Bradford McKnight and Charles Clark open the massive Nebuchadnezzar for serving all 300 guests on Ibiza's closing night. (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Grant Cooper State Senator Carol Alvarado, Chef Charles Clark (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
The New Orleans Second Line band parades through Ibiza on closing night. (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Many among the 300-plus guests join the second line in dancing around the restaurant, napkins twirling overhead. (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Cece Clark, Chef Charles Clark, Ella Clark (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Jack & Catherine Langlois, Grant Cooper (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Wendy Dawson gets on a table top to toast Ibiza's 19 years of success. (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Chef Charles Clark, Kennedy Caswell, chef Bryan Caswell (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Chef Charles Clarik, Erin Andrus, Mo Aziz (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Benjy & Eric Levitt and Jacy Cooper among guests dining at Ibiza on closing night. (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Chef Charles Clark makes closing remarks. (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Longtime Ibiza employees were in the spotlight — Teo, Alejandro, Eddie, Michael, Nardo (Photo by Tony Ruppe)
Fans of Ibiza knew it would come to this — the last supper. And so it was Saturday night when more than 300 devotees of chef Charles Clark’s inimitable fare bid final adieu after 19 years. But neither this crowd nor this Midtown restaurant went quietly into the night.
It was one rocking party that included a New Orleans second line band and an ensuing parade of diners.
For starters, Clark opened a Nebuchadnezzar (20 bottles) of 2011 Baron de Ley Rioja and had it served to everyone in the packed dining room. As the night progressed and guests dined on their Ibiza favorites, they ultimately cleaned out the wine wall in the main dining room.
It was quite a night for Clark and his business partner, Grant Cooper, with the duo calling in assistance from sister restaurants under the Clark Cooper Concepts umbrella to help handle the very merry crush. That included Coppa’s general manager Josep Prats, Ibiza’s Bradford McKnight and Everett Fontenot and servers from Brasserie 19 and Coppa Osteria. In an out of character move, Clark Cooper director of operations Marc Cantu and Cooper both worked the floor.
Veteran employees were the stars of the night with introductions and applause for those who had been with Ibiza as many as all 19 years, some for 17 years, 16 years and 13 years. In the topsy turvy world of restaurant employees, it was no small feat to win so much loyalty among staff.
State Senator Carol Alvarado presented Clark and Cooper with a State of Texas Resolution honoring their nearly two decades of success and Ibiza loyalist Wendy Dawson climbed atop one of the tables to toast the Ibiza team.
In a surprise for all, Clark’s family brought in the New Orleans Second Line Band to close out the history book on Ibiza. Guests joined the band’s parade dancing around the restaurant while waving their napkins overhead.
Chef Bryan Caswell and restaurateur Benjy Levit and wife Erica joined the last supper as did Clark’s daughters, Cece and Ella, and Cooper’s wife Jacy.
On the QT, though he was ready to retire from the nightly chef’s grind, Cooper has shared with loyal customers that his wish is, at some point down the road, to open a very small restaurant, an almost clubby place for friends. Of course, Clark remains an integral part of the Clark Cooper Concepts operation. Look for him in the front of the house at the team’s various restaurants.