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2. Lola's Suzanne Cupps.png Liz Clayman
Lola’s chef and owner, Suzanne Cupps.

Veteran chef Suzanne Cupps opens Lola’s in New York City’s Flatiron District

Her first independent venture merges new American cuisine with Asian and Southern influences

Suzanne Cupps has spent the past 15 years cooking in some of New York City’s best kitchens, including Gramercy Tavern, Annisa, Untitled at the Whitney, and 232 Bleecker. On April 4, she opened the doors to Lola’s in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, marking the beginning of her first independent venture.

Lola’s is the culmination of Cupps’ professional and personal experience, drawing inspiration not only from her time working in New York City, but also from her South Carolina upbringing, her Filipino-American heritage, and her grandmother (Lola means grandmother in the Austronesian language Tagalog).

Lola’s measures 2,500 square feet, with seating for 70 guests: 52 in the dining room, 10 at the front bar, and eight at the kitchen counter. The space was designed by Ben Krone of Gradient Architecture. The bar is made from ash and features a mirrored back with ash shelving, with jade green tiling is visible throughout the open kitchen. The terrazzo kitchen counter continues the green-hued motif, while green-and-pink banquettes line the neutral gray walls.

The restaurant’s menu shareable and features eclectic ingredients, showcasing a mix of vegetables, proteins, and desserts. Select dishes include stuffed littleneck clams, beef and black barley tartare with gochujang and sunchoke chips, fried tilefish lettuce wraps with kohlrabi slaw and jalapeño tartar sauce, and crispy chicken thighs with pickles and fermented hot honey.

“The pandemic changed things for most people, including me,” Cupps said. “Even though there were many tough moments during those years, I finally had time to slow down and think about what was next in my career.”  

She had just helped to open 232 Bleecker when the pandemic forced restaurants to shut down. Cupps credits the necessary pivots to takeout and delivery, outdoor seating, and reduced staffing with her becoming more flexible and creative in her approach.

“It was from this experience that I gained confidence and felt like I had learned enough about the entire restaurant operation to work on my own project,” she said.

To make this new project happen, Cupps surrounded herself with other industry veterans, including general manager Nick Salinger, whose resume includes time at Charlie Bird, Pasquale Jones and Legacy Records. The beverage director is Adrienne Vanni, previously of Al Coro, Mel’s and Manhatta.

“Training a team and also getting to work with great farmers and purveyors again are definitely my favorite parts,” Cupps said. “Learning the business side is the biggest challenge, but more specifically, being able to balance the administrative work while still being fully present in the daily operation.”

Vanni has curated a global wine list that spotlights thoughtful producers and affordable bottles across lesser-known varietals and regions. Her cocktail list features a section of highballs, like the M&M (mezcal and Amaro Montenegro) and the Ferrari (Campari and Fernet), as well as original cocktails and local beers. The menu also includes several non-alcoholic beverages, such as housemade sodas and shrubs, kombuchas, and non-alcoholic beers and wines.

Lola’s is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m., and will soon launch a happy hour beginning at 4 p.m.

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