Roberta’s, that beloved Bushwick pizza joint, has been tapped to run the cafe at the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a pop-up urban think tank of sorts that opened earlier this month on a narrow, otherwise forgotten plot of land on East First Street owned by the Department of Parks & Recreation.
While the indie Brooklyn darling might not be the most obvious choice — Danny Meyer, who operates The Wright, the Guggenheim’s fine dining restaurant, as well as other restaurants in spaces overseen by the Parks Department (e.g. Shake Shack), would be the obvious choice — it’s a natural partnership, says Bronwyn Keenan, the Guggenheim’s Associate Director of Special Events.
Hmm. I wasn’t getting “natural.”
On one hand, you have a relatively grassroots, hyper-local food project; on the other, a heavily-branded, well-funded corporate enterprise that will travel the globe during its six-year run. Add to the mix a general reverence for Roberta’s and an inherent skepticism of these sorts of big ticket projects, and it seems like the two couldn’t be more different.
Except that, well, Keenan is actually right. In many ways, Roberta’s is a fully functional, operational model of what the Lab aspires to be: a community gathering point, a model of urban sustainability and a positive force in the neighborhood. And while it’s too nascent to make a call about the Lab’s success — events are scheduled through October 16 — there is some serious brain power involved, which hopefully bodes well for the programming. Though, I should mention, that Hyperallergic writer Liz Eliano already sees some signs for concern.
Anyway, let’s take a closer look and the cafe and the Lab.
Roberta’s Cafe at the BMW Guggenheim Lab is located at the corner of East Houston Street and Second Avenue and will be open Wed-Fri 1-9 pm and Sat-Sun 10 am-9 pm.
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