Citywide Gems – Dudley’s Is A Cultural Hub In The Heart Of The L.E.S.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City there comes a select few establishments that offer a sanctuary to the innovators and business people of today. As the city progresses at an exponential rate it is revitalizing to see certain places that are capsule in time, Dudley’s located at the corner of Orchard and Broome in the lively Lower East Side neighborhood in Manhattan teleports a bit of Australian history with a twist of modernism. An intimate bistro that recently reopened in the same location to cater to their extensive clientele with more seating and a refined atmosphere, the space embodies a culmination of classic touches and avant-garde techniques. Managers Christian Krasteff and Sam Kagno have nurtured a family at Dudley’s, it has been a pleasure to see and be a part of the transformation from when we were teenagers at Midwood High School to fulfilling our dreams of bringing people together to release their stress.
Legend has it that the building where Dudley’s stands was once a horse barn, horses were used as the first mode of transportation over the Manhattan bridge ages ago. Another story claims that it was a button factory which later turned into 3 places, an art gallery, a French restaurant, and a cigar shop. The ceiling has an iconic elliptical shape formed from the original bricks to keep the structure fireproof and the rambunctious steel beams still fortify this home away from home, marble countertops and tables surround the wrap around bar where the bartenders are the center of the action. Dudley’s was born in 2011 by restauranteur Nicholas Matters, it was designed to showcase American taste with an Australian flair. It was one of the first serious cocktail bars in the Lower East Side which is funny to think now how many different watering holes there are in this nook of Manhattan. The new Dudley’s is approximately 1500 sq ft and seats 80 people reducing the sometimes 2 hour long wait for brunch.
Crafting extraordinary food is a core initiative of Dudley’s, nothing is ever frozen, the produce is sourced fresh daily from local organic markets. Everything from the menu is made from scratch for example the barbecue sauce, truffle aioli, their chicken salt which is shipped nationally, appetizers, and entrees all are created with love. Prep time starts at 3:30 in the morning as chefs work through the late night to get ready for their world-famous brunch. Australians love their coffee and Dudley’s solely uses the Brooklyn and Manhattan blends from Partners Coffee Roasters in Brooklyn. Some of the most famous menu items include their rotisserie chicken, avocado toast which their sister shop Ruby’s invented, ricotta hotcakes, chicken schnitzel, Bronte burger, and crispy rice salad.
Mixology is the study of designing unique cocktails, it takes dedication and skill to mix a drink that that leave a lasting impression to those that brave the intoxication. At Dudley’s there has always been a passion to provide a blend of international flavors that tell a story through the chalice. Brewing from the melting pot there’s a gang of carefully blended alcoholic beverages, all made in house by their master bartenders. First we have the namesake Dudley’s cup which is a gin watermelon based cocktail. The next concoction is called the Tarantino which is a classic bourbon drink with a cinnamon fusion enjoyed hot or cold. Punny elixir Mint To Be is a vodka cucumber mix with a refreshing winter mint finish. The final show stopper on their roster of taste bud tantalizers is Orchard and Broome which is a tequila-based spirit with the peregrine blood orange juice.
Dudley’s is part of the Wish You Were Here Group that operates in New York and Los Angeles. The New York locations are Dudley’s, Ruby’s which has 3 Manhattan locations, The Happiest Hour, and Slowly Shirley. Los Angeles is host to Eveleigh, Kassi Club (formerly Goldie’s), and the crown jewel Elephante. Managing partner Christian Krasteff told me in the summer of 2017 that he would be moving to Los Angeles to set up Elephante, knowing the standard that Dudley’s established I was prepared to see something incredible but when I arrived my expectations were overstimulated. The decor, coziness, vibes, and service of Elephante all swirled together in a perfect synergy. The name Wish You Were Here Group raises establishments which create their own memorable experiences, places that invoke the feeling that you can visit multiple times and never get tired.
For the first eight years of its existence Dudley’s flourished as a smaller bistro on the side of Orchard and Broome. During the summer of 2019 in the span of four weeks, Dudley’s was able to expand their space taking over the shops on either side. Rebuilding from the ground up in such a short amount of time was an extraordinary feat especially under the watchful hands of some 20 year old kids from Brooklyn. The original door and coffee window are still present, an homage to the simplicity and beauty of the first generation Dudley’s.
Coming in the near future Dudley’s plans to open up the deli and cafe window to provide nourishment for locals and travelers to pick something up and enjoy at their leisure. The parking spots adjacent to Dudley’s have been replaced with outdoor seating, making it a quintessential outdoor spot reminiscent of the romantic outdoor plazas in Europe. Partnerships with a few well known brands to host events are also in the works.
The culture at Dudley’s is a substantial reason why anyone can come in and enjoy a seamless journey through food and drink, everyone from the management to the employees to the customers are all one big extended family. All of the talent is trained and developed from within, not looking to hire an outside manager but promoting in the company builds trust and shows that hard work and dedication do pay off in the long run. The employee retention rate is above 95 percent year after year which speaks volumes of everyone wanting to stay and love serving the community which they are also immersed in. Other workers of well known spots around the neighborhood come by and love to hang out because although they are competitors they can all be friends and service a city as large as New York.
Christian and Sam came to this country with their families to chase the American dream, some routes are more conventional than others but success is always noted. Working their way up over the course of many long nights and wild happenings led them to the positions they are in today. Sometimes while seeking the perfect opportunity one can overlook what amazing resources they have in hand. Always being friendly and hospitable, they have found their calling, a place where they can fine tune a lasting moment. From where we were thirteen years ago we could have never guessed how things turned out, now I get the chance to interview them and document a piece of history to share our passions. Growing the amazing bond that started years ago sets up a bountiful future, beyond excited to see the coming of age around the same time. Love, friendship, and passion drove us all, coming from different cultures and backgrounds only made us wiser. A mixture of street smarts and good schooling can do wonders to those that believe in themselves.
Dudley’s will always be the institution that changed the page of the Lower East Side, one of the first cocktail bars in the area with a rich menu of international tastes sparked the craze that makes the area one of the trendiest in the world. Having the opportunity to try myriads of restaurants all over five continents it’s always a pleasure to see a place that’s has true charm and powerful vibes. Dudley’s will be a staple of the industry for years to come, moving at a pace of it’s own and not trying to outlive what has made it great. If you haven’t been here yet try to visit either by yourself or with friends and business partners, you will be sure to leave satisfied.