Iconic Four Seasons Restaurant is closing

by | Jun 30, 2019 | News

Guests from all over the world enjoyed the bright window facade of the Four Seasons restaurant for decades. 

What does this mean for food and beverage options within the hotel industry?

The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City—which for years has been one of the most famous restaurants in the world—is closing.

To understand this restaurant’s significance, one need only look at its history. When it first opened in 1959, it was the most expensive restaurant to ever be built in New York City, costing $4.5 million, which is equivalent to $40 million today.

This restaurant ushered in several new milestones for the hospitality industry, including the idea of seasonal menus in America. It was also the first American restaurant to cook with fresh wild mushrooms.

Perhaps most notably, though, an article in the American magazine Esquire in 1979 dubbed it the home of America’s Most Powerful Lunch.

Now with the restaurant closing, the question becomes: will the hospitality industry ever see its likes again?

More history

The Four Seasons is a 60-year-old upscale restaurant, which is closing now because it struggles to hold on to its high-rolling clientele. This incited a lack of confidence among its investors for the property to last another six months.

Some four decades ago, however, the restaurant was a destination for New York’s power elite, a group which included denizens of Wall Street, publishers and movie producers. They would come to the restaurant to do business and hash out massive business deals.

This closing, and the end of an era, perhaps began in 2016, when the restaurant lost its home in the Park Avenue Seagram Building due to an expired lease and was forced to move. After its reopening two years later it was not able to pick up where it left off.

What does this mean for the hospitality industry?

The lesson for the hospitality industry here is, that business continues to change in unanticipated and difficult-to-predict ways.

If a restaurant as iconic as the Four Seasons can be forced to close, perhaps nothing within the hospitality industry is truly safe, truly guaranteed to last for another generation.

In news reports, the restaurant’s leadership said that moving locations hurt its customer base and led to a loss of even the most regular patrons.

In addition, the generation which regularly came to the restaurant for some of the most lavish lunchtime offerings in the city has gotten older, and the younger New Yorkers are not replacing them.

This can serve as a valuable lesson for F&B operators to keep a close eye on how their customer base is developing.

That way they can learn how to tap into other target markets to broaden their reach and protect their businesses from unanticipated changes or simply missing the boat on new trends.

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