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Eating & Drinking: Condé Repast

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In this age of shaved expense accounts, it's nice to know that some employees are still getting the royal treatment. Just two years after Frank Gehry's $35 million cafeteria opened at Condé Nast's Times Square headquarters, the place is already being renovated. It seems that well-heeled editors were slipping on the slick wood floors by the food-service area, which will have to be replaced with terrazzo, a costly repair. "Once he understood the maintenance concerns, Frank Gehry picked a better surface to use in that area," explains Condé Nast spokesperson Maurie Perl. During the renovation, which will stretch into August, employees can still eat among the billowing glass-and-titanium panels, but they'll have to pick up their food in a makeshift mess hall hastily set up in executive dining rooms.

To make up for such hardship, Condé Nast is bringing in a different top chef several days a week to prepare lunch -- and Jitney takeout bags -- for its staff, thus enticing them to remain on campus. Among the whisks who've agreed to guest appearances are Lespinasse's Christian Delouvrier, Union Pacific's Rocco DiSpirito, and Neil Annis of Compass. Their orders? Each dish should comprise protein, vegetable, and a light starch (naturally), but no garlic and no foie gras. All costing around $8.95. "I was thinking of doing a bass with sauce vierge. What a bargain, eh?'' says Delouvrier, who offers a prix fixe dinner of $150 on his own turf. "It gives me a chance to be in contact with these people, and maybe they will write about the restaurant. Besides, I am excited about being in a room with all those pretty girls."
-- BETH LANDMAN KEIL

Boxed Out: A couple of weeks ago, the building that housed the legendary Box Tree was purchased by one Mosche Lax for $4.5 million, and the doors of the 25-year-old French restaurant and inn -- long plagued by union troubles, including a four-year-long strike in the nineties -- were finally shut. As of press time, no one knew whether the restaurant would reopen.
-- BETH LANDMAN KEIL

Outbid: It has not been a good year for Sotheby's. In the midst of the auction house's trials and tribulations, it unveiled a new restaurant, Bid, on September 10. Now, despite a two-star New York Times review, the place, operated by Tentation, Potel & Chabot, will be shuttered on June 29. "I think Sotheby's wants to change their image a bit, under the circumstances. Bid is a bit country club,'' explains its manager, Patty Lee, who insists that the restaurant will reopen in the fall with a new concept. But an industry source says that's probably the official line -- the chef and staff are already interviewing for new posts.
-- BETH LANDMAN KEIL

Sky Club: If you haven't been invited to Above Sixty yet, and you're not, well, an "influencer," don't hold your breath. The outdoor rooftop bar at 60 Thompson -- "more secret clubhouse than velvet rope," says co-owner Jason Pomeranc -- has perfect views both uptown and down. But it's not for the public. This week, it (secretly) opens as a bar where you can drop by for a sunset Cosmo -- so long as you've been mailed a special key card. (Or if, yahoo or not, you're a guest of the chic little hotel.) "We like to think of it as friends and family," Pomeranc says. Among those "friends" are Kate Spade, Gwyneth Paltrow, French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, and everyone's favorite boorish cousin, Russell Crowe. The long, narrow space, lined with trees and fitted with -- just in case! -- L.A.-style heat lamps, was designed by Thomas O'Brien and is run by Jean-Marc Houmard, the Thom restaurateur with the exquisitely maintained bedhead.

Above Sixty will remain open only for the summer, forcing the influencers back to street level come fall -- where most of them get their influences anyway.
-- AMY LAROCCA


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