Few New Yorkers beneath the age of fifty will care a lot when The Four Seasons restaurant serves its remaining meal — a less-than-power lunch — on Tuesday.
The plodding revival two blocks south of the once-great institution’s genuine home in the Seagram Building never had a chance. Its formal style and delicacies have been gone their expiration date and its clientele had since moved on. A festering sexual-harassment scandal lent the killing stroke.
But the demise of its identification must sadden anyone who cares about New York City. The genuine Four Seasons lasted nearly sixty years until Seagram landlord Aby Rosen pulled its plug-in 2016, nevertheless, its glory years have been from the late 1970s by the 1990s.
The place was at its biggest when the crumbling, crime-ridden, near-bankrupt metropolis was at its worst. It’s distinctive architectural, culinary and social mystique outlasted the decay pressing in all through and vindicated the hope it lent of upper events ahead.
Owners Alex von Bidder and Julian Niccolini should have known as it a day in 2016. Instead, they tapped merchants, along with genuine backers the Bronfman family, to refloat the boat at 280 Park Avenue.
But the consequence wasn’t The Four Seasons 2.0 — it was 1.02, a feeble simulacrum no matter having a $32 million design and a proficient youthful chef, Diego Garcia.
The interval of the $40 baked potato, a Henry Kissinger favorite, was over. So was the need for a “power lunch” mecca of the sort The Four Seasons as quickly as was.
Dealmakers, showbiz boldfaces, and even society kinds have been progressively migrating faraway from once-almighty East Midtown. The diaspora started with Balthazar in 1996. Today, some wheeler-dealers would as shortly break bread at Tamarind in Tribeca or at Adda in Long Island City. Those who stayed in Midtown sought out the livelier meals and atmospheres of Gattopardo, Fresco and Nobu 57.
The Four Seasons paradoxically helped carry by itself demise. By serving to see the Big Apple by its darkish interval, it contributed to the whirlwind transformation that launched safe streets, new life — and great new consuming locations — to once-remote precincts.
But its short-lived revival had totally different points as properly. The two-year buildout dragged on so prolonged that long-time habitues misplaced curiosity. Meanwhile, the landmarked genuine venue was revived as two separate consuming locations, The Grill and The Pool, which have been so gorgeously restored that many purchasers — myself amongst them — can’t help referring to them as “The Four Seasons.”
In 2016, Niccolini pled accountable plea to a disagreeable third-degree misdemeanor assault price. He escaped a felony conviction that may have despatched him to jail. The case’s stench in the #metoo interval and reminiscences of earlier non-criminal sexual harassment claims involving Niccolini made the new Four Seasons a stumbling elephant with a bullet in its thoughts. Another, unreported case of alleged abuse that involved an employee who was neither Niccolini or von Bidder may have to kill the place sooner than it opened had it come to public delicate.
Von Bidder and his companions lastly booted Niccolini in December 2018, but it surely certainly was too late. Young women didn’t want to go there. Nor did many others of any age or gender. A shocked pal emailed me a few months in the previous that “there were only four tables [with people] at lunch.” I wasn’t shocked; a pal who took me there in September paid $265 for her single plate of pasta with white truffles.
It’s tragic that the Four Seasons’ second coming did no justice to its predecessor. Younger New Yorkers may never know the means incredible it was — and the means a lot it meant to the metropolis it carried out no small half in saving.