Gotham Chandna: The unlimited limited selection of drinks for $39 for ninety minutes is an exciting offer for when you’re watching the ongoing sports in the gastropub. How does this attract many customers no matter the time of day?
Istvan Nagy (Owner): The brunch beverage offer is a great value, most other bottomless beverage promotions in Manhattan are more. People love deals and it encourages people to experience Side Door, including the food, since you have to purchase a brunch main to take advantage of the deal. That’s the “aha!” moment when they discover how good and different AND well priced our food is. Curious, they ask to see dinner and lunch menus and many come back to check-out those aspects of the restaurant.
GC: How does Side Door distinguish itself from the several other restaurants in the vicinity?
IN: We’ve got one of the largest bars in the area. More importantly, our food with its Eastern European accent is unlike anything else locally… and not many other places in all of New York City present a taste of such food. Plus, we don’t take a lot of short cuts. We make the beef and lamb sausage here for our poplar Mici Sliders and we make the dough for our flatbreads, We do our own pickling and we our dessert are house made. Most places at our price point purchase their sweet goods. On the beverage front we’ve got an impressive collection of European “moonshine,” or eau de vie as it’s often called here, which is another distinguishing factor. And if people are into sports, we’ve got more TVs showing more different games than anyone nearby.
GC: As other places have struggled with keeping their restaurants in business, Side Door seems to be doing pretty well. What is your secret? How have you been able to keep luring customers?
IN: Don’t know there’s a secret. Some of our relative success is due to what sets us apart as we’ve already discussed. But generally speaking we’re doing what everyone else in the restaurant business in the city is doing, digging in to try to survive, doing anything we can to cut costs without cutting too many corners and trying to generate more revenue. We’ve worked hard to attract groups for weekly events and to expand our takeout and catering business.
GC: There is a multitude of the variety of food on your menu. What made you want to incorporate food from different parts of the world rather than focusing on one type of cuisine?
Dan Nistorescu (Chef & Culinary Director): In the past, I focused on cooking Greek, French and Italian food, but I always wanted to incorporate things from other cuisines, which, in my opinion, are underrated, including my first love, Romanian. It is actually influenced by a mix of other cuisines – Turkish, German, Russian, Hungarian and Austrian. As an avid traveler, I’ve always collected recipes and food memories, and I am delighted to finally have a chance to feature them in my latest menus at Side Door.