When Suzanne Cupps started thinking about what she wanted to do next, it was difficult to imagine stepping into another New York City kitchen. Since April 2017, Cupps has been the executive chef of Union Square Hospitality Group’s Untitled at The Whitney, where she became known for her vegetable-forward cooking—with dishes like jerk carrots and fried chicken with cherry bomb hot sauce—and grew into the spotlight as a shining star of Danny Meyer's brand. Even though Cupps said she “was just kind of coming up empty” when it came to pinpointing a next step in her career, an opportunity presented itself that she couldn’t pass up: In October 2019, Cupps will start her post as the executive chef of 232 Bleecker, a new concept from the folks behind the fast-casual chain Dig Inn.
Located on the corner of Bleecker and Carmine, the West Village spot will be a standalone restaurant, yet will fall under the umbrella of Dig Food Group. In addition to Dig Inn, the group also operates Dig Acres Farm in Chester, N.Y.—which is where Cupps will source the bulk of the produce she’ll use at the restaurant. According to Eater, part of the funding for 232 Bleecker is coming from an investment made earlier this year by Meyer's private equity fund, Enlightened Hospitality Investments.
“I think people are very familiar with the Dig Inn restaurants already,” Cupps said. “This will be a little bit more of an experience, but it'll still be that same casual, relaxed feeling where you know what to expect in some ways and hopefully you’re surprised in others.” While Dig Inn is a Chipotle-style assembly line that caters to quick lunches, 232 Bleecker will be a sit-down restaurant.
Cupps is wary of constructing a new identity for the space while staying true to the kind of cooking she loves. “I'm not creating a second Untitled,” she said. “I think that’s always an interesting intersection for a chef, how do you use what you've learned and also continue to grow and continue to change what you're doing, both to fit the space and continue your career?”
Cupps comes to this new venture having found her voice as both a chef and a leader. Her food is informed by her years at the now-closed Annisa (from 2001 Food & Wine Best New Chef Anita Lo) and another Union Square Hospitality Group restaurant, Gramercy Tavern (where Cupps worked under 2002 Food & Wine Best New Chef Mike Anthony). Cupps said that when she took over Untitled over two years ago, she was still learning how to run a team. Now, she’s confident in her ability to do so.
In choosing a new job, one non-negotiable for Cupps was finding a company that cares about their people.
“The food is obviously a big part of why I cook, but really it’s the team and being able to foster an environment that feels conducive to learning and teaching,” Cupps said. “The company itself felt very natural for me.”