4TimeSquare1.jpg Photos: Great Northern Food Hall
Signature dishes (above and below) served at Great Northern Food Hall, which “may be on the menu in some capacity” at 4 Times Square.

Condé Nast’s old cafeteria gets fresh, green upgrade

This spring, the workplace eatery at 4 Times Square transforms into a state-of-the-art amenity hall.

Manhattan’s 4 Times Square is undergoing a makeover. The iconic building and former home of publisher Condé Nast will soon feature a new $35 million, 45,600-square-foot amenity floor complete with a gourmet food hall as well as meeting and conference spaces.

Claus Meyer, the Michelin star chef and culinary entrepreneur best known for launching the new Nordic cuisine movement with his Copenhagen restaurant Noma, is spearheading the food and beverages. The aim is to create an alternative workspace for Durst’s growing roster of tenants and their employees, says Durst Organization President Jonathan Durst. Durst is the company that owns and managed 4 Times Square.

Slated to start operations in May, the food hall will be housed in the old Condé Nast cafeteria. But the food and beverage offerings, as well as the aesthetics, will be all new: The amenity feature is part of a $100 million upgrade to the building, and Meyer is overseeing the development of a menu that emphasizes local ingredients and sustainable food practices.

 “Locally sourced is the foundation for coherent and resilient food systems, and it’s the DNA of the new Nordic cuisine,” says Meyer, who already operates the Scandinavian-inspired Great Northern Food Hall in Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal. “I knew about Durst’s focus on sustainability and thought it was an interesting starting point for a journey in contract catering. Also the fact that it’s just half a mile away from Great Northern Food Hall and the idea of leveraging all our experiences from Grand Central and finding synergies was enticing.”

Unlike Meyer’s other New York venture, the fare at 4 Times Square won’t be as Scandinavian-focused. Meyer will offer best-quality versions of things like wraps and salads featuring rotisserie meats roasted on-site. There will also be a pasta station with rotating concepts, as well as a soup and salad bar and a raw bar. But borrowing from Great Northern Food Hall, Meyer also plans to introduce a grain bar featuring housemade sweet porridges and “grainottos” made with lesser used grains like barley, spelt and rye. There’ll also be a rotating roster of local food vendors, though names have yet to be disclosed. Meals will be served from lunchtime through late afternoon.

And for those looking for a quick snack or pick-me-up at other times of the day, options still abound. Meyer’s own Brownsville Roasters will operate a gourmet coffee bar complete with sweet as well as savory pastries. After-work drinks will be available in the early evening as well.

Through it all, the common thread will be an emphasis on local and organic ingredients, as well as best practices that promote sustainability. “We will source as much as possible locally just as we do in Great Northern Food Hall,” Meyer says. For instance, meat may be sourced from a whole animal butchering program in collaboration with Durst’s own McEnroe Farm, an organic farm based in upstate New York. And because McEnroe happens to a major compost producer, part of the waste from the food hall is expected to go back to the farm. In-house farm shelf units will grow fresh herbs, and Meyer is considering adding a rooftop garden as well. The hall is also committed to using eco-friendly cleaning and dishwasher products, and paper goods will be unbleached and recycled.

Just as the food offerings will aim to enhance employees’ work experience, so too will the space itself. Many of the elements of the original eatery will be preserved, like the curved glass “curtains,” titanium walls and banquet seating nooks. But the revamp has added extra seating—accommodating 300 guests instead of the old 260 max. The amenity floor entrance, too, will get a modern update: A wood-lined entryway will lead to a lush garden room with a floor-to-ceiling green wall. 

The concept throws out old ideas about what a workplace cafeteria and meeting space has to be like—bland, stuffy and boring. At 4 Times Square, the ultimate goal is to create a best-in-class workplace experience that feels more like a luxury hotel than a conventional office environment, says Convene CEO Ryan Simonetti. And in large part, that will be thanks to the food. “It’s important for us that the 4TS tenants are met with ever-changing offerings that are diverse, healthy and fresh,” Meyer explains.

The only downside? You probably won’t get a chance to experience it for yourself. The amenity hall will be for 4 Times Square tenants only, so it’s not open to the public.

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