For the Record

Håkan Swahn Laughs Off Rumor of Aquavit’s Imminent Demise

Photo: Courtesy of Aquavit

Among the rumors that have been floating around (Michael White considering the Cub Room space! William Grimes as interim Times critic!), the most intriguing one comes from the Feedbag: “The spirits tell me that the closure of Aquavit is imminent and that the Midtown space is in fact already up for sale.” Hmmm. Like Eater’s Deathwatch, the Feedbag’s Gastrodamus closing predictions have been a mixed bag (Bloomingdale Road and Hawaiian Tropic Zone have indeed closed; Gilt and Gordon Ramsay at the London have not). So we decided to see what owner Håkan Swahn had to say.

Swahn tells us he laughed when he saw the item; he says there’s no truth to it, but it became clear from talking to him that he was annoyed by the possibility that it might hurt business. So where could it have come from? “My guess is, I just hired a new GM who started two weeks ago, and when you make changes in management there are people who aren’t happy about it.” Swahn says he’s coming off of a successful herring week, is expecting a busy Restaurant Week, and has already made plans for the fall, including a meatball week in September and a game week in October. November festivities are to be determined. So how’s the restaurant doing otherwise? “Of course, if I was like Donald Trump and said business has never been better, you’d know I was lying. All of my colleagues in fine dining in midtown have been hurt. But we just have to adjust our business.” And this might actually be a good thing: “It was very opulent for a few years and you scratched your head and said, ‘Oh my gosh, can you just charge anything?’ This is just a pullback.” To that end, he has started offering more expensive ingredients as supplements rather than liberally sprinkling them throughout menu items.

Swahn says he has weathered three or four other downturns in his 22 years, and though this is one of the worst (he concedes,“It’s going to be a long summer for some of us”), he intends to make it through this one, too.

Håkan Swahn Laughs Off Rumor of Aquavit’s Imminent Demise