Although the newly-opened Honest Dog Restaurant was deserted last night, having closed suddenly on Tuesday only a few weeks after it opened, 12 Church Street was far from forlorn. Upstairs, amidst the food and music of their weekly Studio 12 open mic night, Montclair restaurant veterans Greg and Cheryl Spinelli were busy planning a new venture. Come Friday, the downstairs restaurant space will open as Tapastry, where, together with Chef Gonzalo Fernandez (formerly of La Xunta Tapas Bar in NY’s East Village), they’ll be bringing Tapas to Montclair.
According to Greg, they hold the lease on the building for 3 more years, with an option to extend for another 10. With their sub-tenents gone, the Spinellis knew they needed to generate revenue in the space. “My head was spinning when I first heard that ‘The Dog’ had run off,” he said. “But then Cheryl and I looked at each other and we knew we were ready for our next adventure. It’s such a hoot! No one is doing Tapas in Montclair, and we’re really excited.”
Downstairs, Chef Fernandez was in the kitchen, cooking for the Studio 12 crowd and organizing his ideas for the new restaurant. A Montclair resident, Fernandez has worked with the Spinellis for the past few years in the catering business. Tapastry’s menu will initially include a range of entrees, but Fernandez said that if all goes well, they’ll make it all Tapas. “We’re gonna start with 12 Tapas, and bring it up to 15 or 20 within a few weeks,” he explained. When asked to name a sampling of opening Tapas, the chef mentioned classic Spanish omelets, mushroom croquettes, Pan Catalan (unsweetened cornbread grilled with tomato puree), and grilled dates with bacon. “Soon, we’ll add seafood paella,” he said. “And live flamenco music.”
With a staff already in place — they’ve absorbed some of the Market/Honest Dog crew, plus their catering personnel — and a fully equipped kitchen and restaurant, the quick turnaround isn’t as daunting as it might have been. “I’ll want to do some redecorating in the next few weeks,” said Cheryl. “but we’re ready for this — we’re up to the task.”
Tapastry will open on Friday, at 5 p.m. for dinner, with brunch starting on Saturday and lunch service planned for next Thursday. There’ll be live music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, as well as during Memorial Day brunch, with performances from some Baristaville favorites, including Meg Beattie Patrick and John Finnegan.