Bubbly. Cubes of cheese. Pinkies in the air. Light conversation. Civility. Ah, the hallmarks of a typical restaurant opening where “friends & family” gather for a little reception, followed by an edited meal as the owner(s) sweat(s) in a corner, evil-eyeing the even sweatier chef, who’s terrified of his/her job even before the first gut-dropping Yelp massacre floats onto a Kendallites Facebook. Cue the scream/call the next morning. So 2018.
Not so at Chica, where with military precision, a cool-as-a-cucumber hospitality mogul celebrated his latest creation sporting a matte forehead and movie-star smile. Next to him stands his celeb-tinged female power! chef, shined up and salon fresh – beaming and beholding their sexed-up, totally orchestrated, Vegas-like opening night like champs before a single dish has dropped. Indeed, Chica has arrived – the pan-Latin lovechild of 50 Eggs CEO John Kunkle and chef Lorena Garcia.
Channeling South Beach’s famously hedonistic skin-tastic heyday, Chica’s grand opening featured Vegas-style showgirls, a full Latin band with horn section, and DJ’s. Sure. But most importantly, there was visual overload with topless girls in G-strings on pedestals being bodypainted; scantily clad aerialists hanging from the rafters; and slightly demonic, lingeried fire-swallowers. The music was ear-blistering, the crowd wowed. The evening was co-presented by our friends at Haute Living.
Soyka’s cavernous, monochromatically drab space has been completely transformed by The Rockwell Group, and is now unrecognizable. Chica is cozy, lush, lavish and tropical, with a huge double-sided bar dominating the room, a live music stage, and colorful decor and furnishings. The resulting restaurant oozes date night romance and interesting textures, and is nothing like the upper east side has ever seen. Did we mention when it opens it will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner? Check out the menu.