Local Business Update: Tribeca Grill

This is the 30th anniversary year for Tribeca Grill, opened in 1990 by Drew Nieporent with Marty Shapiro and of course Robert De Niro, who had the vision to transform an abandoned coffee factory into a film center and restaurant. Tracy Nieporent joined subsequently as director of marketing. In mid-February, the Nieporent brothers and I had lunch to talk about the restaurant’s history and future, and well, you know the rest. (When the restaurant reopens, I will get to those tales.) I checked in with Tracy to see what their plans are to reopen – especially with the restaurant sitting there as if preserved in amber. This is his email in response (that’s Tracy on the right).

When we had our lunch back on February 13th, none of us could conceive that we were about to encounter a profoundly life-altering experience like Covid-19. In late March, I got the virus, and had 102+ degree temperatures for nine straight days. It was a miserable experience, and I am grateful to have survived it. My wife, Amy, is an instructor at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, which was ground zero for the virus in NJ. She nursed me back to health, and fortunately did not contract the virus herself despite great exposure to it. In the town where we reside, Tenafly, 23 of our neighbors have died from the virus.

I’ve thought a lot about 9/11 during this experience. On September 10, 2001, I had lunch at Tribeca Grill with Louise Kramer, who was a reporter for Crain’s New York Business at the time. The next day of course, the inconceivable occurred. Louise and I started an annual tradition after that, where we met for lunch every year on September 10th, to remember the world that existed before the attack and to take stock of our lives in its aftermath. The coronavirus, and its profound impact over the entire world, will be something we look back at in history as probably the most challenging experience of our lifetime.

This is Tribeca Grill’s 30th anniversary, and we want to reopen as soon as we can. But we also want to provide our guests with an exemplary experience that inspires them. At its best, there is magic in a restaurant. Guests convene with family, friends and colleagues. Well-crafted food is served with warmth and pride. The problems of the world are suspended, as good food and drink provide an oasis for a two hour mini-vacation.

Our greatest satisfaction is to serve our guests and provide them with happy memories that will give them many good reasons to return. But how do we extend heartfelt hospitality when it’s most truly needed, in an atmosphere of necessary restrictions that inhibit the essence of true hospitality? It’s not just about serving food and making sure that we can attract enough guests to generate the revenue that will keep our doors open. It’s about providing a dining experience where all the bases of excellence can be met.

This will be the first summer in 29 years that there is no NYC Restaurant Week, and since I am the Restaurant Committee chairman for NYC & Company, this is certainly a great disappointment. We would like to provide a “hospitality hug,” but the diabolical nature of the virus prohibits it.

We are all resilient and highly motivated, and we will get through this.



  1. rayherj@mail.com

    Wishing you a successful reopening Drew & Tracy. May you have another 30 years of success (should you decide not to retire that is).

  2. Drew and Tracy are true mensches (as well as masters of the art of hospitality). Wishing them good health, and a speedy return to wining and dining their fans.