New Yorkers tired of dining on sidewalks have a new alternative: eating gourmet meals on the balconies of unsold luxury apartments.
A New York startup called Resident is selling fancy dinners hosted on luxury condominium balconies, rooftops and gardens. Tickets cost between $150 and $250 for a five- to seven-course tasting menu with wine pairings. Each event can accommodate between 30 to 40 people.
Danielle Hildreth, 31, said she learned about Resident from a friend and was drawn to the idea of “a safe dining experience” that was also luxurious.
“It was a great date night out during COVID,” said Hildreth, a lawyer who attended a Resident dinner last month with her husband. “The chef was great and so was the food. It lived up to our expectations. It was definitely a more intimate and memorable experience than dining at a restaurant.”
Hildreth’s Aug. 18 dinner took place on a dramatic 2,700-square-foot-terrace of a $5.3 million ultra luxury penthouse at 25 Broad St. She and her husband, while wearing face masks, were led through the sprawling penthouse past an open kitchen and wood-burning fireplace to French doors that opened to a terrace overlooking Wall Street at sunset.
Tables are set six feet apart and staffers are all masked. Guests also agree to have their temperatures taken and to sign waivers indicating they are free of COVID symptoms.
That night, the chef was Adriana Urbina, who was most recently executive chef at the James Beard Award-winning restaurant De Maria.
Resident’s chef lineup also boasts Harold Villarosa, the current US Culinary Ambassador to Denmark who’s worked everywhere from Per Se to Noma, a Michelin-starred eatery in Copenhagen that regularly wins a spot in “The World’s Best Restaurant” guide.
Urbina, a three-time winner of the Food Network show “Chopped,” served beef carpaccio on a crispy seaweed truffle rice cake and rainbow trout with asparagus and a “riceless” risotto, followed by a “cream caramel, coco banana.”
“It was a great experience,” said Urbina, whose De Maria restaurant closed for good last month due to the pandemic. “You get to interact more with diners and share the stories and inspiration behind each dish, rather than hiding away in a kitchen and not fully giving context to why you chose an ingredient, or why you paired it with another.”
It’s a new business model for Resident, which launched in 2018 to host “communal” dining events for corporations or parties where everyone sits around one large table. When the pandemic hit, Resident was forced to shut down, its last event taking place March 14.
“It was like a bomb dropped,” said founder Brian Mommsen. “We took a step back to figure out how to come back, since communal dining was no longer feasible.”
In addition to 25 Broad — a 21-story landmark building in the Financial District — Resident is also working with 21 West End Apartments on the Upper West Side, which has a large outdoor amenity space. Resident is slated to partner with more locations later this month, Mommsen said.
No money is exchanged for use of these spaces.
Instead, Resident offers buildings discounted tickets for their occupants and the opportunity to showcase vacant apartments to people who can afford an expensive night out and appear to be still living in the city.
The latter is a big perk in New York’s ravaged real estate market where signed contracts for Manhattan condos have dropped 37.8 percent in August to 219 from 352 the previous year, according to Douglas Elliman. New condo listings, meanwhile, have jumped 30.1 percent to 1,127 over the previous year.
“It’s an excellent opportunity to showcase,” said Anthony Tortora, senior vice president at LCOR, which developed 25 Broad. “All of our penthouse units have significant private outdoor space, so we have been hosting all recent Resident events on one of our large . . . private terraces, which diners particularly enjoy.”