America’s first restaurant has returned from pandemic purgatory with a new chef at the helm, fresh dining room upholstery — and even some hot rod representation.
The Financial District’s historic Delmonico’s steakhouse cut its reopening ribbon Friday following one of the 187-year-old eatery’s darkest periods.
The institution — which had been closed since 2020 — initially shuttered due to COVID-19, but then remained shut amid rent disputes with its 56 Beaver St. landlord and an ugly ownership battle between a former Delmonico’s employee and the brothers Grgurev, a legal nightmare that played out across social and traditional media.
Now, though, the chop house is back in business — and just more than a week following a chic friends and family preview, during which time the dining room remained packed with eager patrons who munched on generous steaks and sides, including crisp fries, and sipped on drinks that included Vinho Verde wine from Portugal.
“I call Delmonico’s the phoenix that rises from the ashes,” Max Tucci, the restaurant’s new global brand officer, recently told The Post while cabbing to the restaurant with his mother. (At the preview last week, Tucci floated from table to table offering customers his warm greetings, all while wearing a sparkly blazer.)
“Nothing,” emphasized Tucci — the grandson of Oscar Tucci, who resurrected the restaurant in the 1920s after its original incarnation threw in the towel during Prohibition — “can keep Delmonico’s closed.”
Indeed, the purported birthplace of the American restaurant, Baked Alaska, Chicken a la Keene, Eggs Benedict, lobster Newburgh and avocados in NYC is back and ready to uphold its fabulous reputation as the most storied, best-aged white tablecloth joint in town — and also quite possibly the only Manhattan steakhouse with race track representation.
“I was the last customer before the restaurant closed during COVID,” said Travis Shumake, the first openly gay driver to compete in the National Hot Rod Association, who happens to live in a two-bedroom apartment above Delmonico’s.
Usually, Shumake works with an agency to secure sponsors — but in the case of Delmonico’s, he met Tucci after crossing the street to get a slice of pizza and noticing the third-generation Delmonico’s partner doing a photoshoot for his Delmonico’s cookbook out front.
The two became friends and, about six months ago, Tucci declared “we need to sponsor his race car.”
And so he did.
In addition to advertising Delmonico’s to anyone looking at his car or fire suit as they zoom by at up to 319.62 mph (Shumake’s record, which earned him the title of fastest LGBTQ+ driver across all professional motorsports), Shumake and his partner also accept the restaurant’s morning bread deliveries while walking their rescue mutt, Banksy. They also loyally put up window bunting for all major holidays — but the bread and bunting they do just cause.
“We’ll be taking a steak in the race car just to set the record as the fastest steak on the planet,” Schumake shared of an extreme marketing exercise he’s planning for Delmonico’s.
Delmonico’s is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
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