When Nordstrom NYC opens its doors on Oct. 24, it will introduce innovations that could prove compelling, even to the most jaded New Yorkers.
There’s Kate Somerville skin care services and FaceGym, where you go work on “signature muscle manipulation techniques,” but the glam department store’s most noteworthy new feature is headset-enabled salespeople who will deliver food to customers throughout the 320,000-square-foot, seven-floor space, the biggest-ever store in the Seattle-based retailer’s 118-year history.
Hungry shoppers losing focus while trying on an Isabel Marant dress (floor 3) can snack on pear, kale, and blue cheese salad. Customers wavering over a Brunello Cucinelli Alpaca blend coat (floor 4) can chew on it over a double-beef cheeseburger or stop at the Shoe Bar for a martini. Cocktails, wine, and coffee can also be ordered on floors with a liquor license (specifically, floors numbered 5, 3, and 2, plus lower level 1 and, of course, the restaurants at lower level 2).
Does Nordstrom have concerns about getting cilantro lime vinaigrette stains on a Stella McCartney top?
“Yes, we do,” says Vincent Rossetti, vice president of restaurant operations. “That’s the cost of doing business.”
The food will arrive on china. “To-go containers have their place, but not in this situation,” he adds.
Rossetti and company have installed a total of seven food and beverage options, banking on an unlikely statistic to contend with the current state of retail: One in every four transactions at Nordstrom’s 116 full-line stores is a food or beverage purchase.
“It’s the idea of F&B as blood sugar maintenance—to keep shoppers in stores longer,” he says.
In total, eight dishes will be available for in-store delivery, including crunchy, tangy, juicy chicken tacos; Nordstrom sells 750,000 of them a year. The company also goes through more than 1 million pounds of ethically sourced coffee beans annually, brewing Americanos and lattes for flagging customers.
Chefs overseeing several of the projects—James Beard winner Tom Douglas and Ethan Stowell—are Seattle icons. And the food prices are shockingly reasonable, given the Midtown West address. At Bistro Verde, where the deliveries originate, those chicken tacos cost $7 for two, and they’re not small. A big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs comes to $17.50, and the BV Burger with white cheddar and peppercorn aioli and sea salt fries costs $16.50.
“The Nordstrom family aren’t looking at these restaurants as profit centers,” says chef Stowell, who oversees the store’s major restaurant, Wolf. “They see them as amenities, to draw customers in.”
Rossetti won’t commit to delivering food to tenants in the 179-unit, 95-floor Central Park Tower, the self-proclaimed tallest residential building in the world, where a four-bedroom is listed $33.4 million.
“My focus is to draw people into Nordstrom. If I make it too easy for them, I’m not doing my job,” he says.
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