Manhattan Restaurants Look to Big Name Chefs to Boost Image

Hotel developers’ recipe for success this year includes one secret ingredient: A high-profile chef.

Looking to break into the conversation among a shlew of new hotels in Manhattan, industry leaders are turning to a well-known PR strategy: Get a big name behind your business and the groupies will follow.

This is nothing new. Hotel and celeb pairings have been around since the ‘90s, but with the number of Manhattan hotels jumping from nine to 270 percent last year and at least 15 more slated for 2010, the trend is accelerating. Case in point: Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant Mark Jean-Georges is set to open in the Mark Hotel this month. Danny Meyer’s Maialino debuted in November at the Gramercy Hotel. And Todd English, friend of Eva Longoria Parker, plans to run the food court at the Plaza Food Hall.

And it’s not going to stop any time soon. The Real Deal reported that Manhattan brokers are working on nine new hotel-celebrity chef deals. On the flipside, investing in a big name can pose some serious risks. Star chef, Gordon Ramsay, reportedly poured $3 million into Gordon Ramsay at the London NYC hotel four years ago, but the restaurant had trouble filling seats. According to, late last year, top brass at the London NYC took over ownership and management from the struggling chef.

If you’re going to go into business with a high-profile chef, be sure to know how many deals they have existing and be confident they have enough time for your business.