Ky Guse gives us the gist of GYST, an upcoming fermentation bar on Eat Street [VIDEO]
Photography by Katie Wamsley, courtesy Gyst Fermentation Bar
Miso. Kimchi. Kombucha.
These are all fermented foods that were unrecognizable to the average diner a decade ago, but have since worked their way into our regular diets. Yes, they might smell a little strange and taste a little strong, but these pungent items are probiotic powerhouses, doing more good work in the gut than a week's worth of Activia while also providing crunch, texture, and acidic balance.
With such a long of list of pros, we wondered why some savvy food entrepreneurs hadn't opened up a restaurant entirely dedicated to all things fermented. Little did we know, sisters Mel and Ky Guse and their business partner Jill Mott already had something, ahem, brewing.
"The dream had always been to open a small wine and cheese bar," says Ky. "But when we thought about it, we realized we wanted to focus on more than that. We wanted to share our love of great beer, coffee, chocolate, kombucha, charcuterie, pickles... And we realized the connection: They're all fermented in one way or another."
Since having this epiphany, the trio of industry vets has been working on plans to launch GYST, a wine, cheese, beer, sandwich, chocolate, and other fermented things shop, and have their sights set on an Eat Street space on the same block as Little Tijuana. We caught up with with Ky Guse to learn more about what they're hoping to do with the help of Kickstarter backers, sweet and salty fermented goods, and GYST's culture of cultures.
The Hot Dish:You're calling GYST a "fermentation bar." Does that mean you'll just have fermented beverages? Specialty beers? A DIY fermentation station?
Ky Guse: We aren't going to be a bar only, but don't necessarily consider ourselves a restaurant or a cafe either. The idea is to be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. We are that "in-between" place for people to hang out and enjoy really delicious fermented foods and drinks. We also consider GYST to be a community food space where we'll host an array of classes, tastings, and events.
What kind of food can we expect from you?
We are featuring the beautiful cheese plate. The selections will rotate often. When Mel and I moved here from San Francisco, we found that it was hard to find some of these smaller-produced American artisanal cheeses that we love. And for good reason -- they're hard to ship and come at a price. We've come up with a strategy to get them here so the cheese plate at GYST will be memorable. We're going to let people order it sweet or salty. If you order it sweet, it will come with a side of caramel corn. If you order it salty you'll get cornichons.
We will also have all the great accoutrements to a cheese plate: marinated olives, toasted nuts, a charcuterie board. In addition, there will be a couple of sandwiches, a salad, and some other awesome "in-between" foods like beautiful yogurt creations, chocolate flights, and chips and dip.
Your sister Mel has a wine background, most recently working at Terzo Vino Bar, so between that and the fact that when most people think about fermentation they think about beer, we imagine selecting drinks will be pretty important.
Yes! Our wine and beer selection will be unforgettable. Mel and our other business partner, Jill, are both certified sommeliers and I have to say, I feel really lucky to be in business with such knowledgable women. We will definitely have some unique wines and have already been carefully selecting our craft beer list. We are very excited to be serving our housemade kombucha.
Will all fermentation happen on site?
To begin with, not all fermentation will happen on site. But some definitely will: our kombucha, pickle plates, and we're working on a yogurt. Those will all be fermented in house. We have partnered with Adrienne at "Kiss My Cabbage," (she has great fermented foods) as well as Gerhardt's to serve their sauerkraut.
Where will you be located? What's the space like?
We will be located at 25 East 26th Street. It will be a comfortable space. We're in the midst of a huge remodel, hence the Kickstarter.