Gordon Gekko, Meet the Kids
[New York Times,
12 March 2006]
By RICHARD MORGAN
After Black Monday, the day of the stock market crash of 1987, an official from the National Association of Securities Dealers called a meeting of Wall Street power players to discuss how to remedy the system. What is remarkable is that the meeting took place not in a boardroom but in a local bar, Harry's at Hanover Square. Harry's had so quickly become a downtown institution that The Wall Street Journal published a front-page profile of it in 1976, just four years after its founding by Harry Poulakakos, a Greek immigrant.
Fiction has shadowed fact. In Bret Easton Ellis's 1990 novel, ''American Psycho,'' the rich consort with one another at Harry's. And in ''The Bonfire of the Vanities,'' Tom Wolfe writes that ''in investment houses all over Wall Street, the erstwhile Bond Bores were making so much money they took to congregating after work in a bar on Hanover Square called Harry's, to tell war stories.'' Mr. Wolfe was a regular.
In 2003, Harry closed Harry's after the death of his wife, Adrienne. His son, Peter Poulakakos, runs a string of other family restaurants -- Bayard's, Financier, Ulysses' and Adrienne's -- all in the chocolate-brown building that houses Harry's on the ground level. It seemed natural for Peter to absorb Harry's as well.
''My father was going to sell the property to someone,'' said Peter, 29, a bright-eyed man with a coal-black beard. ''So I figured, why not keep it in the family?''
Harry's will not be merely resuscitated; Peter Poulakakos hopes to unveil a new Harry's for a new Wall Street. The cigar smoke that wafted through Harry's will not return, because of the city's smoking ban, but the changes will run deeper than that. The Wall Street neighborhood belongs now not just to budding masters of the universe, but to young families in Battery Park City and the Financial District. According to the Downtown Alliance, about 23,000 people lived south of Chambers Street in the first quarter of 2001; by the end of 2005, the number was more than 36,000.
The new Harry's wants very much to cater to this growing group. When it begins doing business in a few weeks, it will be open on weekends. The old entrance will lead to Harry's Cafe, which will offer a family-friendly menu more Applebee's than Le Bernardin: hot dogs, burgers and club sandwiches, albeit burgers made with top-dollar tuna, clubs with lobster, and wieners with Kobe beef. Harry's Steak, a separate part of the new Harry's, will continue offering the traditional fare like steaks and lamb shanks.
''The suit scene here has definitely become more residential even in the time I've lived here,'' said Wei Khai Ang, a 24-year-old trader who moved to the area in October 2004. ''People walk their dogs here now. There are strollers. It's good, because it's not that exciting to hang out with drunken bankers.''
Last Tuesday evening on Hanover Square Park, one example of Mr. Ang's point, Jen Ritter, had her black Lab at her feet and her newborn son, Taylor, in a sling on her chest. Her reaction to the reopening might please Peter Poulakakos. ''My husband practically lived at Harry's,'' she said. ''I'm excited it's reopening as not so much of a boys' club, because then we can share in the experience. I feel like it lowers the ladder so I can climb into my husband's treehouse.''
Still, the area is hardly full of scampering youngsters. Visitors continue to find streets lined with bags of shredded financial documents and old copies of InformationWeek. Outside a BMW dealership that is a block from Harry's sit trash bins swollen with the innards of the surrounding buildings: thick financial tomes with titles like Municipal Receipts of Accrual of Exempt Securities, and Sales Tax Refunding and Improvement Bond Series.
Patrons of the old Harry's, too, are excited about its rebirth. ''We didn't have Bloomberg machines or cellphones and all of this, we just had people to get to know,'' said Dominick Antonelli, the chairman of the board of the investment firm Roosevelt & Cross and a regular at Harry's since it opened. ''Hopefully, it'll give people a chance to put down their technology and modern devices and talk to people face to face.''
back to home page