01 January 2008

The Pierre to Take a Year Off

The Pierre, one of Manhattan's classic classy hotels—which all of us have passed as we've strolled down Fifth Avenue near the southeast corner of Central Park, but few of us have entered—has closed down for a year-long renovation, the New York Times reports.

The hotel is going to spend $100 million to stay competitive in the New York hotel market. Built in 1930 by Schultze and Weaver, it was first managed by Charles Pierre Casalasco, hence the name. He soon went bankrupt, a victim of the Depression and the Pierre went through a series of owners. Strangely, the name never changed. The penthouse was modeled after Mansart's Royal Chapel at Versailles. Frank Sinatra, William Paley and Audrey Hepburn were regulars. Many of the hotels rooms are actually co-ops with permanent residents. It is now owned by Taj Hotels Group.

It's a place where employees stay for decades, not years, and sadly a lot of them won't return when it reopens, including bartender Joseph Dacchille, who has been there 31 years. Dacchille's father was a bartender at the Biltmore Hotel for 47 years. His grandfather was a bartender at a Coney Island saloon where Jimmy Durante waited on tables.

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