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The future of F&B operations: partnering with hotels

NEW YORK—LDV Hospitality, which has some eight food and beverage outlets in hotels, is making a noticeably proactive—and literal—move in consideration of its future, adding to the continuing trend of well-known restaurant brands making their way into hospitality venues.

The company is in the process of transitioning its popular restaurant Scarpetta from its long-time home in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District to take up residence this fall in the soon-to-open The James New York hotel in the burgeoning NoMad neighborhood.

LDV Hospitality is on trend in moving its flagship Scarpetta restaurant into The James New York-NoMad, where it will have more space and additional offerings.

While the distance from the restaurant’s current 14th St. location, where it’s been for 10 years, to the hotel site on 29th St. is not that great, the change is expected to generate fresh business for the eatery and the hotel, as well as continue to attract loyal customers.

According to John Meadow, LDV Hospitality’s founder/president, there was no immediate need to shift the restaurant site; it was, instead, part of his vision for the years ahead.

“Our lease on 14th St. is up in about three-and-a-half years, and in consideration of the future, we decided to take this opportunity,” said the executive, noting hotels is the direction he sees his F&B operations heading.

“Another four deals that we have are all in hotels. Whether independent leases like we have in this instance, or hotel management license deals, we really view hotel F&B as what’s historically been half of our business practically becoming all of our business. It’s because the independent restaurant world is, on one hand, becoming more challenging and, at the same time, there are so many exciting hotel F&B opportunities today because customers are demanding more and more independent restaurant experiences. What we love about the hotel space is it allows us to do a restaurant and a bar and banquets. It gives us multiple outlets under one roof,” said Meadow.

The executive, who graduated from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, cut his teeth in the industry as manager of the legendary Oak Room at The Plaza before striking out on his own in 2008 to advance on the culinary side.

While he’s being forward thinking, Meadow acknowledged some emotion around the coming shift. “It’s a really tough move for me,” he said, and intends to keep the leased space on 14th St. “It’s a wonderful, special space that I kind of spent my entire adult life in. I’ll stay there until the day the locks change… We are going to do something new in that space,” he said.

Although small, Scarpetta—the first restaurant he opened—is his most successful. “To move is a really tough, heartfelt decision but I feel it’s smart for business, it’s smart for the brand and it’s exciting to move forward,” he said. “So here we are.”

Where he’s headed is The James New York-NoMad, slated to open on Madison Ave. this June.

Formerly the Carlton Hotel, the property, under the Denihan Hospitality Group umbrella, is the second location for The James in Manhattan and will feature 300-plus rooms.

Shifting Scarpetta to The James was set in motion in early 2016, when Meadow met with team members from Denihan along with the developer, GFI Capital Resources Group, which acquired the property two years ago for a reported $162 million.

“GFI had an extraordinary track record looking at the NoMad, the Ace, the Beekman [hotels]. Just to be a part of that was very compelling. Not only do they have great hotels, the food and beverage in those hotels is like the all-star team,” said Meadow.

The executive said with hotel food and beverage fast becoming the firm’s primary business, whether with Scarpetta or another brand such as American Cut or creating a new brand, “We’re always looking at hotel real estate for restaurants or bars. In this one, it happened to make sense to put Scarpetta there [in The James]because we love the neighborhood. It’s exactly four blocks from our home office. The NoMad District as a whole has a lot of similarities to the Meatpacking District when we first came there in 2005. It was a traditional neighborhood that had a great range of demographics. It was this kind of hodge podge, bubbling, percolating mix right about at the precipice of really blowing up, and I think NoMad is probably more advanced than Meatpacking was in 2005. NoMad has a beautiful grit, yet elevated aspect with this beautiful wrought-iron architecture that you find throughout the entire district. We like that mix where it feels like New York. It has that right marriage and sensibility that we feel most comfortable with, and Scarpetta absolutely personifies that kind of high/low balance.

“You see fewer opportunities like that in New York,” he continued, “because we live in a time of these mega-developments that are potentially spectacular but they definitely represent the ‘new’ New York—Hudson Yards, Brookfield Place, etc. Perhaps, I’m a little bit more smitten by the nostalgia of yesteryear that the NoMad District certainly represents… All of this makes for the perfect storm for us to go and take our flagship restaurant and put it there.”

While The James location will have similar dining space as the existing restaurant and be open for dinner, a bar and café, which will be open for breakfast and lunch, will be larger.

“In addition to those spaces, we’ll have a fabulous private dining room and a bigger wine cellar,” explained Meadow.

The restaurant, located on the hotel’s ground floor, will have an entrance on 29th St. and Madison Ave. and is expected to attract locals in addition to hotel guests.

Meadow said the company also is going to “evolve the experience. What we’re not going to do is chase trends and gimmicks,” he said. “Scarpetta has always been a unique concept that has its own vernacular, its own DNA. We’ve always stayed true to that, so the core will stay the same.”

The opportunity to serve lunch and have a bar menu is part of the evolution of F&B, the executive noted, and is in keeping with how F&B is trending, especially in The Big Apple.

“The scope of our work in the hotel is exciting for us,” he continued. “It’s Scarpetta-plus. It’s a fantastic lounge space and banquets and room service, as well; that’s really the hotel F&B platform. Scarpetta will live on its own. We will, of course, offer a few signature items on the room-service menu, but it’s a separate hotel kitchen. We master lease all the F&B in the space but Scarpetta does Scarpetta and our hotel F&B team will do the banquets, room service and the food for our cocktail lounge.” HB

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