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Private Equity

10 Places to Take CEOs in NYC (That Aren’t Capital Grille)


There’s an art to taking a CEO out for lunch or dinner, as everyone in private equity well knows. It’s almost like a date — you don’t want to mess it up. We at Axial have compiled a list of places that go above and beyond traditional options like Capital Grille, Nobu, and Gramercy Tavern. These are places where the ambiance and food will do half the work for you.

1. For the foodie – PUBLIC

210 Elizabeth St. New York, NY +1 212 343 7011

Located in the heart of downtown Manhattan, PUBLIC is spacious and Michelin-starred. It’s definitely meant for a more refined crowd, but it’s not your typical white-linen restaurant. The food and service are excellent and consistent. The menu changes frequently, but a must-try is the kangaroo carpaccio.

Why is this a good spot to discuss business?  PUBLIC is geared toward the well-heeled farmer’s market foodie — but its menu and ambiance is upscale enough to impress any CEO.

2. For the southerner – Blue Smoke

116 East 27th St. New York, NY +1 212 447 7733

Blue Smoke is owned by Danny Meyer — an entrepreneur in his own right, and the restaurateur behind Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, and Marta. This place serves up Southern inspired dishes and has a comfortable, casual vibe. Expect solid unpretentious food in a relaxed eating environment. It’s no longer officially on the menu, but try ordering the Rhapsody in ‘Cue  anyway. It’s a medley of delicious meats from the pit (backyard chicken, spare ribs, pulled pork, and Andouille sausage).

Why is this a good spot to discuss business? Sensing that a CEO has their guard up? Nothing disarms a person faster than eating with their hands.

3. For the management team – Quality Italian

57 W 57th St. New York, NY 10019 +1 212 390 1111

Not many stellar restaurants are group friendly, but Quality Italian is. Midtown West doesn’t typically inspire great food, but this Italian steakhouse is an exception. Come for great food, exceptional service, and casual elegance.

Why is this a good spot to discuss business?  This is a favorite of power-lunchers for a reason. Both service and food is reliable, and they offer plenty of seating and space for groups to get down to serious business.

4. For the adventurous – Toloache

251 W 50th St. New York, NY 10019 +1 212 581 1818

This restaurant has a few locations peppered around the city, so there’s never one too far away. This is an upscale Mexican restaurant if there ever were one. Next to the fish tacos are chapulines, a Oaxacan favorite of mesa-grilled young grasshoppers dressed with lime and chili. It looks worse than it tastes (they bring to mind fried shrimp tails) and trying them guarantees you a great story.

Why is this a good spot to discuss business? It’s a great environment to try delicious Mexican food, but it’s not a hole-in-the-wall like many NYC spots. You’ll have plenty of room to get comfortable while talking shop.

5. For the vegetarian – Kajitsu

125 E 39th St. New York, NY +1 212 228 4873

Hosting a CEO who prefers to keep their diet animal-free? This Murray Hill gem features minimal decor and minimal ingredients alongside great service and complex flavors. The cuisine at Kajitsu is Shojin, a type of cuisine developed for vegetarian Zen Buddhist monks. To dine here you choose one of two tasting menus, the four-course or the eight-course.

Why is this a good spot to discuss business? Kajitsu is great for one-on-one conversations. Catering to the CEO’s dietary preferences or restrictions will also help prove that you’ll make a conscientious and considerate partner.

6. For the carnivore – Keen’s Steakhouse

72 W 36th St. New York, NY 10018 +1 212 947 3636

This is New York’s oldest steakhouse (beating Peter Luger’s by two years). Get ready for an old-school cool that harkens back to a time of dinner jackets and pipes. Look up to see the collection of more than 50,000 clay pipes. Don’t skip the chateaubriand for two — it’s so tender you could cut it with a fork.

Why is this a good spot to discuss business? Business deals have been discussed here since it first opened it’s doors to members only in 1885. Let’s continue that tradition.

7. For the partygoer – TAO Downtown

92 Ninth Ave. New York, NY  +1 212 888 2724

You’re tasked with taking on out-of-town CEO to a party? Go to the tried and true TAO Downtown in Meatpacking. The food here is Asian fusion, with dishes like lobster wontons and satay of Chilean sea bass. However, the food takes a backseat to the ambiance of this cavernous subterranean restaurant, with loud music, big crowds, and a towering Guanyin statue.

Why is this a good spot to discuss business?  … It’s not. Take a CEO here under the guise of dealmaking — then go have some fun.

8. For the trendsetter – La Esquina Brasserie

114 Kenmare St. New York, NY 10012 +1 646 613 7100

Need to keep current with the CEO who seems to stay ahead of the curve? This Mexican restaurant is hidden beneath a taco shop (after you wind your way down the stairs, past the kitchen and into another subterranean restaurant with a dungeon-chic decor) and has a serious collection of tequila. The queso fundido is a must.

Why is this a good spot to discuss business? Fly under the radar and get down to brass tacks in this hip SoHo spot that’s a far cry from the been-there-done-that midtown steakhouses.

9. For the seafood connoisseur Sushi Dojo

110 1st Avenue, New York, NY +1 646 692 9398

Lauded as one of New York’s top sushi restaurants, it’s led by sushi chef David Bouhadana, ranked in Zagat’s 30 under 30 in 2014. This place is the coolest of New York’s sushi scene, with subtle house music playing from the speakers and David himself knocking back sake with his patrons… and you won’t be breaking the bank with his $85 15-piece omakase.

Why is this a good spot to discuss business? This is a great place to go if you’ve hammered out most of the terms of the deal and want to treat the CEO to a great meal while ironing out the final details. Try the omakase — the frequent courses will lend a steady cadence to your conversation. The sake won’t hurt either.

10. For the stiff drinker – The Lambs Club

132 W 44th St. New York, NY 10036 +1 212 997 5262

This place just reeks of a stereotypical social club in New York City. The food is pricey and the drinks are even pricier, but this is another unexpected gem in the culinary wasteland that is Midtown West. The restaurant is a stone’s throw away from Times Square, but you won’t find tourists here. Get the sense that your CEO might prefer a liquid dinner (with a side of contemporary American cuisine)? The Lambs Club features an extensive cocktail list on top of their 60+ page wine list.

Why is this a good spot to discuss business? This place is enormous, with multiple bars, rooms, and tucked away seating areas. It’s a social club without the member fees. Whether you’re taking take one CEO out or need to give a presentation to a group, this is the place to do it.

Have other restaurant suggestions we should check out? Tweet @AxialCo!

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