Stephen Starr — the mega-restaurateur behind critical darlings Upland and The Clocktower, as well as aging MePa fantasias Morimoto and Buddakan — is planning a French restaurant in a new hotel in the old Holiday Inn Soho space at 138 Lafayette Street. This new hotel, dubbed 11 Howard, is being built by real estate tycoon Aby Rosen. DNAinfo reports that Starr pitched his plan at this week's Community Board 2 SLA licensing meeting. Starr envisions a restaurant with food that "will be classically French, but served in a very non-pretentious environment." He's tapped a "very well-known young chef from France" for this project. Starr was open to working with the members of the board on their demands, although they did not see eye to eye on the specific stipulations of a midnight closing time — the restaurateur wants to seat guests at 10, but the board wants lights off by 12 a.m.
Rosen's new hotel and its Stephen Starr restaurant are slated to open in Spring 2016. Here's a description of the project from the RFR homepage:
Taking cues from the practical, enduring nature of Scandinavian design, 11 Howard celebrates not just form but function. From a beautiful bowl in which to place your wallet and keys to a great local coffee in the morning, everything has been created to meet the needs of today’s traveler.
Perched on storied Howard Street, where the SoHo of yesterday meets the vibrant and fast-emerging nearby districts, 11 Howard is both a retreat from the city and a destination within it.
The wallets in beautiful bowls suggest that this will be quite the high-gloss operation. Rosen is currently working with the Torrisi Boys and Girls on the restaurant that will take over the Four Seasons space next year (he owns the building), and Starr is always developing a million and five projects at the time. Recently, he applied for a liquor license for a space directly across from The Whitney, although no word yet on what he might be planning for Gansevoort Street. Stay tuned for more details on the Rosen/Starr collab as they become available.