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Below Balthazar: the City-Block-Long Underground Maze

Look inside the beating heart of the operation

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A lot of people, even people who don’t dine out much, know of Balthazar, Keith McNally’s Soho brasserie, but not everyone knows that more than half of the operation occurs underground, adjacent to the MTA’s N/R subway tunnel that lives beneath Broadway.

Author Reggie Nadelson also notes, in her new book, At Balthazar: The New York Brasserie at the Center of the World, that before the restaurant opened, between 1995 and 1997 this is where McNally had teams of carpenters, designers, and artists at work refurbishing antique lighting fixtures and scavenged mirrors, carving out the two wooden ladies that grace the bar, building the bones of what would become Balthazar. Nadelson interviews current general manager Erin Wendt who describes the space, “It’s big. It’s big down here. People are pretty surprised when I tell them this is a whole city block, that it runs underground from Broadway to Crosby Street.”

Prep kitchens, staff lockers, the awkwardly-shaped employee break room where the florist arranges the dining room’s towering poofs of blooms, a linen room, pastry kitchens, 15 walk-in refrigerators, an air-conditioned garbage room, walls of ovens, a steam bath the size of an actual bathtub, a maze of hallways, a kitchen for to-go orders, another kitchen for catering orders, offices, computers, freezers, and ice machines live under the restaurant’s beautiful dining room. Only employees and delivery personnel have ever seen this basement. Until now. Have a peak below Balthazar’s surface:

All Balthazar Coverage [ENY]


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