By Ashley Ryan
In April 1975, New York City reached the apex of a decades-in-the-making financial crisis. Long-running budget deficits and untamed governmental spending had taken their tolls on the city, and Manhattan had run out of money. New York’s power players resolved to determine a solution to their city’s ongoing issues, and from a moment of desperation was born what is now known as one of Manhattan’s most distinguished weekday gatherings of movers and shakers: the Loews Regency Hotel’s Power Breakfast.
Preston Robert Tisch and his brother, Laurence Tisch, built the Loews Regency Hotel in 1963 after founding Loews Corp. A decade later, their hotel’s famed dining room had become a standard meeting place for some of the most influential men and women in Manhattan, including former Mayors Abraham Beame and Rudy Giuliani, real estate titan Lewis Rudin, investment banker Felix Rohatyn, Rev. Al Sharpton and entrepreneur Alexandra Lebenthal.
Over scrambled eggs, toast and coffee, these captains of industry discussed the future of their city, and what started as a casual tradition blossomed into an everyday event that still takes place in Manhattan nearly 40 years later.
Over the years, it grew common to watch black town cars line the curb outside the storied hotel between 7 and 10 a.m. as heavy hitters including Governor Andrew Cuomo, CBS President Leslie Moonves and retired NFL Giants player Michael Strahan were led to their assigned seats and offered complimentary newspapers.
When Jonathan Tisch, chairman of Loews Hotels & Resorts, announced in 2012 that the Loews Regency Hotel would close its doors for the first time to undergo a yearlong renovation, many Power Breakfast regulars worried that the daily opportunity to mingle with New York’s most notable names would come to a halt. Instead, when the renovation began in January 2013, the meetings were relocated to nearby Park Avenue Winter, an uptown concept restaurant that changes its name seasonally.
When the Loews Regency Hotel reopens its doors in early 2014, the Power Breakfast will return to its birthplace. Jonathan Tisch trusts that previous diners once again will choose to start their day at Manhattan’s original hot spot due to the hotel’s intimate atmosphere. “Today, it is common for women and men to start their day with breakfast at a well-known restaurant or hotel,” he says. “But there is only one home of the Power Breakfast.”