Philly's Starr to feed Botanical Garden visitors
Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr will take over the food operations at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx next year, when he plans to transform the existing Garden Café and Visitor Center Café into dining destinations. Stephen Starr Events, the catering arm of his restaurant empire—which includes Buddakan and Morimoto—won the contract over several other notable bidders, including Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, as first reported in Crain's last year The Catering firm Abigail Kirsh will continue to operate the cafes at the Garden for the time being. Mr. Starr will begin renovating the retail spaces later this year and reopen them in spring 2014. The plan calls for him to operate food kiosks and carts throughout the sprawling garden and to provide tented dining areas tied to the garden's big events such as the Orchid Show and the Holiday Train Show, which drew nearly 200,000 people last year. "We are interested in adults and families having a richer food service experience," said Gregory Long, chief executive of the public facility in a statement. "Garden visitors want more options and they will now have supper on summer evenings and many other new innovations." Last year, the garden attracted more than 820,000 visitors. The partners hope to expand the number of catered events, including weddings and corporate meetings, that are held there. In addition, according to its website, the Garden has started fundraising efforts to establish what it calls the Edible Academy, which would expand educational programs aimed at teaching parents, children and teachers how to grow fruits and vegetables. The Edible Academy will be housed in a year-round facility that will have a greenhouse, classrooms and a demonstration kitchen.
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