“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,” claim Frank Sinatra’s legendary lyrics from New York, New York; which ring particularly true when talking to restaurateurs in the Big Apple. Six of nine Michelin three star restaurants are in New York City, but Business Insider reports that 80 percent of restaurants located in the area close within five years. In short, it’s grueling competing with the best of the best.
Two fresh and inspiring newcomers to the hospitality scene that show some serious clout are Lisle Richards and Eric Marx, the duo who opened three NYC venues within 60 days, a rather splashy arrival for even a seasoned operator to contend with. Here’s an excerpt from our interview one fall evening as we explored the meaning of a restaurant’s persona and longevity.
Justluxe: So far, you and Eric, your business partner, are three for three in the tough game of restaurant and hospitality venues. And you're in your mid-30s. It's early, but what do you attribute personally and professionalism to the success thus far?
Lisle Richards: We love what we do, and all three brands are reflections of ourselves. We think success is a mixture of staying grounded in the product, believing in the team around you and letting your love of your venues show through to your customers. That is what we shoot for as owners.
JL: The Wayfarer is on a stellar two story Uptown corner, and Monarch Room and Gilded Lily are in this massive space in the very coveted Meat Packing district. How'd you nail such great real estate, and how did you know the locations would work for each concept?
Eric Marx: As is everything in New York, the answer is location, location, location. We looked at so many properties we lost count. The first time that we walked into each building, we looked at each other and said, "This is it."
JL: We've talking about how brands and particularly the three venues you have are like children. You can nurture and influence a brand with all your might, but ultimately, it's going to have its own personality and own destiny. What have your three venues, which I'll call ‘triples,’ since they opened nearly all at once, shown personality-wise thus far?
LR: The Wayfarer is the older sister. A little more reserved but not by too much. She brunches on the weekend in her bolero jacket and uncultured pearls. She shakes her head at the antics of her younger sister Gilded Lily. Gilded Lily loves her leather jackets and her sparkly jewelry. The Monarch Room is the middle child. He listens to both Miles Davis and Jay-Z and loves everything New York City.
JL: And why now in New York City in 2014 do these brands seem to work?
EM: That’s for our guests to tell us. We believe people love them because they are not ever too "now." Good food is good food, and good times are good times.
JL: We also talked about touch points of brands. Expand on that.
LR: I think that people interact differently with brands. One person will love the service. Another person will be blown away by the food. Yet another person will go back because of the feeling you get when you walk into a packed restaurant. It’s important to recognize why people like or love your brand and work every day to perfect that aspect.