Whether it’s the sushi rolls, tempura or miso soup, there’s a taste of Japan in each bite of the bento boxes the F&B team prepares for groups meeting at The Kitano New York. The Midtown boutique hotel is the Big Apple’s only Japanese-owned hotel—a fact embraced by the staff, particularly through food. “It’s not like other hotels,” says General Manager Zack Zahran. “When people have a meeting here, they describe the food they eat.”
Executive Chef Yukihiro Sato searches local markets during early morning hours to serve the freshest ingredients at Hakubai, the hotel’s renowned restaurant. The corporate meetings business, focusing on groups of 60 or fewer, is at least partially a function of the restaurant’s success, says Melissa Paston, the hotel’s catering sales manager. Not only do American companies turn to The Kitano for an East-meets-West theme, so do Japanese organizations, which make up roughly 20 percent of the property’s group business. Zahran reports occupancy rates have risen in the past year, and he expects further growth for at least the next three years.
One of the most popular catering options, available to groups May through October, is a rooftop barbecue with views of the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, says Paston. Two large outdoor terraces are easily accessible from the hotel’s 1,400-sq.-ft. penthouse, often used for board meetings. American fare is typically grilled, while Japanese favorites like sushi and marinated fish dishes are served as part of a buffet. “It’s really amazing to have that type of experience in the middle of the city,” says Paston.
Looking for good luck before your event? Rub the tongue of the bronze dog statue by world-famous sculptor Fernando Botero in The Kitano’s lobby. The tradition dates back to the mid-’90s, says Paston.