More than two years into the pandemic, only 8% of Manhattan office workers have returned to full-time work, according to a Partnership for New York City survey. It’s a big reason so many people are clamoring to leave the house and connect in person, say New York restaurateurs who are seeing a power lunch comeback. Classics like Balthazar, Le Bernardin and Scarpetta remain popular, as do Estiatorio Milos and The Grill. Here are nine other restaurants — a combination of new hotspots and a few ever-bustling stalwarts, some with new locations, menus or chefs — experiencing a business lunch boom.
33 GREENWICH AVENUE, WEST VILLAGE
Although not near many office buildings, the American Bar remains a popular dining spot because, says owner David Rabin, “almost all the subways stop within 300 yards of us. It is an important factor. And the West Village is filled with a crowd of very young, creative people who are all trying to build their own businesses, and we see them all the time. Greek chop and turkey club are popular.
280 PARK AVENUE, EAST MIDTOWN
Located in the former Four Seasons, Fasano is the first New York restaurant of the Fasano Group, a hotel conglomerate based in São Paulo, Brazil. Its food, including vitello tonnato, has been described by The New York Times as “northern Italian expense account”.
380 LAFAYETTE STREET, NOHO
Luke Ostrom, managing partner of NoHo Hospitality Group, credits Lafayette’s “bustling atmosphere, grand space decor and large outdoor terrace” as the reason it’s seen a resurgence in the latter part of the pandemic. as a powerful lunch. place in the city center. Located in NoHo, which has flourished in recent years with the arrival of dozens of new businesses, Lafayette gets bookings and visits from people in fashion (like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and tech. As for what people drink, Ostrom says, “I would say the most common lunchtime thing is espresso and green juice around the table. But we still sell a lot of wine by the glass, especially on the terrace.
THE LAMBS CLUB
132 W. 44TH ST., THEATER DISTRICT
The decor and location (inside the Chatwal Hotel) remain the same, but after a two-year hiatus, Rabin’s other venue, The Lambs Club, has just reopened with a new chef, Master pasta Michael White (former chef and owner of the Altamarea Group, whose restaurants include Marea). “The great coincidence of the reopening of the Lamb’s Club is that Michael was available”, explains Rabin, the founding partner. “We needed a very high caliber chef who was well regarded in Manhattan circles, and he was able to walk into a restaurant that was fully built and ready to go.” Once known as the “Condé Nast cafeteria” – the media company was located a block away – it now hosts a mix of entertainment executives (Viacom and Universal Music are nearby), big shots and types of Broadway. “Michael Strahan loves us,” adds Rabin. “We also see Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, but we are 100 yards from hello americaso Michael is very often a late breakfast, early lunch guy when he leaves the studio.
ONE VANDERBILT AVE., EAST MIDTOWN
When Le Pavillon opened a year ago under the leadership of celebrity chef Daniel Boulud, lunch was not immediately offered. “We were patient before opening for lunch. We wanted to make sure that there would be enough people returning, ”explains Sébastien Silvestri, CEO of the Dinex de Boulud group. The menu at the downtown restaurant, which has high ceilings and an interior garden, focuses on seafood and vegetables. According to Silvestri, everyone from “executives to everyday New Yorkers to celebrities” like The Chainsmokers duo Alex Pall and Drew Taggart find lighter mid-day cooking ideal. The menu is fixed price (two courses, $78; three courses, $95). In May, Boulud opened his latest restaurant, Le Gratin – at the Beekman Hotel in the Financial District – for dinner only, but with plans to expand to lunch soon in response to demand.
377 GREENWICH STREET, TRIBECA
While it may lean more towards a finance crowd, this NoHo Hospitality Group restaurant inside Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel has also seen Harry Styles, Drew Barrymore and Savannah Guthrie make appearances . He recently hosted an event for the Paramount+ series The offer.
240 CENTRAL PARK SOUTH, WEST MIDTOWN
Since opening in 2009, this chic coastal Italian restaurant — visited by Lady Gaga, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick and Beyoncé and Jay-Z — has remained a power-lunch mainstay. But, says founder and CEO Ahmass Fakahany, “It’s not a room full of people in suits doing business; there really is a mix. Meats, seafood, and light pastas are all popular choices. “It’s a perfect fit for the clientele – the leaders of their fields in entertainment, fashion, art and business.” While corner tables are popular among A-list guests, “you also have people who like to sit right in the center of the activity,” says Fakahany, who has also noticed an increase in pit stops l afternoon – people meeting around 3 p.m. for an espresso or a bite to eat: “I see a growing interest in the late afternoon. You know, deals happen then too.
52 GANSEVOORT STREET, MEATPACKING DISTRICT
The iconic French bistro, which opened in 1999 and closed in 2014 when the building it was in was demolished, reopened in fall 2019 in a new location, with original owner Keith McNally partnering with restaurateur Stephen Starr. Recently, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky were spotted having dinner there. “There are a lot of classics on the menu because there are things that people expect to see: the steak sandwich, the burger, the steak and fries,” says James Roberts, vice president of Starr’s NYC restaurants, who adds that he noticed the cases. lunches are getting longer. “There are more people coming out of the West Village and the galleries in Chelsea, so there’s a more leisurely pace. They take a second glass of wine. There’s less “Oh my God, I have to get back to the office.” “
UNION SQUARE CAFE
101 E. 19TH STREET, FLATIRON DISTRICT
“Our new office here in New York is just a block away, and it’s not by accident,” Chris Till, director of theater at Verve, says of Danny Meyer’s flagship restaurant, which has moved to a new location in 2016. The laid-back, contemporary cafe lunch crowd these days leans towards the tech industry, with nearby New York’s Silicon Alley, and book publishing executives like Abrams and Farrar, Straus and Giroux are regulars. A standout is the Bibb Salad with Dijon dressing, Gruyere cheese, garlic croutons and lettuce from nearby Union Square Greenmarket.
This story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.