Jade Dynasty: A Retro Hotel and Tavern for the Village

In contemporary New York, you have to look backward to be forward. The city’s first new lodging of 2013, The Jade Hotel, takes its cues from almost a century ago. The name sounds like the setting for a noir murder mystery, which is fitting given the Art Deco styling inside. Twenties Paris blends with classic-era Greenwich Village for an elegant new boutique.

Up in the rooms you’ll find quirky touches like rotary phones and analog clock radios. There are lux accents (ebony, marble, and leather) and colors (crimson and gold) in rooms inspired by Deco legend Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann. Given the central location in the low-rise Village, you can also expect killer views from the upper-story berths.

The in-house tavern, Grape & Vine, carries over the retro theme. The speakeasy trend won’t die here: antiques and a fireplace recall venues like ur-Village hang the Grapevine Tavern. Beatnik-era pics nod to the nabe’s ’50s heyday, but the menu is of the moment. Frederick Lesort, of Opia and Plein Sud fame, delivers a Nouveau American array with locavore shadings. The nearby Union Square Greenmarket helps source Cobb salads with duck confit, and grilled tofu with mango and spicy quinoa.

Lesort has an all-star team pitching in. Executive chef Vincent Ricciardelli is coming off of stints at Artisanal and Lexington Brass, and the sommelier is from Bouley. As a hotel operation, all three meals are served, running through the far side of midnight. There are fancy cocktails, of course, and a full juice program. You can mortify yourself after a rough night with a blend of fresh-pressed celery, kale, cilantro, cucumber, and lime. Grape & Vine opens its doors on Monday, March 4.

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for The Jade Hotel and Grape & Vine; Download the free BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android; Subscribe to the BlackBook Happenings email newsletter.]

David Santos’s Not-So-Secret Supper Club

What’s a chef to do when numerous, unsatisfying jobs leave him down? Open his own supper club, of course. After David Santos left his last restaurant, Hotel Griffou in 2011, he decided he wasn’t going back to that world unless the job was really worth it. Instead, he started running an 18-seat supper club called Um Segredo (which is Portuguese for “it’s a secret) in his Roosevelt Island home. Santos brings skills from his training at Per Se, Ryland Inn in New Jersey, and Bouley, and mixes it with food from his Portuguese roots and whatever theme he has decided on for that series of dinners. Past meals have centered on truffles, breakfast for dinner, and everything duck. The next series on July 5 and 6 deal with American classics, and then, for July 12 and 13 he does an ode to summer. At $55 to $95 for a five-plus course meal and a BYOB policy, it’s high-class meal for the price. After delving his spicy-themed dinner, I caught up with the chef to find out more how he got started and why.

What made you decide to leave your job at Hotel Griffou and start a supper club?
I left Griffou because I got tired of working for the wrong people. People in this business are the kind that smile to your face and stick a knife in your back. That’s what they were there. I told them at one point they were wasting their money, my time, and that it would be better if we just parted ways. They said, “No, no, it’s not like that, we love you and your food.” Then, about a month later someone left an email on my desk from one of the owners’ computer that was a correspondence between him and a couple of the investors that stated they hired another chef and were planning to fire me at the end of August.

I would have had some respect for them if they came at me like men, and I would have understood because the fit just wasn’t there anymore. So, between that fiasco and the 5 & Diamond fiasco, I told myself I wouldn’t just take another job, and, that I was either going to open my own place or get into bed with the right people. Finding that right job proved to be harder then I imagined, but, I stuck to my guns. Finally, I said, “Why the hell can’t I do that sort of thing on my own?” So, Um Segredo was born and I have never been happier.

Would, you ever go back into a commercial kitchen?
The end game for me is a restaurant called Um Segredo. I do this to fulfill my needs and keep my name on peoples’ tongues so that when it comes time to open my place, I will be known.

What are the benefits of cooking at home?
There are a lot of benefits. It’s comfortable and inspiring to be creative in your own home and to push the limit of a home stove is awesome. But the thing that’s best about it is that people have such a great time and their enjoyment is right in front of you. It’s a type of satisfaction I’ve never had before because I’m always stuck in the back working my ass off. It’s really, really nice to be able to see people enjoying my food. Plus, looking at it from a guest’s perspective, where else can you go and chat with the chef who is cooking your meal right in front of you.

How do you come up with themes?
The themes come from a lot of places. Some things are events during that month and some are requests I get. Mostly, I just let my daily life inspire me. I never wear headphones while I’m out on the subway because I’m afraid to miss something interesting and inspiring. I did a bayou menu once because I was watching one of my favorite shows called Swamp People, and the main character was cooking with his family and they were just so happy. So happy that it made me happy and I started smiling thinking about what a great family he has and how they got together around food. It inspired me to create my version of a bayou dinner based on the foods they were eating.

Also, I saw you cook, it’s like nothing happened in that kitchen yet you brought out like five gorgeous courses. How the heck do you stay so clean and cook for all those people?
It’s really about preparation, menu strategy, and leaving the complicated steps for prep. I got a lot of that mentality from Thomas [Keller] and [Jonathan] Benno at Per Se. The actual service at Per Se for me was fairly easy because all you had to do was execute correctly. The hardest part was the prep. But that’s where the battle was won. If you did all your prep right and had everything set the rest was easy.

Is it hard to get people to come to Roosevelt Island to eat?
Sometimes, but I think it’s part of the mystique as well. People get a kick coming out here, but we shall see what the summer holds in store. I might be changing things up quite a bit.

What is there to eat in Roosevelt Island?
There isn’t a ton, but there are some. My two favorite places would be Fuji East and the Riverwalk Bar and Grill. I’m actually teaming up with the guys that own River Walk to do a summer project out here with some of my favorite summer fish dishes. It’s going to be awesome and hopefully bring a lot of attention to the island and how nice it is out here.

Have you had any big name guests?
The editor of Maxim magazine loves us and come to the events; Josh Ozersky came to one of the events and he was a lot of fun to meet. A lot of food people have been out here as far as bloggers and such but nobody like a movie star or anything—yet.

Hotel Griffou’s David Santos Can Taste Summer

David Santos is excited about the heat. One afternoon last week, the Executive Chef at New York’s Hotel Griffou impatiently awaited the arrival of late spring cherries, “jet black and loaded with sugar,” and later strawberries, peaches, and nectarines, which will flavor the many menus he’s planning for the restaurant’s summer season. Santos has a compulsive need to change at least a quarter of his menu every month, especially the most popular dishes, which he sees over and over again while expediting a busy dinner service. “I have menu ADD,” says the 32-year-old. “I’m always very much into a menu when I create it, but soon I start to get bored with it and can’t wait to change it.”

Less than a year ago, Santos left an executive chef position at Harlem’s The 5&Diamond to take control of the kitchen at the decadent, cleverly-designed 1920s-era Hotel Griffou. The restaurant occupies the entire basement floor of the building that was once Madame Griffou’s boarding house, with later incarnations as the infamous Penguin Club and Mary Lou’s.

Nowadays, Santos is focusing on a series of monthly tasting dinners at the restaurant, which allow him to break the bonds of the regular menu and offer his guests a less conventional dining experience. He sees these ever-changing meals as the true vessel for his creative needs. “The tasting dinners are really about me expressing myself,” he admits, “An opportunity to do what I want.”

For an upcoming dinner on June 20th, Chef Santos is planning a “signs of summer” menu with a wine-pairing theme yet to be announced. In the meantime, here he is taking a breather from a busy afternoon of butchering to answer a few questions.

You aspire, like many other New York chefs, to create a seasonal menu. Is it more than a trend? Growing up, my family was very seasonal. When my parents emigrated here from Portugal, they brought with them a part of their lives and culinary traditions. We had a garden with rabbits and pigeons, and we ate what grew there. In the summer we pickled vegetables from the garden. My Mother was a very picky produce shopper and would never buy peaches and nectarines in the winter. The mentality of farm-to-table was installed in me since. That is why the idea of a ‘signature dish’ always seems odd to me because ingredients change. I’m glad to see that restaurants are serving more seasonal things. Food is better when you buy it exactly when it tastes good, and not have it shipped from miles away. I’m also concerned with the whole issue of the carbon footprint on the environment. I drive a Prius

It is hot out today. What are you looking forward to cooking this summer? Summer is my favorite season. Spring is fun because you get tired of braising meats all winter and you finally see something green instead of all those roots, but there’s still not much available in the markets. Summer into fall is really the best time to be a chef, since it’s most versatile. You have sweet corn from Jersey, Peaches and nectarines – its like shooting fish in a barrel.

You mentioned your Portuguese heritage. What are some staples of your childhood kitchen? The one thing we always had in the house was piri piri oil. It went on everything, giving food real character. Grilling is a very prominent cooking technique in Portugal, and my dad was always grilling outside, even in the winter. My mother is one of the best cooks I know. She could make just about anything. She made meatloaf like it was nobody’s business.

The Portuguese mark is evident on the menu, but so are influences from the Middle East and Asia. Where are these flavors coming from? When I create a menu, it is as much about the places I’ve been as it is about where I want to go. I love Middle Eastern food. My favorite place to eat in New York is the Hallal cart on 53rd and 6th avenue, which I visit at least once a week. The idea for the tuna dish (with Middle Eastern kebe spice, jasmine rice, and cucumber yogurt) came from watching an episode of Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre Foods filmed in Egypt. Every year brings with it new trends in food that seem to take over menus all over town. What’s your take on this year’s hot culinary trends? I think that food trends are brought up by a need or interest. Take a hamburger, for example. They are great, but do they need to be on everybody’s menu? I wish they didn’t have to be. But given the state of the economy, I think they are still a necessity. I accept it but try not to follow too much, and do what I think is right. But listen, there are many people out there right now making ton of money selling lobster rolls…

You worked in some of New York’s most prominent restaurants. Who are the chefs that most inspired you? Thomas Keller [with whom he worked at Per Se] taught me about everything that is beautiful about food. He taught me how meticulous and exacting food can be – the way he sourced the best ingredients, the many influences he drew on to create his food. It was always based on perfect technique. David Bouley, with whom I worked for over a year, is probably one of the most talented chefs I ever met. He taught me cooking under pressure. Working at Bouley was emotionally and physically intense. We worked 100-hour weeks and someone was always quitting. In that chaotic kitchen, I learned how to be good and how to survive. He was always there, always watching. At Bouley you had 250 people dining and you were beat, and the worst thing you can do is make a mistake. I was always a very composed person, but after I finished at Bouley it seemed that there was nothing that could be thrown at me that would rattle me. To last a year at Bouley was a feat that only about 4-5% do. I was there for a year and 2 months. So as much as I learned form Per se and the beauty there, I learned from Bouley and its craziness.

And your own kitchen – is it managed like Bouley’s or Keller’s? I like to sit right in the middle. I embrace a little bit of awkwardness and difficulty in the kitchen because it’s important for a cook to learn to deal with it. But I always want my food to be beautiful, to be sound in technique, and to taste great. I love the craziness and I live the order.

How often do you get to dine out in the city? Just about never. Accidentally, last night I dined at Brushstroke [David Bouley’s newest restaurant]. It was the first time I’ve gone out to eat in about a year. Taking up a kitchen in a new restaurant, you work so much just to make it work. There is a pressure of getting your name out there and proving yourself, so I find it necessary to be here all the time. But with summer coming up I’m hoping to find the time to dine out more. I want to check out The Dutch, eat at Daniel for the first time, and go to Le Bernardin again.

You are trying to establish yourself in a city chuck-full of celebrity chefs. Have you ever considered taking the reality TV path? I was asked to go on the Food Network’s Chopped a few times, but I rather stay away. I actually believe that my experience working at the kitchen at Bouley would have made me a good competitor, but I am so involved right now with my work that I’m not into becoming a celebrity chef. I see myself as very out going, easy to talk to, camera ready. But it is not my focus. My focus is making people happy. I think that is how you make a name for yourself. So you may not see me on Chopped any time soon, but you might catch me on Food Network’s Best thing I Ever Ate. Chef Ann Thornton nominated my venison tartar.

Industry Insiders: Dave’s Grill’s Julie Marcley

Now that summer’s finally on the fritz (sniffle) ’til next Memorial Day and Manhattanite weekend chatter is more catwalks than beachwalks, Julie Marcley, tireless first lady to Montauk’s longstanding standout Dave’s Grill, finally has time to take a breather, enjoy a Chocolate Bag, and answer our questions — from the Hamptonization of Montauk to her ‘Dirty Dancing’-esque forbidden summer romance with a young chef that took her from Weekender to gatekeeper. And after 22 years behind her hostess station, Mrs. Chef Dave is speaking her mind.

First thing’s first: how did Dave’s Grill come to be? Back in 1988, Dave was out surfing when a friend paddled up to him and mentioned that the property was available to lease, and that he ought to take a look at it. He did. I did. The rest is history.

You guys have been open over 20 years. How has Montauk and the people who spend the summers here changed since you opened your doors? We’ve managed to preserved 70% of Montauk as open space. That’s happened within the last 20 years. And thank goodness; it’s truly what most people adore about Montauk. As to the people? Mobility (Blackberries, faxes, wireless, etc.) has made Montauk accessible in a whole new way. It’s brought a young, vibrant, and sophisticated set along with families and fishermen and surfers as in the past. It’s a better mix now. I moved here before it was “fashionable,” and I can honestly say it’s moving in the right direction. I hope we can hold on to its charms.

How does the summer crowd who come to Dave’s differ from the “locals” in terms of how they dress or behave at a restaurant? The summer crowd is, well, a summer crowd … The locals are here when the weather turns cold and gray. We couldn’t survive without either.

Every single day at the stroke of 4:15, there’s a mad dash to call you for a reservation. Other than a talented kitchen and access to all the fish in the sea, what’s your secret to your unwavering popularity? All I can say is I wish I’d been this popular in college! I don’t really know what the answer to your question is. It’s a phenomenon, actually. Originally, Dave’s Grill took no reservations, but once the wait turned into two hours or more for a table, we thought it might be a good idea; so we started the day-of phone policy. It took off, and now we sell out every night, and it’s like one big party.

What does the busiest woman in Montauk do in her free time? What free time?

What’s the best part of owning your own restaurant? The worst? The best is having the winters off. The worst is having to work all summer, while everyone else is enjoying the beach.

I love that chocolate “bag.” Any story behind that dish? Many years ago, Dave had hired a Culinary Institute grad to chef with us for the season: Ed Lightcap — a local, by the way. He saw some segment on TV that inspired him. He melted some Belgian chocolate and proceeded to paint the inside of a coffee bag — the kind you fill with beans at the supermarket with a wax paper lining. It looked good so we put it on the menu. Bingo!!

How is it being in business with your husband? Who says Dave is my husband? Just kidding. Actually, it’s what cemented our relationship. You see, I met Dave while I was a senior in college. I was one of those “summer people,” all of 21 years old, out for a pre-senior season, working at Gurney’s Inn as a receptionist in the spa. Dave was a bartender at Gurney’s that summer. I flipped for him and informed my mother that I was not going back to Tulane University, but instead would remain a spa receptionist at Gurney’s. My mother informed me that I would be on the next plane back to New Orleans. And so I was. But I had fallen hard and kept coming back to visit Dave and Montauk, even after I graduated and spent ten years in Manhattan toiling away at an acting/singing career and then a public relations career. We were wary about the idea of working together, but with him running the kitchen and me on the floor, it has fallen into place for us. Good thing we don’t have an open kitchen … it could end the bliss.

Do you ever get to the city, and if so, where do you and Dave like to eat? We do love to go into the city. Dave proposed to me at Bouley. One of our favorite restaurants is Le Bernardin. We also love anything Danny Meyer is behind. He’s a master. Then of course, there’s our favorite “neighborhood” Italian, pizza place, Chinese and Indian restaurants, but I’m not telling.

We know who has the best seafood in Montauk. In your opinion, who has the best seafood in the city? Le Bernardin.

It’s 4:16 on Friday night and I can’t get through at Dave’s! Where are three other Hamptons spots worth trying? Hit redial. If you don’t get through by 4:45 p.m. then consider coming in to eat at the bar. If all else fails, go to the 1770 House in East Hampton, Della Femina or Il Capuccino in Sag Harbor — they have thee best veal parmigiana.

We recently ran an article about Montauk’s “Hamptonization” — growth in shopping, more tourists, etc. Is Montauk selling out, and is that necessarily a bad thing? Montauk will always be Montauk. Montauk is not the Hamptons, but a certain amount of change is productive for a community. Great beaches luring swimmers, surfers, great golf courses luring golfers; great trails luring hikers and bikers; and oh the fishing. The main thing is visitors and locals alike have to hold on to what makes Montauk so inviting. It’s not the shopping here; it’s the raw beauty of where we are. Remember, no matter how bustling summer is, it’s brutal out here in the winter; desolate and brutal. It’s not for everyone. Nature won’t allow her to be sold out. That’s why I’m here.

What’s the most important thing a weekender needs to check out in Montauk before Labor Day weekend? I’ve heard a lot of talk about that lighthouse … Yes, the Lighthouse — climb to the top and feast your eyes. Also the Montauket Hotel at Sunset, Camp Hero for a hike, and any beach — take your pick.

At most crazy-busy restaurants, the hostesses are so mean! Have you ever just wanted to snap at pushy customers? I have. And I do. The really pushy ones are at other restaurants making the hostesses so mean. The truth is, most people are good at heart, but people get cranky when they’re hungry, and they get disappointed when they can’t get in. I like people — all kinds of people. I don’t care for those who carry an air of entitlement.

Industry Insiders: Albert Trummer, Apothecary Deluxe

Albert Trummer is the Austrian bar chef and brains behind Chinatown operation Apothéke. With business-minded partner Heather Tierney, Trummer serves his liquid medicine from behind the bar to an eager clientele night after night at the booming corner spot on Doyers Street. While growing up in his family’s restaurant in Austria, Trummer learned his way around the bar and turned his father’s private club into a booming hotspot at the age of 15. He’s since worked for the likes of David Bouley, the Chambers Hotel, Home Bar on Shelter Island, and 60 Thompson. The master mixologist speaks about who does nightlife best, the apothecary premise and his plans for the future. And for a special video clip, he even mixes up his famous flaming inferno beverage for BlackBook’s Cayte Grieve and Eiseley Tauginas.

Who does it right in the business? David Bouley is not just my mentor; he is my idol and the rock star of chefs.

How have you showcased your talent? The biggest event that I did myself was the Music Awards hosted in Miami. I was hired by Louis Vutton/Hennesy. We served 2,000 people in the mansion at the Outkast event. The ordering list was incredible. We made an over 300-gallon special container of mojito for the party. It was empty by the end.

How did you meet Heather Tierney? She had written about me when she worked for Time Out. She had a vision for the place. I always wanted to have a venue with an apothecary concept. In Europe, these places are like Duane Reade. They’re cozy, and you know your pharmacist who writes your prescription. That’s how I feel went we create a drink for someone.

How will you improve the apothecary experience further? My wish list includes creating a healthy alcohol. I’ve been talking to a distiller and doing tests and found that the herbs I use are holistic remedies for some gastro-intestinal problems. It’s a secret formula that I hope to get FDA-approved and produce “Albert’s Remedy.”

Are you looking to open another place? I have many offers. I prefer to be in a hotel, as that’s my background, and they supply the level of facility I require. I’d also like to start the service of having a cocktail butler, where the mixologist goes to your room with assistants, and it is a type of show for the guests. I’d like to have Albert’s Cocktail Theater.

Tell us about Apothéke’s mixologists. Miguel is from Mexico and does Aztec-related drinks, working with Mezcal and tequila. Jack is American and does Savoy-style bourbon drinks. Bourbon is hot right now. Greg is a specialist in Italian bitters. Orson is from Venezuela and brings the Amazon and rain forest.

Any house secrets you can share? I ship the herbs and oils from all over the world, and we soak our limes with sugarcane.

Is the recession affecting you? My grandfather said this is a safe business. Even in this economy, people still eat and drink all the time. People still need entertainment.

Where do you eat and drink? I always go to a Bouley or Daniel Boulud’s restaurant. The food is fantastic, and there are no shortcuts. I also really like Da Silvano, and Smith and Mills takes pride in their drinks.

Are you doing any special events this year? Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday party in July. I’m creating the drink called The Mandela, which is based on African herbs and elderflower. The host is Bill Clinton.

Favorite authors? Ernest Hemingway and Jack London.

What is something people don’t know about you? I think David Copperfield is a great entertainer.

Favorite artist? Salvador Dali.

Is there a city that does nightlife better than New York? I’ve traveled all over the world, and none of them can compete with New York.

Why? The variety of cocktails. The master chefs from around the world work here.

Anything we could do to improve nightlife in New York? It’s missing intimate music clubs that they have in LA. Places where someone like Sting is recording. It’s a great part of the music scene there. New York needs smaller, more sophisticated music venues.
David Copperfield Tickets Rochester Auditorium Theatre Tickets Rochester Tickets

NYC Celebs: Where Do You Go Out?

imageAt the opening of Hair on Broadway, March 31:

● ROSIE O’DONNELL: We have just little local ones in our neighborhood that we go to, but we don’t really “hang out,” you know. I mean, we have four kids under the age of 13. You don’t really hang out a lot, when that happens. You know, the local Irish pub in our town, the OBI or the Casa del Sol, the Mexican restaurant. You know, there’s some kid-friendly places that we go — we’re kinda dull.

● TIM ROBBINS: Oh, uh, yeah — I’m tryin’ to think of someone that needs help right now. [laughs] A lot of people are hurtin’ with this economy. I can’t, I can’t — I don’t go out much. No, I don’t go to bars. We like Basta Pasta on 17th Street — great food. It’s an Italian restaurant run by Japanese people. Pasta with the cheese — they put it into a big wheel of cheese, and it’s really yummy.

● GINNIFER GOODWIN: Oh, I’ll give you LA. My favorite restaurant is this little spot called Vegan Glory, in a strip mall on Beverly. They have the most phenomenal tacos. Are you a vegan? I am, and that’s where I get my taco fix. I recommend the faux beef tacos — absolutely!

● TOVAH FELDSHUH: It’s not that extraordinary. I like to go to Orso, ’cause it’s right next to the theater. I love to go to the Harvard Club, where we’re members. I love to go to Daniel. Oh, my god, Bouley — way downtown; it’s brand new; it’s extraordinary. I went there for one lunch. I love little Chez Josephine, when I’m playing 42nd Street — Restaurant Row — I love to do Jean-Claude at Chez Josephine. You know, I go to the places that patronize me, that are good to me, and that are easy on me. Sardi’s always takes care of me — I always have their steamed vegetables and tofu ’cause I’m dieting. I love the bread — the extraordinary, very, very, thin, paper-thin bread, that’s garlic and thyme, at Orso’s. I love the Harvard Club ’cause they know me. I’ve been a member all my life, through my father, my husband, and my son. I love The Ivy restaurant in London. I eat there a lot. And I love The Ivy in Los Angeles, on Melrose. And I love The Wolseley in London. It’s fantastic. It was an old bank, like tonight [Gotham Hall], an old bank.

At the Lymelife premiere, Gen Art Film Festival, April 1:

● JILL HENNESSEY: I love the question. God, there’s so many. There’s a new place that opened up called The Charles — John DeLucie’s the owner. Oh, Tillman’s, one of my favorites. I think Leslie Bernard is the owner. Irving Mill, which my husband and I are partners in — it was rated as having the best burger in New York City, and one of the best new chefs, great bar. But Tillman’s — Leslie Bernard owns another place called Mr. Jones on 14th Street. It’s like this 1960s James Bond world that you suddenly walk into, with the best yakitori, food, and incredible drinks. Very sexy, very hip.

ALEC BALDWIN: I’m not a drinker, but my favorite bar to hang out in is the American Hotel in Sag Harbor, Long Island, ’cause it’s just a great, great, old room. It’s a great space.

Inside David Bouley’s Test Kitchen

Last night, booze behemoth William Grant held a cocktail party at David Bouley’s test kitchen in Tribeca. The vaunted chef and owner of his eponymous Tribeca trifecta — Bouley, Bouley Market, and Bouley Upstairs — started this culinary laboratory as a way to bring chefs together to share trade secrets and techniques. Think of it as cooking school for the world’s best cooks. “We’ve had chefs from about 35 countries here so far. We don’t get involved in their prolific or esoteric style of cooking, but we want to understand from a cultural standpoint about an ingredient or technique, and apply that to what we do already,” said Bouley, who showed up towards the end to help his staff with dessert. After the jump, exclusive pictures of Bouley at work inside the test kitchen, and how the economy is affecting his food empire.

“I’ve already been through this,” says Bouley about the challenges hawking gourmet food in a difficult economic climate. “I opened my first restaurant four weeks before Black Tuesday, when people were jumping out windows. Then I went through it in, the 90s, and then living through 9/11 in this area wasn’t fun. This one’s affecting everyone a little bit more, so it’s definitely more challenging than before. I have certain parts of the business that are growing like crazy, others are stable, and of course, the higher end is quieter, but it’s slowly getting better.”








Industry Insiders: Heather Tierney, Mixology Mistress

Heather Tierney, apothecary-at-large for Chinatown destination Apothéke on comparisons to Amy Sacco, being the bad twin, and dealing with Chinese landlords.

Have people compared you to Amy Sacco? Admittedly yes, and I am honored. She is giant in this business. I might know 1% of the people she knows, so it is flattering for someone to say I am like her.

Where have you been going out? I like small places that have an identity. I like La Esquina … I think that place is brilliant. It’s completely original, and it still holds up. It will be there a long time and the food is excellent. I like this place in Williamsburg called Moto. It’s in this old check-cashing shop. It’s a random location in the middle of nowhere. They made a great Parisian bistro/bar with great details. It’s just so charming. Sometimes they have a band, and you have to walk through the band to enter.

How’d you get involved in this business? Really the way I got into the business was finding this street. I passed this street with friends one night after a concert because we decided to walk to the Brooklyn Bridge to watch the sunrise, and I felt the street was so magical and wondered why no one had ever done anything on it. I started looking around and talking to brokers. I thought it would make a good cocktail bar destination. I hadn’t even met Albert Trummer yet. I quickly realized there was a huge barrier to entry into the Chinese community as an outsider. They don’t do leases here. People pay month to month. You want a lease if you are going to renovate a space and put a lot of money into it. Meeting with a landlord is hard because they are not interested … they pass it down into the family. Everything on the street has been owned by families over the years. I just kept the idea. I met Albert a couple of years ago through a friend who worked with him at Town and had read about him and admired him. I was moved by his humbleness when I met him. I felt that what he was doing with his mixology, no one else was doing. Albert had worked at Town and Bouley, and I thought it would be cool to bring him into an edgier environment.

Who do you admire? Keith McNally. First because he has not sold out, meaning I am sure he has been approached by everyone under the sun to put a Balthazar in Las Vegas or a Pastis wherever. He keeps his brand very strong … he doesn’t dilute them. Each restaurant is a unique concept and its own brand, and he doesn’t open more than one of them. He nails it on the head. He has great staff. He has great vision. He also gives back a lot. Every year he brings an orphanage into Balthazar and feeds them. The do magic shows for them, and the cards get stuck to the ceiling. You will see them still on the ceiling. He is also very humble and down to earth. Danny Meyer is next because he really understands service. He is a warm person and has built an empire, and none of them have a cold, corporate feeling. He wrote a book about hospitality and says it’s the small details that get you to the big place. Everyone in the industry says you have to read his book. People live by it. He gives back a lot too. He is also really down to earth.

What trends are you seeing in your industry? I hope attention to detail is a trend in the city. That’s what interests me. Places need to make a statement and be memorable, which I think is from substance. It can’t just be I am so-and-so and I am opening this, ’cause no one will care in six months.

What is something that people don’t know about you? That I am from Indiana. That I have a twin sister, not identical. We are yin and yang. She supports me in all my crazy ideas. She is the good one, Katie. Also that I don’t care about the “scene.” I don’t need to constantly network. I like to be alone and lay in the sun

Burger Shoppe, Apothéke. What’s next? I have another business too. It’s a concierge service called Sorted. It is a membership. I am not even taking on new members. I have even more I want to do. I want a personal life too. Also opening places, you get a bug to open more. I am even hoping to expand into the basement and upstairs of this space.

What are you doing tonight? I am going to dinner at Macao, owned by the same people who own Employees Only, with a friend who is a restaurant critic. Then I am coming back to Apothéke.

Petra Němcová on the Merits of Bouley

Not that supreme chef David Bouley needs a celebrity endorsement or anything, but what the hey. I just had a delicious slice of eggnog cake and I’m feeling philanthropic. All the way from Dubai, supermodel Petra Němcová rang me up with the news that her favorite New York dining spot is Bouley, the chef’s flagship French restaurant in Tribeca. “It’s amazing. It’s very chic there. The men have to wear a jacket, no jeans. It’s very romantic, and when you enter, there are barrels of apples, so right away you have the smell of fresh apples. And the people who work there have a great sense of humor.”

“One of the great things about it is they don’t leave you hungry, no matter what you order. Because in between every course, they bring you an unexpected meal, like a little present, and then at the end they bring you extra dessert.” And she insists this over-generosity is afforded to both stunning international supermodels and non-stunning international supermodels alike. Right. Nemcova will be hosting a benefit auction for the Tibet House at Christie’s this Monday. The full scoop on that from the budding philanthropist herself, coming soon.