Diners cozy up to bedroom-inspired concepts

Sleeper hits: Diners cozy up to bedroom-inspired concepts

Erica Duecy

Patrons dine while they recline at a growing number of new, upscale restaurants nationwide that feature oversize mattresses and fancy bed linens in lieu of tables and starched napery.

While dining in bed is nothing new–upper-class revelers in ancient Rome famously reclined on large couches while eating–it has become a fad in restaurants recently.

However, the concept can be expensive to execute, pushing laundry bills up to $2,500 per week at one New York restaurant.

B.E.D., which was launched in Miami Beach, Fla., in 1999, often is credited with popularizing the most recent wave of bed-focused concepts. The restaurant seats eight to 10 people on each of its 14 king-size beds, which are built on platforms and surrounded by gauzy curtains and pillows. The restaurant serves its modern French cuisine on trays, with customers reclining on pillows or sitting cross-legged to eat.

“When we started in 1999, it was an instant hit,” said Oliver Hoyos, an owner of B.E.D. “Then everyone started doing it.”

Now, diners on the West Coast can visit the new Supperclub SF in San Francisco, which seats 160 guests on oversize beds. In Beverly Hills, Calif., customers at the fine-dining Indian restaurant Nirvana have the option of dining in beds or at tables.

New York restaurant-goers have numerous bed-focused options in Manhattan, including Duvet, a modern American fine-dining concept in Chelsea, and Highline, an upscale Thai restaurant in the Meatpacking District.

At Nikki Midtown, the New York branch of the Miami Beach-based Nikki Beach Worldwide, diners in a VIP section eat on beds that are elevated above regular customers, who eat at tables. The 400-seat Nikki Midtown is one of 19 Nikki-brand concepts worldwide, including other stateside restaurants in Hollywood, Fla.; Miami Beach; and Atlantic City, N.J.

“People are looking for more entertainment when they dine out,” said Mike Penrod, president of Nikki Beach Worldwide. “They’re less interested in a formal experience than somewhere with great food that also has great service, great music and great fashion.” The restaurant features “high-end party platters served family style,” including seafood towers and lamb chop platters, ranging from $60 to $250 per item, Penrod said.

The company plans to open other Nikki-brand restaurant concepts in Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Boston within the next two years, he said.

Elsewhere, B.E.D–which stands for “beverage, entertaining, dining”–opened a two-level penthouse in New York earlier this year and has a third unit in the new Glenn Hotel, in downtown Atlanta, set to open in December.

“Dining in bed is a creative way to present fine-dining food,” Hoyos said. “Some people are put off by fine dining with four sets of silverware, crystal and a stuffy environment.”

B.E.D. plans to expand in Las Vegas and Los Angeles in the next couple of years, he noted.

Initially, the concept was costly to operate, Hoyos said. For the first six months B.E.D. was in business, the restaurant sent out its laundry, but that “was too expensive, usually $1,500 to $2,000 a week,” Hoyos said. “Now we have an industrial washer and dryer on the premises.” The New York restaurant has 38 beds and 800 pillows throughout the restaurant.

Compared with restaurants with tables, Hoyos’ bed-focused concept presents other operational challenges. ‘You lose a lot of square footage and the ‘lay’ times are longer,” Hoyos said. “In a normal restaurant, people might stay at a table for 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes. Here, once people lie down, they don’t want to get up.” B.E.D. allocates about two hours of dining time to each party and turns its tables one and a half to two times per night.

B.E.D.’s check average without alcohol is $40 per person. The 15,000-sqare-foot restaurant offers cocktails and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

Duvet owner Sabina Belkin has encountered even steeper cleaning costs for the restaurant, which has 30 beds in its main dining room. Laundry bills run about $2,500 a week, she said. The 8-foot-by-8-foot beds feature custom, 400-thread-count cotton sheets and goose down pillows.

Guests receive slippers when they arrive, so they can move about the beds without shoes.

Food at Duvet is served on a cylindrical table at the center of each bed. Menu options include finger foods, such as sushi, and entrees that are served pre-cut, including steaks. The per-person check average is $65.

Duvet largely appeals to customers in their 20s and 30s, Belkin said. “We have people in business suits entertaining their clients and others in jeans,” she said. For customers who prefer to stay upright during dinner, the restaurant also offers banquette seating for 50 people.

Belkin, who also owns two Brazilian restaurants in Greater New York, said Duvet is significantly more expensive to operate than her other restaurants.

Operationally, “we had some challenges in the beginning,” Belkin said. Teaching the wait-staff to serve wine without a table in front of them and to place trays of food on the beds without spilling were initial challenges, she said. Even now, spills are frequent, and servers change the bed sheets after each party leaves, she said.

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