What is in this article?:
- Phil Suarez reflects on 10 years of Spice Market
- Building a success
The massive temple to Southeast Asia opened a decade ago in one of Manhattan’s seediest neighborhoods.
Building a success
(Continued from page 1)
RH: Has the Spice Market changed through the years?
Suarez: From the day we opened to last week, I still feel like I’m in the same place. It’s been maintained perfectly and with great passion. The menu has been tweaked some, but nothing out of the ordinary. Jacques’ design, with 500- and 700-year-old artifacts, is timeless. You walk in and you’re still in a world of magic carpets.
RH: What has made it such a success?
Suarez: I think it’s the authenticity, from the menu to the design. And the fact the Meatpacking District took off beyond my wildest dreams: This was just slaughterhouses and women of the night 10 years ago. We liked to think this would happen, but gee whiz, it sure did happen. It still feels like opening day.
RH: When did you know you had something special?
Suarez: You really know in the first three weeks, from the buzz of the city and the first review in the New York Times. It was all word of mouth back then. When we were filling 18,000 square feet of restaurant and doing 1,000 covers right away, you’ve got to know something is there. You really do have a sense that early. It’s almost like Broadway: When a show opens strong it usually maintains that. In this case, we were sold out from day one and we’re still doing more than 1,000 covers a night and more on the weekends with brunch and dinner.
RH: There are now Spice Markets open in Atlanta, London and Qatar. How did you end up in Qatar and are more in the works?
Suarez: It wasn’t that we woke up and said let’s be in Qatar. Our relationship with Starwood Hotels afforded us that opportunity and there could be more, potentially. Qatar has been a huge success, but we’re doing a lot of other restaurants and don’t want to expand crazily. We crawled before walking and are now walking before running. We’re picking our spots. There is room for more, but right not it’s not really on our radar.
RH: Will there ever be another like this one?
Suarez: This was a very unique building. You’re not going to find that space in most cities. If you have 7,000 square feet, that’s a lot. This is a big, big box to duplicate, and I’m not sure if it will ever happen again.