Brasserie Les Halles Pop-Up for Focus Features’ Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain
July 2021. New York City, Brasserie Les Halles
To mark the release of Focus Features’ Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, Focus Features partnered with Empire to bring the iconic Brasserie Les Halles back for one weekend only -- and give friends and fans of Anthony Bourdain the opportunity to celebrate his legacy in the restaurant where it all began.
No one has transcended the culinary world and single-handedly transformed how entire generations thought about and connected with food -- and the rest of the globe -- like Anthony Bourdain. Tony spent the first two decades of his adult life toiling away in hot, cramped kitchens until his essay “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” appeared in The New Yorker, gained immediate acclaim, and spawned his groundbreaking memoir Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly which became a New York Times Bestseller and catapulted him from Executive Chef at NYC’s Brasserie Les Halles to worldwide renown as the host of multiple food and travel shows including No Reservations and Parts Unknown.
Tony’s untimely death in 2018 led thousands of his fans and admirers to revisit the Les Halles space on Park Avenue South and pay tribute to their favorite globetrotting storyteller and foodie, but unfortunately the restaurant was shuttered two years earlier in 2016, after nearly 25 years in business.
Bringing back Brasserie Les Halles for one weekend took enormous tenacity and a touch of luck. The Park Avenue South location came under new ownership in 2017 and went through a full demolition and renovation in 2018-2019. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the reopening of the new restaurant was delayed, which created an opportunity to rent the space and convert it into Brasserie Les Halles through exterior branding, interior design, and tabletop elements reminiscent of the original Les Halles’ Parisian and Art Nouveau aesthetic.
The first night of the four-day pop-up was an invite-only event for friends of Tony and Roadrunner’s filmmaker, Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville. After attending a special screening of the documentary, guests headed to the restaurant for a dinner that featured Les Halles classics including French onion soup, steak frites, and chocolate mousse, while punk rock tunes from Tony’s favorite artists like The Stooges, Ramones, and Iggy Pop reverberated throughout the brasserie.
The following three nights were open to diners who booked their tickets in advance through event partner RESY. All 900 tickets sold out in just minutes. Diners were comprised of fans, friends, and former colleagues of Tony’s who traveled from across the country and as far as Spain to attend the event.
Empire brought on Great Performances to run the kitchen and front of house staff. Focus Features, Empire, and Great Performances collaborated and consulted with Philippe Lajaunie (Owner & Co-Founder of Les Halles) and Jose de Meirelles (original Executive Chef and Co-Founder of Les Halles) to ensure that the menu stayed true to the original Les Halles.
Empire is a leading producer of experiential marketing events and experiences in New York City and around the globe.
Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain opened in theaters on July 16th and opened to $1.9 million dollars at the domestic box office. The strongest opening for a specialty film this year — narrative or documentary — and top opening doc of the year.