Four Food Studio and Two Steak & Sushi Den
Alter Ego: Bukka the Bulldog
Biggest Fan & Sharpest Critic: His dad. Senior hasn’t missed a Friday or Saturday night at one of Jay’s restaurants for 15 years
It takes a big man to admit he doesn’t need to be the smartest guy in the room. And everything about Jay Grossman is comparably big. In 2005, he and his partners opened the doors to Four Food Studio (Melville) and Jay stepped out from behind the scenes to become a front man. It was his name splashed in the papers and his face everyone would come to know. Until then, Long Islanders had not seen the likes of the super-restaurant and lounge (at least not unless they traveled to South Beach, Ibiza or similar fashionable destinations). At first, the venue was equally misunderstood and wildly embraced, though it didn’t take long for the latter to overshadow the former, making it a destination venue for private parties and business lunches as well as cocktails and dinner every night of the week. Lightning would strike again in 2010 when he rolled the red carpet out at Two Steak & Sushi Den (New Hyde Park). But despite all that bigness, or maybe consistent with it, Jay is humble and candid, genuine and quick to laugh, which might be why his peers would nominate him “most likable.” The fifteen years before Four, Jay pulled the strings on such LI nightlife staples as Cocos, Chelsea Street and the Garden City Hotel’s Rein and Posh. Finally, the reformed heavy metal guy would put his chips on the table, “When you do this, you look at the icons that’ve been here [in the restaurant business] and you think, ‘If only I could be like them.’ And here we are…”
I was the kid with the good family, I had a curfew. So I took a job at what was then Shenanigans (Oceanside) to be able to stay out late. I was a 15-year-old bus boy riding his bike home at 1am while his friends were goofing off and hanging out. But I was in love. I felt like a rock star. It got in my blood, I just worked. Weekends? I worked. Prom? I worked. 21st birthday? I worked. I got my BS in economics from Oneonta (mostly for my dad), but I knew I wanted to be in the restaurant business.
Nothing else matters, nothing before work. It’s a rollercoaster you swear you’ll get off of but then you just get back on. You gotta be a little OCD to be in this business…it’s not great if you’re not out there sweating with the crew. You get gratification from the details. We live for being overwhelmed. It’s about passion ‘cuz let’s face it, the hours suck. (But we thank you for them Jay.)
The business attracts social people. I take my employees seriously, all my managers were promoted from within. It’s important to be relevant. Restaurateurs are always looking for the next great thing. Costs are rising in a way we can’t pass on to consumers. Rules and regs are getting tighter. We do events to attract layers of different demographics that keep our name in the conversation.
Social anxiety? I don’t like being recognized out of context. The strangeness of the business is it looks like glamour, but it’s tough as nails. Your whole social normalcy is changed by this business because you see it all…guys [hitting on girls] who crash and burn. So you don’t want to fall into that.
When I come through the door, the curtain’s up. I have to be the rock. I don’t have the luxury of crumbling. The dots don’t always connect, you have to find ways to connect them. But when I look back, I don’t think I’d do anything differently.
(excerpt from live interview)