At some point next year, the unstoppable Major Food Group (Torrisi, Carbone, Parm, Dirty French, Santina) will take over the space that currently houses The Four Seasons, and turn it into something new and different. While many restaurant obsessives see this as a smart move, there are a few vocal critics out there, including journalist Felix Salmon, who vents his frustrations over the move on Medium today. The gist of his argument against the Torrisi crew:
[W]hether the prime attraction is the people or whether it’s the architecture, the restaurant knows better than to try to show off with its food. Is the food at the Four Seasons Italian? Is it French? Is it American? The answer is: nobody really cares. There’s more than enough reason to dine at the Four Seasons already; the last thing it needs is foodies.
The Carbone/Torrisi crew, by contrast, specializes in theatre, in being over the top in almost everything they do. They’re loud, they’re brash, they’re in your face, they’re expensive. Once you encounter them, you won’t easily forget them. There’s one word which sums up their food, their flavors, their whole attitude: big.
In defense of Major Food Group, they have managed to create restaurants that appeal to the high rollers, scenesters, foodies, young people, and old people, all at the same time. Also, they've proven themselves to be experts at VIP treatment, so odds are they will know how to manage a dining room full of Midtown heavies. It's also worth noting that the space is landmarked, so nostalgists will still be able to marvel at the bones of the dining room. On Twitter Pete Wells offers his two cents:
But showmanship was built into the Four Seasons from the beginning. Joe Baum was the master showman of New York restaurants.— Pete Wells (@pete_wells) July 28, 2015
And that showmanship survives in the Four Seasons cotton candy, among other things.— Pete Wells (@pete_wells) July 28, 2015
Major Food may just look back to the Baum era. It would be like Tina Brown casting her @NewYorker in mold of Ross after the Shawn years.— Pete Wells (@pete_wells) July 28, 2015
Please share your thoughts on the Four Seasons takeover in the comments. And read Eater co-founder Lockhart Steele's response here.