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NEW YORK: “It was a place where I had some of the best market conversations of my career. A place to enjoy the great characters I got to work with at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) over the years,” Jay Woods, chief market strategist at DriveWealth and former governor of the NYSE, says about the now-closed Wall Street steakhouse Bobby Van’s.
“What we didn’t realise is the bar itself became a key character in our lives.”Bobby Van’s on Broad Street shut its doors for the last time last Thursday, marking the end of the establishment’s 16-year stint as one of the NYSE’s go-to canteens.
The Financial District outpost was one of four Manhattan locations in the chain, which currently has others open in Midtown, on Park Avenue, and near Grand Central Terminal. For many longtime diners at the restaurant, which served up US$69 (RM305) steaks, its closure marks the end of an era.
The chatty saloon, which opened in 2006, became the after-work spot for brokers and traders at the NYSE after the exchange closed its own luncheon club in April of the same year.
Instead of long nights spent on the seventh floor of the NYSE, brokers made their way to Bobby Van’s, where they could encounter financiers and media giants alike, including CNBC anchor Bill Griffeth, reporter Bob Pisani, and Maria Bartiromo, according to Woods. “The most iconic of floor brokers, UBS’s Art Cashin, became a regular in his corner seat, where he would ‘marinate ice cubes’ every afternoon from roughly 4:15pm to 5:30pm.
“He held court for all those that would give a listen,” Woods said.
“His corner at the bar was legendary, and tourists would come there just to see him and take a photo or two.,
“In fact, they roped off the area just for him and his NYSE friends.”
For first-timers, the restaurant offered immaculate service, a view into global dealmakers at work, and “the biggest burger you’ve ever seen,” according to recent patron Mac Gardner, chief education officer at FinLit Tech.
“It felt very New York, the inside, the feel of it,” Gardner says.
“It feels like you’re walking into history, you think about who sat and drank and ate, and the deals that were done there.”
The demise of Bobby Van’s comes after a myriad of obstacles put on the New York restaurant industry during the Covid-19 pandemic.
More than 90,000 restaurants have closed across the United States in the past two years, and over 1,000 have closed in New York City.
Adding to restaurateurs’ woes is spiralling inflation, which accelerated to a new 40-year high in May, and a hot job market putting pressure on wages.
In an interview with Fox News Digital in May, Bobby Van’s owner Joseph Smith said he was forced to raise menu prices by up to 20% as labour and input costs soared.