PS-450, Volstead, and Vig 27 Feeling No Recession Pain

You know times have changed when publicists go from hyping $50,000 foie-tinis to bragging that their restaurants are “recession-proof.” The headline of this press release we just received says it all.


It seems a little early to declare a restaurant immune to future economic woes, and we’re not sure we agree that $10 to $12 drinks are the best example of affordability, but hey, you can’t argue with a $40 million business. The full release follows.

NEW YORK – Just because stocks are tumbling and homeowner’s futures are looking bleak doesn’t mean New Yorkers need to hibernate and stock their pantries. Instead some establishments are actually seeing profits during these times and here’s why – For hotspots PS450, Volstead and Vig27, the owners have created a neighborhood oasis that is chic and affordable.

Their formula works in good times and even better in bad times. Their message was to bring great food, stylish décor, polite staff and wallet-friendly prices to Manhattan. The return is a whopping $20 million annual portfolio and growing. Savvy former Wall Streeters created ROI Holdings – parent company to Volstead, PS450 and Vig 27. Entrepreneurs Matt Wagman and Danny Lynch decided in the late 90’s to leave ticker-town altogether and create an after work and weekend hangout but what ultimately happened was that their creation became a tale of two bars. By day a destination place frequented by a laid back business lunch crowd and at night, a hotspot for a well-heeled clientele. More and more trendsetters are seeking solace from the velvet ropes with “bottle only” demands. Wagman and Lynch opted to start a new trend and fill in this nightlife gap by opening this unique business in nonconventional neighborhoods like Murray Hill and midtown. The financial results and happy customers speak for themselves.

It started when Wagman and Lynch recognized the everyday stresses New Yorkers cope with – commuting, work, even going to the grocery store, and thought nightlife and casual dining should be null and void of these anxious elements, especially now more than ever. So by eliminating what nightlife and casual dining should not be, they carved out their own unique and popular category and niche in this arena, thus creating a successful business model and brand not just known for its great drinks, (even greater are the affordable prices of $10-$12 per drink), but offering fantastic bar food as well.

At the epi-center of this success story is chef - Dominic Giuliano, a protégé of famed David Burke. Giuliano has taken sliders and pops to a new sophisticated uber-level yet at affordable costs of $10 per plate. These small plate items are so popular and in-demand, their Catering and Special Events is seeing a hefty return - Catering is yielding half a million per year and Special Events, $5 million! Thanks to deep pocket fans like Morgan Stanley, GQ Magazine, and Credit Suisse First Boston.

“All of our venues bridge the gap between fine dining and an intimate bar setting, offering the best of both worlds without sacrificing the quality of either. We selected the location on 54th Street to meet the area’s need for a casual, yet sophisticated restaurant and lounge with approachable food and drink,” states Matt Wagman, ROI Holdings owner. “Cynics thought we were crazy to open our largest venue to date - PS450 - in the nondescript Murray Hill neighborhood which is currently bringing in the bulk of the annual earnings of 4-6 million. Volstead which just opened in August was already plugged as “Top 50 Bars in New York City (Time Out)” and is already experiencing a win-fall wave.”

David Willner, Regional Director for ROI notes and appreciates the clientele diversity where you will see guests which range from the late night young couple on a date; to young professionals enjoying happy hour; then perhaps a chic baby shower on a Saturday with hipster grandmothers sipping back cosmos. The place truly embody a chameleon-esque traits as the day and night progresses.

Happily noted are that Wagman and Lynch aren’t resting on their current successes – they have plans to continue branding the company and their message by opening in more New York downtown and midtown corporate neighborhoods. This vision is paying off! And New Yorkers should feel comforted that their social life doesn’t have to suffer.
PS-450, Volstead, and Vig 27 Feeling No Recession Pain