It’s been 54 weeks since New York’s power brokers and political elite could do business over coffee and eggs benedict at the Loews Regency Hotel, known as the original birthplace of the “power breakfast.” Under the reigning Tisch family, the hotel reopened January 16 following a $100 million renovation. “I got a lot of comments the morning of the opening that people were starving and hadn’t had breakfast since we’d closed,” Leigh Wynn, the restaurant’s majordomo, told us.
Wynn, who ran the breakfast when the Regency closed last year (she trained under the restaurant’s previous manager, who held that position for 20 years), is back—and she makes it her job to know exactly where her guests are sitting, what they’re eating and what they’re reading Monday through Friday.
“We start at 7 a.m. and officially it’s over around 10:30, but the power breakfast is from 7:30 to 9 a.m. By 8:30, we’re completely full,” she says. “It’s not that we don’t necessarily want walk-ins (the bar is first come first serve), but we have a completely booked room. Two days out, we’re usually completely booked.” For such high-powered mornings at the Park Ave hotel, we wanted to know how Wynn does it—and what she’s observed so far.
What time do you wake up?
I wake up so early! I have to go to bed at about 9 p.m. to wake up—and look good—at 4 a.m. and shower, blow dry my hair and get dressed. Not to mention I have to eat before I go to breakfast, which is funny, because I know I will not sit down until at least 10:30 a.m. I’ll be on my feet all morning—in heels!
And what are you wearing on top?
I wear all black clothes because I probably will have food all over me by the end of the day.
Once you’re at the restaurant, what happens?
I’m usually at the restaurant by 6:15 a.m., and it’s just mapping out the room and making sure it all makes sense. You know, we get a lot of political figures, CEOs and celebrities in the room, and it’s all about making sure the right people are sitting next to the right people so business is done properly—you don’t want someone sitting next to someone if they don’t like each other.
Then, after going through reservations, I’m communicating to our staff and our kitchen the guest preferences and special requests. Each of our guests have things that they like to have in the morning like special coffee or special cereal, even the timing and that sort of thing.
What are some specific special requests you get?
It’s funny you ask, because actually our clientele is pretty basic in terms of menu items since this is their breakfast meeting and they’re there literally three times a week. So they will have eggs and toast and oatmeal that’s just bland. They’re not really into the eggs benedict or the pancakes or the waffles; they want healthier options. You’re not going to have eggs benedict four times a week because you’d be huge.
What I’m seeing right now is that a lot of guests are on diets, so it’s more like whole wheat toast and tea and fruit, Cheerios. We get a lot of requests for just plain, bland items. Jon Tisch is on this diet right now and he’s very lean; he’s pretty much eating just fruit and whole-wheat toast at the moment.
Do you have special tables reserved for certain people?
Yeah, people have specific tables that they like. The higher-ups prefer to be seen, and they like window tables. Even when we were closed, they were emailing me saying “make sure I get a window table,” and I was thinking to myself, well, the room doesn’t look the same. We have notables that like to sit specifically in a booth because that’s where they feel most comfortable.
Also, we do have newspapers out every single morning. Wall Street Journal and New York Times are obviously the first things to go, but people love The Post, let me tell you that! They’ll hide it under their Wall Street Journal and pretend that it doesn’t exist, but we all know they read The Post. It’s a guilty pleasure.
Once breakfast is over, what does the rest of your day look like?
I’m also the hotel’s event sales and services manager, so I run our event space through the hotel. Since I’m in a unique position where I’m communicating constantly with all of these really great guests and powerful people, I’m able to pull them into our private areas at the hotel and host their events as well. They trust me with their mornings, and to have that trust throughout their entire business experience, even into an event, is pretty cool.
Do you have a favorite moment that’s happened at a power breakfast?
I think one of my favorite moments was when Bill de Blasio was not yet mayor, and he came in and we just talked about random stuff. Then he shook my hand and said “Can’t wait to see you again soon,” and I think that was really special.
And then there was another moment when Rudy Guiliani came in for breakfast and started talking about Game of Thrones with me. Just to be in touch with these powerful people and have conversations about family, your day, television—it’s pretty special to be able to have that sort of rapport with our guests. Their guards are a bit more down at 7 a.m., before they get that morning coffee in them.