John McDonald, founder of Mercer Street Hospitality, is no stranger to splashy hotel restaurant openings. A few months ago, he opened Smyth Tavern, the art-centric hotel restaurant in what had been Andrew Carmellini’s Little Park in Tribeca. Adjacent to Smyth Tavern, McDonald opened his next-door cocktail bar with a fireplace and caviar menu, Galerie.
Next up, he told Eater, he is opening new restaurant in the flagship W Hotel in the 1911 Beaux-Arts Guardian Life building. The 120-seat spot had been Todd English’s Olives; when his restaurants hit financial troubles, in 2014, the space was handed over to Rande Gerber for Underbar (also the group behind The Campbell and Mr. Purple), then shuttered during the pandemic. The hotel that opened in 2000 is in the middle of a top-to-bottom renovation that includes all 270 rooms; Marriott bought the hotel back in 2019 for $206 million, with an intention of revamping the brand around the country for another $200 million.
The yet-to-be-named seafood brasserie is on track to open in late 2023, he says. McDonald will oversee the hotel’s brand new rooftop bar as well as a second-floor lobby bar that can be used as an event space.
McDonald, who started as a restaurateur with the opening of Mercbar in 1993 (that shuttered with the demolition of the building in 2013), is also behind Bistrot Leo in the Sixty Soho hotel (now home to Israeli pop-up Lev through May 2), and its sibling bar and lounge, Butterfly. Mexican-leaning Bar Tulix with chef Justin Bazdarich from Oxomoco, pastacentric Hancock St in the West Village, and Bowery Meat Company in the East Village, are also under the Mercer Street umbrella. Though the first NYC spot closed in 2013 when the building was demolished.