Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Mercer Kitchen will leave the Mercer Hotel after almost 25 years on December 18, the chef confirms. The closure is due to a restructuring at the hotel following a change in ownership.
Scott Sartiano, the nightlife veteran behind members-only club Zero Bond, will open an unnamed restaurant in the Mercer Kitchen space, with Alfred Portale as culinary director, sources tell Eater. Portale, who defined his career as a chef and partner at the iconic Gotham Bar & Grill, helms his own namesake restaurant in Chelsea. Sartiano and Portale did not respond to comment for this article.
As the restaurant is remodeled, Soho seafood restaurant Lure Fishbar will pop up in the lobby for hotel guests and those with a reservation, offering its full menu starting on December 19. “We’re treating it as an extension of the dining room while they’re doing the renovations,” says Mercer Street Hospitality founder John McDonald. He says he’ll also add items from his Bar Tulix menu.
Sartiano was brought in to help reboot Mercer Hotel during the pandemic, the New York Times previously reported. The change-up was due to an ownership battle at the Soho hotel after famed hotelier André Balazs was accused of groping multiple women, among other allegations. Balazs is no longer involved with the property after majority owners Richard Born and Ira Drukier sued to remove him from the business in 2021.
Sartiano brings with him ties to City Hall, with connections to the nightlife Mayor Eric Adams. In May, the restaurateur was chosen as an appointee to the board of trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the city’s oldest and most prestigious cultural institutions. Most Met board members are art collectors and major donors who give millions of dollars, according to the Times. Adams is a frequent visitor of Zero Bond.
Sartiano’s nightlife resume includes co-owning the 1Oak nightclub, for which he filed a $15 million lawsuit against former business partner Richie Akiva, alleging he underreported income and underpaid him when buying out his shares. The club was booted from its Meatpacking District location last month, over $1.8 million in unpaid rent, the New York Post reported at the time.
Located in the Christian Liaigre-designed Soho hotel, Vongerichten’s Mercer Kitchen has been in operation since 1998. The lower-level space complemented the Mercer Hotel’s reputation as a low-key celebrity magnet for decades, with wood-fired pizzas, tuna tartare, and warm slabs of chocolate cake served in a chic, brick-walled room. Since then, the prolific chef has opened a fleet of restaurants in New York and around the world. He most recently opened the Tin Building in the former Fulton Street fish market.