Chef John DeLucie's Leading Ladies
by jill sieracki
Sara Armenta, Meg Sharpe, and Elizabeth Whistler
It’s a sunny, unseasonably warm day in New York City, and the newest eatery in chef John DeLucie’s Crown Group Hospitality (famous for hot spots The Lion and Crown), Bill’s, is opening tonight in Midtown for a private party hosted by Saks Fifth Avenue to support its Key to the Cure. Eva Longoria and Carolina Herrera are in attendance. However, there’s also a private party tonight at Crown on the Upper East Side, and The Lion in the West Village is expecting its regular crowd of A-list clientele. But there’s no hint of frenzy anywhere—Crown general manager Elizabeth Whistler and Crown Group’s designer Meg Sharpe and director of special events Sara Armenta are completely in control. “This is a high volume, fast-paced environment and things can change two hours before an event,” says Whistler, a former restaurateur herself. “But when you have a team of females who understand each other and support each other, it takes the weight off of one person’s shoulders and distributes it in a way that works.”
Bill’s will cater to Midtown’s business clientele with hearty New York fare. Under the direction of chef proprietor DeLucie, executive chef Jason Hall, and Crown Group beverage director Ben Scorah, Bill’s is a natural extension of its sister restaurants, The Lion and Crown, with unique architectural elements and an extensive art collection. However, Bill’s—a reinterpretation of the address’s former tenant, Bill’s Gay Nineties—also displays original murals found during renovation. “We’re very lucky with the locations they’ve chosen for every restaurant thus far,” says Sharpe, who joined Crown Group after working in store development at Ralph Lauren. “I think this sort of atmosphere is certainly something that’s more classic and has more longevity because there’s always that comfort level of feeling like you’re at home in a way.”
The women work in tandem at the trifecta of restaurants to make sure every night at each establishment is a success. “Each event is very different from one another, and you have to wear a couple of hats while you’re juggling many things, yet it all turns into magic somehow 60 seconds before the guests arrive,” says Armenta whose day starts before dawn at the New York flower markets and ends hours after the last guest has headed home. “I always feel a story in every room that Meg designs, and it’s a palette for me that people want to be a part of. We’re lucky enough that we all get along so well and we respect each other’s roles. I have high regard for both of them as people and what they do.”
photography by gregg delman. hair by sylvester castellano for dior beauté at ba-reps.com. makeup by gregg hubbard for Dior Beauté at ba-reps.com
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