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Per Se: Will It Be Imitated?


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#1 oakapple

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:48 AM

Ms Reichl, on another thread someone suggested that the "ultra luxe" dining experience is a dying phenomenon. Yet, Per Se is full every night, despite a steep fixed price of $210 per per person (and that price has gone up steadily in the relatively short time the restaurant has been open).

The success of Per Se suggests that there is unmet demand for for that type of "ultra luxe" dining in New York. However, I also realize it is a risky proposition to open such a restaurant, since start-up costs are high. Keller had the advantage of replicating a formula that was already known to be successful elsewhere.

I am not asking whether someone will literally open a clone of Per Se — which would be foolhardy. But I am wondering whether you think that others will be emboldened to open new restaurants at that level of luxury and expense, knowing that—if you get it right—the demand is clearly there. Or, is Per Se an anomaly?

#2 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:57 AM

Ms Reichl, on another thread someone suggested that the "ultra luxe" dining experience is a dying phenomenon. Yet, Per Se is full every night, despite a steep fixed price of $210 per per person (and that price has gone up steadily in the relatively short time the restaurant has been open).

The success of Per Se suggests that there is unmet demand for for that type of "ultra luxe" dining in New York. However, I also realize it is a risky proposition to open such a restaurant, since start-up costs are high. Keller had the advantage of replicating a formula that was already known to be successful elsewhere.

I am not asking whether someone will literally open a clone of Per Se — which would be foolhardy. But I am wondering whether you think that others will be emboldened to open new restaurants at that level of luxury and expense, knowing that—if you get it right—the demand is clearly there. Or, is Per Se an anomaly?

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Per Se's not alone: Daniel, Jean Georges, Ducasse, Le Bernardin, The Four Seasons... they all charge major money, and they're all full. Clearly there's still a demand for that kind of ultra-luxe experience. Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich are banking on that: Their about-to-open restaurant, Dal Posto, is aiming at that market. They want to be the first four-star Italian in New York.

#3 docsconz

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 11:01 AM

Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich are banking on that: Their about-to-open restaurant, Dal Posto, is aiming at that market.  They want to be the first four-star Italian in New York.

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Do you think they are likely to succeed? Why or why not?
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#4 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 03:59 PM

Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich are banking on that: Their about-to-open restaurant, Dal Posto, is aiming at that market.  They want to be the first four-star Italian in New York.

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Do you think they are likely to succeed? Why or why not?

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Will they get four stars from the Times? Only Frank Bruni can answer that question. But will the restaurant be successful? I wouldn't bet against either Mario or Joe; they're two of the most impressive restaurateurs I know. They know their audience, they know their business, and between them they run both the kitchen and the front of the house extremely well. And they are taking this very, very seriously. I can't wait until the place opens!

I recently did a fund-raiser for Katrina victims with Mario and Joe, and I have to tell you, I was incredibly impressed. I suggested it to Joe, and within 24 hours he had laid the entire framework. Thanks to him, and the extraordinary generosity of the wine community, we raised a really serious amount of money (more than 3/4 of a million dollars) in one night. It left me with a very strong respect for their capabilities.

#5 Grandgousier

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 12:04 AM

I'm interested to see how del posto does as well. I don't doubt it will be successful, but do you think it is possible to do four star dining with so many seats? How do you train and maintain a staff capable of providing a four star experience in all respects on such a large scale?

#6 Pan

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 04:29 AM

How many seats will there be?

#7 oakapple

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 06:57 AM

How many seats will there be?

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120 seats, from the reports I've seen. That's at the high end, but probably not far off the number of seats at Daniel.

Edit: According to the website at danielnyc.com, the main dining room there seats 140. My guess is that's tops among the current four-star restaurants in New York. Some people think that Daniel failed to get the third Michelin star because it's built for volume.

Edited by oakapple, 30 November 2005 - 08:59 AM.


#8 Ruth Reichl

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Posted 01 December 2005 - 06:11 AM

How many seats will there be?

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120 seats, from the reports I've seen. That's at the high end, but probably not far off the number of seats at Daniel.

Edit: According to the website at danielnyc.com, the main dining room there seats 140. My guess is that's tops among the current four-star restaurants in New York. Some people think that Daniel failed to get the third Michelin star because it's built for volume.

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By the way, last night at the Kitchen Sisters book party I heard that Dal Posto may not open until January. Just a rumor, but from a good source....
As for Daniel and the Michelin stars, my guess is that they just didn't feel good about giving so many stars to French restaurants and they figured that Daniel couldn't be hurt by the omission. Nobody's not going to go there because of that. But it's really incomprehensible that they could have failed to recognize a restaurant which, by their standards, certainly deserves the top rating.