Lamb is the "suave, super-dapper, pocket-square-sporting, Hog-ridin' gastropreneur" behind a small collection of trendy—and tiny—East Village eateries.
Detroit native Lamb put in time in the Army, paid for law school with money he made working at David Bouley's Bouley Bakery and Danube, and spent a few years working as a lawyer in the office of then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In 2001, he spotted a "For Lease" sign opposite the East Village townhouse he'd recently purchased with his wife Grace; they soon made the transition to restaurateuring, making a splash on the culinary scene with tiny sushi bar Jewel Bako.
What followed was a series of concepts, openings, and closings so dizzying you needed a scorecard to keep up. In 2003, the couple opened Francophile pastry cafe Blue Goose. A year later, Lamb told the press he was morphing it into an upscale French restaurant called Degustation, but later changed his mind, instead opening sushi bar Jewel Bako Makimono. In 2004, the Lambs opened a Southern-inspired raw bar and restaurant called Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar on two floors of their 5th Street townhouse. (It's since relocated to Second Avenue.) The same year, the ever-indecisive couple was rumored to be working on a Hong Kong-style Asian eatery. Once again, they surprised everyone and opened Jewel Bako Robata, a 22-seat Japanese grill that shortly became Grace's Kalbi Bar, then closed soon after. Degustation was then revived in the space, only this time as a 16-seat Spanish tapas bar. Don't quite follow? Talk to Jack.
For the record
Lamb has a rep for discovering new talent. Allison Vines won a James Beard award for her work at Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar. Lamb also discovered Tatsuya Nagata, a star sushi chef. And Wesley Genovart, his chef at Degustation, is regarded as one of New York's rising stars.
Always dressed to the nines, Lamb is famous for sashaying through Jewel Bako giving expert advice on sakes to drink. He can often be seen in the nabe revving the engine on his colorfully-painted motorcycle.
Jack's Korean-American wife, Grace, is a former executive at Tiffany's. She's now business manager of the Lamb restaurant mini-empire. They live in the East Village, above the space that once housed Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar. (It's now occupied by Sasha Petraske's Mighty Ocelot.)