Park Towne Place Museum District Residences has dipped back into history as it opens its first restaurant since the long-gone Colleen’s.
The Hadley, opening Friday, Oct. 25, has a Mid-Century Modern design evoking 1959, the year the complex was built at 2200 Parkway. The look is pure drama: High ceilings, bold geometrics, clean lines, bronze accents. The 80-seater’s seasonal patio seating out front will more than double capacity.
The Hadley brings to town New York restaurateur Joseph Smith, known for the Bobby Van’s steakhouses.
But this is not a steakhouse. It’s an American bar-restaurant. Smith said The Hadley is a departure for him.
“The other restaurants I own are catering mainly to business men and women, primarily steakhouses, although I haven’t done a steakhouse in six years. ... This, I’m catering for the millennials. This is going to be built for the 25-year-old to the 50-year-old. Not that I would not like older customers. I mean, I had a lady who just came in, wanting to make a reservation. She was proud to tell me she was 71 years old and she lives in the compound. She says, ‘I love it. I grew up looking at this.’ I did my due diligence. I know my audience, I know what I’m looking at, I know what I’m going to get."
Menu, whose entree prices range from $19 for a burger to $39 for Roquefort-crusted filet mignon, hits the something-for-everyone categories of beef, seafood, chicken, and pastas. There’s a respectful-looking vegan section, as well, including a black-eye pea cake, miso-glazed tofu, and grilled vegetable tian.
The Irish-born Smith, who turns 72 next month, joined the Merchant Navy at 15½ and started in the business as a trainee waiter in hotels. In 1971, he moved from England to New York for a year, only to return in 1975 for good.
Smith worked as a bartender, maitre d', and manager. He saved his money and teamed up restaurateur Irving Eskenazi, who at the time had two restaurants and was looking for a manager. Smith rose in the organization, growing it to six. When Eskanazi retired, Smith reopened Martell’s on the Upper East Side, which had closed due to fire, and then bought Bobby V’s, at the time in the Hamptons.
Including The Hadley, he and partners now have 10 restaurants in New York, the Hamptons, Washington, D.C., Chapel Hill, N.C., and at John F. Kennedy Airport. He’s never closed a restaurant.
He also owns a gym on the Upper East Side.
“I work out every morning,” he said. “I do my Pilates twice a week, and I play tennis on the weekends in the Hamptons. I eat my own food i.n my restaurants. So, I think I’m a decent shape to show that I didn’t die eating my food.”
Park Towne Place hit his radar two years ago, Smith said, when he got a call from Park Towne’s manager, a family friend, to gauge his interest about opening a restaurant. "When I walked in, they took me on a tour of the complex,” he said. “I saw the space. And within an hour, in my mind, I had designed it. Where the bar would go in the kitchen, and the flow of things, and there and then, we sort of hit it off.”
The restaurant name came up during a chat with Kelly Nagel, who works for building owner Aimco. Smith, whose previous name ideas had been shot down, inquired about her children, and she mentioned her 5-year-old daughter, Hadley.
“I said, ‘That’s it!’” he recalled.
As for his secret: “You know, I’m Irish. God didn’t give us a lot, but he gave us common sense, and a personality. And I’ve always maintained, when I do my meetings with my staff, Manhattan has 22,000 restaurants. They don’t have to come to me. We have to make it special, to get you to come back. When they come in that door, you get one shot at the title, and you better be prepared for it. And it starts from when they walk in the door, until they walk out the door. The whole thing has to be an experience. It has to be something that they’re going to go out, and tell 10 of their friends. Because if they don’t enjoy, they’ll also tell 10 of their friends not to go there. So from start to finish, we’ve got to be on the ball, on our toes.”
It’s open nightly initially.