Illustrator-turned-restaurant owner opens natural wine bar in Bushwick
Cherry Zelenetz has spent most of the past decade creating logos and menus for New York City restaurants. Now the local illustrator finally gets the chance to design her own with the opening of Cherry on top, a natural wine bar with a rooftop in Bushwick. The space, which vaguely refers to Parisian cafes open all day, opens at 379 rue Suydam, near avenue Wyckoff, on September 9.
“I made it difficult for myself,” says Zelenetz, standing in his mostly handmade bar a week before it opened. “But I’m glad I did. I wanted everything to give the impression that it came from somewhere and that there is a story behind it. “
To open the bar, Zelenetz teamed up with partners Amir Nathan and Jordan Anderson, former Via Carota and Olmsted alumni respectively, who recently opened Sami and Susu on the Lower East Side. Nathan and Anderson are keeping things tight with an 11-line menu that will change with the seasons. There’s an Olivier salad (a Russian potato salad, $ 10), a tomato and pesto burrata ($ 17), and a “devilish” fish frontal that has been gutted and filled with a smoked trout mixture. , crème fraîche and green onions ($ 25).
“I don’t want this to be confused with a full-fledged restaurant,” she says. “It’s based on the Parisian wine bar where you can go for some snacks and feel like you’ve actually eaten.”
Wines can be ordered by the glass or by the bottle from a list of classic verses and “more funk,” a word Zelenetz uses with some sorrow. “We are not focusing on the region,” she said. “I choose fun, inexpensive wines. »Swick Wines, for whom the illustrator has designed several labels, will anchor the menu with a cuvée created for the bar.
Zelenetz has previously illustrated logos and menus for several New York City restaurants, including Sami and Susu, Ernesto’s and Oddfellows Ice Cream. “At one point it became my own restaurant,” she says. Cherry On Top is based in a former Oddfellows factory, which means there was no pre-existing bar setup to bypass. “The layout was completely up in the air,” she says, so she decided to sketch the space in a series of drawings.
Items that appear in Cherry On Top’s first illustrations – custom tiling, red table tops, and hand-painted lamps – have mostly made their way to the bar Zelenetz plans to open this month. The dining area is fitted with handmade cushions and hand-drawn illustrations. Upstairs, a sizable rooftop with a separate bar is fitted with salvaged vintage furniture and plenty of plants.
These are not the attributes of a typical natural wine bar, and intentionally. “I wanted to create a fun and welcoming space and you can ask questions even if you don’t know wine,” she says. Instead of traveling sommeliers, bartenders will distribute food to customers’ tables, according to Zelenetz. Most wines cost between $ 11 and $ 16 a glass, and a small bowl of olives is offered at each slightly mismatched table.
As for the name of the bar, Zelenetz says Cherry On Top nods to its origins as an ice cream factory, as well as its own roots. Her first name – Cerise – translates to “cherry” from French, and when she was a child, she signed her name with a distorted illustration of the fruit. This same logo, designed by four-year-old Zelenetz, now adorns the bar’s window.
Cherry on Top is open daily from 5 p.m. to midnight. Closed on Tuesdays.