With the economy forcing restaurants to cut costs (and portions) to survive, Greg and Marc Sherry, owners of the iconic Old Homestead Steakhouse at 56 Ninth Ave. in New York City’s fashionable Meatpacking District, have cooked up an antidote to the recession: expand and spend. The result? A growing empire stretching from coast to coast.
A series of brash moves (or marketing genius?) has positioned Old Homestead as a sought after brand. The timing couldn’t be better, with the restaurant marking the 75th anniversary under Sherry family ownership. Most celebrate with a cake; the Sherry brothers open another restaurant, and then some.
At the height of recession, they raised the steaks: planning an Old Homestead at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, which just opened in January; refurbishing Old Homestead at Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, NJ (Zagat rated #1 restaurant in AC), and recently completing a seven figure overhaul of the Manhattan flagship.
But they’re far from done.
They’re in advanced talks with Madison Square Garden to open a steak sandwich pub at the newly renovated New York sports and entertainment Mecca, and with a global hospitality icon to open Old Homestead at NJ’s Newark Liberty International Airport. There are other projects they’re keeping under wraps.
Not that the Sherry’s wouldn’t be content with just their original restaurant, purchased in 1937 by their paternal grandfather, Harry, who started as a dishwasher, became a partner and bought the now 144 year old establishment, ironically, during an economic downturn.
“We reject at least two offers a month. When other icons call, however, we listen,” says Marc.
“We found our niche,” adds Greg.
Or maybe the niche found them.
“When everyone else is scaling back, you can count on Old Homestead doing things on a grand scale,” says new Food Network reality show star and meat wholesaler Pat LaFrieda.
Restaurateur and Food Network’s Scott Conant, interviewed by Korea’s largest TV network for a 20 minute segment on Old Homestead, said, “If anybody’s going to open a steakhouse, people come here to get ideas because it’s not just the food, but also the ambiance, attitude, edge…decor [and] service; that’s what people look for in a steakhouse. That’s why it’s been so successful for so long.”
The worse the economy, the more they spend and market.
The Sherry’s created a one of a kind Halloween costume with a $100,000 price tag based on the meat dress Lady Gaga wore at MTV’s VMAs! They offered a $25,000 Super Bowl party, and after same sex marriage was legalized in New York they tossed a lavish $30,000 ceremony (free of charge!) for the first gay couple to tie the knot. Before that, they showered their flagship’s 10 millionth customer with free dinner for life. Publicity stunts?
“Hardly,” says Greg. “We’re always on the cutting edge, whether it’s social issues or what we plate. You also have to give back to receive.”
Their marketing genius attracts more than business opportunities. The restaurant is a magnet for location scouts, magazine shoots, Wall Street brokers, fashion industry moguls, tourists, steak loving New Yorkers, and boldface names.
Don’t expect portions or quality to drop off now that wholesale beef prices are soaring.
“We’ll never stop giving people what they want: USDA prime slabs of meat hanging off the plate,” says Greg.
With a side of marketing genius, of course.
Old Homestead on Facebook: www.facebook.com/OldHomestead, twitter: www.twitter.com/#!/OldHomestead, Web: www.theoldhomesteadsteakhouse.com.
SOURCE Old Homestead Steakhouse