Restaurateur Shelly Fireman, who loves show business as much as food, believes that a second act should be better than the first.
Four years ago, his popular theater-district eatery Bond 45 faced its final curtain. The landlord at 154 W. 45th St. wouldn’t renew its lease. He sadly lost the trattoria he had filled with Art Deco flourishes and his own art collection that evoked the Times Square of the 1940s.
But today, the new Bond 45 — at 221 W. 46th St., one block north but sticking with its old name — is the toast of Broadway. Its 7,800-square-foot, two-level confines with 270 seats, more than at the single-floor original, is theaterland’s new celebration venue for cast parties and holiday celebrations. Customers are delighted by the sight of Broadway performers who might pop in on any day or night.
Fans are legion for the moderately priced, something-for-everyone Italian menu like the ones Fireman perfected at Trattoria Dell’Arte and Fiorello. Celebs gravitate to nine cozy leather booths on a slightly raised section behind the bar. They mingle with a 7 a.m.-to-midnight crowd of showgoers, tourists and neighborhood media and finance executives.
Like every restaurateur, Fireman has had flops (like the short-lived Florian on Park Avenue South) as well as long-running hits. His Bond 45 masterstroke was to find a location on a block that has three large Broadway houses, with nearly 6,000 seats. One, the Richard Rodgers, happens to be home to megahit “Hamilton.”
Entertainment columnist Rob Shuter says, “That show is going to be there for 20 years. And Bond 45 is going to run there longer than ‘Cats.’ ”
Bond 45 hosted last year’s “Hamilton” holiday party and will again this year. It was the setting for the “Dear Evan Hansen” holiday bash in 2017 and for the 1,000th performance of “Kinky Boots.”
Late-night customers might spot Ariana DeBose and other cast members of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” who drop in after performances at the Lunt-Fontanne next door. A late-night “Summer” menu available in the sprawling, colorful lower level features cocktails inspired by the show’s disco hits.
Other regulars include Hollywood producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, opera great Renée Fleming, recording stars Barry Manilow, Jimmy Buffett and Vanessa Williams, and “Kinky Boots” producer Ken Davenport.
Success didn’t come overnight. Fireman signed a 20-year lease for the new Bond 45 in the historic Hotel Edison in 2015. The asking rent to start was $ 1.5 million a year, landlord Gerald Barad’s broker, Jeffrey Roseman, said at the time.
The Edison has the charms of an Art Deco, 1931-vintage property — but also its physical challenges.
Fireman Hospitality Group Chief Strategy Officer Ben Grossman recalled, “We were in the middle of construction when heavy rain totally flooded the old basement. The whole concrete floor and every single pipe and wire had to be replaced from scratch.” So the planned launch in spring 2016 had to wait until September 2017.
“It all worked out perfectly,” Fireman said. “Everybody’s making money. I’m happy, the landlord’s happy, the banks are happy” — a perfect showbiz ending.