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Ted Arenas, a prominent figure in Hell’s Kitchen’s LGBTQ nightlife community, is expanding his hospitality portfolio by recreating one of the neighborhood’s most cherished wine bars. The Red Stache, set tentatively to open in August, will occupy the space previously held by Casellula on W52nd Street, a venue that closed amid a legal dispute over fair tipping practices.

Ted Arenas
Ted Aranas plans to open The Red Tache in the space vacated by Casellula on W52nd Street. Photo: Phil O’Brien

The owner of the popular LGBTQ watering holes Rise Bar and The Spot and a member of Manhattan Community Board 4’s Business License and Permits Committee (BLP), Ted is an experienced veteran of the neighborhood’s hospitality scene.

He and his business partner, Shaun Dunn, plan to offer customers an extensive selection of wine and beer, as well as charcuterie, flatbreads, and French dip. The new establishment aims to cater to locals looking for more late-night dining options, as Ted believes many establishments in the area are closing too early, driving business to Brooklyn.

The Red Stache will build on the legacy of the previous cafe, according to Ted, adding a few personal touches to the space’s original charm and built-in following. Ted and Shaun have been eager to open a wine bar for years and are thrilled to bring this concept to life. “We want The Red Stache to be the kind of place you can go on a date night,” said Ted, “and want to open our horizons beyond specifically LGBTQ bars.”

Despite concerns raised by former Casellula staff members and their supporters, the Manhattan Community Board 4’s Business License and Permits Committee voted to move forward with The Red Stache’s application, pending approval from the full board. Ted expressed empathy towards the former workers, adding that he hoped both parties could reach a resolution. “I am however not a part of this dispute,” said Ted. “I have no knowledge of the full details of what’s going on and it’s not my place to get involved in any manner.”

“We’re open to hiring anyone that has a passion and a love for the space, who is qualified and looking for work,” Ted told W42ST, “and we are open to finding a fair tip distribution that works for everyone.” 

Ted and Shaun are excited to keep Hell’s Kitchen’s hospitality scene thriving and provide a local spot for neighbors to enjoy. With the opening of The Red Stache, they hope to offer the community more options for late-night dining and a fantastic selection of wine and beer.

Pending further liquor license approvals, The Red Stache plans to open in August. Ted is looking forward to bringing back a concept that so many West Siders had come to love — and maintain Hell’s Kitchen as the hospitality capital of the city: “We want to keep it a local spot that the neighbors will enjoy,” he said.

Join the Conversation


  1. Ted is a super competent operator of two very popular LGBTQ venues that have been sensitive to local neighbors concerns and provided safe spaces for all who visit.

    This next venture I am confident will be just another iteration from a responsible business owner and hopefully it’s plain sailing from here to opening. Congratulations!

  2. Ted has gone above and beyond to make Hell’s Kitchen a nicer place to be.
    He has our support in any project he takes on.

  3. What a hopeful turn of events. While the loss of Casellula does weigh heavily on our hearts, we can celebrate that the space again be filled with life. Ted has a proven record, and his plans for the Red Stache are exciting. I am looking forward to my first visit!

    1. Hi Maureen! As you’ll see in my comment below, The Casellula staff has been trying to re-open Casellula in its home! The space still has all of Casellula’s furniture and equipment in it. We would love the space to be filled with its original life again! ( Well, not original, because I think it was a hot dog cart storage space before us, but the life it has had for the past fifteen years)

  4. What happened to the Casellula staff? How did that resolve? Did they receive compensation for their illegal firing?

  5. Wine not?? Because the Casellula staff should be able to re open Casellula! I attended the community board meeting as a Casellula supporter and the staff didn’t just “raise concerns” they told the community board that they had plans to re-open and have investors and that they want their restaurant back. A staff member spoke from the heart about her passion to re-open for the community. The board didn’t move forward because they weren’t moved by the story- they just didn’t have the authority to hold a liquor license because of it. The situation is heartbreaking and this article isn’t sharing the full story. Ted is coming right out and saying he will build off of Casellula’s legacy and customer base when he knows the staff wants Casellula to continue.

  6. As a member of the Casellula staff, this article is very painful to read. Hearing Ted say that he will build off of our little cheese hut’s “legacy” and “built-in following” when he knows that we are fighting to re-open Casellula in the space and that we have investors, and the potential to do so, feels very exploitative. We want to re-open Casellula in its home for the community who loved it! Casellula means so much to so many, and it should have the opportunity to re-open. We reached out to Ted to meet, discuss and collaborate and he declined.

  7. The quote “I have no knowledge of the full details of what’s going on and it’s not my place to get involved in any manner.” bothers me because of how prominently the community has been fighting for Casellula to reopen. If you are planning on opening a similar bar, built on the theme of the previous one that is currently striving to reopen, I believe it is absolutely “your place” to be involved in the matter and listen to the Casellula staff and their story.

  8. Restaurant owners who don’t honor the hard work of restaurant staff don’t deserve community support. Fully knowing what has happened to Casellula in that same space, the plight of the illegally fired workers, the desire of those very same workers to reopen Casellula in its original space as a cooperative business;Ted Arenas is spitting in their faces. Honestly shameful.

  9. Wine not??? Are you kidding me? How about covering the illegal firing of Casellula workers? Or the fact that Ted wouldn’t even meet with them to discuss getting their space back??

  10. Bring back Casellula! Those workers deserve pay and the opportunity to reopen what was robbed from them and our community.

  11. Bring back Casellula! Why reopen something new when there is a team and concept that had already been successful for years?

  12. Isn’t it a conflict of interest for Ted to be in the same board that has a decision to make about Casellula?

    I’ll never patronize this establishment no matter how sensitive Ted and his business partner have been about the community. The Casellula staff deserve a shot.

  13. I feel really bad for the former team of Casellula and hope they win the litigation with the previous owner. However, Reading the comments above it looks like people are misplacing their anger to someone thats not involved in anything to do with their termination. It sounds more like the former employees are more interested in owning the business, rather than getting fair wages or their jobs back. I hope they understand: Casellula does not own that location and even if they could financially put up all the money for the lease, The likelihood of the landlord renting it out to tenants that harassed not one, but possibly two tenants into leaving is in my mind zero. The other hurdle I seem is if they wanted to reopen Casellula as their own is they still have no legal rights to the company or name. Casellula currently has no lease and or liquor license, So essentiality Casellula is gone and won’t return. Again, I think the employees should continue the fight in court with the previous owner to get justice, grieve the loss of Casellula with the memories in their hearts, but I think dragging other people that are not involved is not the way to go.

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