Smith & Wollensky

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Smith & Wollensky
Type Private
Industry Restaurants
Founded 1977
Headquarters Boston[1]
Number of locations 9
Parent Patina Restaurant Group LLC
Website smithandwollensky.com

Smith & Wollensky is the name of several high-end American steakhouses, with locations in New York, Philadelphia, Houston, Columbus, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, Boston and Washington D.C.. The first Smith and Wollensky steakhouse was founded in 1977 by Alan Stillman, best known for creating T.G.I. Friday's, and Ben Benson, in a distinctive building on 49th Street and 3rd Avenue (once occupied by Manny Wolf's Steakhouse).[2] Many of the restaurants have a wooden exterior with its trademark green and white colors. The individual Smith and Wollensky restaurants operate using slightly varied menus. In 1997, Ruth Reichl, then-restaurant reviewer for the New York Times, called Smith & Wollensky "A steakhouse to end all arguments.".[3]

In 2007, Nick Valenti, CEO of the Patina Restaurant Group and his partner Joachim Splichal, together with the Boston-based private equity firm Bunker Hill Capital, purchased The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group.[4]

Name[edit]

According to Stillman, there was never a Mr. Smith or a Mr. Wollensky involved. He opened the Manhattan phone book twice and randomly pulled out two names, Smith and Wollensky. The announcements for the opening, however, carried the names Charlie Smith and Ralph Wollensky. Stillman later admitted that Charlie and Ralph were the names of his dogs.[5]

Locations[edit]

New York[edit]

Located in midtown Manhattan, the first S&W steakhouse occupies a stand-alone building whose wooden exterior bears the trademark green and white colors (which actually were inherited from Manny Wolf's, which was there from 1949-'77, when it became Smith & Wollensky, they simply changed the "Since 1949" to "Since 1977" but otherwise kept the type of letting used on the outside of Manny Wolf's the same). Also included is Wollensky's Grill, a bar room within the restaurant that has a more bar-type atmosphere and food, and is open later than the dining room. The New York location was used for a scene as a meeting place for Christian Bale and Willem Dafoe's characters in the 2000 Film American Psycho. It and its kitchen were also used for scenes in the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. It was also used for the famous 2008 $2.11 million and 2007 $650,100 "Power Lunch with Warren Buffett" charity auction on eBay, with Zhao Danyang and Mohnish Pabrai & Guy Spier, respectively.[6][7]

When Mr. Stillman sold the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group he retained ownership of the New York restaurant, although all locations share promotional and marketing efforts.

Chicago[edit]

Bearing the same green and white painted exterior the New York location has, this steakhouse overlooks the Chicago River and the Loop. It played a role in the revival of Chicago's River North area, and is neighbored by Marina City and the House of Blues. This location was featured in the 2006 film The Break-Up.

Miami Beach[edit]

In a two-story building on the waterfront, the S&W's Miami is technically located at the extreme southern end of Miami Beach, and offers views of the Miami skyline and ships passing through Government Cut into and out of the port of Miami. It takes advantage of its waterfront location, with an outdoor patio for diners to enjoy the outdoors.

Washington D.C.[edit]

Located at 1112 19th Street NW, near the corner of 19th and L in the heart of Downtown Washington, DC.

Las Vegas[edit]

The restaurant has three floors and is across from the City Center on the Las Vegas Strip.

Philadelphia[edit]

This restaurant has two floors and is the chief restaurant of Philadelphia's Rittenhouse Hotel. It overlooks Rittenhouse Square.

Columbus[edit]

The restaurant opened in 2002 and is in the Easton Town Center "lifestyle community".

Houston[edit]

The restaurant, which has two stories and features a view deck overlooking one of the nicer areas in the city in Highland Village, is similar to the Columbus location in that it was built as part of a "lifestyle community".

Boston[edit]

The restaurant occupies the Armory of the First Corps of Cadets, a castle built in 1891 originally intended as a military building, and is the only Smith & Wollensky location on the National Register of Historic Places. Another Boston location is located on the waterfront near South Station.

Advertising[edit]

Capitalizing on the restaurant's New York City roots, showmanship and creative risk have been perennial hallmarks of Smith & Wollensky's promotion from day one. An early TV commercial by agency Angotti Thomas Hedge showed waiters botching famous theatrical soliloquies ("To be or not to be") because they "wanted to be waiters, not actors." More recently, the steakhouse promoted itself with the theme "If steak were a religion, this would be its cathedral."[8] Johann Sebastian Bach's uplifting Mass in B Minor backgrounds a rapid paced montage of patrons, food, waiters and wine. This commercial by Seiter & Miller Advertising was seen throughout New York City and most memorably featured on newly installed Taxi TV screens.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′18.61″N 73°58′15.01″W / 40.7551694°N 73.9708361°W / 40.7551694; -73.9708361