For New York’s savviest residential brokers, wining and dining with clients is not just an enviable perk of the job—but an essential part of expanding one’s business, increasing the likelihood of referrals and repeat business.
But identifying the right place to take a client to lunch or dinner – and which are conducive to deal-making conversations — can be difficult, considering the sheer number of New York City restaurants out there, and the ever-evolving tastes of moneyed New Yorkers.
The Real Deal asked some well-known city brokers which restaurants and bars they favor for meals with clients. While many provided longtime beloved hangouts such as Fred’s at Barneys, the Upper East Side eatery inside the famed department store, others revealed some less obvious gems downtown and beyond.
It’s important to provide a feeling of luxury in a restaurant or bar, said Town Residential’s David Salvatore, but the definition of luxury has changed in recent years as client bases have evolved and people working in creative industries have replaced finance execs as a key group of buyers.
“It’s no longer about spending vast amounts of money. It’s about personal connections and the specific attention you give your clients,” Salvatore said. “Many of my clients in the technology field happen to be vegans or vegetarians and often find the white hot spot lights of the hottest of-the-minute establishment to be a turn off.”
Upper East Side
Sotheby’s International Realty hotshot Nikki Field, who is currently listing a $25 million townhouse at 14 East 82nd Street, said she spends most evening hosting clients for cocktails or dinner at the Metropolitan Club at 1 East 60th Street, a private social club off Fifth Avenue. Original members of the club, famously founded by J.P. Morgan in 1891, include William Vanderbilt and James Roosevelt.
The old world-style meeting place features a regal dining area.
“No press, no photographers, no cell phones permitted,” Field said. “The privacy that the club provides is appropriate for relaxed, confidential conversations without any concern that our meetings may trigger unwanted rumors.”
Meanwhile, Fred’s is still a popular venue for broker meetings. While the elevators may frustrate always-in-a-rush brokers – they’re always swarming with bargain-hunting tourists – it still affords decent food and a modicum of privacy for conversation, although it also serves as a place to see and be seen.
“They give me this great table that is in the center of everything,” said Royce Pinkwater, also of Sotheby’s, “but it has a big privacy factor.”
Bustling Midtown is perpetually buzzing with brokers making deals. Michael’s Restaurant at 24 West 55thStreet, for instance, is a longtime venue for commercial brokers and developers to discuss deals, while the Plaza is a favorite of almost everyone.
For years, the lobby bar at the Four Seasons hotel at 57 East 57thStreet has also been a popular deal-making venue for residential brokers. By virtue of being in one of the most luxurious city hotels, it affords a sense of exclusivity while serving snacks, afternoon tea, wine and Champagne by the glass as well as cocktails and cigars.
Also popular is the Core Club at 60 East 55th Street, which has become a haven for New York elites from all industries, including Blackstone Group President Stephen Schwarzman, architect Richard Meier, football legend Dan Marino and Hollywood talent agent Ari Emanuel. Core Club, of which Warburg Realty executive managing director Richard Steinberg is a founding member, is an invitation-only club that affords privacy, he noted.
As previously reported, the club features a facialist, a massage parlor, a gym, a library, a screening room and famous artworks hanging from the walls — all for a $50,000 initiation fee and $15,000 in annual dues. Elliman broker Michael Lorber, son of company chairman Howard Lorber, regularly checks in at the club on FourSquare, according to his Twitter page.
Field said her favorite venue for a closing celebration is the nearby Le Cirque, restaurateur Sirio Maccioni‘s eatery at One Beacon Court. The iconic French Italian bistro is “always festive and perfect for Champagne toasting,” Field said.
Tribeca broker specialist Sonia Stock, of Douglas Elliman, who is listing a $3 million loft at 161 Hudson Street, said she tends to seek out eateries in the neighborhood with great food – and a low decibel count.
“I like to have a face on with my client and be able to hear them,” she said. “There are so many restaurants out there that are great – they’re packed and hip – but they’re too loud. You can’t hear what your client is saying.”
Stock recommends the Odeon at 145 West Broadway as a meet-up spot for brokers and their clients because “it’s busy but the tables are set apart so you can talk openly with your client.”
The longstanding neighborhood brasserie has long been a favored haunt of late night diners and serves staples such as homemade pasta and steak tartar.
City Hall, a grand American steakhouse at 131 Duane Street, is also a favorite of Stock’s. The marble checkerboard- floored eatery has top cuts and a well-stocked raw bar.
Catch restaurant in the nearby Meatpacking District is also a favored haunt of young, trendy brokers such as Elliman’s Oren Alexander, who previously told The Real Deal of the venue’s rooftop lounge for late-night revelry.
In nearby Soho, Elliman’s Eklund Gomes team, headed by “Million Dollar Listing New York” star Fredrik Eklund and business partner John Gomes, recommends the Crosby Hotel at 79 Crosby Street.
“We actually have a standing weekly breakfast meeting there with one of our developers,” Gomes told The Real Deal. “It’s a happy room that was thoughtfully designed by Kit Kemp, who is the master of using color, patterns and texture. It’s easy to be inspired there.”
As for the clientele, Gomes said it’s a creative mix, making for great people watching.
“The dining room has a comfortable feeling to it that reminds you of home,” he said, “which is always a good feeling to have when you’re trying to close a deal.”
Also popular with brokers and other real estate pros is the Mercer Kitchen, the restaurant in the basement of the Mercer Hotel at 99 Prince Street. Famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is at the helm of the operation.
Mercer Kitchen serves anything from scallops to designer hot dogs, as well as custom cocktails.
Lastly, Soho mainstay Balthazar is a favorite spot for finalizing the details of a sale, Steinberg said.
While the popular spot is “far too crowded” to hash out early negotiations, it’s a great spot for ironing out the last few details.
“I usually take people there to fine-tune a deal,” Steinberg said.