Despite reports of a downturn in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, American Express is moving forward with plans to open a swanky, members-only lounge and cocktail bar at JFK Airport.
Industry heavyweights Ignacio Mattos, the chef at top NYC restaurants like Estela and Altro Paradiso, and Jim Meehan, the founder of East Village icon Please Don’t Tell (PDT), are spearheading the bar. Time Out first reported news of its opening.
The new bar, dubbed a “speakeasy” by American Express, is called 1850, and will be located at the two-story Centurion Lounge at JFK’s Terminal 4, but an opening date is yet to be announced. A spokesperson for American Express said the lounge would be “opening in the coming days.” The food and drinks menu created by Mattos and Meehan will be available throughout the two-story lounge.
The exclusive lounge is only open to certain American Express card holders, though it’s not immediately clear how many people will be allowed inside given New York City’s 25 percent restriction on indoor dining. A spokesperson for American Express said they will follow all current city and state protocol at the time of their opening, and will space out seating to ensure six feet of space is maintained between different parties.
Meehan’s drinks menu features a mix of classics like an espresso martini and a boulevardier along with new inventions that are a nod to classic NYC bars, like the cosmonot, which recalls the cosmo at the Lower East Side’s erstwhile Milk and Honey, according to Time Out.
Mattos meanwhile has created Italian-leaning dishes like steak with romesco and taleggio sauce, an egg sandwich with caciocavallo cheese and tomato marmalade, and a fennel salad with green olives.
And, of course, it’s all free of cost for the card holders that get access to the space.
While there has been a downturn in air travel in the past few months, a spokesperson for American Express said their card member booking data shows that there’s an increased interest in air travel over the next six months.
For Meehan, this is the first major project after he was ousted from his seminal cocktail bar last year after a new owner came on and suggested he was no longer needed. For Mattos, the speakeasy is his latest NYC project in addition to his Lower East Side Michelin star restaurant Estela and Soho Italian Cafe Altro Paradiso. The fate of his Upper East Side seafood restaurant Flora Bar remains uncertain with the continued closure of Met Breuer. The Frick is intending to temporarily takeover that space. Eater has reached out to Mattos for more details.