Where power brokers dine

By Marc Ferris | December 05, 2007 09:23AM

When it comes to New York City restaurants, “it’s not
about the food, it’s about the scene-making,” where the preferred
places “have room between the tables to prevent eavesdropping” and
allow a busy real estate person to be at their desk by 9 a.m. after an
early power breakfast.

In other words, the city’s real estate dining hotspots aren’t just its
top ten restaurants. Because of the desire for privacy, the real estate
industry has no corollary to Michael’s, the West 55th Street hotspot
for the media elite.

Where a broker or executive dines is largely a function of what’s near
the office, crossed with the need to impress a favored client.

For Gary Trock at CB Richard Ellis, having his firm headquartered at
the MetLife Building means dining in the Grand Central Station area.
Like other executives, he enjoys a power breakfast at Pershing Square,
conveniently located — for him — beneath the elevated stretch of Park
Avenue and 42nd Street. “I can have a meeting at 7:30 or 8 and be back
at my desk by 9,” Trock said.

Similarly, Fred’s at Barneys New York, in the same building as the
headquarters of the Corcoran Group and nearby the main offices of many
other big Manhattan brokerages, is popular, as are the nearby Fives (at
the Peninsula Hotel) and Town (in the Chambers Hotel).

Sometimes, for those who frequent the hotspots, “it’s not about the
food, it’s about the scene-making,” said Arthur Gallego, former
communications director at the Shvo Group, now on his own. “It’s good
to be recognized on the town making deals with lots of different

Yet seclusion is prized, too. For Chris Laul at HOK New York, the
Chelsea-based office of the global architectural firm, the best places
to eat are the ones “with room between the tables to prevent

Speaking of Chelsea, Paul Pariser at Taconic Investment Partners says
he enjoys being out of the loop at Eighth Avenue and 15th Street. “I
don’t go to real estate restaurants because I would never want
competitors to see me out on a power lunch with an important client,”
Pariser said.

Wendy Maitland of Brown Harris Stevens went behind the scenes,
literally. Her trade savvy led to a partnership in two successful
restaurants, Fatty Crab and 5 Ninth. “Three years ago, we bought an old
townhouse in the Meatpacking District” that now houses 5 Ninth,
Maitland said. “I knew that neighborhood would be ripe for
transformation, and right after we sealed the deal, the whole area was

Not that a life of going out doesn’t get tiring. Robert Knakal of Massey Knakal notes that lunch is usually taken at his desk.

If he goes out, it is often to an old favorite such as La Grenouille or
Vivolo, and he prefers to save his big meal for dinner, which, he
notes, allows him the opportunity to indulge his passion for wine.