In the ever-evolving world of New York City restaurants, one spot changes more than most. Chef Craig Koketsu transforms his restaurant four times a year to be Park Avenue Spring, Park Avenue Summer, Park Avenue Autumn, and now he’s deep into running Park Avenue Winter. And if that constant metamorphosis wasn’t enough, he also oversees Quality Meats, which he classifies as “not a steakhouse, but a restaurant that serves steak.” Fair enough.
Tell us about the quarterly change.
The switch is a two-day affair. In that time, it transforms into a different restaurant — from the decor to the menu to the staff training to even the ceiling. It’s a crash course.
Is it hard to create fresh dishes with winter ingredients?
There are heartier items, of course, but we try to keep things fun. We’re doing “The Carmellini Challenger,” a reference to the great chef Andrew Carmellini. We say our meatballs are as good as any of his meatballs.
Has he come in, angrily brandishing his version?
Oh, it’s all in fun. But we’d love for him to come in and see what he thinks.
Do you do wind sprints between the two restaurants?
It’s an eight-minute walk — I’ve timed it. I like to think of the two restaurants as brothers.
And one of those brothers has a multiple personality disorder.
[Laughs] Yes! And the other is just sort of a meaty brute.