Tall Order

Danny Meyer’s new $30M eatery at 28 Liberty takes Fidi’s transformation to new heights

After World War II, one of the most powerful engines of change in New York City was art. Artists, seeking cheap studio space, brought prestige to derelict industrial neighborhoods. Prestige brought investment capital to restore the wedding-cake- like cast iron buildings, and well-intentioned yuppy couples soon appeared to consummate the transformation.

It’s the same story for most of Downtown Manhattan. But in the Financial District — and perhaps in Manhattan more generally — there is a new engine powered by status and churning out $10-million-plus apartments. That engine is fine dining, and Danny Meyer’s new $30 million restaurant atop the tower at 28 Liberty Street promises to be the largest cog in the machine that’s transforming Fidi.

Meyer, the head of the Union Square Hospitality Group, is best known for his restaurants Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke, The Modern and Gramercy Tavern, and his international fast-casual sensation, Shake Shack. But as of late, Meyer is making big plays, expanding his influence within the merciless New York dining scene. Although nothing has been signed, he is rumored to be bringing a massive food hall to Hudson Yards. And his new partnership with Fosun Property Holdings (who paid $725 million for 28 Liberty in 2013) will bring a restaurant of the same grandeur and scale as the Rainbow Room to Downtown Manhattan.

Meyer is somehow creating a restaurant
that is “approachable” for rich
New Yorkers and tourists alike.

The so-far-nameless restaurant, bar and event space will open on the 60th floor of 28 Liberty, about 880 feet above the ground— making it one of the highest dining rooms in the city (the Rainbow Room is roughly 800 feet high, while the nearby restaurants atop the World Trade Center are over 1,250 feet). It will boast 360-degree views of the New York skyline and take up the full floor, roughly 38,000 square feet, or enough room to comfortably host 800.

“It’s going to be a real gift to New York City,” Meyer told Eater of the rooftop, which will be open to the public for the first time.

Meyer and Fosun tapped Woods Bagot — the architectural firm behind the interiors of the Baccarat Hotel in Midtown — to design the space. But despite what will surely be an extremely high-end atmosphere, don’t expect three Michelin stars. Meyer revealed in a recent interview that he is somehow creating a restaurant that is “approachable” for rich New Yorkers and tourists alike.

Most restaurants at the top of towers feel like they need “to get fancy,” Meyer told Eater. In contrast, Meyer says he is opening a comfortable space that will attract regulars — and no doubt Fosun and Meyer will need regulars to recoup a $30 million restaurant (to be clear, Fosun, not Meyer’s USHG, is spending the big bucks here).

“I want to make a restaurant that I would want to go even if it did not have a great view, that I would want to go to frequently,” he added.

Meyer is joining a bunch of restaurateurs rushing into the area as buildings like the Woolworth, One Barclay and 30 Park Place swell with well-heeled residents accustomed to more Uptown comforts and tourists flock to the World Trade Center and Oculus. Keith McNally’s Augustine, Nico Abello’s L’Appart, Tom Colicchio’s Fowler and Wells, Jose Garces’ Amada and Wolfgang Puck’s Cut are already giving the Financial District a newfound cachet with foodies. Meyer likely hopes his latest will be the cherry on top.