Lucia’s space sees new life, with inspiration from Mexico

Co-founders Conrad Leifur and Ann Kim. Photo courtesy of Eliesa Johnson of The Restaurant Project

The restaurateur behind Pizzeria Lola and Young Joni has locked up the former Lucia’s space to open a new restaurant with handmade tortillas and a cooking fire.

Construction will start this fall and the opening is slated for the summer of 2019. Chef Ann Kim said it will be worth the wait.

“It doesn’t happen overnight if you do it well,” she said.

Her pizza crust doesn’t happen overnight either — it takes 48 hours. The process to make nixtamal tortillas in the new space will also be tricky, she said.

“Abuelas have been doing this for generations. To try this and open in a month wouldn’t be respectful to the craft,” she said. “…All of my restaurants are about craft, and we don’t take shortcuts.”

The founders, along with the restaurant designer, are heading to Mexico to meet with chefs in Mexico City and Oaxaca, as well as their mothers.

“We’ll learn from the best,” she said.

They plan to join the dining spaces within Lucia’s at 1432 W. 31st St. and set aside the bakery/café space for a separate type of service.

“Just like with Young Joni, we’re going to surprise a lot of people,” she said.