Our Heroes: Jimmy Carbone at Jimmy's No. 43

Jimmy Carbone

Last week, on March 26th, a tragic fire and explosion caused multiple buildings to collapse in Manhattan’s East Village. From our midtown office, we could hear fire trucks as they rushed to the scene. The building just west of the collapse on 7th Street is home to Jimmy’s No. 43, a classic New York bar and restaurant owned by Jimmy Carbone, a longtime supporter of local and sustainable agriculture. Jimmy’s has been home to dozens, maybe hundreds of local food events over the years. Please take some time to read about our hero Jimmy below, and listen to Leonard Lopate on WNYC chatting with Jimmy about the fire, what is happening in the neighborhood and when Jimmy’s No. 43 will open again. And please patronize Jimmy’s No. 43 by buying a gift certificate (which will help to pay employees while they are closed) and when it is open again, hopefully in the very near future.

Over the next few months, Our Heroes is featuring chefs from Eat Well-approved restaurants. Jimmy Carbone is the founder of Jimmy's No. 43 in New York, New York, a small craft beer bar focused on keeping the menu seasonal in support of local farmers and fishermen. You can find their Eat Well Guide listing here.

What type of cuisine do you serve at your restaurant, and how do local and sustainable ingredients factor into your menu?

We serve a seasonal, greenmarket menu. Many of our ingredients are sourced from the Union Square greenmarket, with additional food sourced from local family farms. We pride ourselves on having the freshest ingredients on a menu that changes seasonally.

About how many meals do you serve a day? How big is your staff?

We're very small. We have one cook generally serving up less than 100 meals per day.

How often do you and/or your staff visit your favorite farms and/or farmers markets?

Weekly or semi-weekly.

How do you communicate your commitment to sustainability to your customers and the community?

We regularly participate in the NYC Greenmarkets, and we also contribute to various greenmarket programs through our larger events (e.g. Pig Island on September 6th, being held in Red Hook’s Erie Basis Park, dedicates a portion of our proceeds to Added Value Farm).

Describe your local food community in four words.

Instrumental to our success.

Are there other sustainable aspects to your establishment (water/energy conservation efforts, composting, ect.)?

Since we are a craft beer bar and an original member (and founder) of The Good Beer Seal, it’s important to recognize our presence in the regional craft beer scene. Many nano-breweries have gotten their Manhattan launch at Jimmy’s No. 43, and these brewers are dedicated to sustainable practices (e.g. Two Roads Brewing in CT has a full recycling and reclamation facility on site; some of our smallest brewers deliver their kegs on bikes!).

When I opened Jimmy's No. 43 in 2006, Slow Food NYC officers were frequent guests and they encouraged me "to up my game" with regards to a sustainable menu. In 2007 under Chef Philip Kirschen-Clark, we did an all-market menu, from which we were awarded the Slow Food Snail of Approval.

How did you get your start in the business? Did you start with a sustainable focus, or did that come along later?

When I first started, I was aware that the freshest products came from local farms or - in the case of seafood - via local fishermen. In 2002, I opened a patio dining spot with Chef Sara Jenkins, who wrote up a daily menu based on what was available at area farmers markets. That was transformative. When I opened Jimmy's No. 43 in 2006, Slow Food NYC officers were frequent guests and they encouraged me "to up my game" with regards to a sustainable menu. In 2007 under Chef Philip Kirschen-Clark, we did an all-market menu, from which we were awarded the Slow Food Snail of Approval.

Why is sustainability important to you? What part of sustainability is most important to you in running your business?

In the short term, buying what is freshest. In the long term, it's supporting our farmers and fishermen. We believe in keeping small businesses in business, including our own!

Do you change your menu with the seasons? What’s the best and hardest part about your dedication to local, seasonal ingredients?

We do regularly change and update our menus. While there can be some issues with regards to replication, we enjoy the challenge of working with a varying menu. Plus, we have nurtured some of the city’s best chefs when they were up and coming, allowing them to develop menus. For example, we had a chef with Latin roots who made an amazing cactus side dish.

Do you have a favorite dish at your restaurant right now?

It’s a tie between our award-winning grass fed burger (which we always have on our menu) and our pulled-pork tacos. Summer is a great time for BBQ, and we’ve been taking our menu on the road with a BBQ smoker that has traveled to different breweries, including Singlecut in Queens and Great South Bay on Long Island.

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