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Catching up with the Hawksmoor founders on why the NYC location is a standout
Hawksmoor, the London steakhouse from Will Beckett and Huw Gott, now open near Gramercy (109 E. 22nd) in Manhattan, has been a go-to in the London restaurant landscape since 2006. Featuring dry-aged cuts grilled over charcoal, the menu is anchored by cuts like rib-eye, porterhouse, T-bone, strip, and prime rib: It’s familiar to New York consumers yet suggests its UK roots with options like triple-cooked chips, potted beef, and sticky toffee pudding.
The NYC team includes executive chef Matt Brown (formerly head chef at three Michelin-starred Restaurant Marco Pierre White and La Tante Claire) and executive chef Matt Bernero (formerly head chef of Minetta Tavern). Carla Henriques joins as the executive pastry chef and Adam Montgomerie is the bar manager.
Having opened in the 1892 United Charities Building, its wraparound brass bar that holds 50 and the 140+ seat dining room positions Hawksmoor as a formidable entry in Manhattan’s competitive steakhouse genre. We caught up with Beckett and Gott to find out more.
BP: What is your relationship with the staff and how have you baked in good staff relations into all of Hawksmoor restaurants?
Hawksmoor: We hope the answer is that we all have a relationship that is rooted in professional and personal respect.
We’ve got quite a particular work culture here — people come to work and we want them to be fully themselves, happy and relaxed, but also to be part of trying to deliver really high standards.
We think of all of Hawksmoor’s achievements, the one that we’re personally most proud of is the work culture, and the recognition that we’ve had for that. (We’ve been ranked amongst the best employers in the UK across any industry for the last 10 years). Really it’s about hiring people who believe in the things we believe in and supporting them to do their jobs brilliantly.
We think we’ve managed to hire an exceptional group of people in New York — a group who seem to love the personal freedom and respect that Hawksmoor affords them, and in turn, are committed to making sure they look after the people who come through our doors.
New Yorkers love to get to know the people behind a restaurant. Can you talk to us a little about some of your front-of-the-house team?
Niamh Scott, our general manager, started at Hawksmoor as a bartender over 10 years ago. She’s been general manager of two of our London restaurants and moved here in 2019 to take charge here. (She’s originally from San Diego). The quickest way we can think of explaining what she’s about is that many of the other general managers at Hawksmoor still call her ‘coach’: She’s just an unbelievable source of energy to people around her. Niamh is amazing at guiding people through some of the challenges that our culture entails — navigating the space between being relaxed and having high standards.
Lauren Hoey, our lead sommelier, just started with us, having previously worked at NoMad. Taking for granted that she’s got an amazing knowledge of and love for wine, we think she encapsulates what we’re talking about in terms of work culture as well as anyone we’ve hired here…. She’ll spot things happening in service, pitch in, glide back with plates she’s just cleared from a table, and get right on with her job. If you love restaurants it’s a joy to watch her work.
Adam Montgomerie, our bar manager, has also been with us for a long time — six years since he was bar manager of Air St, having moved to London from Scotland specifically with the goal of working for Hawksmoor. Over the 18 month delay, he would come in with the head bartender Ciarrai twice a week and tinker with drinks. A new idea there, a tweak to a classic there, sitting downstairs in the prep kitchen on office chairs like mad scientists. That’s something we think about a lot at Hawksmoor. How can we improve? Adam is as dedicated to that question as anyone.
What’s so special about the United Charities Building?
It’s the 30-foot-high ceilings in the dining room, which was previously the Assembly Room of the United Charities Building: a space where in the past people like Jane Addams inspired the packed room on issues of the day including women’s suffrage and children’s rights.