New York City Chef Strausman Builds Template for Post-Pandemic Success

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Chef Mark StrausmanMark Strausman has something people want, and this, he says, is what’s made his restaurant, Mark’s Off Madison (M.O.M., for short), a success after a pandemic impacted grand opening. But besides being a well-established New York City restaurateur, Strausman has taken note of the COVID-19 learning curve, focusing on a few key moves that have kept his eclectic, Italian and Jewish-influenced hotspot busy. 

Strausman is perhaps best known for his 24 years of work at high end retailer Barney’s. He was the guiding culinary force behind the store’s Freds restaurant in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Chicago. He decided to take a detour and open up a new space back in 2020 with Mark’s Off Madison, what he calls the “culmination of his career.” 

From his portfolio of work at Barney’s, Strausman understands the impact of branding. With that in mind, he has created a whole new brand: M.O.M. It sports a quirky, blue-and-white logo with a cartoon sketch of the chef alongside a “Strausie bagel.” The veteran toque also recognizes that a great brand is built on a tried and tested menu. 

All of the baking is done in house, from their homemade breads and bagels, to pretzels and black and white cookies. Fresh pasta and pizza are also among the restaurant bakery’s featured items. Mark has kept longtime customers happy by keeping some fan favorites on the menu, like the three-meat lasagna, “Mark salads,” and club sandwiches. M.O.M. boasts varied lunch and dinner menus, as well as an extensive wine, beer, and cocktail list. This has brought him success with both new, post-pandemic customers and tourists; and old, longtime enthusiasts of Strausman’s cooking all coming together to enjoy a meal at Mark’s. 

The road to opening M.O.M. was not an easy one, and the grand opening was not as grand as it may have been pre-pandemic. From the beginning, the cost of both goods and labor proved to hit him just as hard as everyone else. And even now, with New York City slowly returning to a sense of normalcy, Strausman admits that the restaurant “hasn’t recovered 100%” from COVID-19’s damage. 

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Despite an initial struggle, Strausman has used his decades of experience to focus on a few key changes going forward. One of these changes is his approach to a successful takeout and delivery menu. “We’ve understood which dishes travel well and that’s a detail that could make or break a first-time customer’s experience. The chef has attempted to keep the delivery menu almost identical to the in-house menu, too. The menu is the menu and we want people to feel that they’re getting an authentic taste of Mark’s Off Madison at home.” 

M.O.M., located in the former A Voce space, has a 100-person indoor, walnut designed dining room. It was restricted to just 25 people in its early days at the height of the pandemic when there were also 85 outdoor seats along 26th Street, lined with heaters and tents. With the entire space open for guests now, Strausman has still had to alter the back of house setup to accommodate for the takeout and delivery menu. 

For example, at M.O.M., paper goods have taken over some shelves that formerly only held plates: a switch many in food service post-pandemic have had to deal with. “The delivery business is different from the a la carte business and M.O.M. has had to adapt to the logistical changes that come along with delivery. Even Strausman, with decades in the business and classical European culinary training, admits that the pandemic has come with a “little bit of [a] learning curve,” but the small changes he’s made have seemed to be spot on so far. 

Strausman said that this “different dynamic” of being a restaurateur has not necessarily been an easy road. The template he has built and continues to build to address it is
ever-changing. 

Going forward, the chef said that he and the team at Mark’s Off Madison will work towards doing more office deliveries, takeout lunches, catering, and introducing incentives, driven by social media to continue building the brand. “We are thrilled to see the return of tourists to Manhattan and to more people returning to work in their NYC offices,” Strausman concluded. 

Mark Strausman is an innovator, and with his mindset, the chef has taken inconvenience and turned it into a poster example of post-pandemic success. 


Learn more about Mark Strausman at his website.

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