Crown Shy NYC: Behind The Kitchen Design

Crown Shy NYC
A Hestan cooking suite is the centerpiece of the open kitchen at Crown Shy NYC.

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Part of Total Food Service’s Blueprint Series on hot new restaurant kitchen renovations, new floor plans, and more.

Two restaurant veterans are flying solo with Crown Shy, New York’s latest fine dining restaurant that’s housed in the Financial District landmark building at 70 Pine Street. Located on the ground floor of the iconic building, Crown Shy is a collaboration of James Kent and Jeff Katz.

The entire concept took two years to bring to life and is a dining room and bar that occupies a series of beautiful rooms that feature many alluring design attributes. Total Food Service talked to some of the people responsible for bringing Crown Shy to life!


The Marketing Director: David Gruber, Crown Shy, NY, NY

The Architect: Jonathan Garnett, Partner, MN Design Professional Corp., NY, NY

The Kitchen Design Consultant: Ed Hull, Jacobs Doland Beer, NY, NY

The Kitchen Equipment Dealer: Steve Braun, M. Tucker, Paterson, NY

The Custom Fabricator: Chris Rapciewicz, EMI Industries, Boonton, NJ


David Gruber’s Approach:

Much of the anticipation with this project comes from bringing two of the real stars of the industry together for the first time. Crown Shy is a collaboration between James Kent, longtime chef de cuisine at Eleven Madison Park, and Jeff Katz, managing partner of Del Posto. The restaurant is Kent and Katz’s first solo project and their first collaboration.

Our team has spent two years working on the project. As you can well imagine after working for 30 years for other people, this is really something special.

We have brought in a top flight design team, led by MN Design. They are well-known for their work on Kappo Masa and Cote Korean Steakhouse. MN was able to create a very unique feel with a 120-seat dining room and bar includes a series of rooms with floor to 16-foot-ceiling windows lined by a leather banquette leading to an open kitchen.

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The signature in the space is a 30-foot granite bar and exposed steel columns that echo the structure of the skyscrapers of the neighborhood. Locals can swing by for a glass of wine at the bar or schedule a celebratory dinner for eight. The menu at Crown Shy is rooted in European technique but draws inspiration from Chef Kent’s travels and the diverse cuisine in New York City. We have brought in Renata Ameni, former executive pastry chef at Manresa, to lead the pastry kitchen.

The restaurant takes its name from Crown Shyness, the phenomenon in some tree species where the uppermost branches in a forest canopy avoid touching one another, creating space between the treetops and a mosaic pattern of light. Visually, the forest canopy is similar to the lower Manhattan skyline: dozens of distinct towers separated by the street grid.

Chef Kent has created a menu with multiple visits in mind. The menu is divided into four sections: first is small dishes that can easily be snacked on at the bar, second vegetable-forward and lighter dishes, third is grains, and four is main dishes or proteins. Everything on the menu can either be shared or ordered individually.

Crown Shy NYC
EMI’s New Jersey division provided custom fab solutions throughout Crown Shy’s expansive kitchens.

Jonathan Garnett’s Approach:

Crown Shy is the latest in our short tenure, of projects we have completed in the hospitality, commercial, industrial, and residential sectors. We have worked with award-winning chefs and restaurateurs, media personalities, fashion designers, and even the premier designer and manufacturer of protective military equipment for the likes of US Navy Seal Team 6.

MN has a range of expertise, from navigating the ins-and-outs of code compliance, to developing and detailing custom furniture and lighting with trusted fabricators and consultants. We pride ourselves on being collaborative and allow our work to evolve out of the experiences, stories, and expertise of our clients’ lives. Our first restaurant project was Kappo Masa, a joint venture between the legendary art dealer Larry Gagosian and the luminary chef Masa Takayama. The project is located within the flagship Gagosian Gallery on Madison Avenue in New York City. We have been fortunate that our work in the restaurant space has continued to expand and evolve solely through word of mouth referral. The restaurant world is tightly knit, ambitious, and dynamic, which has led us organically to new introductions and commissions. We’ve worked primarily in New York City, notably designing restaurants such as Cote Korean Steakhouse, Tetsu, and an expansion of Shuko, in addition to Kappo Masa. We’ll be taking our efforts outside of New York City in the near future for some exciting new ventures.

For Crown Shy, both James and Jeff were trying to figure out what a restaurant that represented their values might look and feel like – from the cuisine, to the service, to the space. Because our relationships have always been a collaboration with our clients, we built a dialogue where an idea for the restaurant emerged from discussion, rather than any particular dictum.

Though both James and Jeff cut their teeth in some of the most pedigreed establishments in New York, there was a mutual desire to develop a project that both reflected this upbringing, yet was more casual and accessible than both of their previous endeavors. We felt a strong sense, from both James and Jeff, of wanting to make an experience that was welcoming, joyful, and communal, yet also refined, inventive, and elegant.

Early on, James shared with us stories of his days growing up in New York City and how it informed his sensibility, which we find both elegant and gritty. He identified things within the city itself that gave shape to his personal aesthetic. We had great discussions about finding the balance between “elegance” and “grit,” and how his sensibility might live within a landmarked Art Deco skyscraper. Ultimately, finding a design sensibility that felt authentic to New York City, the locale, and his cuisine became the starting point for design.

When Jeff joined the project, he shared with us a unique combination of an aesthetic imagination paired with a pragmatic, operational sensibility. Not only keenly aware of what he needed in the dining room, but also very aware of how things should feel for guests, Jeff left no stone unturned as we developed the designs together.

In our previous work with Chef Masa, we had the opportunity to design open kitchens as integral to the restaurant design, so we were already familiar with the impact that seeing the work of chefs could have upon the dining experience. For Crown Shy, the open kitchen became a key conceptual piece. Unlike other open kitchens that we’ve designed or seen, we worked to break down any barriers between these traditionally separate spaces.

The view towards the kitchen is exhilarating for diners, but the view from the kitchen to the dining room is also special. There is a continuity of space that makes the relationship between kitchen and dining room explicit, creating a unique relationship between chefs, servers, and diners. The main pass is the focus of this relationship, where all of the people and parts come together for everyone to see.

We knew that we wanted the dining room to feel airy and modern, yet, we also knew that the spaces needed to feel warm and comfortable. We wanted the space to feel inviting not only upon first glance, but after sitting for a long meal. For Crown Shy, this meant a material palette that was not fussy, that looked good in the lighting scheme that we worked on with David Weiner Design, and which had a tactile—not just visually—but also in quality. We brought together concrete, brushed leather, textured stone, oiled wood, and blackened steel, but also introduced brass details, reeded glass, and planting to create a diverse and harmonious material palette. Tables and chairs played a huge role in the quality of the space, so we custom designed both to continue on the quality of design established at a larger scale.

For us, the selections of plate and glassware need to work as part of the space’s gestalt; that is, the smallest pieces should relate to larger concepts and design decisions, whether extending—or contrasting—a particular sensibility. We aren’t experts in service wares, but we have an inherent sensibility about the quality of our projects and how certain details of an experience come into play within the larger context.

The entire project was a fascinating challenge from so many standpoints! There were several technical and operational hurdles to overcome, but also there was the design hurdle of working in such a spectacular landmarked building.

Crown Shy NYC
Ed Hull’s Jacobs Doland team designed a flexible prep kitchen for the Crown Shy culinary operation.

Ed Hull’s Approach:

The Chef is a friend, we worked together previously on The Nomad. We had conversations about what he was looking at and where he was going to land.

He then brought us on when he signed the deal. We were kind of figuring it all out at first between James and the architect, trying to find the best layout for the space. When he took it, there were certain restrictions to the building given there was a market in the building below. We were limited as to where to put drainage, also the layout of the restaurant is that the main kitchen is on the ground floor.

The prep kitchen is actually two floors below. So trying to work out the vertical transportation, whether receiving good or prepping, up to the main kitchen was a big challenge. We looked at every option from staircases to dumb waiters. Delivery is to the basement floor. We ended up designing connecting stairs between the levels. We could not land a dumb waiter in the space without giving up valuable kitchen space. The downstairs kitchen now operates as a commissary. When Chef Kent first started, he didn’t have a menu yet. We went with some basic cooking on both sides of the line and went with what we had previously done at Eleven Madison and The Nomad. We came to the point of realizing that the way the kitchen was laying out and where the architect was envisioning it would make a great venue for an open kitchen.

We worked with the chef to create a cooking suite that would be the centerpiece of the kitchen. He liked the flexibility and options that Hestan could build into the suite. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do a suite with them. They were one of two companies we were talking to. Their willingness to just work with us impressed us and they were quick to turnaround drawings for us. Infact when the menu was completed Hestan enabled us to easily add bells and whistles to the suite including a pasta cooker.

Most of the challenges were really just setting up the units to get the plumbing and access to it in areas where we could make penetration for drainage. Originally we planned on concrete bases for all the equipment but we got away from that to stay with steel bases, so we can step up a little easier with the connections that we needed.

The main storage and beverage storage are on the sub-cellar level in the basement. There is an intermediate level between the two floors, which houses our ice production. We also positioned the walk-ins in the main kitchen behind the prep line. It was just the way the space laid out. We added a lot of drawers on the line for support.

One of the biggest challenges was dish washing because the bulk of the plates were coming from the dining room. So we set up a traditional come in from behind the closed walls or you can’t see it. When you look at the open kitchen, there’s a drop right there. The challenge how to efficiently move dishes from the private dining room, which is behind the kitchen in what is the opposite direction. So we solved that by designing a staging area for that. There wasn’t so much of a time crunch on this project, it was about two years in the making. But it was a lot of trying to get the design locked down like what the concept was going to be. Once we knew what we were doing, we figured out how to work around limitations of where we could place the plumbing.


Steve Braun’s Approach:

We have a good relationship with Eleven Madison Park, where Chef Kent came from and Jacobs Doland. We were brought into the project about a year ago. We’ve done a number of open kitchens through the years. I’ve also seen a lot of high-end restaurants have a chef’s table inside the kitchen, which makes the space an open kitchen given it’s designed for special guests.This is an interesting project with two different kitchen areas. The upstairs open kitchen features a Hestan suite. The decision came from a strong chef preference. The kitchen down stairs was designed to give the Crown Shy team the firepower needed to support both ala carte and special events. We have placed a bank of Blodgett convection ovens. There is also a Groen steamer and kettle to produce stocks for special menu items.

Crown Shy NYC
EMI’s millwork capabilities took centerstage in the Crown Shy design

We brought in EMI to produce high quality custom fabrication.  EMI was specified for a myriad of reasons which include attention to detail, accessibility and for its customer centric approach.  Having a local state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in New Jersey brings a competitive advantage to EMI’s clients when it comes to custom fabrication.  Additionally, this project gave EMI an opportunity to showcase their stone and millwork capabilities.

Keep in mind that this space never had a restaurant before. It is being repurposed into a restaurant, hotel and residential space. It’s a cool little building that sort of looks likes The Daily Planet from the Superman comics. Much of our priority was to manage the logistics of getting product in through the narrow streets of the financial district and it required a lot of manpower. Delivery times had to be adjusted for downtown traffic.


Chris Rapciewicz’s Approach:

EMI has been supporting New York’s food service consultants and dealers network since its inception in the early 1970’s.  EMI acquired All State Fabricators (ASF) located in Cranston, Rhode Island in 2003 and Marlo Manufacturing in 2011, and thus east coast operators know that EMI is committed to getting their custom jobs done right and on-time.

Our expertise across the country with manufacturing facilities in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Texas and Rhode Island has enabled us to bring our consultant and dealers clients with more capacity to handle the most demanding high-quality stainless and millwork projects.   Additionally, our partnerships and collaboration with strategic stone suppliers has given EMI a unique strategic advantage and the ability to offer a wide range of high-end finishes.

We’d worked with Steve Braun and his M. Tucker team on a number of different projects.  So we were thrilled to be specified for the Crown Shy project.  We have done a number of open kitchens, so were fully engaged to respond to the needs of Ed and Steve.   

The biggest challenge of this project had nothing to do with anything in the kitchen. With a building like 70 Pine Street in the Financial District, you are talking about a real challenge of designing and shipping each of our custom fab pieces to be modular so that you can get them into the building and installed. We are proud of our ability to think outside of the box on behalf of our clients. So for this particular project with a large prep area in the basement and a mini-pastry suite, we had to help create solutions. In many cases, it involved a dual design where you have a refrigerated display case on the bottom and a dry display case on top.


To learn more about Crown Shy NYC or make reservations, visit their website

  • RATIONAL USA
  • Day & Nite
  • AyrKing Mixstir
  • RAK Porcelain
  • Simplot Frozen Avocado
  • T&S Brass Eversteel Pre-Rinse Units
  • Atosa USA
  • Cuisine Solutions
  • McKee Foodservice
  • DAVO by Avalara
  • AHF National Conference 2024
  • Easy Ice
  • Imperial Dade
  • BelGioioso Burrata
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