The team seems to be very aware of the fact that this is their first project in Brooklyn — and that it’s in a building whose architecture is the biggest statement of new development to hit the borough’s skyline in years. It’s hard to ignore that it’s the tallest, most stylized skyscraper in a neighborhood that’s become the butt of gentrification jokes, even if the developer is from Williamsburg.
Coming in, the Noho team knew they didn’t want to just open restaurants. They wanted to play with the whole experience of the hotel. Beyond providing the food and drink, they hired a new person just to develop cultural programming there, things like yoga on the roof, movies, concerts, art shows, and readings from local authors. They also hired a chef, Anthony Ricco, who was born and raised a few blocks away in Greenpoint, a fact they point out a several times. They knew they wanted to do build something that would bring in people who live in the area, not just people visiting. They wanted to express a lifestyle, not just a restaurant. "It’s about getting the community to stop by and use the space. That’s important," Carmellini says. "It’s not about covers and parties and money. It’s about engaging in other ways."
Already, the hotel’s hosted a meditation event and a performance from New York dance crew Kings of Spank, put together by the Noho Hospitality Group. Later this year, they’ll have a concert from a local band and a Coney Island freak show-themed Halloween party. Other events moving forward will try to showcase talents on the staff, most of whom live in the neighborhood, the team says. Many members of the staff do double duty as yoga instructors, DJs, poets, dancers, and painters, and the event aspect of the William Vale will take their talents into account. "We have so much diversity in our own staff, and talent," Ostrom says. "It’s an opportunity for them to showcase some of that." They eventually want to host ten events a month.
Noho’s move toward "lifestyle brand" means the team has their hands in other aspects of the William Vale. The team helps produce any private events, like weddings, and they’ve picked out the poolside food offerings. They’re tasked with turning a plaza on the ground floor of the hotel into a congregation spot for hanging out. And Carmellini also had a hand in chef Wylie Dufresne’s new doughnut shop at the hotel. They’ve been giving guidance on what retail might work for 20,000-square-feet of ground floor space, and they recruited their friend Dufresne as a tenant. "We would love to have some diversity [in shops] and hopefully be cool, hopefully be good for the neighborhood," Ostrom says.
Of course, Noho’s dedication to fitting in the neighborhood isn’t totally off-brand. Most of their bars and restaurants feel like they can be neighborhood spots. But everything at the William Vale is more than just a restaurant. "This became more of a playground of outdoor terraces, and a rooftop bar, and a plaza, and a skybridge, and a lobby," Ostrom says, "all these different stages that you could potentially do really fun activities to engage the neighborhood and put on a show."