It is not uncommon for families, to hold eating dinner together, as the most important ritual to remain close, and connected with each other as a unit. The sharing of food, sitting in the round jointed as a group, leading to the natural discussion of the events of the day, bring families closer, and allow for the growth of tradition and development of lineage customs. Additionally, families tend to of course eat at restaurants that correspond with their ancestry. This link between a persons ethnicity and their food runs so deep, that food establishments catering to a specific group’s heritage can either be the reason of a business’ success, but just as easily, if too specific or not accommodating enough to the demographics of an area, trail a company into failure. Business’ successfully catering to families, like many restaurants on the upper west side, have a large and expansive open floor space for communal eating, and a group-friendly method of presentation, to ensure large parties and return customers.
The Upper West Side, especially the run of Amsterdam avenue, is packed with large family establishments, and although not every one has been successful, those that are specific in their presentations and follow the precepts of the group eating style, make a killing and solidify a concrete name with those in the neighborhood furthering their prosperity. As the Upper West Side, a primarily white neighborhood representative of 67% of the total population, exotic and ethnic restaurants must take into account that they become a niche market, whereas large American and Italian restaurants can formulate less complex business models to generate business. Family style restaurants are appealing to those living on the Upper West as it is primarily a residential area. All the restaurants below are in fact establishments that have cuisines targeted for family style, collective sharing and eating, and although all strive to accomplish this in their mission, some fall through and others excel immensely, falling in either direction greatly due to their marketing and advertisement as such.
The Upper West Side: 215,329 people (2015)
Carmines: 2450 Broadway, New York, NY 10024
Carmines, located at the strategically sound strip of Broadway and 91st, is a renowned family, Italian-American restaurant known for their large portions and opulent decor. With the advertising intent to draw large parties and events in, the restaurant is a crowded hub of life at almost any day in the week, catering directly to the largest representative demographic in the area. With correlating high prices compatible with the seemingly extravagant setting, the restaurant perfectly coincides and meshes with the food “ecosystem,” and has promptly imbedded their name and brand into the DNA of the neighborhood. The establishment gives a blurb on their site about the significance of the brand to the locale and neighborhood, but also to the entire city itself stating, “The classic decor of this flagship Carmine’s evokes the image of marquee New York restaurants that made this city into what it is today. With elements drawn from America’s “Golden Age”, Carmine’s has the quintessential NYC feel, resonating with its customers and looking like it has always been a part of the Upper West Side- and always will be! The interior style at Carmine’s started a trend in Italian dining rooms around the country, and the eclectic, spirited environment has become the perfect place for family celebrations.” Carmine’s has consistently succeeded for many years due to it’s large portions, and according pricing, making it a no-brainer for families and large parties to choose Carmine’s first.
Big Daddy’s: 2454 Broadway, New York, NY 10024
Located directly next to Carmines right on the corner section of the block lies Big Daddy’s, a family chain of 50’s diner themed restaurants. With colorful displays and seating, painted walls fully ordained with shows of the time, and autographed headshots from various musicians and actors, the expanse of the restaurant is fun, and clearly marked towards families with kids. The menu as well is targeted towards kids and family parties as well, naming burgers and items off of the menu with the same themed gusto as the restaurant’s walls. Big Daddy’s possess the right to gloat as they are almost packed, and still manage to give different generous pricing and deals on depending days of the week. Because of this, the restaurant thrives. The tables are packed on most days and the colorful environment keeps rowdy children, and tired parents happy.
Artie’s: 2290 Broadway, New York, NY 10024
Artie’s Delicatessen was formerly located on 83rd and Broadway in a clearly more than sufficient location for business, however closed this year after 18 years of service. The traditional Jewish New York style Delicatessen was considered a neighborhood favorite by many, and it was truly a shock to many when the establishment closed. Chris Crowley writes in NY Magazine’s publication Grub Street regarding their closing, “Artie’s Delicatessen might not be known as one of the giants of New York’s deli scene, but it is part of the legacy of a late, successful Upper West Side… The shuttering was apparently unexpected, with one employee telling the West Side Rag that staff was stunned.” The West Side Rag writes, “Artie’s Delicatessen… closed its doors for good on Wednesday after 18 years, leaving the neighborhood with an overstuffed case of emotional heartburn. ‘This is a major loss for the neighborhood,’ wrote Jeff, a customer who told us about the closing.” Unlike Big Daddy’s and Carmines, Artie’s, although a family restaurant, did not market itself as such. The Jewish style deli had neighborhood appeal supporting it as well, however it lacked to bring in large parties and families, which is so necessary to support a large business of the like. In fact, when looking at the layout of the restaurant, you see how columns and middle section, actually constrict the atmosphere and call for closer less intimate dining. This lack of modification and response to the needs of their customers, led Artie’s to an untimely demise and early shut down surprising locals of the Upper West.
Brother Jimmy’s: 428 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
Yet another Upper West Side fallen angel, is Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, previously situated between 80 and 81st on Amsterdam. Targeted and marketed almost exclusively to families, the restaurant even offered free meals to children literally writing on the wall, “KIDS EAT FREE!” in big letters. Their boisterous methods of attraction and large delicious portions of barbecue, appealed to families so much in fact that it may have been what did them in. In almost full juxtaposition with Artie’s, the restaurant overloaded deals to its return family groups so much so that they could no longer support themselves, while maintaining their prices and had to shut down almost two years ago. When asking UWS natives if they remembered the long time business, one person named Ed stated, “What is happening to the UWS? Where is a boy to get his smoked brisket sandwich and collard greens. Not to mention really big drinks with rubber alligators in them.” The large family appeal to Brother Jimmy’s was a success in attracting customers and their returning business, however unrealistic pricing and a lack of adaption to the high price neighborhood and expensive competition did-in the longstanding outfit.
Haru: 433 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
To fully get the scope of the cuisine provided by the Upper West Side, one must also analyze the cuisines that are considered exotic and ethnic, and from there examine how they perform alongside their popular palated competitors. In this case, Haru exemplifies extreme prowess in their execution of adaption to their environment. Haru boasts their ability to not only to appeal to families, but also to attract a nightlife crowd with their creative and extensive drink menu. Kathleen Squires writes for NY Magazine, “These chic sushi spots… bring trendy sushi stylings (oversized pieces, “creative” combinations) and Asian fusion dishes to the mass-market in highly designed spaces. While many are strategically situated for two-saketini lunches and happy hour crowds, all offer a dramatic, contempo-oriental setting.” Haru is called for mentioning as Squires continues on the adaptions the restaurant has made to mesh with their environment, appealing to families saying, “The food may offend purists of Japanese cuisine, however. The wrappers of the king crab dumplings are unacceptably tough and the quality of sushi and sashimi is a far cry from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market.” It is Haru’s prowess in modifying traditional Japanese cuisine to be better suited to the family market of the Upper West Side, that has not only made them a success, but one of the most prominent food places in the area.
Zoma: 2084 Frederick Douglass Blvd, New York, NY 10026
One of the few Ethiopian restaurants in the area, Zoma maintains it’s traditional cuisine serving only genuine and authentic Ethiopian. As one may guess, maintaining such exotic, and frankly close to unknown cuisine by many, is immensely difficult, especially when located in the expanding center of gentrification that is the Upper West Side. As the demographic charts show, only 7% of those living in the area are black, and even fewer of those people will be Ethiopian or interested in the cuisine. Of course others out of the 7% demographic may try the cuisine and even attend more than once, however their rate of return customers is much lower than restaurants of more tame cookery. Ethiopian food is in fact family style eating. The dishes are served on a communal plate made of special bread, serving as the method of picking up and consuming the food. Upon entrance of the restaurant at different times, it is sad to see they are usually quite empty. This is unfortunate considering the quality of the food and the lack of absence of other restaurants like Zoma. Unfortunately, if Zoma does not emphasize and advertise the family friendly style of eating the provide with every meal, I fear they will sadly run out of business soon, in such a ruthlessly competitive and expensive area.
“ARTIE’S DELI CLOSES SUDDENLY AFTER 18 YEARS.” West Side Rag Banner. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2017.
Ravindra, Shanna. “NYC Deli Artie’s Delicatessen Suddenly Closes After 18 Years.” Grub Street. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2017.
Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld. “Artie’s Delicatessen.” NYMag.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2017.
Squires, — Kathleen. “Haru.” NYMag.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2017.
“Carmine’s.” Carmine’s – NYC’s Legendary Family Style Italian Restaurant. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2017.
2015, Community Health Profiles. Step toward Building a Healthier New York City.215,329 (n.d.): n. pag. Web.