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Q&A With Shaun Hergatt

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Throughout the New York City Food & Wine Festival this weekend, Eater welcomes bloggers, journalists and food world stars to our lounge at the Standard Hotel. As the peeps pass through, we're going to chat them up and spit out the dialogue here in this business, From the Eater Lounge. Right now: Sho Shaun Hergatt's Shaun Hergatt.

2009_10_shaunherg.jpgWhat have you been up to this week? SH: I've been preparing for tomorrow. We’re going to be participating in the Grand Tasting. We’re actually doing a soup, something warm and comforting.

How’s the restaurant doing? The restaurant is doing very well—the Michelin star, and we were also named one of the best new restaurants by Esquire. We’ve been celebrating all week. Our business has really been picking up. Had a lot of people who came in because of the Michelin guide, we’ve probably doubled our reservations over the last three days.

How does that response compare to what you've gotten after reviews in the local papers? SH: We’ve been blessed with the things that people are saying about the restaurant. Thank goodness we finally got our doors open after construction delays, but we opened in the summer and that time of year is a disaster. I’ve opened eight hotels and three restaurants, and not one has opened on time.

How are you guys adjusting to the Financial District? SH: We’re learning about how the area works. A lot of New Yorkers are coming down and are making our restaurant a destination. We’ve got people coming out from Brooklyn and even Long Island.

You guys got a lot of press from the beginning for being a big restaurant opening in a scary time. Have you felt more comfortable as time has gone on? SH: I was pretty nervous the first month. As we progressed through the summer we still haven’t found our clientele. But the one thing we found in October is that the press coverage and our reservations have been almost doubled. People are going to come to the Financial District to try some new cuisine. I’m pleasantly surprised and a lot more confident. Also, that personal touch and that neighborhood service is key to me and people love that.

So for the next year you’re going to be hunkering down at the restaurant? SH: I’m going to implement a petit fours cart in the dining room. I have a few other things in mind. I’d like to do a couple of things tableside as well.

Are you going to keep the price the same? SH: Yeah, I’m going to keep the prices the same. For us, we look at our margins and we still need to be profitable, but we are looking for a small margin for the first year. But we’re really looking for that loyalty. We’re looking to be a 10-to-15 year restaurant here, not one that's just open for two to three years.
· All NYCWFF 2009 Coverage [~ENY~]