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Mar 8, 2017 @ 10:02

Who’s Setting Up Shop in Hotels? Big-Name Chefs

A couple of years ago, I was eating dinner in a new restaurant on the Bowery. On the surface, Bacchanal was a pretty sophisticated operation. The chef, Scott Bryan, had once earned three stars from The New York Times; the bartender was pouring almond-fat-washed rum and other state-of-the-art booze; the sommelier wore a silk pocket square and a tie bar as he offered thoughts on a wine list that casually ambled up into four-figure territory.

Then I went to the restroom. A server pointed me toward a narrow, dark staircase whose steps were splotched with white paint. Inside the restroom was a row of stalls. They were unusually small, and the tight squeeze was made worse because part of the space was taken up by a metal rod holding five or six spare rolls of toilet paper.

It was a real record scratch/freeze frame moment. And if you’re wondering how I ended up in that situation, it’s simple: I was eating in a hotel.

Bacchanal is closed now, but it wasn’t the first or last place I’ve gone over the past few years where I needed to take a short stroll before I could powder my nose. There is a graceful, elegantly lighted staircase at the NoMad in the hotel of the same name, and a vertiginous, coal-cellar-steep one at Narcissa in the Standard hotel in the East Village. At Augustine and Fowler & Wells, the staircase is reached by traversing the Beekman hotel’s crowded lobby bar and then circumnavigating a long bookshelf.

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