Death & Co cofounder Ravi DeRossi finds new purpose in the wake of the pandemic

In the Kitchen with Bret Thorn

05-11-2021 • 50 mins

Ravi DeRossi has been a force to be reckoned with in the New York City bar and restaurant world for the past couple of decades, but he has mostly been doing it quietly. Starting with a wine bar serving cheese and chocolate in the East Village called the Bourgeois Pig, which he opened with the last of his money earned as an artist, he has expanded gradually throughout the neighborhood, mostly with cool bars appreciated by locals, although his second bar, Death & Co, almost immediately became a sensation at the forefront of the cocktail world and now has additional locations in Denver and Los Angeles. Over the past five years DeRossi has shifted his focus, however, adding his own moral and spiritual values to his operations by only serving vegan food at most of them (meat is still available at Death & Co because he has other partners involved in that). The pandemic has given DeRossi the impetus, and the time, to reflect more on the impact he has on the world, and he has regrouped many of his bars and restaurants into Overthrow Hospitality, with a mission not only of animal welfare and environmentalism, but also of community involvement and social justice. Part of that had already happened organically: Without realizing it, the majority of DeRossi’s employees before the pandemic were women and/or people of color. He has doubled down on that with the three restaurants he has opened this year, each of which is led by chefs who are women of color. Cadence, serving vegan Southern food and beer and wine only from Black-owned companies, is headed by Shenarri Freeman. Etérea, a Mexican restaurant and tequila-and-mezcal bar, has Xila Caudillo as executive chef. Soda Club, serving pasta and natural wine, is being run by Amira Gharib. DeRossi recently discussed the evolution of his businesses and his personal philosophy, as well as his somewhat unusual journey from being an alcoholic to a moderate drinker, and from being a chain smoker to having one cigarette each morning.

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