It takes a developer with a refined palate to feed a small city.

This story first appeared in the May 22, 2017 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

With 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space, Hudson Yards will have lots of mouths to feed when it’s finished in 2025. About 125,000 people a day will either work, visit or call Hudson Yards their home, including 40,000 office workers, 20,000 residents and 65,000 visitors.

 “You have so many different audiences coming here, from the early morning, lunch, dinner and late. A lot of people just look at the nucleus of what we’ve created. Look at the amount of residential [space] we’ve created and look at the convention center,” said Kenneth Himmel, president of Related Urban, the mixed-use division of Related Cos., referring to the Jacob K. Javits Center.

About 25 restaurants and food concepts will provide sustenance to the various Hudson Yards constituencies. About 179,000 square feet of the 1 million-square-foot Shops at Hudson Yards will be dedicated to food, representing about 18 percent of the overall mall space, which is more space than urban projects generally provide for food and beverage, according to Himmel, who is also a restaurateur. Throughout the Hudson Yards complex, about 270,000 square feet will devoted to food.

The entire project extends from 30th to 33rd Streets, between 10th and 12th Avenues, and from 33rd to 34th Streets, between 10th and 11th Avenues.

Neiman Marcus is anchoring the Shops at Hudson Yards with a 250,000-square-foot flagship on levels five, six and seven. The retailer was wary about the upper floors, but signed a long-term lease with built-in protections including large, unobstructed floor plates and multiple means of access, including an express elevator.

“I finished two days of meetings with Neiman Marcus,” Himmel said recently. “I presented the project to the board last evening and they had no idea how compelling it is. When the board asked me how it is that I think people will go to the top of the project, I said it’s very simple: I put the best chefs there.”

Neiman’s will be flanked by Chanel and Louis Vuitton and surrounded by concepts from David Chang on level five, and Thomas Keller and Costas Spiliadis’ Estiatorio Milos, whose restaurants will span the fifth and sixth floors and feature outdoor dining.

Himmel plied his theory about the synergies between food and retail at the Shops at Columbus Circle, a vertical urban mall that bowed in 2004 on Manhattan’s West Side. Per Se, Keller’s restaurant with a $325 prix fixe chef’s tasting menu; Masa, Masa Takayama’s three Michelin star restaurant; Michael Lomonaco’s Porterhouse surf and turf, and Landmarc, Marc Murphy’s French-accented eatery, are steps away from retailers such as Michael Kors, Williams-Sonoma, J. Crew and Sephora.

But the idea of chef-driven restaurants in 2017 isn’t as novel as it was in 2003. Elevated food is a requisite for most shopping centers trying to attract reluctant consumers. The Seaport District will boast eateries from Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Chang, while chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, whose Make It Nice group is responsible for the three Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, will launch a restaurant at Westfield World Trade Center.

At Hudson Yards, Lomonaco in 2018 will open a 220-seat American Grill modeled after a Hillstone-type restaurant on the fourth floor of the Shops. On five, Keller’s 18,000-square-foot classic American restaurant “will be a bit of a retro statement,” Himmel said. “Keller is taking a modern, contemporary approach similar to what the Four Seasons restaurant was in its heyday. I loved the Four Seasons Grill Room.”

Keller has the added role of  selecting with Himmel the restaurants and other food concepts at Hudson Yards.

D&D London’s 11,000-square-foot modern brasserie will anchor the fourth floor.

Chang’s Momofuku and a second still-unnamed concept will open on five, and Chang for the first time will offer takeout and delivery, “not just to people in Hudson Yards, but in Chelsea and to office workers. He’s planning a good amount of takeout and prepared meals and packages you can cook at home,” Himmel said. Gabby Karan and her husband Gianpaolo de Felice, who own Tutto Il Giorno in TriBeCa and Southampton, N.Y., “are working on a really fun, casual lifestyle concept with retail and a cafe,” Himmel said.

Giuseppe Cipriani’s sons, Maggio and Ignazio, will help their father operate an as-yet-unnamed restaurant, which will serve Italian. The brothers in 2011 opened Mr. C, a hotel in Beverly Hills that gained a following among the young and wealthy. Born in Italy, but raised in the U.S., the brothers worked at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Hong Kong and London. “The boys both travel a lot,” Himmel said. “They’ve had success in a lot of international markets. They’re going to create a fun, international experience.”

Elsewhere in the project, Juan Santa Cruz in 2019 will unveil a two-story restaurant at 35 Hudson Yards and facing the plaza and Heatherwick Studios sculpture. At 10 Hudson Yards, chef José Andrés will open a 35,000-square-foot Spanish extravaganza with chef Albert Adrià and the Ferran brothers of El Bulli fame. “They’ll  have all these amazing different stations and experiences, such as paella and seafood pastas, beer and tapas,” Himmel said.

More restaurants are planned for 35 Hudson Yards and 50 Hudson Yards, with fast-casual dining at 55, 50 and 10 Hudson Yards. There will even be victuals at the observation deck of 30 Hudson Yards, a destination bar with light food. As for affordable fare, there will be Keller’s Bouchon Bakery; Jack’s, an organic coffee bar with outposts in Sag Harbor and Amagansset; Shake Shack, and ” two interesting pastry and sweets concepts,” Himmel said.

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