One World Trade is now the tallest building in town and its completion is (distantly) within sight. Which means it is about time to figure out who will run the tower's observation deck—something that turns out to be far more lucrative than we'd have imagined. The deck is estimated to pull in annual revenues in excess of $100 million!
Yesterday, bids to run the three-story operation on the building's 100-102 floors were turned into the Durst Organization and the Port Authority. And though bidders are not supposed to talk about their bids, the Times was still able to figure out some of those interested (we've sent e-mails requesting comment but have not heard back yet—and don't expect to). They are:
- Montparnasse 56 USA, an affiliate of the French firm that runs an observatory and roof terrace at the Montparnasse Tower in Paris.
- Legends Hospitality Management, which runs food services and merchandising at Yankee Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys Stadium.
- Danny Meyer, who owns a string of local restaurants, including Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke and Shake Shack, and concessions at Citi Field and the Saratoga Race Course. He teamed up with GSM Projects, a Canadian firm.
- Aramark, a large food services company.
- Anthony E. Malkin, who operates the Empire State Building. Its 86th- and 102nd-floor observatories generate over $60 million a year in profit, more than any other deck. In the last decade, annual attendance has climbed to four million, from three million.
To us, the standout name there is clearly Danny Meyer. Because if there is anyone who can make people feel good about waiting on an endless line to take an elevator up 1,200 feet—it would be the guy who taught New Yorkers to wait on an endless line for a burger. Also, his involvement would bring hope back the idea of some kind of eating operation atop the tower—as some of us still regret never getting to dine at Windows on the World (Yes, Aramark works with food too—but we'll never forgive them for our college cafeterias).