a small scale to running a restaurant with a full staff?
It’s very different going from a prix-fixe menu to cooking on demand. But we have a great team, which is key. Everyone who works with us has become a friend (Evita, the manager, met Felipe and Tamy after shooting a video at Worth Kitchen).
Tamy is still working full-time in advertising but will be coming in as much as possible, and will lead our marketing.
One of your Worth Kitchen guests said it’s not just about the amazing food but the atmosphere you create. How do you translate that sense of community into a restaurant?
We wanted the restaurant to feel like you’re in someone’s home. It’s the most ideal setting, with exposed brick, candles, you can see into the kitchen.
The bar area will be open to walk-ins and solo diners, so we want to make everyone welcome, just like with our dinner parties.
The neighbors are stopping by and thanking us for being part of the community. This whole area has a sense of Old New York. Around the corner on Sullivan St you have the wonderful old school cheese store and butcher. It’s like a village, very charming.
You started a Kickstarter campaign on Monday, and it’s been a phenomenal success. What’s the story?
We had the idea to do a Kickstarter campaign from day one to help with all these small details that it takes to open a restaurant. And after only 24 hours we’ve raised over $7,000, half the amount we’re asking for. It’s completely crazy.
It’s not even just friends, but friends of friends that are supporting us on Kickstarter, and people are coming into the restaurant saying they saw the video and wanted to stop by.
The menu is heavily focused on Latin American cuisine, from Spain to Colombia, Brazil to Mexico. What can we expect?
You know, New York doesn’t know much about Latin American food. And that’s a huge shame for me. It’s all grouped in together, and most of that comes from the street food, the taco trucks. With Cómodo I want to show New Yorkers what real Latin American food is, with some modern techniques.
Plus we’re doing sake cocktails, which are huge in Brazil. You’ll get great sakerinhas here!
What are your favorite dishes on the menu?
I love the lamb sliders. They were the most popular dish at Worth Kitchen, so we had to have them here. Everyone loves sliders in New York and these are really quite different, with lots of Spanish flavors, and instead of mini burger buns we’re serving them in pão de queijo (addictive Brazilian cheese bread), which is completely underrated.
I really love the seared duck with Classico sauce, and the lamb chops with mint goat cheese pesto. There’s nothing better.
Cómodo, 58 MacDougall St, NY, opening July 18th.