John Meadow, CEO of LDV Hospitality, oversees a portfolio that includes more than 20 restaurants and bars, located everywhere from Miami to Chicago to Las Vegas. In 2004 Meadow opened his own bar, one of the first roof-decks in New York, followed by his debut restaurant in the Meatpacking District, which at the wrong time, wrong place was a bit of a flop. For Meadow, his career really began when he launched Scarpetta in 2008 to much critical acclaim, including a James Beard Foundation nomination for best restaurant in the country. And in 2019, he brought the celebrated brand to London with the opening of Sette at The Bvlgari Hotel in Knightsbridge.
You have previously described the Scarpetta approach as “comfortable but aspirational” —how do you achieve that? The high-low balance of comfortable but aspirational, effortless elegance, the art of sprezzatura is at the core of everything we do at Scarpetta. The philosophy of the kitchen is to amplify the goodness of ingredients, elevating a comfort dish to an elegant indulgence. The best example of this is our signature Scarpetta Spaghetti.
What would you say are the staples of a quintessential New York restaurant? What New York buzz restaurants do best is create. Not a cheesy, sceney club / restaurant buzz, but a natural, convivial space where you feel a connection to the other diners around you.
Your hospitality group, LDV, is named for the Italian concept of la dolce vita — how do you incorporate that idea into your restaurants and bars? For me the concept of la dolce vita is rooted in every day charm. It is not about exclusivity or superficial decadence, it’s about every day charming indulgences. It could be as simple as the perfect espresso served with a smile, or a whole evening of dancing after a seven-course tasting menu. We achieve this through our people, whom we empower to show their true selves and always be authentic with our guests.
Why did you choose London and specifically Bvlgari London to open Sette by Scarpetta? London is one of the capitals of the world. Our ambition to grow the brand internationally could only have started in London, and what better location than the iconic Bvlgari London. We named the restaurant Sette as it is was our seventh location.
What are some of the keyways that the markets differ for restaurants and hospitality in New York and London? In London the clientele is more international and they appreciate nuance and refinement more so than guests in New York, who appreciate the warmth that a restaurant offers. Another exciting aspect of London is the produce, while I greatly respect and admire the farmers and all of the artisanal suppliers we get to work with in the US, the European ingredients are simply better and more in touch with mother nature. However, what I will always love about my city — there is no magic on earth quite like the New York night.
How has Sette by Scarpette changed and adapted since opening? What have you perhaps learned about the London market that has surprised you? We opened in June of 2019, and after only eight full months, we opened and closed an additional three times with the pandemic. While this is the same for everyone it was particularly challenging to find our rhythm. Thankfully, we are now coming into our own. What I am pleased about in the London market is that quality wins. You have to earn the market’s respect (and it’s earned with quality), but once you do, you also have its loyalty.