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Stephen Starr Plans 'Non-Pretentious' French Restaurant for New SoHo Hotel

By Danielle Tcholakian | August 20, 2015 6:27pm | Updated on August 21, 2015 4:31pm
 Stephen Starr is planning a restaurant for Aby Rosen's upcoming hotel in SoHo, 11 Howard.
Stephen Starr is planning a restaurant for Aby Rosen's upcoming hotel in SoHo, 11 Howard.
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DNAinfo/Danielle Tcholakian

SOHO — Stephen Starr plans to open a restaurant in a new SoHo hotel being developed by real estate mogul Aby Rosen, DNAinfo New York has learned.

Starr said the restaurant is going to be helmed by a "very well-known young chef from France," but declined to provide the chef's name.

The food "will be classically French, but served in a very non-pretentious environment, [with] table-side service, but not in a fancy way," Starr told Community Board 2 last week where he sought the approval of his liquor license application.

"You get really great food without all the B.S. that comes with fancy restaurants," said Rosen, whose newly opened Clocktower restaurant inside the New York Edition Hotel on Madison Square Park offers a $125 "dry-aged côte de boeuf with bone-marrow jus" made by a Michelin-starred chef from London.

Starr seemed game to accommodate the community board's usual demands, even volunteering to close at midnight — until he discovered CB 2's definition of "close" means everyone is out of the restaurant, "lights out." 

"If someone has a 10 p.m. reservation, I can't ask someone to leave at 12:15," he told the board. "I can't do that."

He tried to reference his Madison Avenue restaurant but was interrupted by committee co-chair Carter Booth.

"This is Lafayette, Howard and Canal," Booth said. "It's a different area here."

In an executive session after the meeting, the committee members were unmoved by Starr's argument.

"If you can't eat in two hours, that's really — they need to plan better," Booth said.

"It's a business thing, and quite frankly any smart operator wants those tables turned," committee member Robin Goldberg rejoined.

Starr's restaurant is planned for the ground floor of the old Holiday Inn SoHo at 138 Lafayette St., which is being developed by Rosen.

Rosen bought the building for $89.7 million last year, The Real Deal reported.

(He also recently purchased nearby the famous graffiti-covered 190 Bowery and a longstanding NoHo women's shelter, both of which he intends to turn into retail space.)

The 14-story building has stood at the corner of Lafayette and Howard Streets since it was built in 1961, and became a hotel in 1992. It holds 227 guest rooms and 1,300 square feet of meeting space, according to Rosen's company, RFR's listing for the address.

Rosen and RFR have not publicly released a great deal about their plans for the hotel, referred to on applications and public documents simply as "SoHo Hotel," but the RFR website indicates it will be branded as "11 Howard."

"Taking cues from the practical, enduring nature of Scandinavian design, 11 Howard celebrates not just form but function," the website reads. "From a beautiful bowl in which to place your wallet and keys to a great local coffee in the morning, everything has been created to meet the needs of today’s traveler."

The RFR listing indicates the hotel's 226 guest rooms will "evoke the spirit of a home, with a patina that is intended to improve over time."

Several of the guest rooms will have their own private terraces, according to statements made at Community Board 2 meetings.

A marketing director reached at RFR said it is too early to discuss or give out information on the hotel.

The corner building is currently wrapped in scaffolding, with the windows of the ground and second floor of the building boarded up, and construction is visibly underway on the exterior of the upper floors.

The hotel is projected to open in spring of 2016.

Along with Starr's restaurant, 11 Howard will hold a bar called The Blond, a conference room and a fitness center. (11Howard, The Blond, and 11H were all trademarked by SoHo Hotel Owner LLC in June.)

Emails and calls to Starr's company were not returned.