In the restaurant world, Stratis Morfogen is an iconic name, known for his successful ventures that have always been a favorite among the New York City and Hamptons most discerning dining patrons.
Brooklyn Chop House will open a new Times Square location at 253 W. 47th Street on Tuesday, September 14th with the reopening of Broadway. This new 25,000 square foot marquee location in the crossroads of the world, comes after their first location (150 Nassau Street) in the heart of the Financial District took the city by storm. Owners Robert “Don Pooh” Cummins and Dave Thomas, along with Brooklyn Chop House’s Director of Operations, Stratis Morfogen are excited to bring their crowd-pleasing, one-of-a-kind dining experience to the heart of the Big Apple this summer.
Brooklyn Chop House was put on the culinary map with their dim sum and chops, offering diners everything from homemade dumplings and noodles, to 35 day dry-aged prime steaks and double thick-cut chops. The parade of dumplings is a show in itself with uniquely delicious options ranging from Pastrami, Bacon Cheeseburger and Philly Cheesesteak, to French Onion Soup, Impossible and Gyro, which all get the dumpling treatment. The resounding response from those dumplings also led to the creation of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, which debuted in the East Village last month. Brooklyn Chop House is also known for its addictive L.S.D., the perfect Surf & Turf combination of Salt & Pepper Lobster, Ginger & Garlic Lobster, a Dry Aged Porterhouse Steak and an Authentic Peking Duck, Additional entrées include 35 Day Dry Aged Prime Steaks such as an 18oz NY Strip, 24oz Bone in RibEye, Grilled 16oz Filet Mignon, 32oz Bone In Tomahawk and 48oz Porterhouse for 2 and a 7lb Long Island Peking Duck.
This new Brooklyn Chop House location takes over the space Buffalo Wild Wings once had. It will have room for 575 guests spanning vertically between five levels, with six private dining rooms and three bars featuring a dozen craft beers on tap. Additionally this expansive location will boast a rooftop called Brooklyn Beach House with a Frozen cocktail bar with a dozen delicious frozen drinks and Frosés on the menu with 150 seats and a retractable clear roof to be able to entertain guests rain or shine. Guests will also be able to enjoy the Brooklyn Chop House garden room, which will feature a second retractable roof.
The restaurant will offer accommodations for private events including wedding receptions, birthdays, and special events. Guests will even have the option to post their own personal message on Brooklyn Chop House’s huge, vertical exterior jumbotron video sign in the heart of Times Square! For VIP guests there will be private entrances and exits to the restaurant and its rooftop as well as Brooklyn Chop House’s subterranean private dining rooms.
“Deals like this are usually only available to Fortune 500 companies because the landlords ask for millions of dollars up front for rent,” said Robert “Don Pooh” Cummins, a music exec turned restaurateur as he led this reporter on a tour of the building earlier this month.
The former tenant, publicly traded Buffalo Wild Wings, vacated the space at the start of the pandemic, leaving behind a $15 million build-out.
“They handed in the keys early in the pandemic and just walked away, leaving everything behind — even hundreds of bottles in the liquor cabinets and all the big screen TVs,” said Stratis Morfogen, Brooklyn Chop House’s operations director.
BWW also abandoned an $850,000 Jumbotron that can be used by customers to blast marriage proposals or birthday wishes, and by liquor companies or other advertisers, Morfogen said.
At the time Brooklyn Chop House began negotiating the deal last year, Times Square was a ghost town, he noted. “I’d drive in and be the only person in Times Square. The garage where I parked my car was down from 1,800 cars a day to 35.”
“Negotiating a deal during the lockdown was a risk, but that’s when the best deals were made,” said James Famularo, president of retail leasing at Meridian Capital Group, who repped both BCH and the landlord, Friedland Properties. Cummins initially rejected a 10-year lease offer and ended up with a 20-year lease plus a base rent that was “50 percent less” than what Buffalo Wild Wings paid, he said. The rent will increase based on revenue, but is capped at a certain point, which Cummins declined to specify.
“All we have to do now are cosmetic changes — like turning the roof into a Hamptons-in-the-city kind of beach lounge,” said Cummins, who got his start working with music icons such as Sean “Diddy” Combs and Mary J. Blige, and is credited with discovering Foxy Brown.
“This is a milestone and inspiration to other black entrepreneurs who want to get into the restaurant business and other businesses,” Cummins said.
Brooklyn Chop House first opened a 6,000-square-foot space in the Financial District in 2018. The Times Square site will become its flagship.
Cummins has been in the restaurant business since 2000. He is one of the first black IHOP franchise owners — with three in the city — and he is opening the world’s first Flip’d by IHOP, its newest quick-service brand, later this summer at Park Avenue and 23rd.