After retiring from his successful B.R. Guest restaurant group in 2013, famed restaurateur Stephen Hanson recently celebrated his return to the hospitality business by opening a new Manhattan hotel eatery named Henry. In a recent Grub Street interview, Mr. Hanson explains why he feels it has become more difficult than ever before to open a new restaurant in NYC.
Through the years, Stephen Hanson has owned a multitude of popular restaurants and several hotels. It has been 30 years since he opened his first restaurant, and the hospitality industry has experienced a host of changes since then.
A much broader spectrum of ingredients are now available and today’s chefs are doing some really good things. Years ago, it was a big thing for one of his restaurants to be importing anchovies from Italy. Now, those same anchovies can probably be acquired on Amazon.
Situated within the historic Life Hotel on W 31st Street, Henry restaurant seats roughly 80 people and offers full bar service. Among the menu items that are available there are baked clams, wood-fired pizza pies, a whole scorpion fish, beef tartare and inventive pasta dishes.
In Mr. Hanson’s opinion, New York City is doing very well in general, and the city is trying to make sure that restaurants there are clean and safe. By being stringent with its regulations, the city can make it difficult for builders, but in actuality, it helps to reduce potential liability.
Finding dedicated workers is an ongoing challenge that restaurant owners must deal with these days, says Stephen Hanson in the Grubstreet interview. There are more official procedures involved in the hiring process, and the risk of being sued is always high. Mr. Hanson also says that if a restaurant can hire staff members that possess a real sense of hospitality, great products can be produced.
Stephen Hanson believes that although chefs and consumers have become more sophisticated in the past decade, customers still want to find value for their money, and they want to be treated with respect.