Before and After: New York's Coolest New Gastro-Bar
Zachary Lynd has one of those careers that you just can’t help but envy. After earning a master's degree in branding at The School of Visual Arts in New York City, he found himself working for Matteo Bologna, the mastermind behind famed restaurant identities like Pastis, Balthazar, and Schiller's Liquor Bar. For his thesis project, he opened Turf, a Montauk food truck concept that earned praise from Vogue, GQ, and The Wall Street Journal—talk about a grand slam. As you’re about to see, his latest pursuit is equally promising, not to mention delicious.
The Upsider in Midtown East was born when Lynd met Danny Volk, veteran of nightlife and restaurant developer EMM Group. “He saw potential in a neighborhood that had a lot of demand but no truly cool places to eat,” Lynd says. “He found an overlooked location and asked what I thought belonged there. What you see now was my answer to his question after he entrusted me with total creative control and gave me four months to renovate.” In 120 days, Lynd transformed “a wine bar that hadn’t seen any TLC in a long time” into the hottest new eatery on the eastside.
After tearing up every floorboard and ripping down every wall, he set out to create a neighborhood restaurant “that had the branding potential to expand to other locations.” He looked across the pond, specifically to a vintage entertaining book, for inspiration: “I was inspired by a lot of references to British culture with some '60s Esquire Party Book vibes, but updated and fresh.” And he looked uptown: “I also thought a lot about Upper East Side culture, playing with the idea of rebellious kids throwing a party in their parents' apartment or overtaking The Palm.”
He also looked to his love, New York stylist and creative director Kelly Framel, who's the voice behind popular fashion blog The Glamourai. “While our professional work is technically separate, we’re never not in on each other’s projects; it’s just too much fun,” he says. “Just having her as a sounding board elevates every idea ten-fold… and the simple fact that we’re partners gives me a little ‘he’s doing something right’ point on the board.”
Paying an ode to some design greats, Lynd filled the dining room with vintage Paul McCobb and Russell Wright chairs, which he sourced one at a time and updated with a cool gray Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
He also commissioned custom light fixtures from Brendan Ravenhill, a rising star in his own right. Much of the space is actually outfitted with Lynd’s own designs and fabrications, including brass bar stools, shelving, a 26-foot quartz bar (which is painted in Benjamin Moore “Dollar Bill Green”), and Pepto Bismol-pink-top brass-edged tables that are just begging to be Instagrammed. There’s no doubt in our minds The Upsider’s patrons will be pleading to purchase it all.
With dishes like chilled octopus, twice-cooked pork belly, and sambuca-creamed spinach, the gastro-bar is “a chef-driven bar with a food and beverage program very much like the space… light and fresh,” Lynd says. For dinner, he opts for the steak with fries and Bordeaux. His favorite nip is the Pocket Square, “a beautifully balanced cocktail that is perfect at any point in the night,” made with Bombay gin, Amaro CioCiaro, Campari, St. Germain liqueur, and lemon juice.
It’s too bad this spot isn’t in our neighborhood; we know it would become our local Cheers bar in no time.
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