Last month I shared the distressing news, thanks to known and reliable tipsters, that the management of El Quijote would be changing hands. I was told it would be taken over by the new owners of the Chelsea Hotel, in which El Quijote has stood, unmolested, for 84 years. I was also told that the beloved restaurant would never be the same again.
When I shared this information, people panicked. My tipsters panicked, too, and I removed most of the details in the post by request, leaving only the warning: "if you'd like to experience it as it's always been, go have a good, affordable meal while you still can. Changes are coming."
I got some angry comments for sharing the intel, including: "this is completely untrue, as in false rumor. There's not even a hint of truth to it. Allegedly reliable sources should pull their heads out of their a## and Jeremiah you should pull the post. Youre [sic] making El Q's life more difficult." The restaurant denied to the press that any changes were in the works. At Grub Street, one Chelsea resident insisted the information was "completely untrue" and "1000% incorrect."
While this is not the sort of news I like to be vindicated about, my intel has been confirmed as fact. Yesterday, Eater reported that El Quijote "is in the process of being acquired by Chelsea Hotels, the new company that owns the building," run by the controversial Ed Scheetz.
A rep for Scheetz said the new owners will "retain the signature look and feel of El Quijote" while "maintaining its authenticity." Oh, the slippery wording on that one! What does it really mean?
Now, here's the thing. My tipsters were correct about the hotel taking over the restaurant. I'm going to assume they're also correct about the rest of it. They told me that the expected changes will be similar to what happened to Minetta Tavern. In other words, they hear it will be an upscale reboot with higher prices and a fancier menu. That also means a shiny new clientele. If this happens, El Quijote won't be the comfy old joint it's been for decades, and you and I won't be getting a reservation any time soon. The fauxstalgia trend wins again. Add this one to the list that includes: Rocco's, Bill's Gay 90s, Fedora, Minetta...
How long before the self-congratulatory apologias begin? We're preserving it! We're paying homage! If we didn't take it over, El Quijote would have become a bank!