Located at 31 Union Square West, Metropolis is a beautifully-designed oyster room and cocktail bar with live music and a welcoming atmosphere. Hidden beneath the Blue Water Grill, Metropolis is a BR Guest Hospitality establishment, making it as a sister restaurant to fine establishments like Strip House, Dos Caminos, Blue Fin, and The Atlantic Grill. But unlike many of the other BR Guest restaurants, Metropolis is only open for evening visits, keeping hours between 5:30 PM and 11:30 PM from Tuesday through Saturday each week.
Metropolis chef Adam Raksin is a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America, later working at Chicago’s L2O, Per Se, and Gunter Seeger NY. Rachid Abdelouahad, General Manager of Metropolis, grew up in Marrakech, Morocco, and came to the United States for his studies. Prior to working at Metropolis, Rachid worked at Restaurant Daniel under famed chef Daniel Boulud, where he also fine-tuned his skills as a sommelier. Ashley Beudeker is Operations Manager at Metropolis, having previously worked as part of The Fireman Hospitality Group’s management team. Chef Adam, Rachid, and Ashley all spoke to Downtown about Metropolis and why it is a must-go Downtown Manhattan restaurant.
For more information on Metropolis — including its live music schedule, which often includes Katini and Julia Haltigan — visit www.metropolisnewyork.com. Metropolis and its parent company, BR Guest Hospitality, can be followed on Twitter via @BRGHospitality.
What was the first restaurant you ever worked at?
Adam Raksin: The first restaurant I ever worked at was Linwoods in Owings Mills, Maryland. It was one of the more upscale restaurants in the area. I started as a prep cook when I was 14 working there up until I went to Culinary School.
Ashley Beudeker: My first quick service restaurant that I ever worked at was Au Bon Pain in LaGuardia Airport when I was 16 years old. This was my first summer job and I was a cashier / sandwich prep doing the 6:00 AM to 3:00 PMshift five days a week. It was an interesting experience!
Adam, what brought you to New York? I know you grew up in Baltimore and had worked at L2O in Chicago…
AR: What brought me to New York is everything. I really think it is the culinary and artistic center of America, if not the world. It has been truly an honor to have achieved the background and resume that I have today.
Rachid, I know you grew up in Marrakech. How did you wind up in New York?
RA: I came to New York to go to college at Wagner College in Staten Island. It was a dream came true at a young age, where I fell in love with hospitality and wine world.
Is there anything that you miss about living in Morocco?
RA: The culture is so rich and colorful, the food, the art and the landscape.
Adam, you attended the Culinary Institute of America. Where did the decision to go there come from?
AR: The reason I attended the Culinary Institute of America is because of the high caliber that comes with a degree from there and also. My first employer, Linwood Dame, was a graduate from there and really pushed me to go there. Once I went there and saw the campus, it was really a no-brainer.
Ashley, how did you become part of the BR Guest family?
AB: I knew the former General Manager of Dos Caminos Third Avenue, so I reached out to him in May 2015 and he landed me an interview with my current Director of Operations.
Do you have a favorite item on the menu at Metropolis?
AR: My favorite item on the Metropolis menu has to be the “Cheesesteak.” It really went from a fun thing of me creating in the kitchen to a phenomenon with the media.
RA: The Smoked Flavored Oysters and Dover Sole.
AB: Along with the fact that I love to filet it tableside, I am also a big fan of the Dover Sole for two. It’s a perfect item to share and now it comes with delicious market vegetables and quinoa.
Beyond the food, what is your favorite part of Metropolis?
AR: Other than the food, I would have to say that the favorite part of Metropolis is the atmosphere that the room has with everything going. The music, beverage, and service programs along with the food are really what make the room whole experience.
RA: The service style and what we do in the dinning room with all the tableside service we offer.
AB: The music and my amazing staff members. We are privileged to be the only spot in our area who does live music like we do. We have a nice selection of super-talented trios and vocalists and they really make the room come alive. I have a very small team of captains, front waiters and back waiters. We all work very closely together and every day I come to work they make me proud to be their leader.
What is a typical day like for a chef? Are you always in the kitchen? Are you ever doing the shopping, working in an office, or taking meetings?
AR: A typical day for me combines all of these things. I always go to the Union Square Market across the street to find wonderful produce for that night’s menu and specials. My day often has one or two meetings in there, usually with Rachid, our GM, about the week and next week.
Rachid, what is a typical day for you like as General Manager? Are you in the kitchen much?
RA: I do my rounds frequently to visit the kitchen, check on the chef’s needs, look at all dishes and communicate all the reservations needs. I have two restaurants to run, my day is always super busy, from meeting with the team, wine reps, interviews, administrative work, weekly and daily financial reports to attending every staff pre-shift at both properties.
Ashley, how do Metropolis and Blue Water Grill compare to one another?
AB: They don’t compare. Blue Water is amazing in its own right as it has been a beloved spot in Union Square for 20 years. Metropolis is its own being.
What’s coming up for Metropolis in the coming months? Any specials? New menu items? Seasonal events?
AR: We have a lot of fun events coming up for Metropolis, obviously the holidays, but we are always doing special events for our guests as well. I always try to curate specials on a nightly basis whether being an oyster, caviar, or ribeye for two.
RA: Well, it’s Q4, where special events bookings, holiday parties, menu change and exciting action plans for 2017.
Is there an accomplishment you’re most proud of within your career?
AR: I think one of the accomplishments that I am most proud of in my career are my Per Se years. Having been there for four years and seeing the high turnover rate that they have in those kind of restaurants is truly amazing.
RA: Being a part of the opening team at Restaurant Daniel, being a speaker at the James Beard House Scotch Dinner for Strip House with Chef Michael Vignola, and learning about wines around the world, doing harvest in vineyards in California, Portugal, France and Italy.
AB: What I’m most proud of within my career — so far — is my ability to connect with people. Anyone can be taught systems, how to create a spreadsheet, and all of the administrative work that comes with this position. What I feel that I have and try to practice and perfect every day is something that cannot be taught.
When not busy with Metropolis, how do you like to spend your free time?
AR: In my minimal free time (laughs), I like to spend time with my friends and family going out to restaurants and cheering for the Yankees or Giants.
RA: When I am in the building, I am busy catering to the other needs of the operation. When I am off, I am my kids’ slave.
AB: I love to read and spend time with my six-year old puggle named Barkley. Reading a book takes me to a place where I am relaxed and spending time with my dog brings me a joy that I cannot explain.
Aside from Metropolis, what is your favorite restaurant in New York?
AR: My favorite restaurant in New York is the NoMad. It has everything you could ever want — class, great service, amazing food…
RA: Gramercy Tavern.
AB: Metropolis is my only favorite, of course!
Finally, any last words for the kids?
AR: Follow your heart and have passion for your work. Have standards, don’t give into anything or anyone to compromise them.
RA: Follow you passion, set goals, advance yourselves — win every day!
AB: We have to love the kids. I would say: Be kind to animals, be kind to one another, and always know your rights…And my specific words to any young GIRL reading this is a quote taken from my favorite author Sheryl Sandberg from her brilliant book Lean In: “We hold ourselves back in ways both big and small, by lacking self-confidence, by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in.” So to conclude, I say lean in! Sit at the table, speak up for what you believe in and lean in every day until you get it done.