When Tribeca's Kitchen Reopens: 'My Dad's Not There, But He's There'

Andreas Koutsoudakis outside Tribeca's Kitchen, now undergoing changes to the interior before it reopens this summer. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

May. 28, 2020

With the passing of Tribeca’s Kitchen’s much beloved owner, Andy Koutsoudakis, who died on March 27 at age 59 from Covid-19, the future of the business now rests in the hands of his son, Andreas, 35. Koutsoudakis, a lawyer who represents restaurateurs and a close advisor to his late father, shared with the Trib his feelings about taking over the popular eatery, and his plans for its future.

It’s very hard to reopen Tribeca's Kitchen just as it was. 

After my father died, I kept hearing, “Oh it’s never going to be the same,” or I’m going to be really sad to come back, or I don’t know if I’m going to be able to come back. That kind of stuff is horrible to hear. I knew instinctively that I had this challenge. On the one hand I didn’t want to make any changes and to keep everything just as it was for my dad and to keep his legacy alive. On the other hand, I knew that it also had to be different. 

So how do I keep all the things that everybody loves? How do I capture all of the things that are important in a community diner and, more importantly, capture all of the things that people loved about it because of my dad. 

My dad was actually in the process of making some changes on his own, but post-Covid he would have renovated a lot more. He wanted to revamp the counter space and redo the booths. Now booths are a problem. Those things are locked into the ground. I cant make them social distance-able. So thats something I have to change.

Even though we are renovating Tribeca’s Kitchen to go above and beyond CDC and state protocol, at the same time we will still be a diner, a place where you can come have breakfast, lunch and dinner, whether it’s a bagel and a coffee or a steak. 

We are planning on developing a grab-and-go station, where guests can pick up their take out orders or grab a cup of coffee. I want to do everything I can so that my employees are safe and my customers are safe. It will be reimagined but it will still be fresh and bright, and still a place where everyone’s going to be happy to come to. 

It’s important to me to make sure my dad is remembered the right way and this place survives and does well, and continues doing everything he taught me and all our employees. From the way we communicate to a customer to the way we say goodbye, these were core values that he stood for and drilled into us and it was reflected in everything our guests saw and felt in the restaurant. 

Employee growth was my dad’s big thing. We have two partners who started out as dishwashers and now they’re owners of a restaurant. So I want to continue to foster that in the employees like my dad did. If an employee wants to learn something unrelated to restaurants, to take a class part-time, go get a college degree, we’re going to make their schedule work so that they can do that.

My dad's not there, but he’s there. You just can’t see him. That’s what I’m doing.

I’m going to be in the restaurant, breakfast, lunch and dinner because right now what’s most important is connecting with customers, talking to them, and making sure they know that I’m a real person who is very passionate about the restaurant. My dad was my world, so as hard as this all is, I’m really getting to enjoy him in a very special way.   

I’m here to stay and capture everything I possibly can about my dad. Which is why the sign in the window says, “Love Like Andy.” 


Outdoor seating could help get it up and running

I know that the residents of the building fought against letting Andy have outdoor seating. I never understood this. Maybe they would reconsider. I think this would be another way to help get the restaurant up and running and also provide another social distancing option. Our community needs to support local affordable restaurants. — JUDITH MILLER

Andy's son is carrying on a wonderful tradition

I love Tribeca’s Kitchen and Andy, the Owner. Please share my condolences with his son, who is carrying on a wonderful tradition—and innovating. What can we do to help… and celebrate Andy’s life? —SUSAN "DR. SUE" HOROWITZ