Finance wasn’t the only lady lovin’ lady promoter to set her sights on Mix Café and Lounge. As Finance was launching Kiki, coincidentally, Susan Burdian, co-owner of Shescape, was taking the first steps towards opening a restaurant. Early this summer, Burdian decided to tap into Mix’s kitchen and dining area to launch her gourmet comfort food joint, Zuzies.
Yes, that Shescape. While it may not be a household name for 20-somethings, recently arrivals and the newly out, Shescape is a women’s promotion group responsible for some of the biggest lesbian parties ever seen in New York City. While Shescape has become less active in recent years, the group occasionally throws a one-off. Most recently, it was partially responsible for the massive, crunked-up and generally insane Truck Stop Pride event this June.
When I remarked to Burdian that it was slightly tragic that the current crop of New York City’s young ‘uns missed the period of New York lesbian nightlife where Shescape’s monster parties reigned supreme, she responded, "I chuckled at your line about young’uns. Yes sometimes I wish I could plant my memories of 2,000 women for tea at the Palladium, 2,500 women at the Roxy for Gay Pride, or Rainbow Room for Thanksgiving, and the Sony Roof Deck in South Beach, Miami. The scene nowadays in general is more of a loungy vibe, ever since 9/11, in my observation."
I asked Burdian what prompted the switch from event promoter to restaurateur. "I’m not sure I would say I made a ‘switch’ from Shescape to restaurateur," she said. "I am still promoting Shescape parties and am planning our fall schedule of events now, including one or two special events at Mix, but I have been ambitious to open my own restaurant for many years. Cooking and entertaining have been a passion of mine for a long time."
A few years ago, Burdian enrolled in culinary school, the Natural Gourmet Institute. After she graduated, she did the rounds at a few restaurants around the city learning the ropes until she was ready to strike out on her own. The opportunity came this summer when Mix called her looking for a brunch chef. "Mix actually called me because they needed a brunch chef, but the conversation quickly turned larger," she said. "I negotiated the sublease of the kitchen, so Zuzies was born this summer."
Zuzies menu has been characterized as "gourmet comfort food." Think big flavors that light the palate afire while warming the soul.
Grub photos by Bradley Hawks
Zuzies opening party was held on August 7 with an open Voli Vodka bar, a steady stream of Burdian’s culinary creations offered on a platter, and a performance by the Sunday Morning Mimosas, Mix’s resident drag queens. So what happens when the owner of Shescape throws a restaurant opening party? Take a look.
Said Burdian about the burgeoning lesbian scene at Mix in Astoria: "Mix opened in September 2009 and there has always been a general desire to include women but I think the real push came when Kacie actually offered a proposal. She was the right person for the job. I had just begun the process of opening Zuzies, with the intent to use all Shescape resources once I was ready, and Kacie introduced herself and proposed a weekly women’s party. It takes time to get the word out there, and to bring the women’s community out to a bar that they initially perceive as being mostly for men."