Judy Paul — Owner
I feel so fortunate being able to pursue my dream of owning a restaurant. After my family purchased the Washington Square Hotel more than 30 years ago, I had the fantasy of opening up a restaurant in the hotel. Eighteen years later... my fantasy became a reality. I also come by this endeavor naturally since I was born into a hotel family. I spent a great deal of my childhood at my grandfather's Manhattan Beach Hotel in Brooklyn.
We started out in 1992 serving meatloaf because that is what the
traffic would bear at the time. But it was very, very good meatloaf
and that set the tone for everything we've done since. What we have
done since is to create a quintessentially New York City bistro, with
a sophisticated but uncomplicated approach to food that is at once
serious and accessible.
There have been certain givens since we opened. First, since we're
connected to the hotel, we serve three meals a day, every day. Second,
I have always felt very strongly that I wanted to keep the prices
reasonable. I want this to be the kind of restaurant where I like to
eat, but which I can afford whenever I want. Finally, it's an
informal, easygoing place. We get more than our share of famous faces
from the neighborhood, but this is not where they come to see and be
seen. It's where they come for a good, relaxed meal.
I also feel grateful that I took my time to pursue a career in the
hospitality business. After graduating Vassar College, I had the
opportunity to work as a desk clerk in my parent's hotel. Although I
enjoyed the hotel business, I wanted to establish myself outside the
family enterprise. I decided after two years to go back to graduate
school and earned an MBA from Columbia University. My first job out of
Columbia was as a hospital administrator at Mt. Sinai Hospital. From
there, I went on to work as a financial analyst for the New York State
Office of the Special Deputy Controller. Two years later, I became a
Vice President in the Health Care Group at AMBAC, a municipal bond
insurance company, where I remained for five years.
I've found the transition to the restaurant business has been satisfying and easy, as the skills gleaned in my first career to be essential to the second. The entire restaurant staff is a close-knit team of colleagues, all as devoted to the enjoyment of dining as I am.