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Longtime Park Ave. Political Power Breakfast Gets New Digs

By Jill Colvin | January 10, 2013 1:16pm

UPPER EAST SIDE — One of the city’s oldest political institutions is getting in on the pop-up trend.

For decades, the Loews Regency Power Breakfast at the eponymous Park Avenue hotel was the place for powerbrokers to mingle. It was where deals were made, bridges built and relationships mended; where the who's who of politics came to see and be seen.

So when the owners announced they would be suspending their breakfast service because of renovations — just as the 2013 election season began kicking into high gear — regular attendees were dismayed.

“When we started to announce to our friends and family that we were closing, everybody got very upset,” Loews hotel chairman Jonathan Tisch told DNAinfo.com New York.

“These are people that make things happen in our city and in our country. So to be able to keep them together... and have them keep the conversations going that are important to our future" is vital, he said.

That's when Tisch started thinking about the recent trend of temporary "pop-up" stores and restaurants — and moving the breakfast a few blocks north to the Park Avenue Winter restaurant on East 63rd Street.

“I said, maybe we can do a pop-up power breakfast,” he said.

And so on Wednesday morning, dozens of the city's most powerful men and women gathered under modern chandeliers to mingle at the Inaugural Loews Regency Power Breakfast at the new digs.

Among those working the room was Former MTA Chair Joseph Lhota, who stepped down last month to mull a run for mayor as a Republican.

Between greetings and photos, Lhota explained how the breakfast offered more than just cereal, eggs and $8 cups of coffee, and served as a rare gathering spot for discussion.

“You have Democrats, you have Republicans, you have liberals, you have conservatives. You have everybody coming together. And the sole core of why they come together is for the benefit of the City of New York," he said. "There are very few places like that in New York."

Some of those in attendance also offered advice on Lhota's expected run, including former Mayor David Dinkins.

“I told him to have fun," said Dinkins, whose been attending breakfasts at the Regency for decades.

Dinkins recalled how, during the fiscal crisis of the '70s, it was the people who gathered at the hotel — from real estate leaders who pre-paid their taxes to unions that invested pension funds in city bonds — who “literally helped save our city."

“It was the people that gathered at the Regency that helped bring that about," he said.

Tisch said that was precisely the point.

“The Regency and the Power Breakfast were always known as a place where people would come to talk," he said, "start their day with some informative conversations that will benefit them, that will benefit the city or even benefit our country."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he’d been attending breakfasts at the Regency for about a decade, adding that meetings there stood out as uniquely productive.

“It does sort of bring together a critical mass of movers and shakers in New York City," he said. "If you want to get business done in a whole series of areas, I guess this is a place to do it.”

But asked if he could recall any critical decisions that were made at its tables, Kelly played coy.

“I do, but I can’t share them,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s all confidential. I'm sorry.”