An Invite from
Vergant Founder Wendy Dubit
all of my adult life,
I have been eating and drinking to make a difference
-- cognizant of the power that each act, every purchase
and all of us have to change the world in simple
but profound ways.
Like many things made more urgent
and resonant in the aftermath
of 9.11, never has our ability and responsibility
to make daily differences been so clear and compelling.
Since October of 2001, Dining
to Make a Difference has hosted toasts and happy
hours at many of downtowns hardest hit restaurants.
In the process, the program has done much to strengthen
community, rebuild downtowns restaurant industry
and raise awareness and funds for selected charities.
Now, Dining to Make a Difference
is hosting a month-long May
15 - June 19 Festival that encourages
participants to patronize as many South-of-Chambers-Street
establishments as possible. Events -- all of which
are open to the public and free of charge -- are
being held each Wednesday throughout the promotion,
and will culminate with a
June 19 Street Fair, Auction and Awards Ceremony.
For every good and growing reason, we hope you will
For details of the May 15 - June 19 Dining
to Make a Difference Fest, please click
here. And please do check out Janine Trusello’s
the Dining to Make a Difference Trail.
To follow the Dining to Make a Difference route
of people, places and programs that have persevered
stoically and served heroically, keep scrolling.
And please don't forget to dine out soon and often,
bring colleagues and friends, book parties, attend
benefits, and volunteer when you can!
Dining To Make
a Difference: Programs, Places and People That Have
Persevered, Served and Deserve Your Business
103 Washington St. at Rector, 212/732-2020,
www.moransnyc.com, open for lunch
and dinner daily, is just south of World
Trade and was, until recently, behind
the military barricades. The restaurant,
which has been housed in picturesque St.
George’s Chapel since 1959, stayed open
to feed workers in the immediate aftermath
of 9.11. And many of those workers still
salute the place -- and especially owners
Brian and Abby Lydon -- when walking past.
100 Washington St. @ Rector, 212/513-4133,
open for lunch and dinner 7 days. Giovanni
Natalucci, who has been serving home cooked
native Italian fare here for close to 30
years, lost many of his closest friends
and almost all of his business to the World
Trade terrorist attacks. But his hope, faith
and handshake remain strong. His heart is
huge. And his staff is as warm and welcoming
as he is.
New York, 130 Washington Street,
between Albany and Carlisle, 212/266-6262,
Roy's is located in the newly re-opened
Marriott World Financial Center, which earns
our admiration and appreciation for the
much that they've done (including serving
as temporary Red Cross headquarters) in
the aftermath of 9.11. It serves up superb
Hawaiian fusion fare under the direction
of Honolulu chef Roy Yamaguchi and executive
chef Jim Dangler.
West St. Wine & Spirits, 47
West St., near Battery Tunnel, 212/383-8300.
Whereas dusty bottles can denote age; at
West Street Wines, September’s thick dust
was from devastation. But Kenny Samami
and crew have carefully cleaned each bottle
by hand and are back in business. Now, this
brave store at the outskirts of Ground Zero
is deeply discounting cases and determined
at The Ritz-Carlton New York, in
Battery Park, Two West St., 212/344-0800,
open 7 days from 5:30pm - midnight. Boasting
delicious drinks and hors d'oeuvres and
some of the citys best views of Hudson,
Harbor and Liberty, RISE is located on the
14th floor of The Battery Park Ritz-Carlton.
While that luxury hotels opening was
delayed by four months following 9.11, its
recent arrival on the scene was a welcomed
reminder of the beauty of our city and the
strength of downtowns resurgence.
Vine Restaurant and Market, 25 Broad
St. at Exchange, 212/344-VINE,
www.vinefood.com, restaurant open Mon
– Fri, market open 7 days. Besides
having one of the more magnificent and delicious
restaurants downtown, owner Julie Menin
Street Rising as a way to revitalize
downtown’s community and economy in the
aftermath of 9.11.
The Regent Wall Street Hotel, 55
Wall St. at William, 212/699-5555 www.regenthotels.com.
Besides feeding and housing relief workers
in the aftermath of 9.11, this world-class
hotel (with renowned restaurant and lounge)
also became a place of prayer -- hosting
mass for nearby Trinity Church until Trinity
re-opened its doors. The Regent continues
to host many relief-oriented benefits.
Famous Wines & Spirits, 40 Exchange
www.famouswines.com. History and
recent events converge at this shop, which
opened in the immediate aftermath of Prohibition’s
repeal, and has been in the Platt family
for three generations. Not only are
selections stellar and prices reasonable,
but the store will deliver to you if you
can’t get to them.
Roadhouse, 43 Park Place, between
Church and West Broadway, 212/962-9800,
open 11am on, 7 days. When military and
construction barricades blocked access to
his restaurant, just north of World Trade,
owner Andy Menschel struck back…with spray
paint! Now the barricades boast sayings
like, "Bin Laden Missed Us, Don't You,”
"The Red Cross Has Free Drinks…But
Ours Have More Kick" and (our favorite),
“The Place to Drink After Work, Before,
During or Instead of Work.”
59 Warren St., near W. Broadway,
212/766-9656, open 7 days from 7am on. This
bar now opens its doors EARLY and stays
open LATE so as to serve Ground Zero workers
just coming off their shifts. It is a great
place to share stiff drinks and incredible
conversation with firefighters, construction
workers, bartenders and friends.
Chambers Street Wines, 160 Chambers
stunning establishment, which opened in
June, is based in Engine 29’s former firehouse,
and is at the northern tip of Ground Zero.
The selection is superb, and there is usually
a fine bottle or two open for tasting.
Hall Restaurant,131 Duane Street,
betw. Church and W. Broadway, 212/227-7777,
open 7 days. Chef/owner Henry Meer didn’t
start out to be Mayor, but warms our hearts
in the ways he heroically fed firefighters
and relief workers, and hosted busloads
of prayerful people who thought they were
visiting that other City Hall….
Battalion #1, 100 Duane St. across
from City Hall. When in the neighborhood,
please do pay homage to these brave men.
Not only can you contribute to their Family
Relief Fund, but you also can buy commemorative
hats, shirts and signs that support the
190A Duane Street @ Greenwich, 212/625-3333.
Immediately in the aftermath of 9.11, owner
Rocco Catalini mustered resources and staff
to feed firefighters and rescue workers…right
down to table seatings with white linen.
Now, the place is even more favored than
before by its TriBeCa neighbors, and also
abounds with visitors hoping to sample superb
fare and pay tribute.
Bombay, 317 Greenwich Street,
between Duane and Reade, 212/226-9400. This
TriBeCa restaurant, which richly represents
several of India's culinary regions, has
always been a favorite with neighbors, but
never more so than now. We hope you will
join us for there for cocktails, dinner,
and to celebrate downtown's resurgence on
Thursday, March 4, beginning at 6:30pm.
Cash bar and dutch treat dinner.
Bakery, 120 W. Broadway at Duane
St., 212/964-2525. Bouley Bakery has been
closed since 9.11 so as to prepare delicious
meals for those working at Ground Zero.
Volunteers are still needed through 12/2,
and can schedule shifts by calling or e-mailing
Alfred at 646/831-6895, email@example.com.
Meantime, David Bouley fans can enjoy his
exquisite fare at Danube, right around the
corner, at 30 Hudson St., 212/791-3771.
Grill, 375 Greenwich St., 212/941-3900,
Nieporent and his family of restaurants,
partners and staff have always been heroic
to us. But in the current crisis, they surpassed
even their own heralded past -- not only
providing stupendous meals and providing
comfort to thousands of rescue workers,
but also convincing Spirit of New York cruises
to ferry those meals and that respite to
Ground Zero. When Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Nobu
Next Door, Montrachet, Layla and TriBakery,
all of which are within blocks of each other,
reopened to the public, they continued to
feed those in need. Most recently, Tribeca
Grill partner Robert De Niro directed busloads
of friends not to his own interests, but
to harder-hit restaurants south of World
Trade, some of which were still behind military
Ponte, 39 Desbrosses Street between
Washington and West, 212/226-4621. Besides
having fine Italian fare, superb sunset
views and free parking, F. Illi Ponte’s
Beca Bar has been hosting comedy benefits
for local fire, police and relief organizations.
Freres, 451 Washington St., 212/966-4900,
www.capsoutofreres.com. Brothers Samuel
and Jack Capsouto not only celebrated the
21st anniversary of their romantic French
restaurant recently; they also served their
heroes and neighbors graciously and deliciously…proving
themselves even more of a TriBeCa treasure
431 Canal St., 212/431-5625. On September
12, Nino’s closed its doors to the public
and opened them to New York’s heroes. For
one full year from 9.11.01, Nino’s will
continue to provide thousands of free hot
meals a day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
to Ground Zero police officers, firefighters,
construction workers and relief personnel.
To volunteer or contribute, please call
212/431-5625 or visit www.ninosrestaurant911fund.org.
And please do pay tribute when you are in
New York, 482 Broome St. @ Wooster,
open 7 days. All the culture of New York
agriculture and viticulture are kept alive
at Vintage New York, which serves and sells
a dazzling array of New York wine and food,
and whose motto is Think Global, Drink
Local. Vintage has been a huge booster
of both downtown New York City and upstate
farmers, winemakers and growers.
Beard House, 167 West 12th, between
6th and 7th, 212/675-4984, www.jamesbeard.org.
This organization -- which celebrates our
country's culinary artists via publications,
education programs and events -- catered
so bountifully to medical personnel and
families on 9.11 and after that even folks
filing past the missing persons fliers were
offered gourmet goodies. Now, the James
Beard Foundation is booking most of its
benefits downtown, so as to boost New York’s
hardest hit economy.
Tonic, 108 West 18th St. between
6th and 7th, 212/929-9755. Tonic Restaurant
not only prepared thousands of meals for
relief workers in the aftermath of 9.11,
but it also served as a clearinghouse for
dozens of other restaurants and worked with
City Harvest to truck sandwiches, stews,
salads, beverages and desserts to feeding
stations at Chelsea Piers, the Javits Center,
the Armory and elsewhere. Some say that
such "service" makes Tonic’s already
excellent food even more appealing and healing
25 West 56th St., 212/332-0500, www.beaconnyc.com.
Chef/owner Waldy Malouf, formerly of Hudson
River Club, Rainbow Room and Windows on
the World, has always been a trailblazer
of both American Cuisine and culinary community,
but never more so now. He welcomed and fed
grieving chefs and families at his handsome
restaurant on 9.11 and in the weeks that
followed, and went on to found Windows
of Hope with colleagues David Emil,
Michael Lomonaco, Tom Valenti and others.
2315 Broadway at 84th St., 212/580-8700.
While Zagat Survey claims that chef/owner
Tom Valenti has "answered West Side
gourmets' prayers" with his "clever
menu" and "cutting-edge"
fare; those weren’t the only prayers he
answered. His restaurant served as a gathering
place for the culinary community as they
of Hope and other worthwhile efforts.
of Hope, 415 Madison Avenue, New
York, NY 10017, 212/893-3710,
www.windowsofhope.org. Perhaps nothing
so signifies the uprising of hope out of
ashes as Windows of Hope, a relief fund
formed to provide immediate and ongoing
assistance to the families of foodservice
personnel killed in the 9.11 terrorist attack.
On October 11, over 4000 restaurants (and
a few lemonade stands) across the country
and world donated a portion of their proceeds
to the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund,
ongoing events in progress and more
than 4 million dollars raised to date.
The above list, which will continue to grow
in the days and weeks to come, is just a
small sampling of the many foodservice people,
places and programs that have made a difference;
and of the differences you can make. Please
me if you would like to be on our mailing
list for upcoming gatherings
and programs, and/or if there are additional
people and places you would like to see
on these pages.
Although this Dining to Make
a Difference list, and the toasts I
plan to host in coming weeks at these and
other places, is informed and inspired by
9.11, it is equally an extension of my longstanding
commitment to making daily differences
via every aspect of work and life.
To find out how your every act
-- eating, drinking, shopping, traveling and more
-- can have impact, please visit Give
as you Live.
For every good reason, I hope you
will join me.
Warmly and looking forward,