In the book, After the Storm, by A.E. Hotchner, a screenwriter, for sixteen of Ernest Hemingway’s works—Hemingway said of the adaptation, After the Storm “Just don’t play it safe….Even if it doesn’t work out, you’re all right. The hell with playing it safe.”
When, I sat down with Mr. Edwards Youkilis, the owner of Edwards’s Restaurant in Tribeca, I thought, “he has not played it safe and it’s why he is a successful restaurateur.” On a warm Tuesday morning, I interviewed Edward Youkilis at 136 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013.
What type of restaurant is Edwards? We are a small neighborhood restaurant; we have been here as Edwards since 2001. We get a lot of people that either live in the neighborhood or work in the neighborhood. Edwards is a very casual, easy kind of place; a lot of families visit us, and tourists.
What do you like about Tribeca? Actually, I’ve been living in Tribeca since 1975; I know the neighborhood well. Before Edwards, I was involved with the partners of Odeon (145 West Broadway). In 1995, with a group of people I worked with at the Odeon, we opened Bar Odeon at this space (136 West Broadway). Years later, I bought out the partners in 2001 and it became Edwards.
The other day, I was walking with a friend on West Broadway, and she suggested coffee. We came to Edwards; the coffee was delicious, what is the brand name? Our regular coffee and espresso is imported from Italy: Medaglia d’Oro. It’s not one of the most famous brands in the United States, however, it is consistently good, strong, regular coffee, and people tend to like it. You know, coffee is tricky, because everybody likes their own; some people like Dunkin′ Donuts and Starbucks; some people like fancy, special brewed coffee from the west coast; but as long as it’s a good cup of coffee, I can drink almost anything.
Edwards feels like a French Bistro. Well, I guess you are right; it has a little French Bistro feeling with somewhat more of an American menu. We have hamburgers, salads and seafood. Edwards mostly concentrates on easy-to-understand and uncomplicated foods. We try to make sure all our products are good quality and our meats are all natural. Everything is served fresh and some products are organic.
Right away, I noticed the shelves and shelves of wine bottles; they bring an old-fashioned style to the charm of Edwards. Yes, we decided it is part of our decorations. The bottles actually have been here for over ten years; they’re probably not drinkable. Every couple of months we dust them off, but there is something nice about the dusty look.
I like the dusty look too, it has a nostalgic touch. Thank you.
Frank was our waiter, he was terrific. We have a friendly staff, that’s one of the things about Edwards, people pick-up on; it’s important to have a personable staff. We are a simple place—we have a simple menu, and the friendliest staff…I like to say.
What is popular for lunch at Edwards? Probably the sandwiches, hamburgers and the steak sandwich is a big request.
What about dinner? For dinner, it would be our popular fish items, such as Tuna and Salmon—they sell well at night.
Do you serve Vegetarian meals? We always have vegetarian palate. In fact, the kitchen will make whatever the customer requests.
How did you find your passion? Well, originally, in school and most of my life before the 80s, I was a painter. That’s why I ended up in Tribeca and Soho, because it was where painters could to find studio space. So, I lived here as an artist, then sort of by accident, I ended up in the restaurant business. Friends of mine were doing things in restaurants; I helped them a little bit, and liked it. So, while I was an artist, I was working in restaurants; it took up so much time—I stayed with the business.
Do you still paint? I don’t, I like to and I always think I am going to again, but I haven’t. I am usually here. One of the problems with being a small operation, being the owner, and being the manager is I work seven days per week. I eat here at Edwards, I’m always here.
Thank you, Mr. Youkilis. Thanks for stopping by Edwards.
Catch it if you can at www.edwardsnyc.com