M. Wells Dinette, the stellar eatery at MoMA PS1, occupies the old cafeteria at the former school, and evokes universal childhood memories: waiting in line patiently, tray in hand, listening to the cafeteria ladies, generally following the rules. But a new collaboration between the budding Long Island City restaurant empire and the MoMA outpost seems less buttoned up than the fancy place downstairs, with a bar cart and summery rooftop vibes—it perhaps reminds one of the places in school where you can sneak away from teachers and sneak a cigarette.
It’s official. The much-loved Quebecois M. Wells Diner, which closed its Long Island City home last year after a dispute with its landlord, is set to open a “cafeteria-style restaurant” in MoMA PS1 in May of this year, ending months of rumors about the move.
MoMA PS1 director and MoMA chief curator at large Klaus Biesenbach had this to stay in a news release:
“In our growing emphasis on presenting all aspects of contemporary practice, MoMA PS1 is welcoming M. Wells as adding the experience of innovative and excellent food to our offerings of contemporary art, performance, experimental architecture, music, fashion, and design.”
MoMA PS1 has something of an appetizer for the slavering hordes hungry for the news that the shuttered diner M. Wells will indeed open a cafeteria in the museum, which has been rumored since August. This Sunday, at the museum’s Winter Open House, the beloved and defunct diner will offer two “slamming sandwiches.”
Back in April, when now-retired Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton reviewed the M. Wells restaurant in Long Island City, awarding it two tony stars, he ended on a grand note: “You know those biographies where the great artist first moves to New York, has a cold-water flat in a desolate part of town? We are in that chapter now.”