Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, the visionaries behind Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors, are the designers responsible for our favorite New York restaurant spaces such as The Dutch, The Standard Grill, The Breslin and John Dory Oyster Bar, as well as classic hotels like The Ace, The Royalton and The Standard (to name only a few). It’s no wonder this duo is the most sought after design team in New York, creating restaurant atmospheres that, no doubt, consistently transform customers into regulars. Robin Standefer sat down with The New Potato to talk about their inspirations, as well as their favorite spots in New York…
Are there restaurants here that you go to for the atmosphere?
Believe it or not, Stephen and I cook a lot. We don’t necessarily go out a lot. We are very high low, not hyper-restaurant based. We like the classic places that have been around a long time. We may go to McSorley’s and be inspired for something like the Breslin, or the Four Seasons uptown which inspired The Standard Grill and the Boom Boom room. We are very classic. We like places with longevity and a look that’s sustainable. That’s so important to us; it’s what draws us. That’s what we brought to Andrew Carmellini with The Dutch, or what we bring when working now with Alain Ducasse. We make something very comfortable, classic and familiar. We like a mix of decadent familiar and cozy familiar.
So what would you say are some of your favorite classic places?
We really love The Four Seasons uptown. It continues to inspire great new ideas. On the flip side, we like to go to McSorley’s around the corner for a beer. Our inspiration comes from places that have lasted, and why they have lasted.
So you like places with a story?
Absolutely. We bring a sense of narrative or story to what we do, and we try to build that into every project. This means a real story, with integrity and sincerity. To know why and if something is successful; only time tells that. A reporter I was speaking to was saying to me how our places are so popular. Yes, somewhere like the Standard is in year three, but I’m interested in year fifteen. I want to see that it sustains itself, because we put a lot of love into it.