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    Danny Meyer on The Brian Lehrer Show | October 20, 2014

    THE BRIAN LEHRER SHOW Family Meeting 2004: Foodies' Paradise   Benzel had to eat at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park before leaving NYC   This fall, the Brian Lehrer Show is marking 25 years of Brian at WNYC with a year-by-year look at stories that mattered from 1989 to 2014. Find the full schedule and lots more here.   For 2004, we're devoting the entire show to the pivotal year. Find all the segments here.   Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group which includes Blue Smoke, Union Square Café and, since 2004, Shake Shack, and Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, look back on a year when many now-iconic restaurants opened and how New Yorkers' relationship with food have changed since then.   (AUDIO CLIP & ORIGINAL ARTICLE)   Some of The Restaurants That Opened in NYC in 2004   The Spotted Pig Per Se Masa Freeman’s Franny’s Spice Market The Momofuko Noodle Bar Frankie's 457 Shake Shack Blue Hill and Stone Barns  


    Hospitality Quotient's Susan Salgado in Inc. Magazine | October 15, 2014



    Danny Meyer, Marta and Maialino on Bloomberg News | October 17, 2014

    NEW YORK CHEFS TIP FAVORITE RESTAURANTS: FINE DINING TO NOODLES By Richard Vines   Photographer: Richard Vines/Bloomberg (chef photos except bottom right); Zero Point Zero/Mind of a Chef, Season 2/Flickr (April Bloomfield); Courtesy of Marta (pizza)   Knowing where to eat in New York City is difficult for those of us who only visit occasionally.   We’re in danger of confusing the classic with the dated and the modern with the ephemeral. That’s to say nothing of mistaking style for substance. I hate doing that.   I have a solution: I asked leading U.S. restaurateurs where they like to eat in New York. My best meal during a visit last week was with Danny Meyer at his new pizza-and-grill restaurant Marta. Here are the kitchen professionals’ picks:   José Andrés (Zaytinya): “I always enjoy going to Soto. It’s a small Japanese place with very good uni (sea urchin) dishes. The sushi is good, too. I’m friends with Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin, but I’m never dressed for the dining room, and I like to eat at the bar. I’m that kind of guy. It’s high-end and sophisticated but also relaxed. The new luxury is being comfortable. Babbo is amazing. Mario Batali may be a TV guy but when you eat there, you know he’s a heck of a chef. For Mexican, I like Empellon. The chef, Alex Stupak, does an excellent job.” (Andres plans to open China Chilcano in New York in December.)   April Bloomfield (Spotted Pig): “I’ve been eating at the NoMad Bar. It’s right by work, and it’s a great place to pop in and have a glass of wine and some nibbles. Steamed mussels, carrot tartare, and pot pie are things I go for. I go to Maialino a lot. It’s right by where I live. I had a delicious corn soup a few weeks back, and I usually eat the pastas. It’s very consistent. That’s why I go. I love Ivan Ramen. He (chef Ivan Orkin) has the most addictive roast pork musubi -- pulled pork on top of toasted nori, rice, salted plum, and tomato. His ramens are so good. I usually go for the shoyu. It’s a fun, relaxed environment.”   Daniel Boulud (Daniel): “Maison Premiere has amazing oysters, old absinthe, and a very good chef, Lisa Giffen, who used to work for me and Alain Ducasse. I love it and there is a beautiful garden in the rear where you can eat. I love Estela. The chef (Ignacio Mattos) is South American and he has a very good style of cooking. It’s a small place, and very cool, with a great wine list and a small bar. On the Upper West Side, Red Farm is very good. Joe (Ng) makes very good dumplings. In Midtown, the Four Seasons in the Seagram Building is part of New York history. It’s where the most powerful businessmen go for lunch and I enjoy the crab cakes and the buffalo tenderloin. ‘‘For a bistro, I like to go to Le Bilboquet on the Upper East Side. It’s a great scene. There are a lot of French people, Eurotrash like me. It feels good.”   Will Guidara (Eleven Madison Park): “I like Ivan Ramen on the Lower East Side: The ramen is unbelievable, but he also does more plated stuff in addition to it. It’s small but with a cool design. It’s not just a hole-in-the-wall noodle shop. I’ve been going to Marta. I love Italian food more than anything in the world. It’s great to be able to go in and get a great pizza, and the wine list is affordably priced. It has a wonderful atmosphere. I love going to the bar at Alder. The cocktails are unbelievable and I enjoy the snacks such as a rye pasta with pastrami and pickles.   Chef Will Guidara of Eleven Madison Park loves the Italian food at Marta, which he says has a 'wonderful atmosphere.'   ‘‘I’ve started going back to Momofuku Ssam Bar: Their duck dinner I had was really nice. The other Asian food place I go is Han Dynasty just a few blocks from here at Eleven Madison Park. It’s really cool. I like the bar at Del Posto. As far as fancy restaurants with a casual style go, Del Posto crushes it. The food at Narcissa, in the Standard (hotel) on the Lower East Side, is unbelievable. It’s Andre Balazs, the same hotelier as Chiltern Firehouse, so it’s a really cool scene. Montmartre is in Chelsea and it’s like a classic French bistro menu. They have a back garden. When it’s nice out, it’s one of the nicest gardens to eat in all of New York City.”   Danny Meyer (Gramercy Tavern): “Carbone never fails to hew the line perfectly between red-sauce Italian kitsch and kitchen. Mario Carbone has perfect pitch with pasta and all forms of meat. My favorite is his veal chop, unless I’m in the mood for lamb, which is very good, too. Barbuto is where I go when I want to drop my shoulders, take off the sport coat, and eat. The food is seasonal and always delicious. I begin with a cocktail, then a salad, pasta, and invariably the peerless roast chicken. The wine list always offers plenty of compelling choices. It can get loud, especially in cool weather when the garage doors come down.   ‘‘Franny’s in Park Slope hits for huge batting average when I’m in the mood for straightforward fare that is just plain satisfying. It would be easy to eat here once a week. I adore their small-plate appetizers, shelling beans drowned in olive oil, any pasta and pizza. My favorite pies are the spicy sausage and freshly shucked clams. The wines are superbly selected.”   Drew Nieporent (Nobu): “Pok Pok in Brooklyn is a really good Thai restaurant. Everyone talks about Le Bernardin for fish but Oceana is very good. It’s just regained its Michelin star. The good news is that we’ve cut back a bit on the formality of restaurants. What happens in New York, it’s really the neighborhoods. On the Lower East Side, the Ludlow hotel just opened with Dirty French -- the guys who have Carbone. Soho has the Musket Room with a New Zealand chef (Matt Lambert) and his wife (Barbara). It’s a brilliant menu and wine list. It’s a real change of pace.   ‘‘For me, Chinese is always something special in New York. We go to places that have been there for decades, like Wo Hop, in a basement. Round the corner there’s Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles where they make their own noodles. My confrere Danny Meyer just opened a pizza place Marta. We excel in the Italian category, a little bit more than London. Eataly is quite brilliant and then Michael White -- Marea, Costata -- they’re still very popular. And I had a meal at Daniel that was sensational.”   Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Jean Georges): “I left here at 10:30pm the other night, called my son and we went to the Spotted Pig. It was packed and I didn’t know the people on the door. We ate at the bar and had some oysters, chicken liver toast, two beers and half a burger each. The food is simple and flavorful and the burger with blue cheese is a killer. For Asian in New York, I go to Great NY Noodletown in the Bowery. It’s a great place for simple Chinese roasted chicken, noodle soup and dumplings. The vegetables are good, too, and it’s open until 4 a.m. The food is best-in-class for what it is. You can spend whatever you want. It’s amazing value. It’s also good for Sunday lunch. I rarely go out for dinner, unless it’s a friend’s birthday or something, because I’m working. So I go to places late at night.   ‘‘I often go to Blue Ribbon in Soho. You can get matzo-ball soup, ribs, and the fried chicken Southern-style is a killer. It’s classic New York. It’s been there forever. After work, I often go to Sushi Seki on 1st Avenue a lot. It’s a very unpretentious place: a sushi hole-in-the-wall in New York via Shanghai. There’s a great chef from Shanghai. I sit at the bar and let him cook for me. His sushi always has a perfect vinegar balance, and he also serves some Chinese dishes. I like the shumai and the spicy scallop roll. I love an Italian place in the West Village, L’Artusi. It’s just three blocks from my home on Perry Street. Not too many people know about it. They serve great pasta and crudo and wine, and it’s open late. It’s innovative rather than traditional Italian but the food is simple.”   (Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter @richardvines)   To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Vines in London at   To contact the editors responsible for this story: Justin Ocean at   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)


    Maialino and Chef Nick Anderer in Food and Wine | October 14, 2014






    Marta in The New York Times | October 9, 2014



    Danny Meyer and Union Square Cafe in The Wall Street Journal | October 9, 2014

    CITY RESTAURANTS MULTIPLY, DESPITE HIGH-PROFILE CLOSURES   Rent, Regulations Are Challenges, but Industry Is in Decade-Long Upswing By Laura Kusisto   Jake Eberle in the kitchen of Le Fond, the French bistro he opened in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn two weeks ago. Andrew Lamberson for The Wall Street Journal   The widely held notion that rising rents are making it nearly impossible to survive as a restaurant in the city received its ultimate endorsement this summer when celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer said the Union Square Café would move from its longtime home on East 16th Street.   Mr. Meyer’s high-profile indictment of his rent bill played into the narrative of the struggling New York restaurant that has been amplified by a growing number of food blogs that chronicle every cafe and bistro’s closing in granular detail.   The numbers suggest, however, that the last decade has seen a boom for the industry, despite higher rents, a more demanding clientele and additional layers of red tape, including a letter-grade health-rating system from the city. The number of permits for restaurants, bars and cafes rose more than 27% to 23,705 at the start of fiscal year 2015 this July from 18,606 in fiscal year 2006, according to the city Department of Health.   Industry observers say more chefs looking to have their own place and dinner-party impresarios going pro have defied the odds and taken on rents that can climb above $15,000 a month in some Manhattan neighborhoods.   The Union Square Café had been in its location for nearly 30 years and is credited with helping to transform the once-dodgy neighborhood. A representative for Mr. Meyer declined to disclose the rent increase and said they planned to move when their lease is up at the end of 2015.   Last month, the owner of Angelica Kitchen, a vegetarian institution in the East Village, put out a plea to patrons to come often to help the restaurant stay afloat. The rent has risen to more than $22,000 a month. In its early days at a different location on St. Mark’s Place, the restaurant paid $450 a month. “How many more dragon bowls can I sell?” said owner Leslie McEachern.   September saw the closure of Yaffa Café, an East Village restaurant with simple food and a popular backyard. These are just a few high-profile examples from recent weeks, though actual numbers of closings are difficult to obtain. Some experts said many dining spots had fared poorly in part because they opened 15 or 20 years ago—the typical life of a lease—when rents were much lower.   “The ones that have been around that are very successful probably are surprised when their lease expires because they’ve had a nice run,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, a trade group.   Mr. Spinola said landlords had raised rents because of increased costs and increased demand for retail space—in part from more restaurants. “Higher rents are happening because there’s greater interest in opening up restaurants so there’s a greater demand on space,” he said.   Brooklyn, where retail rents are significantly lower than in Manhattan, and where the dining scene is light on haute cuisine and heavy on craft beer and homemade pickles, has seen the biggest percentage increase in new restaurants over the last five years.   Jaime Mendoza sets up tables in the dining room of the newly opened Le Fond in Greenpoint. Andrew Lamberson for The Wall Street Journal   The number of eating establishments in Brooklyn grew 10% to 5,658 at the start of fiscal year 2014, from 5,151 in 2009, according to the health department. Manhattan saw a 6% rise—to 9,654 establishments. The number of eating establishments in Brooklyn grew 10% to 5,658 at the start of fiscal year 2014, from 5,151 in 2009, according to the health department. Manhattan saw a 6% rise—to 9,654 establishments.   Veterans of New York’s unforgiving culinary scene question the staying power of the thousands of new dining spots.   “The restaurant industry is a high growth industry, but it is also a high turnover industry,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade group.   Drew Nieporent, the owner of Tribeca Grill and the Nobu chain of Japanese restaurants, said the phrase “fools rush in” came to mind when he looked at new restaurateurs. “If the rents were reasonable, I would have opened 20 more restaurants than I have today,” he said.   The numbers don’t indicate how much of the rise in permits has been driven by bars, casual cafes and takeout spots—which industry experts cite as the engine of the sector’s growth—as opposed to traditional sit-down restaurants.   Knowing the odds are stacked against new restaurants, Jake Eberle still decided to open a French bistro in Greenpoint two weeks ago. Mr. Eberle, 35 years old, a former chef de cuisine at the Lambs Club in Midtown, said it helped that rents in Greenpoint were about a third of even nearby Williamsburg. Le Fond has enjoyed a few glowing reviews in its early days.   “My father is a business owner, and I just always wanted to be my own boss and have control,” he said.   Still, Le Fond is likely to face challenges drawing clientele to a side street with few other restaurants. On a recent Tuesday evening—to be sure, a traditionally slow night in the restaurant business—it had about 10 customers at peak dining hour.   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)


    Union Square Cafe on Eater NY | October 7, 2014

    WHO NEEDS CRONUTS WHEN YOU CAN HAVE UNION SQUARE CAFE'S CREME BRULEE SCONES by VOX STUDIOS   Welcome back to Consumed, a new video series in which Editorial Producer Kat Odell combs Manhattan and the surrounding areas for one-of-a-kind eats and drinks.   It's impossible to mention mashup pastries and not call out Dominique Ansel's Cronut, the croissant donut hybrid that spawned an army of knockoffs. Most often though these crossbred desserts fall flat, sacrificing flavor for the sake of attempted creativity. And then came Union Square Cafe's newly launched creme brûlée scone. How good is it? Watch above.     (ORIGINAL VIDEO)


    Hospitality Quotient's Susan Salgado in Inc. Magazine | October 7, 2014

    HOW TO FOSTER AUTHENTIC RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS IN 3 STEPS Inspiring employees to be themselves by giving permission and setting the "Riverbanks."   by SUSAN SALGADO     Our clients often ask, "How do you get your employees to just be so real with their customers?" They want their teams to provide genuine warmth and care to their customers, and they're not sure where to start. The question of inspiring authenticity in your employees is a challenging one, but there are three key steps toward enabling the genuine behavior you want to see. The first step is hiring people who have the emotional capabilities to connect with others. When you hire someone who is empathetic, thoughtful, and self-aware, you're already on your way toward creating an authentic experience.   The second step is giving those caring people permission to be themselves at work. Once you find great people who have the emotional and technical skills to do their jobs, you need to set them loose and allow them to do what you hired them for. If your goal is to enable authentic experiences--like the cheery conductor's announcement on my train--leaders must be willing to trust the judgment of their team members, and let them take risks in how they approach the customer experience.   "Gooood evening folks! I'd like to welcome you on board tonight! I'd like to ask you to please have your tickets out as we pass through the train so we can quickly and efficiently move through the aisle. Thank you for your assistance, and THANK YOU for riding with us!"   The cheery voice echoed over the train's loudspeaker during a recent evening trip from D.C. to New York. The voice was real. It was an authentic, beaming welcome from a very lively person, and after a long day it was refreshing to hear. Was it too much for some of my fellow passengers? Perhaps. But personally, I felt it was a refreshing relief from the usual drone of monotone, bored voices that you often hear on busses, trains and airplanes, sounding like they'd rather be anywhere else. What I heard that night was someone who was happy--happy in their job--even at 9pm at the tail end of a long trip.   The third step is to provide employees with some ground rules for what appropriate and inappropriate behavior looks like in your organization, so that their expression of themselves is aligned with your organization's norms. On one hand, most leaders want their staff to be genuinely caring and act in the moment. But they also fear that this kind of improvisation can result in overly casual behaviors that cross a line. What if an employee simply being themselves hinders the customer experience? True success lies in empowering employees to be themselves--authentically--while simultaneously maintaining your standards and defining that line with clarity and precision.   In Setting the Table, our CEO, Danny Meyer, coined the term "Riverbanks" to describe these boundaries, or guidelines, for employee behavior. The analogy is apt: a river flows only in one direction, just as we wish for our employees to all move toward a singular mission, but there is independence to swim around within the boundaries of the riverbanks. That room to swim is the freedom for employees to be themselves and the permission to do their jobs accordingly.   This is not the easiest way to lead a team, but it's the surest way to foster athletic innovation and memorable customer experiences. Clearly, the most efficient method for ensuring complicit behaviors is to restrict employees' freedom to innovate and to script their interactions. But being scripted just isn't as much fun--for the employee, or for the person on the receiving end of the service. It feels robotic and impersonal. If you want your service to have soul, it has to be authentic. And if you want it to be authentic, you have to have a little faith in the great people you've hired, along with some well-articulated Riverbanks to guide the flow   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)


    Union Square Hospitality Group on The Huffington Post | October 3, 2014

    HUNGRY FOR CULTURE? 11 BUSINESS LESSONS INSPIRED BY RESTAURANT ROYALTY by ANDREW LEVINE   NewCo, a new kind of "decentralized" innovation conference, recently crawled across New York City. I heard whispers of its magic when our company hosted sessions during its San Francisco leg but after experiencing it first-hand, I can attest that its magic was understated. Dynamic companies across industries opened up their homes to present big ideas and create an ideal format for networking with an array of career superstars - from JPMorgan to Live in the Grey.   The magic of the conference, in French terms, could be described by terrior. Terroir gives wine its sense of place and some places have more than others. I'd argue that the "terrior of a business" breeds culture, innovation and community. Over the course of the two-day conference, I had the pleasure of visiting many offices (Foursquare, Outbrain, Lerer Hippeau Ventures and TED) and meeting the brains behind them. Each session was memorable in its own right but the lessons learned at Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), can and should be applied to any work environment. After all, Danny Meyer, USHG Founder, legendary restaurateur and native St. Louisan (Go Cardinals!) basically authored the bible for building culture and achieving hospitality bliss.   As you strive to build the best workplace and culture for your business, keep in mind these these tips from the USHG brain trust:   Innovation Strive to be the company that would put you out of business because "new gets old tomorrow." Honor risk-takers and allow your org chart to embrace innovation. Pause to celebrate wins and quickly move on to strive for further excellence. Most importantly, be highly allergic to mediocrity.   Hiring It all starts with hiring. Hire high-achievers. These are people that want to improve at what they do for your company. People cannot be taught to care. (Case-in-point, my friend Camilla moved across the country to work for USHG... so they must be doing something right because she's a smart cookie :)   Camaraderie Colleagues must first take care of one another. Build an army of people that will have your back. When you fall, they will immediately pick you back up. This critical foundation will enable you to best serve your customers and partners.   Decision-Making Make the process as rich as possible and make decisions for the long-term. The cost of your relationships with your customers outweighs all.   Leadership Leadership must create a culture of sharing while keeping things in equilibrium. Alignment fosters impact.   Success Success can be defined as being the favorite in your category. Being "the favorite" carries with it an emotional response.   Failure Inspiration comes from celebrating failure and missteps. The most critical learnings are often birthed out of failure.   Humility Raise your hand and ask for help.   Reputation Reputations are built on what you've done, not what you are planning to do.   Empowerment Make sure that you give people the permission to do great work. There are two four-word phrases to live by: "You can do it," and "I'm rooting for you."   Competition Respect your competition and their hard work.   As you can tell, the session was as enjoyable as the tasting menu at Gramercy Tavern or the toasted ravioli at Blue Smoke. (Seriously, you must try them.)   Don't miss NewCo if it's coming to your city. Thanks for a few great days!   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)


    Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard in Gotham Magazine | October 2, 2014

    WHERE TO FIND NYC'S BEST JAZZ by ANNA BEN YEHUDA   The origin of much of today's music, jazz is one of few musical genres that has remained unchanged through the years. What better place to experience the soulful genre in all of its glory than New York? We scoured Manhattan to bring you the best jazz clubs, below.   Jazz Standard.   Jazz Standard Usually, the most popular choice isn’t necessarily the best one. The Jazz Standard is the exception to the rule, providing patrons with a true jazz experience complete with professional artists, incredible sounds, and delicious food from Blue Smoke, an eatery that's located above the music space. 116 E. 27th St., 212-576-2232   Smalls Jazz Club Often described as the jazz club for jazz artists, Smalls is a tiny basement space boasting a bar and a few pieces of wood that function as benches. Take note of the mirrors placed around the room, which make the musicians' hand movements visible from any seat you select. 183 W. 10th St.   Jazz at Lincoln Center This season's theme, Jazz in the Americas, touches upon the history of the musical genre within the country. Arguably the most known music venue in the city, Lincoln Center is a foray into the most classic aspects of jazz, set against a backdrop of breathtaking city views. Broadway at 60th St., 212-258-9800   Handy Liquor Bar.   Handy Liquor Bar Though it's not technically billed as a jazz bar, this beautiful venue located below Chalk Point Kitchen plays jazz nightly from 6-8 p.m. Plus, the drink menu focuses on all things natural and the decor transports you back in time. 527 Broome St., 212-390-1705   Village Vanguard Opened by the late Max Gordon back in 1935, the Village Vanguard used to showcase different sorts of music and beat poetry. Switching to a jazz-only routine in the late '50s, this basement club is still loved by artists and fans alike. Small and intimate, it allows you to truly get a feel for what jazz is all about. Also, talking isn’t allowed. 178 Seventh Ave. S., 212-255-4037   Smoke Jazz & Supper Club Harlem is where most jazz musicians reside, so traveling uptown for a taste of the real thing is a must. The place is tiny, so expect to eat the above-average food in close proximity to other music-lovers. 2751 Broadway, 212-864-6662   Birdland One of the oldest and most renowned jazz clubs in New York City, Birdland was established in 1949 on Broadway by saxophone genius Charlie “Yardbird” Parker. Forced to shut its doors due to declining sales in 1965, Birdland resurfaced uptown near 105th Street in 1986 and moved back to midtown in 1996. This is the place you've read about in all those beat generation novels (think: Jack Kerouac's On The Road). 315 W. 44th St., 212-581-3080   Jazz Gallery   Jazz Gallery You won't find the genre's most famous musicians here, but you will get to experience jazz's future glory as the nonprofit venue showcases up-and-coming musicians. 1160 Broadway, 646-494-3625   11th Street Bar Although it's not exactly a jazz club, a musician told us to check out the bar's late Monday night shows, which usually showcase jazz. Clearly, advice from a professional is the way to go. 510 E. 11th St., 212-982-3929   Blue Note Blue Note attracts hordes of tourists... and top-caliber jazz talent. Head there for Sunday brunch, when the crowds seem to be a bit smaller compared to the weekly night shows. 131 W. 3rd St., 212-475-8592   55 Bar Definitely one of our favorites. The West Village staple is cozy, lively, and attracts some of the most interesting acts currently on the music scene. Also, it's cash only. 55 Christopher St., 212-929-9883   (ORIGINAL ARTICLE)


    Marta in Wine Spectator | October 14, 2014