3 great hospitality concepts in the Big Apple

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GS Systems managing director Niels Nielsen recently visited New York City as a delegate on a hospitality study tour organised by Restaurant magazine and the M&C Report.  His review of the trip can be read here. In this post, Niels picks out three concepts he particularly likes ….





Smorgasburg (see pictures above) is an outdoor market with approximately 60 sellers or units. It is very similar to what we used to have in Denmark or the German markets that arrive in Manchester for Christmas. You help yourself to what you want in a really busy market with dozens of different people operating from pop up tents and market stalls. Anyone fancy hand cooked coconut milk drunk with a straw? There is no better testing ground for your ideas. You can do your market research without breaking the bank and your heart. Massive queues showed the untapped potential of several concepts that you might notice arriving in a major city in the UK over the next five or six years.




Hill Country Barbecue (see above) is a big site in Manhattan and one that really captured the imagination of our clients and fellow tour delegates Ross Mackenzie and Lindon Higginson, who are really developing some very exciting concepts back in Manchester to complement their Black Dog Ballroom and the Liars Club brands. Cane and Grain, a rum-and-ribs venue, is very much in the spirit of the Hill Country Barbecue. As this is in Manhattan and a relatively mature brand, there is plenty of cash behind it. Massive sides of brisket are smoked in huge smokers using imported wood all the way from Texas for that authentic taste of the Lone Star State (how is that for commitment). You can order by weight and eat whatever you want (scales weigh the steaks). There is live music, gaming rooms and a sink in the restaurant area, a great idea so you don’t need to go to the loo to was your hands. The UK please take note. A boot bar adds to the unique Big Country atmosphere.


McSorley’s Old Ale House claims to be the oldest ‘Irish’ Tavern in New York City and looks it too. Walking in to the bar is like stepping back in time a century or two, how you imagine the wild west might have been. You get a choice of light or dark ale at $3 a glass of beer. They didn’t get the right order but no one seemed to mind. Here the customer was not king. The bar staff were more like teamsters. Two quick dips in water  and the glasses ready for use again!! Noisy. Rowdy. Badly lit. It breaks all the rules but we all loved it. According to Wiki, notable people who have visited McSorley’s include Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Teddy Roosevelt, Woody Guthrie, Hunter S. Thompson and Brendan Behan. Now you can add a host of leading UK hospitality operators to the list, including Peter Borg-Neal (Oakman Inns), Jason Green (Chiquito), Moonpal Grewal (MSG Group), Lyndon Higginson (The Liars Club), Edward Holmes (Chop’d), Harry Kodagoda (Anglian Country Inns), Niels Ladefoged (Caladanian), David Lodge (Casual Dining Group), Ross Mackenzie (Black Dog Ballroom), Gillian McLaren (Young’s Brewery), Paul Pavli (Punch Taverns), Richard Pryor (Casual Dining Group), Graeme Ramsay (Glendola Leisure), Gary Roberts (Amber Taverns), Robin Rowland (Yo! Sushi), Alexander Salassolia (Glendola Leisure) and Andrew Walker (Casual Dining Group) …. and of course myself.

Niels attended the “72 Hours in NYC 2015” study tour, which was organised jointly by Restaurant Magazine and the M&C Report.


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