Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina, celebrates its centennial
The Grove Park Inn, one of the United States’ oldest resorts, is marking its centennial in 2013 with a yearlong celebration.
Acquired by KSL Partners in May 2012, the resort is undergoing a $25 million restoration and renovation, half to be completed by the end of 2012, to coincide with The Inn's centennial celebration. The Grove Park Inn is welcoming the new era in a year of activities divided into three parts: music and entertainment, health and wellness, and arts and literature.
After kicking off the year with the 22nd annual Big Band Swing Dance Weekend featuring the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Glenn Miller Orchestra, and jazz guitarist and composer Pat Metheny and John Pizzarelli, the focus shifts to food and beverages in May.
From May until August, the hotel will host events like The Centennial Celebrity Chef Summer Series featuring guest celebrity chefs and their special farm-to-table menus, farm tours with the hotel’s chefs, and cookbook signings. Grove Park Inn will also serve Turn Back Time as You Dine, a retro-inspired menu created from the hotel’s original 1913 menu.
The year ends with spa cuisine cooking demos and special spa treatments. The resort is offering special packages, including the Once in a Lifetime Centennial package, which includes a limited-edition resort book and guest inclusion in the centennial time capsule.
Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.
The Rise of Cookbooks in America
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The first edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book — now known as The Fannie Farmer Cookbook — reads like a road map for 20th-century American cuisine. Published in 1896, it was filled with recipes for such familiar 19th-century dishes as potted pigeons, creamed vegetables, and mock turtle soup. But it added a forward-looking bent to older kitchen wisdom, casting ingredients such as cheese, chocolate, and ground beef — all bit players in 19th-century U.S. kitchens — in starring roles. It introduced cooks to recipes like hamburg steaks and French fried potatoes, early prototypes of hamburgers and fries, and fruit sandwiches, peanuts sprinkled on fig paste that were a clear precursor to peanut butter and jelly.
Americans went nuts for the 567-page volume, buying The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book in numbers the publishing industry had never seen.
Americans went nuts for the 567-page volume, buying The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book in numbers the publishing industry had never seen — around 360,000 copies by the time author Fannie Farmer died in 1915. Home cooks in the United States loved the tastiness and inventiveness of Farmer’s recipes. They also appreciated her methodical approach to cooking, which spoke to the unique conditions they faced. Farmer’s recipes were gratifyingly precise, and unprecedentedly replicable, perfect for Americans with newfangled gadgets like standardized cup and spoon measures, who worked in relative isolation from the friends and family who had passed along cooking knowledge in generations past. Farmer’s book popularized the modern recipe format, and it was a fitting guide to food and home life in a modernizing country.
Recipes today serve many purposes, from documenting cooking techniques to showing off a creator’s skills to serving up leisure reading for the food-obsessed. But their most important goal is replicability. A good recipe imparts enough information to let a cook reproduce a dish, in more or less the same form, in the future.
Fannie Farmer (Boston Public Library)
The earliest surviving recipes, which give instructions for a series of meaty stews, are inscribed on cuneiform tablets from ancient Mesopotamia. Recipes also survive from ancient Egypt, Greece, China, and Persia. For millennia, however, most people weren’t literate and never wrote down cooking instructions. New cooks picked up knowledge by watching more experienced friends and family at work, in the kitchen or around the fire, through looking, listening, and tasting.
Recipes, as a format and genre, only really began coming of age in the 18th century, as widespread literacy emerged. This was around the same time, of course, that the United States came into its own as a country. The first American cookbook, American Cookery, was published in 1796. Author Amelia Simmons copied some of her text from an English cookbook but also wrote sections that were wholly new, using native North American ingredients like “pompkins,” “cramberries,” and “Indian corn.” Simmons’ audience was mainly middle class and elite women, who were more likely to be able to read and who could afford luxuries like a printed book in the first place.
The reach of both handwritten recipes and cookbooks would expand steadily in the coming decades, and rising literacy was only one reason. Nineteenth-century Americans were prodigiously mobile. Some had emigrated from other countries, some relocated from farms to cities, and others moved from settled urban areas to the Western frontier. Young Americans regularly found themselves living far from friends and relatives who otherwise might have offered help with cooking questions. In response, mid-19th-century cookbooks attempted to offer comprehensive household advice, giving instructions not just on cooking but on everything from patching old clothes to caring for the sick to disciplining children. American authors routinely styled their cookbooks as “friends” or “teachers” — that is, as companions that could provide advice and instruction to struggling cooks in the most isolated of spots.
Americans’ mobility also demonstrated how easily a dish — or even a cuisine — could be lost if recipes weren’t written down. The upheaval wrought by the Civil War singlehandedly tore a hole in one of the most important bodies of unwritten American culinary knowledge: prewar plantation cookery. After the war, millions of formerly enslaved people fled the households where they had been compelled to live, taking their expertise with them. Upper-class Southern whites often had no idea how to light a stove, much less how to produce the dozens of complicated dishes they had enjoyed eating, and the same people who had worked to keep enslaved people illiterate now rued the dearth of written recipes. For decades after the war, there was a boom in cookbooks, often written by white women, attempting to approximate antebellum recipes.
Standardization of weights and measures, driven by industrial innovation, also fueled the rise of the modern American recipe. For most of the 19th century, recipes usually consisted of only a few sentences giving approximate ingredients and explaining basic procedure, with little in the way of an ingredient list and with nothing resembling precise guidance on quantities, heat, or timing. The reason for such imprecision was simple: There were no thermometers on ovens, few timepieces in American homes, and scant tools available to ordinary people to tell exactly how much of an ingredient they were adding.
Recipe writers in the mid-19th century struggled to express ingredient quantity, pointing to familiar objects to estimate how much of a certain item a dish needed. One common approximation, for instance, was “the weight of six eggs in sugar.” They also struggled to give instructions on temperature, sometimes advising readers to gauge an oven’s heat by putting a hand inside and counting the seconds they could stand to hold it there. Sometimes they hardly gave instructions at all. A typically vague recipe from 1864 for “rusks,” a dried bread, read in its entirety: “One pound of flour, small piece of butter big as an egg, one egg, quarter pound white sugar, gill of milk, two great spoonfuls of yeast.”
By the very end of the 19th century, American home economics reformers, inspired by figures like Catharine Beecher, had begun arguing that housekeeping in general, and cooking in particular, should be more methodical and scientific, and they embraced motion studies and standardization measures that were redefining industrial production in this era. And that was where Fannie Merritt Farmer, who started working on The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book in the 1890s, entered the picture.
The upheaval wrought by the Civil War singlehandedly tore a hole in one of the most important bodies of unwritten American culinary knowledge: prewar plantation cookery.
Farmer was an unlikely candidate to transform American cookery. As a teenager in Boston in the 1870s, she suffered a sudden attack of paralysis in her legs, and she was 30 years old before she regained enough mobility to begin taking classes at the nearby Boston Cooking School. Always a lover of food, Farmer proved to be an indomitable student with a knack for sharing knowledge with others. The school hired her as a teacher after she graduated. Within a few years, by the early 1890s, she was its principal.
Farmer started tinkering with a book published by her predecessor a few years earlier, Mrs. Lincoln’s Boston Cook Book. Farmer had come to believe that rigorous precision made cooking more satisfying and food more delicious, and her tinkering soon turned into wholesale revision.
She called for home cooks to obtain standardized teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups, and her recipes called for ultra-precise ingredient amounts, such as ⅞ of a teaspoon of salt and 4 ⅔ cups of flour. Also, crucially, Farmer insisted that all quantities be measured level across the top of the cup or spoon, not rounded in a changeable dome, as American cooks had done for generations.
This attention to detail, advocated by home economists and given life by Farmer’s enthusiasm, made American recipes more precise and reliable than they ever had been, and the wild popularity of Farmer’s book showed how eager home cooks were for such guidance. By the start of the 20th century, instead of offering a few prosy sentences that gestured vaguely toward ingredient amounts, American recipes increasingly began with a list of ingredients in precise numerical quantities: teaspoons, ounces, cups.
In more than a century since, it’s a format that has hardly changed. American cooks today might be reading recipes online and trying out metric scales, but the American recipe format itself remains extraordinarily durable. Designed as a teaching tool for a mobile society, the modern recipe is grounded in principles of clarity, precision, and replicability that emerged clearly from the conditions of early American life. They are principles that continue to guide and empower cooks in America and around the world today.
Helen Zoe Veit is an associate professor of history at Michigan State University, author of Modern Food, Moral Food, and director of the What America Ate Project. This essay is part of What It Means to Be American, a project of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and Arizona State University, produced by Zócalo Public Square.
This article is from the November/December 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Some of America’s Most Ambitious Women Slept Here
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The Hotel That Set Women Free
By Paulina Bren
Grace Kelly lived there before she was famous, and at least once, she danced topless through the halls. A young Sylvia Plath lived there too, and in her semi-autobiographical novel, “The Bell Jar,” she fictionalized it as “The Amazon,” the hotel where her protagonist, Esther Greenwood, stays during a summer magazine internship. Joan Didion stayed there as a 20-year-old on a break from college at Berkeley, beginning her writing career and her time in New York. In her essay “Goodbye to All That,” Didion describes arriving in the city and finding her hotel room freezing cold: Young, naïve and already overwhelmed by New York, she was too afraid to call the front desk to ask for someone to come turn off the air-conditioner. “Was anyone ever so young?” she wrote later. “I am here to tell you that someone was.” Calling her boyfriend back home in California, she told him that she could see the Brooklyn Bridge from her hotel room window. In fact, the bridge was the Queensboro. The hotel was the Barbizon.
The Barbizon Hotel for women — the subject of Paulina Bren’s captivating history, “The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free” — first opened its doors on East 63rd Street in 1928. Prohibition was in full force, and the all-female residents who lived on the hotel’s 23 floors and in its 720 rooms had held the right to vote for less than a decade. A strictly single-sex establishment, the Barbizon forbade men to go beyond the lobby, and this was part of the hotel’s appeal. The women who stayed there — some for only a few days, others for months or years — chose the Barbizon precisely because men were not permitted. The hotel offered exclusivity and an appearance of chaste propriety in an era when the city more broadly, and women’s independence in it in particular, were regarded with suspicion, as full of dangers. By the time the hotel went coed in 1981 (it was converted into condos in 2007), the city had transformed — and with it the strictures of American womanhood that its guests navigated ever so precariously.
During its 53 years as a women’s hotel, the Barbizon hosted generations of mostly white, mostly middle-class, mostly very young women. They came to New York as aspiring writers, artists and actresses, often fresh from graduation at a Seven Sisters college or from winning a local beauty pageant, lured by the stardom that beckoned in the big city. With music and dance practice rooms, regular lectures and an oak-paneled library, the Barbizon aimed to be the place where these young women not just hung their hats, but also cultivated their minds. It proved a launching pad for some of the 20th century’s most impressive careers.
Nominally an account of the hotel’s history, Bren’s book is really about the changing cultural perceptions of women’s ambition throughout the last century, set against the backdrop of that most famous theater of aspiration, New York City. Bren, a historian at Vassar, details how the residential hotel model, common at the time of the Barbizon’s inception, provided for maid service and food on site, provisions that allowed the women to focus on their professions without the burden of housework. The careers that began at the Barbizon are the focus of the book, with Bren dwelling on the hotel’s famous denizens, who included writers like Gael Greene, Ann Beattie and Mona Simpson as well as actresses like Ali MacGraw, Candice Bergen and Phylicia Rashad. Bren also traces the symbiosis between the hotel and several influential cultural institutions, from the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School, which rented floors at the Barbizon for its dormitories, to Mademoiselle magazine, which housed its young guest editors there, to the Ford Modeling Agency, which was dreamed up by two modeling industry veterans in one of the Barbizon’s cozy bedrooms.
The hotel full of ambitious young women — at a time when women’s ambition was met with even more anxiety and contradiction than it is today — was bound to be a site of controversy and disappointment. Bren traces the historical pattern of women’s advancement followed by sexist backlash. The independent flappers of the 1920s were succeeded by misogynist hostility during the Great Depression, when working women were seen as taking men’s jobs. The female independence of the World War II era, exemplified by Rosie the Riveter, was followed by a mandated return to domesticity in the 1950s. But the Barbizon’s residents navigated the perils of every era with persistence and grit.
“The Barbizon” is touching in its loyalty to these women, the ones who arrived with suitcases and dreams in the Barbizon’s grand lobby. Bren draws on an impressive amount of archival research, and pays tender attention to each of the women she profiles. But in the rush to do justice to every story, she can hew a bit too closely to her subjects’ point of view, watching them negotiate the constraints of their day without pausing to consider what those restrictions really meant. The Barbizon was a contradiction: a hotel placed in the heart of New York and its possibilities but filled with staff who could function as chaperones, enforcing dress codes and shooing away men. Was the Barbizon’s single-sex rule a liberating protection, or a confining trap? Bren sees the hotel only as what it was for its residents: the best option available to them at the time.
- 2 oz. tequila or mezcal
- Half a lime, quartered
- 3-4 cucumber slices
- 0.75 oz. simple syrup
- 3-5 dashes (about 0.25 oz.) hot sauce
Add lime pieces to shaker tin and muddle to get as much juice out as possible. At the rest of the ingredients, shake hard for 5 to 6 seconds and dump the whole thing, ice and all, into a large rocks glass. Taste for balance and add more lime juice as necessary. Garnish with a sprinkle of salt and a good crack of black pepper.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:
Photo: courtesy El Silencio
Tequila or Mezcal: This drink originally calls for tequila, but I prefer it with the fat smoke of mezcal, which leans into its inherent rustic quality. Both are great, use whichever you prefer. As for brands, no need to go get something special&mdashthe inclusion of the hot sauce will draw focus away from the spirit, so it&rsquos not so important. As mentioned when we were talking about the Paloma, you want your tequila or mezcal to be 100% agave as a basic minimum standard, but there are lots of good and inexpensive bottles in that category. For tequila, I&rsquod guide toward Cimarron, Olmeca Altos or Real del Valle, and for mezcal, Banhez, El Silencio, and Del Maguey Vida are all excellent, but there&rsquos plenty more great and affordable mixing spirits.
Lime Juice: Muddling limes is a bit annoying. While it presses the skins to get more zest, which is great, it&rsquos frustratingly inexact in terms of how much juice you get out of them, and you&rsquoll almost always have to tweak post-shaking to make sure it&rsquos balanced. Also totally acceptable is just using 0.75 oz. lime juice and being done with it. If you really miss the zest, cut or peel a small piece of lime skin, throw it into the tin with the rest of the ingredients and shake it with the ice.
Cucumber: I learned this drink with cucumber many years ago, but as it turns out, the cucumber is not in Ross&rsquos original recipe. There&rsquos cucumber in the Gordon&rsquos Breakfast, a gin version of this that (I believe) slightly predates it, but not here, at least not traditionally. Feel free to omit it, though I think its presence as a shock absorber for the spice is much welcome.
Hot Sauce: the recipe specifically calls for Cholula, which is indeed an excellent choice. I&rsquove made it with Tapatio, with Sriracha and with a homemade smoked fresno hot sauce, and they&rsquove all been excellent. I liked Tabasco less, but I also like it less across the board, so I suspect your favorite will be just fine. Use whatever you enjoy.
Every week bartender Jason O’Bryan mixes his up his favorite drinks for you. Check out his past cocktail recipes.
Beverly Hills Hotel marks 100 years as stars’ discreet retreat
When he stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the famously reclusive Howard Hughes would have roast beef sandwiches left for him in a crook of a tree, go on 2 a.m. treasure hunts for freshly baked pineapple upside-down cakes that were hidden on the grounds, and keep a phone booth inside his bungalow.
“They’d switch different booths in and out of different bungalows because he [Hughes] didn’t want to go through the hotel operator,” says producer Richard D. Zanuck, who was told about Hughes by his father, 20th Century Fox co-founder Darryl F. Zanuck, also a frequent visitor to the picturesque pink hotel.
Hughes was a regular at the hotel from 1942 until his death in 1976. His eccentricities are among countless stories that illustrate just how far the hotel was willing to go to sate the extravagant and sometimes clandestine appetites of its famous clientele — and why they continued to come back.
As the hotel turns 100 this month, it remains at the center of Hollywood’s concept of itself, an idealized self-image in pink. And like the celebrities it serves, it has a public face and a private one.
If scandal has taken place inside its walls — and you can be sure that it has — the hotel isn’t telling. It has slept with more Oscars, movie icons, rock gods and moneyed glitterati than just about any hotel on the planet, often colluding with the stars to deny a gossip-hungry public. And privacy, as everyone knows, can be a rarity in a town obsessed with the minutiae of celebrity life.
“Every memory I have of the place that I want to share, I wouldn’t want to see in print,” says famed “Chinatown"producer and former Paramount head of production Robert Evans, who got his start as an actor after being discovered lounging by the hotel’s pool by actress Norma Shearer in 1956.
Situated on 12 rambling acres off Sunset Boulevard, the 208-room hotel was designed by Pasadena architect Elmer Grey as a lush Mediterranean hideaway with staircases appearing out of nowhere and slender walkways leading in lazy circles to tucked-away bungalows. The secluded entrances to the 23 bungalows make them ideal for secret rendezvous.
Homegrown Hollywood star Laura Dern grew up going to the hotel with her mother, Diane Ladd, and her godmother, Shelley Winters. As a child, she says, arriving there felt like “entering a birthday cake.”
“The only time I ever saw Jimmy Stewart was at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and it meant the world to me,” recalls Dern, who still has breakfast at the hotel’s iconic Polo Lounge with director David Lynch every year on their birthdays.
“A friend of mine described it best,” says the hotel’s general manager, Ed Mady, while giving a tour of Bungalows 20 and 21, where Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand were said to have cheated on their spouses while filming “Let’s Make Love” in 1960. “The Polo Lounge is like Hollywood’s commissary.”
If that’s true, then the Beverly Hills Hotel pool is Hollywood’s playground. Svend Petersen would know — beginning in 1959, he managed the pool for 43 years.
He remembers talking with Ingrid Bergman for hours teaching Faye Dunaway to swim for her role in “Mommie Dearest” being in awe of Princess Grace (“You didn’t dare to say hello because she was so elegant”) and sneaking the Beatles (who were disguised in fake beards and oversized clothes) into an upper cabana in 1964, after they performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” while a thousand kids screamed out front.
When Elizabeth Taylor was married toSen. John Warner in the late ‘70s, Petersen remembers her coming to the pool.
“She was very heavy, and bothered because she was so heavy, and women were walking by whispering about how she had let herself go,” notes Petersen. “I couldn’t take it anymore, and I said, ‘Ms. Taylor, why don’t you come with me. There’s a cabana where you can relax by yourself and feel comfortable.’”
It was this kind of special attention that Petersen says earned him a kiss on the lips from Whitney Houston, another hotel regular. Longtime Polo Lounge manager Pepe De Anda fondly remembers Houston playing the piano for nearly two hours in the restaurant in front of a rapt — and surprised — audience.
The hotel’s celebrity siren song continues to this day. On a recent weekend, Warren Beatty ate lunch in the Polo Lounge. Two weeks before that, singer Neil Diamond married music manager Katie McNeil in a hotel garden in front of 225 guests.
Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspooon, Russell Crowe, Heidi Klum, Katy Perry, Jimmy Fallon andMary J. Blige are among a newer generation of stars who have frequented the hotel.
For some, romance — forbidden or otherwise — seems to be at the heart of the appeal. Paul and Linda McCartneys’ relationship took off when Paul came home from a night of clubbing to find Linda sitting on the stoop of his bungalow. John Steinbeck was staying in a suite there when he met Ann Sothern, the actress who introduced him to his third wife, Elaine Scott, after a date with Ava Gardner fell through.
Then there are the tales from Hollywood’s golden age — before the era of TMZ, Twitter and smartphone cameras. Carole Lombard carried on an affair with Clark Gable in the hotel’s bungalows, as did Spencer Tracy with Katharine Hepburn. Elizabeth Taylor honeymooned there (several times).
It’s not surprising that Hollywood and the hotel came of age together — both Universal and Paramount studios are also turning 100 this year, says Robert S. Anderson, the great-grandson of the hotel’s original owner and its official historian. He also is the author of a coffee-table book “The Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows: The First 100 Years.”
“People used to be paged here or by the pool just to have their name in people’s ears,” Anderson says. “The deals that were made here …"
With the Valley studios just north over the hill and the tony industry homes of Bel-Air, Holmby Hills and Brentwood to the west, the hotel is well situated for power breakfasts and lunches at the Polo Lounge.
“It’s geographically convenient, and that’s a very big deal,” says former Paramount Pictures chief Sherry Lansing, who regularly lunches at the Polo Lounge (the chopped McCarthy salad is her singular obsession).
Like an architectural Dorian Gray, the hotel’s general look (including its signature pink-and-green color scheme) has remained consistent despite numerous changes in ownership. The sultan of Brunei bought it in 1987 and in 1996 it became part of the Dorchester Collection, the sultan’s group of international luxury hotels. A gentle restoration is currently underway, but Mady stresses that not much will change — even the iconic banana leaf wallpaper that lines the hallways is protected by the historical landmark status that the hotel is due to receive in September.
The hotel was built by a single divorced mother named Margaret Anderson with financial help from the Rodeo Land and Water Co. Anderson had previously owned what was then the ritzy (and now long gone) Hollywood Hotel near Hollywood and Highland. Her privileged clientele followed her to her new address, which she dubbed “midway between Los Angeles and the sea.”
When wealthy families from the East came to stay in the bungalows for the winter, the hotel became self-contained with its own school, Western Union office and stables from the teens through the mid-20s.
By 1950, the population of Beverly Hills had ballooned from about 100 at the time of the city’s incorporation in 1914 to nearly 30,000.
Those years may have been the hotel’s most glamorous, remembers Norman Brokaw, a former chairman of the William Morris talent agency who once represented Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak and Clint Eastwood, among others.
“I often went there to meet Marilyn with Joe DiMaggio,” says Brokaw, who claims he was responsible for introducing the two. “She had her own table. It was a good place to meet you could go into a corner and do whatever you wanted.”
That’s not quite the case today, notes Zanuck, as social media is forcing celebrities who want privacy to take a much lower profile.
“Still, last time I was there a few months ago, I saw Al Pacino eating outside,” says Zanuck. “It’s just not where you’d go to meet your girlfriend because it’s public. Although I’m sure those bungalows on the sides get plenty of action.”
12 Of The Most Historic Hotels In America
From the world's longest porch to a former jailhouse courtyard, history abounds at these luxury accommodations.
Sure there are plenty of unique hotels to call home when you travel &mdash from architecturally significant rentals to spa hotels promising restorative lifestyle treatments &mdash but if an experience steeped in history is more your speed, you're going to want to check out these 12 hotels, stat.
In Charleston, South Carolina, the 86 Cannon hotel is a refurbished 1860s home full of rich American history. The former owner was Septima P. Clark, a significant fixture in the civil rights movement. As a teacher she fought for educational rights along with the NAACP. She also formed an adult literacy program, which focused on promoting voter registration and empowering people to embrace social activism. Rosa Parks was one of her students.
Clark's former home was updated by Designer Betsy Berry of B. Berry Interiors. Her design beautifully preserves the history of the structure while also adding luxurious design upgrades, like grass cloth wallpaper, luxe furniture, and gold light fixtures.
Kenneth Worcester Dow first purchased the 1790 Prince Murat House in St. Augustine, Florida, and by the early 1950s owned nine homes on the property, which was later known as the "Dow Museum of Historic Houses." The nine historical buildings have been transformed into The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens, an essential site of St. Augustine's history, spanning a city block. The site once served as a hospital, cemetery, an 18th-century Spanish defense line and the setting for the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, freeing Florida's slave population.
Founded in 1855 by Harvey D. Parker in downtown Boston, the Omni Parker House is the longest continuously operating hotel in the United States. Not only did writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne and Longfellow meet here for conversations in the Saturday Club, so did baseball legends Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, plus local and national politicians, including John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ulysses S. Grant.
Born as a residence for single immigrants who migrated from Austria, Holland, Germany, Russia and other areas, The American Club opened its doors in 1918 and offered lessons in the English language and American citizenship. Walter J. Kohler, son of John Michael Kohler, who created the Kohler Co., initiated the project, which also included a pub, bowling alley and barbershop. After outliving its purpose, The American Club was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and in 1981, it was reborn as a world-class destination.
If you've ever wanted to relax in style like Jackie Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin or Bob Hope, then head to the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California. The resort was originally built in 1965 as a playground for celebrities and athletes with Dr. R. Phillip Smith, a professor of medicine, heading up the spa, which became the first spa in America to be endorsed by the American Medical Association. In 1965, it was selected to host the CNS Golf Classic today, guests can stay in one of the hotel's luxurious rooms, lounge at the spa, play tennis or a round of golf on one of two award-winning, 18-hole golf courses.
Not only does the Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan have the world's longest porch, which can be seen from the Straits of Mackinac, the hotel's Grand Hotel Casino is where author Mark Twain lectured for, get this, $1 per ticket.
The hotel opened in 1887 as a summer retreat at just $3 to $5 per night. This year, in honor of its 130th birthday, the porch will be reconstructed, including removal of the current flooring and replacement of the deck and top coat, according to MLive.
Billionaire Broadmoor owner, Philip Anschutz, possesses what some would call the world's largest Western Art collection and more than 175 sculptures and paintings grace the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, as well as nearby sister properties, Cloud Camp and the Ranch at Emerald Valley. The hotel first opened in 1918 with a private ceremony that included 400 guests and one celebrity guest, John D. Rockefeller, who left the party early due to the smell of paint fumes.
Typical wedding gifts include kitchen appliances, home decor or something along the lines of a bottle of wine or champagne, but Potter Palmer went above and beyond and gifted his new wife Bertha Hilton Honore with The Palmer House hotel in Chicago, Illinois. In 1871, however, 13 days after its grand opening, the Palmer House was ravished in the Great Chicago Fire. Potter rebuilt and reopened the hotel two-years later. The hotel rose to fame and hosted celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Louis Armstrong and Liberace.
The Oxford Hotel is the oldest hotel in Denver, Colorado, and has remained in business since 1891. The hotel was designed by architect Frank E. Edbrooke and once had its own power plant that provided steam heating, electricity and gas lighting. It was in the art deco Cruise room where Denver residents celebrated the repeal of the Prohibition Amendment, which can now be celebrated with a special Oxford 1891 Bourbon, a complimentary drink for guests at the Oxford Hotel Bourbon bar.
Also known as "The Resting Place," La Posada was created by Fred Harvey and Mara Elizabeth Jane Colter in 1930 in northern Arizona. The hotel was only open to the public for 27-years, but during the 1930s celebrities would jet set here and guests included Senator John Kerry, Howard Hughes, Gene Autry, John Wayne and even Shirley Temple. The hotel closed to the public in the 1960s and served as the Santa Fe Railway headquarters and was nearly demolished over a 40-year period. The hotel has been restored to its beauty, features a museum, exhibit and garden and is still accessible by train.
The Mayflower Park Hotel was formerly known as "The Bergonian," and is Seattle&rsquos longest continuously operating hotel. Not only can guests visit a historic hotel gallery, they can also go on a treasure hunt, where they're taken to three historic spots within the hotel. Gifts are rewarded at the end, and historic artifacts are changed throughout the seasons. For guests 21 and over, head to Oliver's Lounge, located near the hotel lobby, which holds the title for Seattle's "Best Classic" martini.
“America’s Oldest Brewery,” D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. innovates for the future
Often played at weddings, the 1979 No. 1 chart-topping hit “We Are Family,” by Sister Sledge declares “We are family, I got all my sisters with me, We are family, Get up everybody and sing.” Also keeping it “all in the family” are the four Yuengling sisters ― Jennifer, Debbie, Wendy and Sheryl ― who along with their dad, Dick, are leveraging six generations of brewing expertise while charting the continued long-term success of “America’s Oldest Brewery,” D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc.
Founded in 1829 in the coal-mining town of Pottsville, Pa., by Wuerttemberg, Germany immigrant David G. Yuengling, the brewery’s original moniker was Eagle Brewery, which debuted the iconic eagle and barrel icon on its labels to represent purity, quality and strength. These guiding principles have driven the independent and spirited nature of the Yuengling brewery and brand for more than 192 years, explains Wendy Yuengling, chief administrative officer.
After David’s son, Frederick, Yuengling’s great, great grandfather, joined his father as a partner, the brewery officially changed its name in 1873 to the aforementioned D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. Even though the eagle is no longer part of the brewery’s name, to this day, the eagle and barrel logo remains a prominent part of the brand’s packaging, Yuengling says.
In 1976, the brewery was placed on the national and states’ registers as “America’s Oldest Brewery,” a distinction that is an irrefutable part of the brewery’s history that also is marketed in its tag line.
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The 4.4 percent ABV medium-bodied flavor of Yuengling Traditional Lager is the brewery’s flagship beer, which represents more than 75 percent of the company’s sales. (Image courtesy of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc.)
“We take great pride in being America’s Oldest Brewery, keeping the business American-owned and family operated, and strong for future generations,” Yuengling explains. “Our family has persevered through some incredible moments in our country’s history such as two World Wars, Prohibition, the Great Depression, and now the current challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have persevered all these years because of the hard work and resiliency shown by the previous generations, the commitment of our Yuengling employee family, and the consumer support of our loyal communities.”
For example, in 1919 and 1920, as the 18th amendment was ratified and Prohibition occurred, the brewery survived by switching to near-beer products like Yuengling Special and Juvo, a non-intoxicating cereal beverage.
Proud to be the sixth generation in the Yuengling brewing family legacy, Wendy Yuengling manages the brewery’s administrative functions. The third oldest Yuengling is joined in leadership by sisters Jennifer Yuengling as vice president of operations Debbie Yuengling, who is the employee engagement and culture manager and Sheryl Yuengling, who is in charge of order services and IT administration. Their father, Richard "Dick" Yuengling Jr. serves as the company’s owner and president.
Through nearly two centuries, the brewery has transitioned from a small family operation to a nationally recognized brand that produces more than 2 million barrels of beer annually to beer drinkers in 22 states. Southern and westward expansion has followed as a result of brewery operations in Tampa, Fla., and a joint venture inked between D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. and Chicago-based Molson Coors Brewing Co. in September 2020.
“Many fans know Yuengling for our Yuengling Traditional Lager. What many don’t know is that Lager didn’t become our flagship brand until 1987,” Yuengling says. “Two of the brewery’s original beers were Lord Chesterfield Ale and Dark Brewed Porter, released more than 150 years earlier, and we are still producing both of those heritage brands to this day following the same traditional recipes.”
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The result of a first-ever beer collaboration with Hershey’s, Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter combines Yuengling’s nearly 200-year-old Dark Brewed Porter recipe with the indulgent taste of Hershey's chocolate, the company says. (Image courtesy of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc.)
192 years of brewing history
The story of Yuengling Brewery is the story of the American Spirit, perseverance and an unwavering dedication to high quality standards. The brewery’s 192 years of success is built on a firm foundation of core brands in its diverse and growing portfolio. These include its flagship Yuengling Traditional Lager, which represents more than 75 percent of brand sales, Light Lager, Black & Tan, Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter, and three of its recent new additions, Yuengling Golden Pilsner, Raging Eagle Mango Beer and FLIGHT by Yuengling, which is billed as “the Next Generation of Light Beer.”
To attract new, more health-conscious beer drinkers, the low-carb, low-calorie FLIGHT by Yuengling is an upscale light beer, with great taste and stats that is a step up from the competition, Yuengling explains.
The easy-drinking, clean, crisp 4.2 percent alcohol-by-volume (ABV) FLIGHT contains 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbohydrates in each 12-ounce glass bottle, the company says.
In addition to strong growth from FLIGHT by Yuengling, the brewery’s first-ever beer collaboration with Derry Township, Pa.-based Hershey’s — Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter — is a new fan favorite released in October 2019, in 14 states and via draft only. At 4.7 ABV, the brew combines Yuengling’s nearly 200-year-old Dark Brewed Porter recipe with the indulgent taste of Hershey's chocolate, the company says. For the beer’s second year in 2020, and as a direct response to passionate fan feedback, Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter was bottled and expanded distribution to all of Yuengling’s 22-states.
Building on the success of its Hershey’s Chocolate Porter and seeking to further disrupt the beer scene, D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. continues to drive its own interpretation of flavorful boldness with the February release of Raging Eagle Mango Beer.
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D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. continues to drive its own interpretation of flavorful boldness with the February release of Raging Eagle Mango Beer. At 6 percent ABV, the fruit-and-field pilsner is a contemporary, edgy beer for those “looking for bold, invigorating flavor in their next beer adventure,” Wendy Yuengling says. (Image courtesy of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc.)
At 6 percent ABV, the fruit-and-field pilsner is a contemporary, edgy beer brewed with classic hops for a refreshing, crisp taste of mango freshness in 24-ounce cans, the company says. Designed to appeal to adventuresome 21-35-year-old young adults, Raging Eagle feeds into consumers’ passion and energy and those “looking for bold, invigorating flavor in their next beer adventure,” Yuengling says.
“Most recently with Raging Eagle, we heard that consumers were craving more flavor,” Yuengling explains. “We saw an opportunity to leverage our six generations of brewing expertise to create a bold mango beer that appeals to adventurous drinkers and adds a new edge to our portfolio of iconic beers.”
Go west, young man
Yuengling, the anglicized version of Jüngling, is the German word for a "young person” or “youngster.” While the company belies the young title, there’s plenty to glean from the company’s rich 192-year history.
For instance, built in 1831, the original, historic brewery on Mahantongo Street still is operational and open for free 30-minute tours and tastings for legal-age consumers with ID. Built out several times through six generations of leadership, the 275,000-square-foot, red-bricked brewery primarily produces Yuengling in cans. It also is the site of the company’s iconic brew house with stained glass ceilings and stainless-steel kettles along with historic caves that were hand-dug in the 1800s and used for beer fermentation before refrigeration. Across the street, there’s also a retail gift shop and tasting room where visitors are encouraged to “grab a cold Growler of their favorite Yuengling to go.”
To meet customer demand for its products, particularly the 4.4 percent ABV medium-bodied flavor of Yuengling Traditional Lager, in 1999 the brewery broke ground on a new 250,000-square-foot state-of-the-art plant across town at Mill Creek that opened in 2001. Continuing its expansion efforts, in 1999 D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. purchased the Stroh brewery in Tampa, Fla., which enabled the brewer to meet demand in its northeast markets and to produce and ship beer up north until the new Mill Creek brewery became operational, Yuengling says.
“[In 2000,] our new Mill Creek brewery came on-line. The new Mill Creek brewery was completed and the first batch of Yuengling beer was brewed in 2001,” she says. “The Tampa brewery then allowed Yuengling to open up southern markets with Tampa production. Both Tampa and Mill Creek have QC labs and testing equipment, research and development capabilities, and produce our portfolio of brands in cans, bottles and kegs.”
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Through a joint venture with Chicago-based Molson Coors Brewing Co., Yuengling beers with be rolling out to Texas in the fall of 2021. (Image courtesy of D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc.)
Today, D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. employs about 350 employees working in sales, operations, administration and retail within three breweries and across its 22-state footprint.
However, the Yuengling footprint is about to get bigger due to the aforementioned joint venture with multinational drink and brewing company Molson Coors, which employs 17,000 worldwide. In January, D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. announced the first step in its westward expansion with distribution of its iconic beers into Texas, the second largest U.S. state by area and population. The brewery anticipates rolling out beer to the Lone Star state in the fall of 2021, with further expansion to follow based on the brewer’s “disciplined and methodical approach to expansion” that has brought it success for more than 190 years, Yuengling says.
“We saw tremendous opportunity in the high demand for Yuengling in Texas. Fans across the country (and outside of our initial 22-state footprint) regularly asked when they’d be able to enjoy Yuengling’s great beers without having to hop on an airplane or smuggle them across state lines,” Yuengling notes. “Through this long-term brewing partnership, our team will tap into Molson Coors’ brewing expertise and operations to make our beer accessible to consumers in western states, where we don’t currently sell.
“Together, Yuengling brewers will work closely with Molson Coors to use its world-class brewing facilities to expand Yuengling’s presence west for the first time in company history,” she continues. “Of course, one of our biggest priorities throughout this partnership is to ensure we still maintain the quality, independence and reputation we’ve built in our family business for 192 years.”
As a result of the venture and westward expansion into Texas, a new entity — The Yuengling Company — was formed. The new venture will develop and support the selling and marketing of Yuengling brands in western expansion markets D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. will remain 100 percent family owned and operated and function separately from the new joint venture company, the company says.
Yuengling notes, “Our partnership with Molson Coors brings together three iconic brewing families between Yuengling, Molson and Coors with over 425 years of combined brewing history.” The joint venture Board of Directors includes Jennifer and Wendy Yuengling, as well as Coors and Molson family members.
Thirsting for more
In addition to its new joint venture, D.G. Yuengling & Son Inc. at its core, maintains a strong family culture while it focuses on future growth opportunities and telling the ripe story of America’s Oldest Brewery.
Coming down the pipeline is the revitalization of the Tampa brewery campus. Slated to open in 2022, the goal is to create a first-class destination to experience the brewery’s brands and more. Amenities will include a small-batch pilot brewing system a restaurant serving fresh, local cuisine an outdoor recreation area and beer garden a multi-use concert and entertainment pavilion an onsite 15-story hotel and a gift shop and coffee bar. Consumers also can learn more about the history of America’s Oldest Brewery through digital interactive displays, artifacts and advertising memorabilia.
Staying connected with the Yuengling beer community, listening to its fans and instilling a spirit of family, community and perseverance is deeply ingrained in the company’s culture and history, the chief administrative officer says.
“Our distinction as America’s Oldest Brewery differentiates us from other companies. And our family approach to the business is also unique,” she enthuses. “It’s not every day that you see a sixth generation company still being 100 percent American owned and family operated. And when we say family, we don’t just mean the five generations of Yuengling’s who came before us we also mean the generations of employees who helped make this business a success.
“We’ve been successful all these years because of the hard work and resiliency shown by the previous generations, the commitment of our Yuengling employee family, and the support of our loyal consumers who have supported our brands,” she continues. “Our company is one large family business, and I think we see that as a big differentiator for us — we see our employees as playing a huge role in helping us continue to innovate and grow. We will maintain our foundation as America’s Oldest Brewery, while building upon our success and innovating for the future.”
The Best Chocolate in America
50 of the finest chocolate makers and chocolate shops across the country.
For over a year now, there hasn&apost been a whole lot happening on West 42nd Street, in New York City. Back in March 2020, one of the busiest, most notorious places in the country very abruptly closed down—historic theaters, modern day honky-tonks, hotels, gleaming office buildings, all suddenly mothballed. From Fifth Avenue through Times Square and on past the Port Authority, the casual observer could count the number of open businesses on one or two hands, if they even bothered to come to Midtown at all.
Looks can be deceiving. Who knows, really, what all was going on behind closed doors, but one thing was for certain—if you knew where to look, even during those earliest, darkest pandemic days and weeks and months, you could land yourself some of the finest chocolate in America.
The shimmering, Bryant Park-facing showcase that had been home to Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate had closed, never to reopen, and it would be a very long time before the adjoining two-star Michelin restaurant, Gabriel Kreuther, would be able to welcome guests again, but behind the scenes, a talented team helmed by chef Kreuther, his longtime pastry chef Marc Aumont, and head chocolatier Angela Kim Borah were still filling orders not only for delivery in New York, but for shipping to far away places, as well. Intricate bonbons in thrilling flavors like miso, almond and olive, mango con chile were exciting, modern, the perfect distraction. Most of the world may have come grinding to a halt, but the chocolate gods hadn&apost missed a beat.
Time and again across the country, the story repeated itself, during the last year and counting. From mostly-shuttered market halls to back street workshops, more than a few of America&aposs chocolatiers found themselves busier than ever. Should we be surprised to learn that so many of us found chocolate a comfort, during such a challenging time? Then again, history does repeat itselfter all, it was the Great Depression that gave us so much of the candy we grew up with. An astonishing number of the names we know best today, from Snickers to Three Musketeers to Sugar Babies, came on the market during that time, and stayed put.
With the pandemic dragging on, hard numbers started to come out. According to the National Confectioners Association, which keeps track of these things, consumption of high-end chocolate in America shot up by double digits since March 2020. Chaos today, uncertainty tomorrow? This was chocolate&aposs time to shine.
For those just tuning in, perhaps after years of relatively joyless adulthood and one too many dental bills, the landscape of American chocolate might haven all but unrecognizable. During the last couple of decades, the industry has been very nearly transformed, through an extended period of revolt dating back at least to the turn of the century, with the winds of change blowing even earlier than that, when chocolate makers, those out West in particular, began to ask the question: What is wrong with the chocolate in this country (how much time do you have), and how do we fix it?
Almost overnight, it seems like, we were talking about chocolate the way we talk about wine and coffeeout terroir and tasting notes, about sourcing and sustainability, about direct trade and bean-to-bar manufacturing, about widespread exploitation in the world of cacao-growing, driven by an insatiable demand for commercial cocoa in the wealthiest countries𠅎verything was now on the table. Fast-forward to now, and the scene has grown immensely, with so many new names to remember. So many flashes of brilliance, so many flashes in the pan, so many new classics, so much to mull over.
All these fits and starts later, there are certain things we now understand. We know to ask more—so much more𠅏rom American chocolate. We&aposve changed the way we look at the humble bar, represented in many of our minds as a sugary, milky creature often tasting only faintly of actual cocoa, rarely enjoyed on its own, or at all. In a relatively short period of time, the country has managed to make room in its chocolate-loving heart for an astonishing number of exceptional, and exceptionally minimal, bars of dark chocolate, designed to showcase the unique terroir of its point of origin, often with exceptionally high percentages of pure cacao. (To be considered chocolate in America, all you need is a measly 10 percent—many of the bars on this list clock in at over 70.)
The educated consumer will look for a great deal of things from their chocolate bar these days—transparency in sourcing, fair wages for growers, good ingredients. Are there any fillers? (Organic cane sugar and cocoa butter, yes, but most everything else, no, unless it&aposs high quality milk chocolate, which does exist). Above all, is it smooth, rich, and does it taste as great as the price tag might dictate? These are not bars to be scarfed down on the run, but something you savor, broken off in small pieces, allowing it to melt on the tongue, perhaps paired with wine. Strike it right, and chances are you&aposll never go back to old habits again.
Why so serious, so many chocolate lovers will ask, and they do have a point—we are respecting chocolate more than ever, to be sure, but that doesn&apost mean we had to give up having fun.
While this list focuses rather narrowly on the finest American chocolate bars, because they are something so richly deserving of celebration, there are more high-quality bonbon and truffle makers out there right now than most of us will be able to sample in one lifetime. The supremacy of the classic drugstore assortment (which still has a place in our hearts, if not necessarily on this list) has been challenged, and very effectively, by a new generation of American chocolatiers. This is something to celebrate, as well.
Acalli Chocolate (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Carol Morse&aposs interest in chocolate was sparked during a summer of getting to know cacao growers in Central America, while her anthropologist husband worked toward his PhD. In a modest West Bank workshop, Morse combines cocoa from her favorite farmers with Louisiana cane sugar, giving her two-ingredient bars a distinctive taste and a unique sense of place.
Amano Chocolate (Orem, Utah)
Before very nearly everybody was out there peddling their own single-origin bars, a pioneering Art Pollard was already running away with the idea (and an outsized share of acclaim) out in the chocolate happy Beehive State. For much of the company&aposs fifteen-year lifespan, if you have been eating chocolate at the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley, chances are it came from Amano.
Askinosie Chocolate (Springfield, Missouri)
Whether or not they&aposve earned the right, most makers tout their sourcing credentials these days, but direct trade trendsetter Shawn Askinosie has been an absolute leader since the mid-aughts, establishing close ties (and setting up a profit-sharing model) with his farmers. Dark milk chocolate from the Philippines (a favorite Askinosie source) blended with salted Swedish black licorice makes a truly memorable bar.
Cacao & Cardamom (Houston, Texas)
Don&apost knock procrastination—it might just change your life. For Annie Rupani, it was the study breaks from LSAT prep, during which she began teaching herself all about chocolate. The one-time Miss Pakistan World would later begin experimenting, combining modern technique with the bold flavors of her upbringing. Wildly colorful bonbons and patterned bars, in flavors like coffee and cardamom, are a visual feast.
Castronovo Chocolate (Stuart, Florida)
One taste is all you need to understand the difference between pure dark chocolate and your typical American chocolate bar the first is practically a health food, the other a milky-sweet indulgence. Denise Castronovo, who moved into chocolate-making when the last recession left her with plenty of downtime from her consulting business, is one in a growing group of top-level makers successfully fusing the two ideas, creating a high-cocoa content milk chocolate, known in the industry as dark milk. Castronovo&aposs is made with the finest, sometimes very rare, Latin American cacao.
Chequesset Chocolate (North Truro, Massachusetts)
Does Cape Cod have it all, or what? After just a few years in business, Katie Reed and Josiah Mayo&aposs ambitious startup already feels like a summertime (or anytime) essential, covering all the bases, from candies to single-origin bars, and doing so at a remarkable level. Their white chocolate, infused with lemon and thyme, does a great deal of heavy lifting for the much-misunderstood style.
Christopher Elbow Chocolates (Kansas City, Missouri)
A pastry chef by trade, Christopher Elbow always had a serious knack for petit fours, popular enough with guests at his last restaurant job to give him ideas about striking out on his own. Over a decade later, Elbow&aposs highly creative bonbons are some of the most sought-after in the country. Single-origin chocolate bars are as serious as they come.
Chokola (Taos, New Mexico)
For Debi Vincent and Javier Abad, the journey began in Venezuela, both in chocolate-making and in married life. These days, the couple runs an appealing shop just off the Taos plaza, turning out exemplary single-origin, two-ingredient bars, each wrapped in packaging decorated with the work of local artists. The awards have been stacking up of late, but a 75% Bolivia, made with wild harvest cacao, is of special note.
Compartes (Los Angeles, California)
Dating back to 1950, and for generations a favorite of everybody from Marilyn Monroe to Elvis Presley, Jonathan Grahm has taken the family business (where he began work at the age of 15) to new heights, on the strength of some of the most visually appealing, mosaic-style chocolate bars on the market today, wrapped in some of the most appealing packaging. The aesthetic is highbrow, the taste is all fun𠅊 breakfast-worthy bar packed with donut pieces and freshly-ground coffee is a top seller.
Creo Chocolate (Portland, Oregon)
The berry-farming Straub family stumbled into chocolate roughly a decade ago, and never found their way out. A close relationship with a grower of heirloom cacao in Ecuador is the foundation of most, if not all of their very fine, frequently award-winning work, from the purest of bars to melt-on-the-tongue caramels topped with black lava salt.
Cultura Craft Chocolate (Denver, Colorado)
Damaris Ronkanen sources sustainably-harvested white cacao from Tabasco state𠅊t the heart of a region with roughly 4,000 uninterrupted years of growing experience𠅏or her intriguing 70% Mexico bars. Ronkanen&aposs Mexican drinking chocolate and cacao-infused Cafe de Olla blend were inspired by childhood visits with family in Puebla.
Dick Taylor Chocolates (Eureka, California)
Inspired by a new generation of makers changing the face of chocolate, woodworkers Adam Dick and Dustin Taylor brought the revolution home to remote Humboldt County back in 2010, quickly making a name for themselves with top-quality single origin, two-ingredient bars. Their black fig bar is something of an industry legend by now, and the drinking chocolate is top notch.
Eclat Chocolate (West Chester, Pennsylvania)
Some of the country&aposs most intricate bonbonsramels infused with calvados, truffles made with rare, Peruvian Nacional cacaon be found at the masterful Christopher Curtin&aposs workshop west of Philadelphia, but don&apost miss the crowd-pleasing bars, milk or dark, filled with crunchy Pennsylvania Dutch-style pretzels made in nearby Lancaster County.
EH Chocolatier (Cambridge, Massachusetts)
Pure, dark chocolate is already vegan, and these days you can find the bar of your dreams at most every maker on this list. Near-perfect vegan truffles? That&aposs another matter. This woman-owned operation finds a sweet balance with delicate vegan meltaways that will seduce very nearly any skeptic.
Eldora Chocolate (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Money man turned chocolate guy Steve Prickett came up like so many makers on this list, tinkering at home in his spare time fast forward a few years and he&aposs picking up serious awards for his well-sourced, single-origin bars. A flair for distinctive local flavors—mole spice, piñon, chiles—makes Eldora&aposs inclusion bars (industry speak for bars with stuff added to them) uniquely New Mexico.
Fran's Chocolates (Seattle, Washington)
Maybe you&aposre looking to trace the origins of new wave American chocolate, or perhaps you&aposre merely hunting for some of the best chocolate in America either search may well lead you to Fran Bigelow, who set up shop in the early 1980s, pioneering notions of fair trade and sustainability. President Obama&aposs love of the smoked sea salt caramels is by now well-documented.
French Broad Chocolate (Asheville, North Carolina)
Dan and Jael Rattigan learned at least two things from their years living on an abandoned cacao farm in coastal Costa Rica—one, they weren&apost beach people. The other was that they really wanted to make chocolate. After more than a decade in business, their single-origin bars are some of the nicest—pure, but lush—in the South.
Fruition Chocolates (Shokan, New York)
Some of the most elegant chocolate bars in the country right now come from Bryan and Dahlia Graham&aposs relatively modest operation in the rustic Catskill Mountains. From beautifully minimal single-origins (a citrus-tart Madagascar Sambirano) to a series of exceptional dark milks (Peru Marańon, in particular), each bar is as rich and smooth as the last.
Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate (New York, New York)
Gabriel Kreuther&aposs eponymously named restaurant is very likely the only two-star Michelin establishment ever to grace West 42nd Street in collaboration with restaurant pastry chef (and long-time pal) Marc Aumont, Kreuther is turning out some of the city&aposs most exquisite chocolates.
Buy it: Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate, Chef&aposs Selection, $99 at goldbelly.com
Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates (Sacramento, California)
fter honing her skills in faraway places like Chicago and New York, Ginger Elizabeth Hahn returned west to open her dream atelier, fusing European style with a seasonal, cheerful California aesthetic. The result is one of the sunniest𠅊nd still, quite serious𠅌hocolate shops on this list. Everything feels fresh and fun.
Goodnow Farms Chocolate (Sudbury, Massachusetts)
Subtle notes of apple cider, maple syrup, and rye whiskey give the obsessively sourced, delicately flavored bars at this family outfit on a historic New England farm a distinct sense of place. Tom and Monica Rogan started out in the trade just a little over five years ago, but have already managed to comfortably secure a place for themselves right near the head of the pack.
Guittard Chocolate (San Bruno, California)
Lyon-born Etienne Guittard came to California dreaming of gold, striking it rich not in the Sierras, but in San Francisco, where he founded what would grow to become one of the longest-running makers in the country. Four generations later, the family-owned company remains a trusted friend to bakers and chocolatiers (large and small), as well as lovers of a fine dark bar, and one of the finest drinking chocolates available at your local supermarket.
Harper Macaw (Washington, D.C.)
With a strong focus on cacao grown in Brazil𠅌o-founder Sarah Hartman is Brazilian by birth—this bean-to-bar maker has become a standout in the nation&aposs capital, emphasizing direct trade with their growers and partnering with organizations that work tirelessly to protect and restore the rainforest.
Indi Chocolate (Seattle, Washington)
Last spring, with the historic Pike Place Market all but silent, this relatively recent arrival was still humming, producing some of the city&aposs best chocolate, something you don&apost say lightly in a town like Seattle. Erin Andrews started out just over a decade ago, moving into the market&aposs long-awaited extension in 2017 Indi&aposs direct trade, single-origin bars ought to have your attention.
Jacques Torres Chocolate (New York, New York)
From orange slices to macadamia nuts, there&aposs very little one of the most famous makers on this list (he&aposs the head judge on Netflix&aposs Nailed It) won&apost cover in chocolate. After a high-profile career as a pastry chef, the France-born Torres launched New York City&aposs first artisanal bean-to-bar operation back in 2000, well ahead of trend.
Buy it: Jacques&apos World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies, 12-pack, $70 at goldbelly.com
Kahkow (Brooklyn, New York)
Think of this Williamsburg shop and cafe like an Apple Store, except the product line being showcased, ever so proudly, is cacao grown in the Dominican Republic. Operated by one of the country&aposs largest cacao growers and exporters, the chocolate made here is about as direct trade as you will find.
K+M Chocolate (Napa Valley, California)
A partnership between Thomas Keller and one of Italy&aposs most revered olive oil producers (Armando Manni) has yielded, with chocolatier Chi Bui at the helm, some seriously beautiful bars, each finding the perfect balance between obsessively-sourced single-origin chocolate and an olive oil prized by chefs around the world.
Buy it: K+M Chocolate Bar Signature Set, $119 at goldbelly.com
LetterPress Chocolate (Los Angeles, Chocolate)
With nearly twenty single-origin bars available as of this writing, Corey and David Menkes (who started making chocolate in their apartment less than a decade ago) continue to clearly demonstrate a serious passion for sourcing, equalled only by their talent for the finished product, often created with nothing more than a bit of organic unrefined cane sugar. The distinctive Ghana Ashanti—in 100%, 70%, and dark milk—is far from your average single-origin.
Lonohana Estate Chocolate (Honolulu, Hawaii)
The one state where following the bean-to-bar ethic doesn&apost require so much as a crosstown commute also happens to be one of those rare places in the world where cacao growers produce their own chocolate for sale𠅊 14-acre farm on Oahu&aposs North Shore is the source and inspiration for some of the finest all-Hawaiian chocolate on the market, made in very small batches.
Madhu Chocolate (Austin, Texas)
Harshit Gupta and Elliott Curelop source quality cacao from the Tumaco region of Colombia𠅊 favorite among some of the most accomplished makers on this list𠅊nd then go wild with the flavors, drawing on Gupta&aposs Indian childhood for inspiration. Saffron, black pepper from Kerala, cloves, and coriander all make welcome appearances.
Markham & Fitz Chocolate (Bentonville, Arkansas)
Lauren Blanco and Preston Stewart came to chocolate from two very different backgrounds, cultural anthropology, and chemistry, but however they got here, it&aposs safe to say they have arrived, in all senses of the word. Imaginative, beautifully-packaged bars like the Brain Food, an 85% Dominican Republic packed with berries, nuts, acai, and maca root, have managed to make quite the impression, in a relatively short period of time.
Maverick Chocolate (Cincinnati, Ohio)
In 2014, after a career as a mechanical engineer in the aviation industry, Paul Picton launched headlong into an entirely new phase of life—realizing his dream of becoming a chocolate maker. Ably assisted by his family, Picton is turning out some exceptional single-origin bars, recently a relatively rare (at least on the mainland) 100% Hawaiian, sourced from the Big Island&aposs Mauna Kea Estate. (Catch it if you can.)
Milla Chocolates (Los Angeles, California)
American chocolate has improved by leaps and bounds, but most domestic makers have yet to attempt the level of aesthetic taken for granted in cities like Paris and Barcelona, where the shop experience is typically fussed-over as much as the product. Chocolatier Christine Sull Sarioz comes from a background in the fine and decorative arts with designer husband Goktug, she has created one of the country&aposs most astonishing boutiques, filled with equally beautiful (and exquisitely packaged) chocolate. Seasonal citrus bars in flavors like Meyer lemon and blood orange are almost too pretty to tear apart.
Monsoon Chocolate (Tucson, Arizona)
Adam Krantz&aposs chile mango, hibiscus caramel, and mesquite-smoked whiskey infused bonbons practically leap out at you with their sense of place. As Southern Arizona&aposs most accomplished chocolatier, Krantz has proven himself wonderfully versatile, garnering impressive notices for nicely-packaged bars as well, including one from Madagascar&aposs Sambirano Valley, a particularly sought-after source.
Patric Chocolate (Columbia, Missouri)
The type of success this small company has enjoyed since launching fifteen years ago typically leads to serious growth, but founder Alan "Patric" McClure, who spent one very influential year in France before starting his business, has been perfectly happy to keep things small. As a result, some of the country&aposs most award-winning chocolate is also some of the most difficult to find, released in small batches (and available through the web site) whenever McClure finds the time.
Potomac Chocolate (Occoquan, Virginia)
Back in 2010, Ben Rasmussen turned his Northern Virginia basement into a chocolate laboratory, transitioning relatively quickly from enthusiast to one of the best bean-to-bar makers in the DMV. Impeccably-sourced two-ingredient bars are the main offering from this diminutive operation, but Rasmussen has lately been tinkering with the notion of a better kind of milk chocolate, with considerable success.
Raaka Chocolate (Brooklyn, New York)
From advocacy for increased transparency in the supply chain to a unique specialty in unroasted dark chocolate, everything about New York City&aposs best bean-to-bar manufacturer speaks to a passion for grabbing the consumer by the lapels and bringing them as close to the source as possible without actually forcing them onto a plane. A three-bar springtime collaboration with the New York Botanical Garden is well worth seeking out.
Recchiuti Chocolates (San Francisco, California)
Over nearly a quarter century, Michael and Jacky Recchiuti have grown one of the country&aposs finest chocolate shops from farmers&apos market pop-up to renowned producer of some of the most elegant truffles being made this side of the Atlantic. Their Black Box collection pieces, in delicate flavors like bergamot tea and tarragon grapefruit—is the perfect gift for somebody (very, very) special.
Ritual Chocolate (Park City, Utah)
Rescued from a barn in Germany where it had been mothballed for decades, an antique conche (the modern chocolate maker&aposs must-have tool, invented by one Mr. Lindt in Zurich, back in the 1800s) appears to have been something of a good luck charm for this high-elevation, highly-decorated chocolate maker. A lavender and juniper berry bar tastes like a warm summer day in the Wasatch Range.
Seahorse Chocolate (Bend, Oregon)
Every now and then, in the age of the two-ingredient bar, one will come along and fool you into thinking that you&aposre being put on—the award-winning Honduras at this spunky, single-origin maker east of the Cascades hints so urgently at the likes of toffee and brown sugar, some tasters have been all but convinced these are actual ingredients. Terroir—it&aposs a beautiful thing.
Sees Candies (South San Francisco, California)
Founded a century ago in Los Angeles by a family of Canadian expats, this West Coast institution (proudly owned by Warren Buffett, since 1972) produces, hands down, the finest classic assortments widely available in the fifty states, made with quality Guittard chocolate and California-grown nuts. Fun fact: When Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance were rehearsing for the famous I Love Lucy chocolate factory episode, they worked at See&aposs to learn the tricks of the trade.
Solstice Chocolate (Murray, Utah)
On the relatively crowded playing field of Utah chocolate making, DeAnn Wallin is well-known not only for her strong commitment to seeking out the finest single-origin cacao, and going everywhere from India to Ghana to Madagascar to get it, but also for the end result—some of the smoothest, most deliciously accessible bars of their kind on the market.
Taza Chocolate (Somerville, Massachusetts)
After falling for the traditional style, stone-ground chocolate he tasted in Mexico, Alex Whitmore apprenticed with a miller in Oaxaca in order to learn how to hand-carve his own granite mill stones. A decade and a half later, this fair trade-pioneering company&aposs Mexican-style chocolate discs% organic𠅊re some of the finest around, making for a memorable drinking chocolate experience.
Theo Chocolate (Seattle, Washington)
First in the country to be certified both organic and fair trade, this powerhouse brand—you&aposll find their bars on shelves across the country—is not only serious about sustainability, but committed to accessibility as well, offering some of the best-priced bars on this list, along side a whole line of amusing (and delicious) creations like peanut butter and jelly cups.
Valerie Confections (Los Angeles, California)
From serious-times single-origin bars to big-fun bittersweet champagne truffles, pastry chef and chocolatier Valerie Gordon has this uncanny knack for doing it all, and very well at that. Whether you&aposre in the market for a handful of almond fleur de sel toffee, or an elegant grand assortment, you are in exceptionally capable hands here.
Vosges Haut-Chocolat (Chicago, Illinois)
Well before the current reinvention trend began, Katrina Markoff was pushing at the boundaries of American chocolate, packing bars full of bacon, sea salt, or chili peppers. Decades later, the offerings from Vosges are imaginative as ever, and equally sustainable—the company operates from a Platinum LEED-certified facility in Chicago, and recently planted its first crop of cacao in Belize.
Buy it: Dark Chocolate Truffle Collection, 16 pieces, $49 at goldbelly.com
Wildwood Chocolate (Portland, Oregon)
Producing some of the most visually-appealing chocolate bars in the country right now—there&aposs a reason they&aposre packaged in clear wrappers—this bite-sized outfit that you don&apost need to be all things to all people, in order to be successful at chocolate, or to win a slew of awards. Just a handful of flavors are offered, from delicate caramel and fennel pollen to the kids-of-all-ages friendly Texas pecan brittle.
Wm. Chocolate (Madison, Wisconsin)
Starting with a series of kitchen experiments in 2015, William Marx has proven himself as one of the most skilled practitioners of the bean-to-bar method in the Upper Midwest right now. From sourcing to packaging, everything is as close to 100% sustainableਊs possible.
Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate (Atlanta, Georgia)
After being spoiled by the truly bean-to-bar chocolate culture they discovered during an extended stay in Costa Rica, Elaine Read and Matt Weyandt filled their suitcases with cacao and came home to learn how to make chocolate over the better part of a decade, their micro-sized Krog Street Market operation has grown to become one of the region&aposs most important chocolate makers.
Zak's Chocolate (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Rare is the chocolatier that attempts to do absolutely everything completely from scratch hobbyists gone pro Maureen and Jim Elitzak take pride in doing all of the work themselves, from sorting ethically-sourced single-origin beans to wrapping the often award-winning bars for sale. Their not-to-be-missed (even if you&aposre a major skeptic) white chocolate is made with just three ingredients—house-pressed cocoa butter, whole milk, and organic cane sugar.
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake well on for 8 to 12 seconds. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with a pineapple wedge.
NOTES ON INGREDIENTS
Photo: Courtesy Jennifer Mitchell
Pisco: Pisco&rsquos a bit of a mixed bag. It can come from either Chile or Peru, for starters, and there&rsquos different regulations in the two countries. Chile has lots of good pisco, but if I could choose, I&rsquod go Peruvian: The laws are stricter, so you have a better sense of what you&rsquoll be getting. Additionally, it can be made from any of eight allowed grapes, and some of those eight, like Moscatel, are pretty aggressively floral. This isn&rsquot necessarily bad, but if given the option, I recommend finding an &ldquoAcholado&rdquo (blend), in which the producer has chosen a mix of grapes for good all-around balance. If you are at the store and looking at the single brand of pisco that store carries, I&rsquom sure that will be fine. If it&rsquos good enough to make it to our shelves, it&rsquos almost certainly good enough for this drink.
Citrus: The original recipe called for lemon juice, but in fairness, the original recipe was in 1856 and it&rsquos very unlikely they had the luxury of both lemons and limes, to choose at their fancy. Lemons work, but personally, I much prefer lime juice, the tart zesty finish a welcome contrast to the generous sweetness of the pineapple.
Pineapple Syrup: There was serious work put in to decoding Nicol&rsquos recipe after he died, and the most laudable effort reported that it was made from pisco, lemon, distilled water and pineapple-flavored gum syrup. Gum syrup is a simple syrup combined with gum arabic, a powder derived from the Acacia tree which gives a silky body to cocktails. The effect is subtle but pleasant, and if you have the opportunity, San Francisco&rsquos own Small Hands Foods makes a lovely Pineapple Gum Syrup. If you can&rsquot be bothered, it&rsquos ok, either soak a simple syrup overnight in diced pineapple chunks (for a subtle flavor) or make a pineapple syrup by combining and dissolving equal parts sugar into fresh pineapple juice (for a bolder flavor).
Other Ingredients? Some cocktail people, puzzled about Kipling&rsquos crimson imagery in his &ldquotropical dawn&rdquo and &ldquored clouds of sunset,&rdquo have deduced that the secret ingredient that made everyone both fall in love with the cocktail and not be able to stop talking about it was, as it turns out, cocaine. Vin Mariani was a Bordeaux-based fortified red wine that was infused with coca leaves, and several historians claim that this was the secret ingredient, the &ldquored clouds&rdquo in the Pisco Punch. Lillet Rouge (another fortified red wine from Bordeaux, though this time without the narcotic infusion) is probably the closest thing, and it does indeed mix well in the Pisco Punch, its lush red fruit filling out the more piquant florals from the spirit. It&rsquos certainly interesting to try, though at the end of the day, I feel like it brings more noise than signal.
Every week bartender Jason O’Bryan mixes his up his favorite drinks for you. Check out his past cocktail recipes.
What Will Happen to All the Empty Office Buildings and Hotels?
Commercial real estate has been hit hard by the pandemic, but there are plans to convert some of the now-empty spaces into apartment buildings.
Dark windows. Quiet lobbies. Hushed halls.
Many of New York’s hotels and office buildings have been empty for more than a year now as the pandemic continues to keep tourists and workers out of the city.
And some of those properties may never recover. An effort is afoot to take these eerily empty commercial structures and convert them to housing of some kind and perhaps other uses as well, potentially spurring a number of building conversions not seen since the crash of the late 1980s.
But in the development world, top-to-bottom makeovers can take years, and a robust recovery could make landlords think twice about reinventions. Space and safety requirements could also complicate some conversions, real estate executives say.
Still, with some companies allowing employees to permanently work from home, and officials bracing for tourism to not fully recover for years, there is support across the city for breathing new life into struggling buildings.
“Covid has expedited the ultimate repurposings,” said Nathan Berman, the managing principal of Metroloft Management, a developer in the process of buying two large office buildings in Lower Manhattan that have been hammered by the pandemic.
These shell-of-their-former-selves buildings, which Mr. Berman declined to name while negotiations continue, would become market-rate rentals. “They are perfect targets,” he said.
From corporate high-rises in the financial district to boutique lodgings near Central Park to mid-market accommodations in Midtown, real estate players are redeveloping or canvassing dozens of sites, according to those involved.
So far, most of the attention has been trained on Manhattan, home to the city’s largest business and tourism districts, and where the pandemic has dealt the harshest blows. But hotels in Brooklyn, where prices for buildings are generally lower, are also getting a look.
The conversions seem to fall into three categories: offices to housing, hotels to housing, and hotels turning into offices, though not for long stays but short-term sessions.
“It’s definitely all happening, for sure,” said Eric Anton, an agent with the firm Marcus and Millichap who specializes in selling buildings. Of the seven hotels in New York he currently represents, three will likely become senior housing, one will become market-rate apartments, and the balance will stay hotels.
“But a lot of the conversations revolve around whether the conversions can happen efficiently,” Mr. Anton said.
Boardrooms to Bedrooms
Some buildings, of course, can be converted more easily than others.
Decades ago, prewar office buildings were all the rage for reinvention. In the financial district, which became hollowed out after insurance companies and investment banks moved uptown, developers grabbed up limestone and granite former headquarters and sliced them up into apartments.
But there aren’t many of those grand old buildings left, at least downtown, forcing developers to consider newer structures, like glassy mid-20th-century office towers, which in some cases have become obsolete as fancier offerings have risen around them.
In March, more than 17 percent of Manhattan’s office space was vacant or soon to be, with a slightly higher rate downtown, according to CBRE, the real estate firm. Few of those spaces have been so empty since the early 1990s.
Though many landlords are long-term investors who don’t panic in tumultuous times, the ghost-town vibe may be at least causing jitters. Since the pandemic began a year ago, city projections suggest that Manhattan office towers are worth 25 percent less.
Mr. Berman, who for years converted mostly prewar properties, like 67 Wall Street, 84 William Street and 20 Exchange Place, has lately gone Modernist himself. The two office buildings he is now in talks to buy went up in the postwar period, he said, adding that they are also of the “Class B” variety, industry-speak for “a bit drab.”
“It’s too expensive to upgrade those kinds of buildings, so a change of use is really the optimum path,” said Mr. Berman, adding that they also aren’t usually landmarks, which reduces the number of necessary permits.
But how easily can structures where people once pecked at computers and huddled in conference rooms become places to live?
It really depends, said the architect John Cetra, a co-founder of the firm CetraRuddy, which has made bedrooms out of boardrooms at several Manhattan addresses.
One major factor is the distance between the facade and the elevators, otherwise known as a “lease span.” When it comes to creating housing, the smaller the lease span, the better, according to Mr. Cetra.
A span of 30 feet is ideal, said Mr. Cetra, as he recently led a tour of 20 Broad Street, a 1957 former office building next to the New York Stock Exchange that in 2018 swapped its stockbrokers for residents. (Its thick-doored bank vault remains in the basement though, and now serves as a lounge.)
At 20 Broad, a CetraRuddy project, the lease span measures 45 feet, which is close to the outer limit of what can work, he explained, adding that anything greater “just becomes too awkward,” because apartments would likely have to have large windowless spaces and other hard-to-adapt spaces.
But recently constructed office buildings often have lease spans of 50 feet or more, Mr. Cetra said, suggesting that laying out conventional apartments in them could be difficult.
Focusing on the floor plans at 20 Broad, which has 533 rental units across 30 stories, then, can be instructive. Reaching the living room in No. 721, an alcove studio on the seventh floor, for instance, requires navigating a long gangplank-like hall. But what could have been a void between the front door and a couch has been filled creatively — with a closet, a washer and dryer and the alcove, which can fit a bed but has no windows. Also squeezed in, along one wall, in what might be called a half-galley-style, is a kitchen.
Mr. Cetra is the first to admit that the quirks, which in No. 721 includes an off-center window, are unavoidable when tackling a commercial conversion. But on the plus side, no two units seem the same. “You’re not doing cookie-cutter apartments,” he said. “You get so much more variety.”
The studio, with about 500 square feet, is listed at $3,760 per month. But to help fill the building, which is grappling with a 40 percent Covid-related vacancy rate, its landlord, Metroloft, is dangling four months of free rent, so renters would essentially pay $2,600 a month.
No More Room Service
It’s a hard time to be a hotelier. Facing a drought of tourists and business travelers, about 200 of the city’s 700 hotels have closed since Covid hit, and many of those closures are expected to be permanent, especially as debts mount.
There are also many soured loans. Since fall, hotels in the New York City area have led the country in terms of delinquencies, according to the analytics firm Trepp, which tracks securitized mortgages. In April, New York hotels accounted for $1.8 billion in unpaid balances, far outpacing second-place Chicago with about $1 billion past due.
Even though the construction of new hotel rooms does continue in the city, there have been casualties, both big and small. Hilton Times Square, a 476-room hotel, shuttered last fall, and after months when the owner, Sunstone Hotel Investors, failed to make loan payments, wound up this winter in the hands of a lender with an uncertain fate.
Similarly, the Holiday Inn FiDi, a soaring 50-story, 492-room high-rise near the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum, is now in foreclosure because of its three troubled loans, according to Trepp. But relatively small properties are in tight spots as well, like the 72-room Hotel Giraffe on Park Avenue South, which has fallen more than three months behind with its mortgage checks.
What’s still up and running is often not being run as a typical hotel. Starting a year ago, in an effort to stop the spread of Covid in often cramped shelters, more than 60 city hotels became shelters for 9,500 homeless people, an arrangement that continues at many addresses.
But developers are starting to consider struggling hotels as potential investments. This month, Yellowstone Real Estate Investments plunked down $175 million for the 600-room Watson Hotel in Midtown that in many ways is an emblem of the embattled hospitality sector.
Long a Holiday Inn, the West 57th Street property was reinvented as a boutique getaway in 2017 by a new owner, BD Hotels, whose portfolio includes downtown hot spots like the Mercer, the Bowery and the Jane. But then Covid hit, and BD defaulted, despite turning much of the Watson Hotel into a homeless shelter, for which the city reimbursed it.
For the 1964 building’s newest chapter, Yellowstone will turn one of the hotel’s two towers into market-rate apartments, according to sources familiar with the deal, while leaving the other tower as a hotel. Isaac Hera, the firm’s chief executive, said in an email that plans were not set yet, but added that “having the flexibility of implementing different uses and different business plans is a very attractive proposition.”
City and state officials have pushed for the conversion of hotels into affordable housing, but developers note that building codes could make that difficult.
For starters, apartments must be at least 150 square feet, while hotel rooms are allowed to be smaller. And apartments require kitchens, though in some affordable-housing complexes, tenants can share kitchen facilities, said Mark Ginsberg, a principal at Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, which has designed affordable projects.
Adding kitchens and enlarging rooms to meet codes could also ultimately reduce the number of beds, a counterproductive move, Mr. Ginsberg said. It could also balloon costs, turning a standard hotel makeover with $3 million in cosmetic changes into a $30 million overhaul.
The process seems so daunting that an investor interested in converting a struggling 60-room hotel on the Lower East Side is getting cold feet, said Mr. Ginsberg, who is assessing the site for the investor.
Since last spring, Mr. Ginsberg has looked at about a half dozen other hotel sites for similar clients. “With the destruction of the tourism industry, this is the time to act,” he said.
It can also be tricky to identify ideal sites, said Ted Houghton, the head of Gateway Housing, an affordable-housing developer that creates what is known as supportive housing, which provides some social services on-site.
Hotels in industrial areas seem to be low-hanging fruit, said Mr. Houghton, who began his career in the late 1980s, during another housing crash, by helping create supportive housing in the crumbling Times Square Hotel on West 43rd Street.
Many neighbors don’t approve of hotels in industrial zones because they take land away from true manufacturers, he said. About 250 of New York’s 700 hotels are in such zones, though you wouldn’t always know an industrial zone when you see one. The Mercer, in ritzy SoHo, for example, is in one, as is the line of hotels along Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — though converting those locations to affordable housing could also stir controversy.
“No hotel has a for-sale sign on it, but every hotel could be for sale,” Mr. Houghton said.
Streamlining the redesign process so that old hotels can become affordable housing is a priority of State Senator Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat who represents parts of Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. He is sponsoring a bill that would allow developers to convert hotels into affordable housing without having to get the kinds of building permits required for new residential properties. Also, the law would apply only to hotels in industrial zones within about a block of residential neighborhoods.
“You don’t want to be dropping affordable housing into the middle of a desert,” said Mr. Kavanagh, who added that offices would be much harder to convert. “It would be too expensive, even with subsidies. That would probably happen only with market-rate apartments.”
Similarly, a bill from Michael Gianaris, a State Senator from Queens, would give the state power to buy distressed hotels and office buildings, and redevelop them into housing for low-income and homeless tenants, though most Manhattan addresses would be excluded. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has also discussed similar goals.
The state budget passed this month allocates $100 million to reinvent hotels as affordable housing. Plus, $270 million in the federal American Rescue Plan is designated for the homeless in New York, and those funds could potentially help finance conversions as well. “There is a sense of a real opportunity here,” Mr. Kavanagh said.
Vdara Hotel & Spa, Las Vegas, Nevada
In one of the world’s most fabulously forbidden and excitedly alluring cities in the world, the fascinating Vdara Hotel & Spa , an all-suite luxury hotel, is front and center of the Las Vegas strip. To varying degrees, the lavish, pet-friendly suites offer select features such as living rooms, dining rooms, spa-style soaking tubs, special registration, and private entrances. Guests can delight in the special appearances of state-of-the-art robots Fetch and Jett as they accompany staff in delivering snacks, sundries, and spa essentials. Retreat to enthralling ESPA to receive tranquil treatments such as On the Rocks, Desert Rose, and Contour & Firm. Other property offerings are VICE VERSA Patio and Lounge, Market Café, and the Rooftop Pool & Lounge.