Starting today, the Four Seasons Restaurant and its power lunches are back — at least, that’s what co-owners Alex von Bidder and Julian Niccolini are trying to project for the new, $30 million space of the iconic restaurant.
Von Bidder and Niccolini have been on a press tour, saying that former regulars are clamoring to get into the smaller version of the restaurant at 42 East 49th St. at Park Avenue in Midtown. And they’re saying it will be largely business as usual despite the two year gap: People are already coming to pick tables. Regulars are partaking in “a lot of kissing, a lot of schmoozing, and a lot of laughter.” Fans are stopping them in the street, including Henry Kissinger, a famed diner of the historic former location before it closed in 2016 to be replaced by a younger business and younger clientele.
But Four Seasons, as legendary and influential as it was, is opening in a city that has changed drastically since the original debut in 1959. Niccolini, who has pleaded guilty to assault for touching a female family friend, was once painted as the charismatic front-of-house face of the restaurant; in light of the #MeToo era, his reputation is less endearing. “Power player” guests, too, have grown older, and repeated mentions of former regulars like Kissinger are similarly less charming. The former diplomat, though historically revered, in more modern times has been criticized for supporting genocide.
Still, loyalists remain. Some of them even handcuffed themselves to the restaurant as investors, reportedly shelling out $250,000 to $1 million to help rebuild. Martha Stewart, who was a regular at the old Four Seasons, is back for this version, telling the Post that she “can’t wait” to go dine.
Some things have in fact changed for the new rendition, aspects that will seem more modern. A younger chef, Diego Garcia, is executive chef, and the Obama era White House pastry chef Bill Yosses will be running pastry here. Both have updated the menu, offering crab cakes, tableside caesar salad, truffle-roasted chicken, and seasonal desserts like a peach cream tart. Take a look at the full dinner menu below.
The owners also commissioned a short film for the opening, starring two models dressed in Thom Browne and produced by Tessa Travis at Milk Studios, who also worked on the #ThatsHarassment PSA videos. And the glitzy new space, designed by Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, also now seats just 110 in the dining room and another 20 in the bar room, compared to more than 200 in the last space.
In an email to friends of the restaurant, von Bidder and Niccolini say that “phones are ringing off the hook for after Labor Day” for reservations, perhaps angling to see if the restaurant really is as familiar as it once was. Four Seasons Restaurant is now open from 11:45 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday, and on Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.