The New York Times’ Pete Wells Looks at the Hotel Restaurant

A new frontier for some of the city’s most popular chefs and restaurateurs

The Beekman in Lower Manhattan is one of the latest restaurants to sign big-name chefs.

Sometimes Pete Wells takes a step back from reviewing individual establishments to look at the state of New York City’s restaurant industry. He’s examined the new wine bar and other trends.

This week he looks at the next wave of hotel restaurants, which are attracting all-star chefs. He writes:

 

While hotel restaurants are sprouting up around the country, in New York they have a particular local flavor, shaped by real estate forces and the fact that, unlike Las Vegas or Miami, the city rarely imports chefs. In effect, an entire class of restaurant — the big, mainstream, chef-owned, customer-friendly places whose profit margins have been shaved as thin as a chive over the past few years — is now being subsidized by the hotel industry.

 

In a time when New York City restaurant rents are soaring, perhaps it makes sense that chefs are turning to a new frontier of restaurant. Wells interviewed a restaurateur with experience to get the financial skinny.

 

“The hotel pays for everything,” the restaurateur Ken Friedman said.

Everything?

“They build the restaurant for you,” said Mr. Friedman, who is Ms. Bloomfield’s business partner. “They say, ‘What do you think it’s going to cost for chairs and tables and lighting?’ They pay for it all.”

 

Wells suggests the hotel restaurants of today are in some ways similar to those of the 1990s — they tend to be large, serve familiar cuisines, and be run by men. Some of these trends are more appealing than others, of course.

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No longer should New York hotels be disdained by New Yorkers. In fact, we should go — the larger spaces mean we’re more assured of getting a seat.