This week was a rough one for fans of the iconic Four Seasons restaurant. After over a year of uncertainty, landlord Aby Rosen made it official on Tuesday that owners Alex von Bidder and Julian Niccolini will have to pack up the restaurant and move out in July 2016. That shouldn't come as a surprise, but Niccolini and Von Bidder's plans for the future of the restaurant may be. They've long been considering a move to 280 Park Avenue, but now they say they're focusing their attentions downtown.
"It's definitely downtown," Niccolini told the Times. "It's downtown because that's where the action's going to be for the next 30 years or so." The pair even seem relieved to be moving their attention away from the original location: "We are extremely excited about moving on...I'm excited. Forget about this gloom and doom," said Niccolini.
Rebuilding the restaurant's following will be challenging. Many regulars like writers Michael Korda and Mary Higgins Clark, along with cosmetics magnate Leonard Lauder, are in their 80's and aren't likely to head downtown multiple times a week for a meal. And, while several publishers, once the backbone of the Four Seasons' clientele have moved, or will soon be moving downtown, two hour lunches and expense accounts have mostly been replaced by salads at desks.
Niccolini and von Bidder, however, are confident they will build a new local following: "we can do the same in another neighborhood. No question about it," said Niccolini. Advertising legend George Lois, who worked on several campaigns for the restaurant, told the Times: "I think it would work...But it ain't the Four Seasons, baby."
Uptown, the Landmarks Preservation Commission shot down Rosen's plans for changing the interior this week, meaning the fountain, walnut paneling, and big windows aren't going anywhere. Clearly he wants to install a new tenant, but at the moment it's unclear who that will be, or what they will make of the landmarked space.