L'Avenue at Saks is one of the trendiest eateries in NYC, and it proves that the retailer-restaurant relationship is more important than ever for the survival of brick-and-mortar department stores
Courtesy of Saks
- Since opening last year, L'Avenue at Saks has established itself as one of the hottest restaurants in New York City, with clients ranging from Gigi Hadid to Kate McKinnon to Kim Kardashian West.
- L'Avenue originated in Paris, where it has been a favorite among fine diners for over 20 years.
- Since its expansion into the United States in February 2019, L'Avenue has become known for its French-American cuisine, as well as for being the only restaurant in the US where one can order famed Pierre Hermé macarons.
- Saks told Business Insider that the response to the restaurant has been "fantastic" and that they are "always looking to find new ways to appeal to [their] customers."
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New York City is filled with enchanting restaurants; only few, perhaps, as impressive as L' Avenue at Saks.
Nestled within the famed Saks Fifth Avenue, the French restaurant - celebrating its one year anniversary on February 4 - has become a hot spot for some of the biggest names in the world.
Taylor Swift, Virgil Abloh, Harry Styles, Jason Wu, Kim Kardashian West, Kate McKinnon, and Lupita Nyong'o -these names are not just attracted to the thought of having dinner inside one of the most famous department stores in the world, but also to the idea of experiencing a little piece of Paris in New York City.
"L'Avenue is one of the buzziest restaurants in Paris thanks to its cuisine, decor, and atmosphere," L'Avenue at Saks brand ambassador Mathylde Caffa told Business Insider. "It was very important that we stayed true to the aspects that ma[de] L'Avenue a must on any Paris itinerary."
The "social set" flocks to Saks
L'Avenue, an established hotspot for more than 20 years, has long been regarded as one of the finest restaurants in Paris. It serves dishes such as organic sliced beef tartar alongside butterfly chicken with curry, and has counted Selena Gomez, Rihanna, and Jessica Alba among its notable guests.
The New York City outpost - the restaurant's first and only venture outside of Paris - is no different. Located on the 9th floor of Saks, it has a menu curated by Chef Didier Coly, with Cedric Domenech as executive chef. The food is still French, of course, but with an American twist; the menu includes spicy lobster pasta, truffle risotto, and a club sandwich À la carte.
Aside from hosting high-profile events like Vanity Fair's Best Dressed Party and Gigi Hadid's birthday bash, L'Avenue also holds Live at L'Avenue in the Chalet, where guest performers and speakers such as Jane Fonda and Dionne Warwick have drawn wide, buzzy crowds to the venue.
Courtesy of Saks
The interiors were designed by the Philippe Starck, and there's a dining room that can accommodate 181 guests. The decor is inspired by 1940s French art, with brushed oak wood flooring and soft area rugs, classic warm ivory ball ceiling designs with large glass vitrines, and shagreen columns wrapped throughout the space.
The restaurant offers views of Rockefeller Center, as well as the famed Saint Patrick's Cathedral.
Courtesy of Saks
It is also one of only two places - and the only restaurant - in the United States where one can experience renowned Pierre Hermé desserts. (The only other option for those hoping to taste one of Hermé's famed macarons is the Delta Sky Club inside New York's JFK airport.) Hermé was named the World's Best Pasty Chef in 2016 by the World's 50 Best Restaurants ranking and is known for his eponymous patisseries which sell flavorful macarons and Ispahan desserts.
Courtesy of Saks
L'Avenue is connected by a monolithic staircase to the bar Le Chalet, which is located on the 8th floor of the department store. The bar serves cocktails by Nico De Soto, noted by Sam Dangremond at Town and County magazine as one of the most creative mixologists in either France or the United States. The most ordered cocktail is, naturally, Saks in the City, according to the retailer. It's a togarashi-infused tequila drink with grapefruit soda, agave, lime, and pink Himalayan salt.
"The response has been fantastic," Caffa told Business Insider. "This partnership brought together the iconic Saks Fifth Avenue brand with one of Paris' most famous eateries, so this in itself fueled a high level of attraction."
The relationship between retailer and restaurant is more important than ever
There is a long legacy of restaurants inside department stores. As reported by Maura Judkis for The Washington Post, early retailers in the 20th century had glamorous tea rooms with extensive menus. They were not necessarily for the purpose of luxury, but rather to keep a shopper in the store for as long as possible.
After World War II, retail began to struggle, and department store restaurants began to suffer with them. The retailer-eatery relationship has seen its ups and downs in the years since, but as Alex Witchel at Town and County wrote, at least in New York City, all of the best department stores are still operating restaurants today.
If anything, they have to.
Courtesy of Saks
That's why L'Avenue at Saks has sought well to establish itself as a "one-of-a-kind" destination, where visitors can enjoy the restaurant and bar as part of the overall Saks 5th Avenue experience.
With the rise of e-commerce, opening a restaurant- a good restaurant - in a legacy retailer such as Saks allows for the opportunity to lure customers, who might otherwise do their shopping online, into the store. It is perhaps one of the last ways brick-and-mortar retailers can remind people (or introduce people, like the up-and-coming Gen Z consumer base) of the pre-internet days when in-person shopping brought gratification in its own right.
So far, it seems like the 153-year-old Saks is having no trouble luring in the new generation of shoppers who have sought to redefine what it means to be a "lady who lunches." In April, Alicja Siekierska of Yahoo Finance reported that Saks Fifth Avenue was a "bright spot" in the earnings report of its parent company Hudson's Bay Company, which reported a slip in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2018 in every area except Saks.
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