EMPIRE OUTLETS, SLATED TO OPEN THIS FALL, WILL ALSO BRING 50 NEW HIGH-END CULINARY OPTIONS TO THE BOROUGH
BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN
When Empire Outlets opens to the public this fall, close to 50,000 square feet of food and beverage space shared among no fewer than 50 high-end culinary options will occupy a solid portion of the highly anticipated retail destination, one that will be, as its developers put it, “New York City’s first and only shopping outlet…and the retail centerpiece of the city’s newest entertainment district: Staten Island’s water-front.”
“Empire Outlets will feature a wide variety of food options everything from donuts to pastrami will be represented here,” noted Joseph Ferrara, principle of BFC Partners, the real estate group responsible for developing Empire. “The goal was to activate this entire waterfront and bring a number of hip dining destinations to the area. Given that 80 percent of it already leased, I think that’s exactly what we’ve done.”
Big name restaurants already set to be a part of Empire’s diverse dining group include Shake Shack, Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque, and Wasabi Steak & Sushi. Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, a famed Manhattan eatery with Staten Island roots, also recently signed on for the project.
“Each and every concept has a very cool and unique element to it,” Ferrara said. “Wasabi is an upscale steakhouse/hibachi grill that is perfect for large parties and social gatherings; it originated in Ohio and is very popular in other areas of the country. This will be its first New York City locale. Mighty Quinn’s is an award-winning barbecue joint, and of course Shake Shack speaks for itself. Artichoke Basille’s was a great addition because of its local roots. The owners are very excited about coming back home, and they are also associated with a TV show that brings in a good amount of prestige.” (Francis Garcia and Sal Basille, cousins and co-owners of Artichoke Basille’s Pizza, are stars of the Cooking Channel series Pizza Masters.)
Rice & Company, an Asian Fusion concept which is located in the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, has also signed a lease, and Ferrara says he is in discussions with a famed Middle Eastern restaurant and lounge as well as another seafood concept eatery. A local celebrity chef will hopefully be joining the mix as well. “I think this is really going to bring about a major shift in the culture of dining here in this borough,” Ferrara said. “With so many different offerings, Empire will become a weekend destination where Staten Islanders will come to eat and gather.”
Elevated one floor above the retail stores, the food and beverage deck features dedicated outdoor seating for each of its 50 concepts. Offering sweeping views of New York Harbor, the 600-foot long dining corridor will spill out into a communal area where guests can enjoy live music, make use of social media touch points, and drink locally brewed craft beer.
“We’re giving Staten Islanders a destination,” Ferrara said. “We plan on featuring live bands, DJs, even classical music, and have placed various Instagram worthy stations throughout where guests can grab a selfie with the New York skyline in the background.”
Also included in the plan is MRKTPL a 13,000 square foot artisanal food hall with a 3,000-square-foot outdoor dining space and more than 30 food kiosks.
“What’s cool about MRKTPL is that it is perfect for up-and-coming food talent from all over the world,” Ferrara said. “It’s the perfect opportunity for these fledgling purveyors to set up shop and test the market in New York.”
For Ferrara, it’s the perfect addition to a venue which he has gone to great lengths to perfect.
“We strategically planned this center, especially when it came to food and beverage,” he concluded. “We wanted to bring concessions here that have never existed before on Staten Island…a unique dining collection.”
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