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Pet spa? Check. Swimming pool? Check. Turkish-style hammam? Check. Porte cochère? Check. New York’s posh apartment buildings have been in a race over the past couple of years to outdo each other when it comes to superamenities.
But last month, Macklowe Properties and CIM Group, 432 Park Avenue’s developers, pulled out their trump card by announcing that they had hired Michelin-starred chef Shaun Hergatt to run the skinny skyscraper’s residents-only restaurant.
The Australian chef, formerly of the now-closed Midtown eatery Juni, will run the unnamed restaurant, which will occupy the whole of the 12th floor of the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere, whose most expensive apartment to date changed hands for $95 million last year.
“Ultraluxury condos have elevated the amenities to meet the demands of sophisticated domestic and international buyers who don’t just appreciate, but expect, a certain level of service within their urban homes, especially in buildings with prestigious addresses where apartment asking prices are exceeding $100 million,” said Louise Forbes, a broker at Halstead. “Private dining rooms and restaurants are the ultimate in exclusivity.”
More luxury residences are offering exclusive dining for residents
The trend for residents-only restaurants really took off in 2008, when the Zeckendorf brothers unveiled one at 15 Central Park West, whose famous residents include Denzel Washington and ex–Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond.
But while restaurants like that have popped up in a few more buildings across the city, 432 Park Avenue is the first to go a step further and hire a Michelin-starred chef.
More could soon follow, as Vornado Realty Trust’s 220 Central Park South, currently under construction, will have a residents-only restaurant. While few details are known, a building which has an apartment for sale for $250 million is unlikely to lose the amenities battle to rival 432 Park Avenue.
There could also soon be one in Miami’s Porsche Design Tower when it opens its doors in September. Not only will the 56-story tower in Sunny Isles Beach be one of the world’s first condominiums where elevators take residents directly to their private apartments while sitting in their cars, it will have a private residents-only restaurant with outdoor seating, too.
Gil Dezer, president of Dezer Development, the developer behind the tower, told Mansion Global he is currently in talks with a number of top celebrity chefs from around the country to determine which one he will partner with on the restaurant and introduce a new concept. Dezer is known for his super luxury projects in Sunny Isles Real Estate and other markets in Miami.
“We’re going to have a rotating lineup of celebrity chefs. We plan on inviting these chefs to come in every three months and create their own menu. We will then have a night at the restaurant where the celebrity chef will teach our full-time chefs how to follow through on his ideas,” Mr. Dezer said.
“It’s the only restaurant in the world that costs $5 million to get a reservation. We know the restaurant is not a money maker, but my clientele doesn’t care about subsidizing as long as it’s amazing.”
Another exclusive Miami development—Oceana Bal Harbour—will also soon announce its residents-only restaurant “Ballerina,” operated by Starr Catering Group, founded by famed-restaurateur Stephen Starr and Simon Powles, the team behind 15 Central Park West’s restaurant. While its chef Ashley James does not have a michelin-star to his name, he comes with an impressive pedigree.
ThemRitz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach will also have a private residents-only restaurant on the pool deck when it is completed in around a year.
Luxury buyers seek exclusivity
As for buyers, Ms. Forbes believes that exclusivity and privacy are at the heart of every luxury buyer, so having access to an onsite restaurant in their building which is entirely private is an amenity that’s here to stay.
“My own experience with clients and friends at 15 CPW is that they love the ability to entertain easily whether formally in the building’s private dining room or garden, or informally in their own home,” she said.
“Much like a five-star hotel, they appreciate the personal service that an onsite chef and staff provide as they become an extension of the family, understanding their eating habits and preferences, thereby making entertaining more of a pleasure than a pressure.”
However, Nadia Meralta, senior vice president for design and development at Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, stressed that while the trend may become more prevalent in the ultra-luxury market, it won’t become widespread, as there needs to be a critical mass of deep pockets in order to sustain dedicated, in-house private dining.
According to Ms. Meralta, that’s why a lot of developments like the Baccarat run them in conjunction with hotels to offset some of these costs, but then they are not exclusive to residents-only.
Attraction for star chefs seeking pay commensurate with fame
Of course, a question remains: Will enough star chefs want to leave their restaurants and essentially disappear from the public eye—even if there is a lot of cash being dangled in front of them?
“Chefs, from the famous to the inexperienced, have long worked for wealthy individuals,” said Ryan Sutton, chief food critic at Eater New York. “Is an exclusive restaurant for a billionaire building really that different?”
That said, according to Mr. Sutton, the larger issue will be getting people to actually fill that restaurant.
“Many of these residents use their dwellings as second, third, or fourth homes (or as investment properties). Even the richest of the rich would prefer a lively and crowded restaurant that they maybe have to work a bit to get into than a restaurant that’s so empty they’ll just end up taking their meals back up to their rooms,” Mr. Sutton said.
He added that we could see more chefs wanting to do this, “especially as labor costs rise at traditional restaurants and chefs seek to find incomes that are, shall we say, more commensurate with the fame they can command at regular restaurants.”
Article Originally published at mansionglobal.com