La BRASSERIE, the French-spirited restaurant from owner Francis Staub, founder of the fabled cookware company, is now open. Located in the iconic Brasserie Les Halles space on Park Avenue South, the restaurant brings gourmand cooking to New York.
A celebration of the French brasserie — restaurants loved for their casual, convivial atmosphere and ingredient-driven dishes perfect for soaking up selections from the extensive drinks menu — La BRASSERIE was created with both indulgence and daily pleasure in mind.
An Alsatian in New York
Francis Staub was born and raised in Alsace, in the city of Colmar. Little did he know when he started his cookware company that the stork, the emblematic bird representing Alsace and the logo of his company, would become a global brand. It is in fact, to this day, the first global Alsatian brand.
Francis Staub became fascinated with New York for the same reason many Europeans do: there is buzz, a sense of life and energy the city gives out, a vibe that can be addictive. He fell in love with New York and decided to do something special in the city.
In 2013, with the support and approval of Leslie Koch, the then president of the trust for Governors Island, Francis Staub hosted a fairground festival called La Fête Paradiso, a massive outdoors fairground party of antique merry-go-rounds that people could try out and ride. For three months, a few dozen of these exhibits were hosted on Governor Island, with several tens of thousands people visiting.
In 2018 Francis Staub then went on to acquire the rights to use Les Halles, Anthony Boudain’s former iconic restaurant. He met Anthony a few years ago and they talked for a while about their common passion: food. The new restaurant, called La Brasserie, was due to open in early 2020, but the pandemic hit New York city particularly hard. Finally, in March 2021, La Brasserie opened its doors to a crowd of people looking for traces of Anthony Bourdain within a new setting and design, but with the exact same ambition: delight customers and enable friends to share great food.
From Les Halles to La Brasserie: labor of love
The Brasserie Les Halles was a legendary French restaurant that closed in 2017 and was made famous by chef Anthony Bourdain who worked there in the 1990s prior to launching his media career. It is this place that inspired him to write his book, Kitchen Confidential, an often visceral narrative of his time as a young Chef.
The space inside the 100-year-old, three-story, steel-framed, masonry-clad building was occupied by Les Halles until 2018, and was originally designed to evoke the atmosphere of a traditional French brasserie. The millwork of the original entrance doors, bar, and host station was echoed in traditional column enclosures and egg-and-dart details on the coffered ceilings. Plaster walls and ceilings were coated with custom painted finishes, and brass trim contributed to the overall design effect.
The new La Brasserie sees a transformed space by providing a modern interpretation of the traditional brasserie, while maintaining many of the original details. Space has been reallocated to enhance functionality. The restaurant occupies a total of 7500 square feet, divided equally between the cellar and street levels. The design team, under close supervision of Francis Staub himself, revised the street level layout to accommodate seating and food preparation area requirements identified by the client.
The design team expanded the rear of the dining room by 500 square feet to provide additional seating that will allow the restaurant to accommodate up to 173 guests. That new section also houses a bread and bakery display station. The layout of the 720-square foot kitchen was revised to accommodate requirements for new equipment. Francis Staub insisted on expanding the dining room by revising the layout and location of the restrooms and by optimizing the layout of the kitchen.
Layout changes to the dining room are apparent starting at the front facade, where a new aluminium frame storefront enables the walls on both sides of the central entry to be opened onto the street. Only one side of the wall could be opened in the previous restaurant. The original landmarked entry doors remain. Immediately adjacent to the entry are a new host station and a 20-foot long zinc-top bar. Both are finished with dark wood coordinated with the original millwork. Dining room seating includes six booths and two long banquettes, all upholstered in red covers. The original diamond patterned terrazzo floor, as well as the plaster and paint finishes on the walls and ceilings, have been retained and were extended into the dining room addition.
Homage to Anthony Bourdain
From the 9 to 11 July 2021, in the middle of the covid pandemic, Les Halles reopened its doors for three days of celebrations around the life and legacy of Anthony Bourdain. Renamed La BRASSERIE and owned by Francis Staub since 2018.