Ryan Hanover Minds the People-Watchers at Delicatessen

By
"I have friends who are now dating several people they've met here." Photo: Melissa Hom

On a flight back to New York from an eight-month trip around the world, Ryan Hanover read an article about cheeseburger spring rolls at Delicatessen. He tried them, fell for the signature Reuben fritters ("I'm an Irish Catholic, so such a unique spin on a Reuben adds that little bit of ingenuity for the restaurant"), and left with a job. We asked Hanover about the late-night catwalk, complaints of small cocktails, and how to deal with disgruntled neighbors.

Does the clientele change throughout the day?
It goes from downtown business-oriented or your average actor or model in the neighborhood coming in for a quick lunch, and at night turns into kind of a hot-spot meeting place for a younger crowd to have a couple drinks and some great snacks before they go out for the night.

Do scenesters really eat all that fried food?
Absolutely. Me, and all my friends — the majority of my friends are actors and models — we come in here and make sure we work out extra hard and then we suck down all the fried Reuben fritters and cheeseburger springs rolls we can.

What do people drink?
Our bar manager — mixologist — is coming up with some great fall drinks — this candy-corn drink, to incorporate Halloween. It's like vanilla vodka but it has more of a sweet taste. We like to push things a little far, but when you see one of those walk through the restaurant, then every other person in this restaurant will order an exact one.

A critic complained that you serve drinks in half-full glasses.
They're not half-full because we have such large martini glasses. The drinks are very standard and I think our bartenders pour them a little heavy.

Your doors are still open all the time. When will you close them for the season?
It's weather-dependent. We're getting heat lights and also awnings, which will greatly reduce the noise level. We can tilt them up and pretty much all the way down. In the next two to three weeks we'll be ready to roll. I want them to keep the sidewalk open as long as possible.

Frank Bruni wrote about the 360-degree spins diners do on the way to their table. Why so much people-watching?
There are mirrors that line the walls. I think the whole place is set up for people-watching. I have friends who are now dating several people they've met here.

You're supposed to be open 24 hours in a few months. Is that on track?
As of this point it's not looking like something that will be happening in the near future.

An upstairs neighbor reportedly peed on your glass roof. Does that happen often?
When we initially opened, we had some passive-aggressive neighbors. We've all sort of settled our differences and now the same people who were upset and peeing on the roof are now our customers and come in all the time.