Eleven Madison Park, One of the World’s Best Restaurants, Will Reopen After All

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Eleven Madison Park’s chef-owner Daniel Humm says that his fine dining Manhattan restaurant will be reopen for business in the next six months. This follows several months when the future of the restaurant, named the World’s No. 1 in 2017, was in question.

In May, Humm told Bloomberg Pursuits that he was not certain he would again serve customers in the soaring space off Madison Park even after the pandemic was over. “It will take millions of dollars to reopen,” he said at the time. “You have to bring back staff. I work with fancy equipment in a big space. I want to continue to cook with the most beautiful and precious ingredients in a creative way, but at the same time, it needs to make sense.”

Now, Humm confirms that Eleven Madison Park will be back in business, according to an interview by writer-photographer Gary He on his Astrolabe site. Humm says he worked out a deal with his landlord—he didn’t share details—that would allow him to reopen in a best case scenario by November, with March as a ‘worst case scenario.’

New York currently does not have a time line for allowing indoor dining in the city, despite outdoor dining being scheduled to end Oct. 31.

Humm also said that “the banks” agreed that he would not have to pay back loans in the near future.

“If you let your employees go, and you don’t have to pay rent and the bank loan, things are not that expensive anymore,” said Humm, according to Astrolabe. “But it’s tough, for me to not make a dollar for a year, that sucks.”

The chef-owner has not outlined what the restaurant might look like, nor if it will continue to offer a format similar to the $355 tasting menu that made it one of the priciest meals in the city.

Since closing EMP in March, Humm has activated his restaurant as a commissary kitchen for Rethink, a nonprofit that is dedicated to feeding people in need using leftover food from suppliers and restaurants. The program, which started in New York, is expanding to other cities including Chicago and San Francisco. Corporate partners include companies like Brookfield Properties Ltd, who donated $1 million toward the endeavor, which also includes kitchens from Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. EMP prepares around 4,000 meals a day for Rethink, distributing them to hungry New Yorkers.

Humm’s staff is currently about 24 people; he had to furlough 250 people when his restaurant closed.

In the March interview with Bloomberg Pursuits, Humm did maintain that if he did reopen, the way he operated his restaurant would change. He work with Rethink had made him highly aware of the way most of the world eats, and not just the diners who could afford his prix fixe menu.

Any way that EMP reopens—and it’s like a blank canvas right now, we would need to redefine what luxury means—it will also be an opportunity to continue to feed people who don’t have anything,” he said in May. “I don’t need to only feed the 1% anymore.”

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