NEW YORK, N.Y. – New York’s original power lunch restaurant is closing and everything must go.
Henry Kissinger’s favourite banquette, the chairs that guests sat on when President John F. Kennedy celebrated his 45th birthday and even the pots and pans will go on the auction block when the Four Seasons closes in July.
The July 26 auction was announced this week and will mark the end of an era for a restaurant that has been a favourite of celebrities and business titans ever since it opened in 1959. It continues to draw boldface names.
“Drew Barrymore was in last week,” Four Seasons co-owner Julian Niccolini remarked as he prepared for lunch service Friday. “A beautiful woman. She was with another beautiful woman.”
Esquire magazine coined the term “power lunch” in 1979 to describe the scene at the Four Seasons, where Friday’s guests included Peter G. Peterson, chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Many of the restaurant’s regulars were outraged when Aby Rosen, the owner of the landmark Seagram Building that houses the Four Seasons, announced last year that he was not renewing the lease.
Instead, the space designed by legendary architect Philip Johnson will be leased to chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi and their business partner Jeff Zalaznick, who are known for trendy downtown eateries including Carbone, Parm and Dirty French.
A spokesman for Rosen’s real estate company, RFR Holding LLC, said the company had no update about plans for the new restaurant.
The Four Seasons will reopen at a yet-to-be-announced location nearby, Niccolini said.
“It’s going to be a restaurant designed for the next century,” Niccolini promised. “We already have selected a very famous architect to design the new place.”
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the architect of the Seagram Building, and he and Johnson designed the Four Seasons, which is almost unchanged since it opened in 1959. With its Eero Saarinen cocktail tables and sleek Brno chairs, it is the epitome of the midcentury style embodied by the TV show “Mad Men,” which shot a scene there.
Other movies and TV shows that used the restaurant as a set include the Richard Gere vehicle “Arbitrage” and an episode of “The Sopranos,” co-owner Alex von Bidder recalled.
Real-life scenes that played out there included Norman Mailer’s 50th birthday party in 1973 and Martha Stewart and Barbara Walters’ 2009 Thanksgiving dinner.
The main dining room, known as the Pool Room, features an 11-by-11-foot marble pool that babbles like a woodland brook. Legend has it that Sophia Loren was the first guest to jump in. “There are no pictures,” von Bidder said. “There were no cellphones at the time.”