Enter Here: Essex House’s South Gate

December 28, 2009

The hostless Central Park Entrance

View of the Bar, customers backs to the park view

View of the Main Dining Area

While taking in the holiday sights this weekend, we came across the Essex’s House restaurant/bar, South Gate. As we were itching for a late afternoon coffee fix, this seemed to be the perfect location. A view of Central Park, posh interior and a fireplace. But as we tried to pull open the glass door, it wouldn’t open. Were they closed for the holidays? They can’t be, since there are people sitting inside! So with a little more elbow grease and an increasing need for caffeine, we pulled open the door, then struggled with and successfully pried open a second glass door (we were now experienced door openers!). Once inside, we waited for someone to seat us but unfortunately since there wasn’t anyone to greet us, we sat ourselves down at the nearest table.

Our overall experience was not optimal but that is not the point of my post. We only half-minded waiting for menus, our coffees and the bill but what I found remarkable was the challenging flow of the space. A clandestine trip to the restroom confirmed my suspicions. There were three different entries, count ’em, three. The one that we entered in from the park side where we struggled with the doors, an entry in the back of the space near the restrooms that I think led to the kitchen, and the third entry connected to the hotel lobby. A stationed hostess at the latter entrance made me believe that was the main entrance.

Although the design of the space was chic, modern and glam, it seems that the overall flow was overlooked and as you know, flow is a huge factor in Feng Shui. For a business like this one, I believe that service was compromised due to poor flow. I noticed that at the park side of the bar, the bar ends protruded strangely so that the bartender needed to walk around to access the customers seated on the ends. There was confusion regarding where customers entered, were greeted and seated. Several customers who seated themselves left due to lack of service and funnily enough as I was sneaking a last glimpse of the space by exiting through the lobby entrance, the hostess wasn’t sure whether to greet us or bid us farewell so she did neither.

In any home or business, flow is important but the front entry is the most important element of the space. This is where all opportunities find you. And in this case, customers. Although in need of improvement, South Gate is a nice place to stop by especially if you’ve been walking around all day. And after all, the coffee was pretty darn good.




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