Danny Meyer to Open Seasonal Restaurant in Bryant Park

By Charles Passy
Updated Sept. 19, 2016

Danny Meyer’s culinary empire is now extending to Bryant Park.

The New York restaurateur’s Union Square Hospitality Group has signed a four-year deal to run a restaurant and catering venue connected to the park’s seasonal ice-skating rink, which is open from late October to early March.

Dubbed Public Fare, the casual restaurant, which will seat up to 210, will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus wine, cocktails and to-go offerings. Union Square Hospitality said the menu was still being finalized but that it expected soups, salads, sandwiches and pastries to figure into the mix; prices are expected to be under $20 for lunch and under $30 for dinner.

The goal, said John Karangis, an executive chef with Union Square Hospitality, is to offer “simple, straightforward” food that appeals to the wide range of Bryant Park wintertime visitors, from tourists to local office workers.

Bryant Park Corp., a nonprofit group that manages the park, has previously tapped a single company to handle its seasonal “winter village,” including the skating rink, a holiday market and a restaurant. This year, the park’s management team decided it would work better to bring in specialists for each aspect.

Mr. Meyer and Union Square Hospitality proved the logical choice to head the culinary component, said Dan Biederman, executive director of Bryant Park Corp.

“They’re terrific in coming up with ways to serve the public better,” said Mr. Biederman.

The deal is essentially a lease arrangement, although Mr. Biederman and Union Square declined to say how much rent Union Square was paying for the seasonal space.

Although Mr. Meyer initially made his mark in New York’s fine-dining scene, particularly with his restaurant Union Square Cafe, he has since branched out, operating casual-dining businesses at venues ranging from Citi Field to Central Park’s Delacorte Theater. He also founded Shake Shack, the burger chain, in 2004.

Union Square Hospitality executives said they see the Bryant Park area as an ideal Midtown locale that is drawing a growing number of food and dining destinations, from Gabriel Kreuther’s self-titled restaurant that opened last year to a yet-to-open Whole Foods Market .

The executives considered a Bryant Park restaurant a few years ago, but the deal fell through, so when the opportunity for a winter project arose, it was particularly enticing, they said.

“It’s a magical location during the holidays,” said Ron Parker, Union Square Hospitality’s chief growth officer