Soho’s newly christened James New York hotel hasn’t named the celeb toque that will go into its “chef driven restaurant” (though In Transit reveals that it will contain a “garden and rooftop pool lined with cabanas and a lounge”). Still, it’s as good a time as any for BlackBook’s Steve Lewis to ponder the question of whether boutique clubs that aren’t attached to hotels can succeed (and in turn, whether hotels can hack it without sceney food and beverage programs). In so doing, he sounds some alarm bells about the Thompson chain.
Is the rumored imminent failure of Jason Pomeranc’s Thompson Hotel properties in New York and LA due to the almost complete failure of the restaurants and clubs in those properties? ... Without real f and b operators generating interest and loyalty from the luxury set, these places can’t generate enough charisma to drive the brand. The Thompson LES Shang is a much heralded restaurant [that] has loudly failed. The Above Allen lounge had moments of glamor, but could not sustain interest from the interesting set.
On the other hand, consider the case of a proven winner: “Rumor has it that the roof of the Gansevoort grossed close to 200k on weekend afternoons during the hot months.”
For another gloom-and-doom take on mom-and-pop operations, see also the Times' You're the Boss blog. Today, the founder of a short-lived Arkansas drive-thru coffee chain tells it straight:
As for Caffinity, our first location broke even in less than six months and generated enough in owner’s salary to pay the bills at our admittedly modest household and to allow us to open another location. But here’s something to keep in mind: We had no partners, no debt and no manager. If your business has to support any or all of these things, it may be a while before you reach profitability. It took the legendary Alice Waters eight years to get out of the red at Chez Panisse, so you would certainly be in good company.
Can Small Clubs Make Real Bank [BlackBook]
James Hotel to Open in SoHo [In Transit/NYT]
There’s No Business Like the Restaurant Business [You're the Boss/NYT]
Related: Why Are So Many Celebrity Chefs Checking Into Hotels?