When they call a restaurant “The Market”, it’s more likely that it will throw up visions of a cozy collection of street eateries that have the best sizzles and smells for three blocks around, and all this for prices so cheap, you’ll want to put it on your Facebook wall. What you don’t do, is imagine a place tucked away in the lobby at the Grand Hyatt New York in midtown Manhattan selling elegant salads, designer pastries and hot little packed meals to take out, and all right next to the Hyatt’s intimidatingly high-culture antique store. The decor really has the part of a chic boutique restaurant too – the floors are dark wood, there is a gentle blue light that plays on the stark white pillars – it was designed by an upscale architectural team after all. So who is this little New York restaurant for?
Since it’s so close to the Grand Central, it’s for passengers who would like a bit of choice in uncomplicated eating of course, but it’s also for office workers from glamorous addresses like the Citi Tower and the Chrysler building in the vicinity. And a selling point, one of its many, should be the fact that it’s the only such place anywhere around that never closes. What is it that the Hyatt has in mind with this new idea though? The New York restaurant concept isn’t being reinvented; the New York room service concept is though. To business travelers staying at any upscale hotel chain, the idea of calling for room service and having them deliver a preciously arranged tray 20 minutes later, can often be overly fussy; it can be really convenient to have the choice to just have a great restaurant to run down to and grab something to go in about 30 seconds. It’s the new face of room service, then it’s being tried out in New York to begin with.
The hotel thought of this after considering how on any given day, they probably had about 2000 people staying, but that they delivered only a few dozen in-room breakfasts; and they also found their guests going to a Starbucks outlet or something nearby for a quick bite. The Market, brings the outside, inside; and in a world where business travel is being pared down for cost savings, a $15 breakfast here can seem much more appealing than the in-room breakfast that can cost three times as much. And it isn’t just the guests that are trying to save on expenses either; hotels could do without an army of room service attendance, if guests would just get their own. But perhaps it isn’t as new as all that; Courtyard Marriott, the hotel for the budget business traveler, has had its grab-and-run restaurants for ages. But it’s never been done at a luxury hotel chain before. Will this new twist to a New York restaurant never work?
The Hyatt in Manhattan does need an injection of fresh blood; in comparison with the branches you’ll see in Asia, the Manhattan one seems of little stuck in a rut. They are renovating everything of course, with a beautiful new marble lobby and new guest rooms; The Market though, is supposed to hold up its name in innovation in the meantime. There will be hundreds of customers coming in the from Grand Central who will find no other New York restaurants nearby that do this much for as little. The whole lobby at the Hyatt is supposed to have a Rockefeller Center shopping atrium feel. And it’s something that’s just not available in the neighborhood. And curiously, the market doesn’t emphasize that it’s a part of the Hyatt. You don’t find the hotel’s name on any of the packaging, and the stuff they sell is from well-regarded local bakers and suppliers, not the hotel’s own kitchen. It’s just a whole new brand of New York restaurant, and it might just take over the world.