12/03/2012 05:23:00 PM

Details on the Nom Wah-Openhouse Gallery Collaboration at 168 Bowery

The 168 Bowery space; photo by Rachel Frydenlund
The cycle of life is extra apparent on Kenmare Street these days, where whenever one door closes another seems to open. News broke last week that the latest entry is the project at 168 Bowery, from Nom Wah Tea Parlor's Wilson Tang, and Jon Daou of Openhouse Gallery. The space, which sits at the corner of Bowery and Kenmare, is a former subway station--glossy McNally-esque tiles, creepy staircase leading underground, and old phone booth included. The team has dubbed the place "the Old Bowery Station," a name neutral enough to let it play host to the myriad of dinners and pop-ups in the works for 2013.

Daou (a former real estate guy) has tons of pop-up experience, of course, having overseen the transformation of his Openhouse Gallery on Mulberry Street into an Astroturfed indoor park and recently launched a temporary 3-D-art gallery, 3dea, at the Eventi Hotel. Daou and Tang have equally broad ambitions for 168, with the added bonus of a full open kitchen featuring two combi ovens, a commercial hood, induction burners, and a six-seat chef's counter. "We're opening this for the vagueness of the space," Daou explained. "The thing we decided to do here was what we do at Openhouse" with a food component.


There's talk of hosting a private Argentine Milonga society who would also serve members traditional bites; a collaboration with Jonathan Wu of seasonal Chinese project Wu Pops Up might happen; and Tang tells us he's planning to bring a temporary Nom Wah to the space - he's been testing dumpling recipes using the combis' steam settings. With a main room that can comfortably seat 30 and a spacious side area that's currently home to a preschool certain weekdays and apt to be in use for a gallery exhibition or sample sale on evenings or weekends, larger functions are possible as well.

Tang and Daou mentioned wanting to host dinners or multi-night residencies with undersung sous-chefs or even home cooks. They're also open to rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, charity functions - anything, really. "You end up seeing what works and you tweak and tweak and tweak," Daou says. While the pop-ups should get rolling in January, the plan is to introduce a daytime cafe with baked goods by former Babycakes pastry maven Jessie Chalkley sometime before Christmas. For bookings, call Openhouse at 212-334-0288 or email kristie@openhouse.me.

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