Local restaurateurs feed Wall Street's hungry deal makers

Last Updated: Sat, Dec 08, 2012 18:56 hrs

pAfter leaving Wall Street more than four years ago David Kostman recently returnedppBut Kostman a former banker at Lehman Brothers wasn&rsquot doling out deal advice He was dishing up lunch at Goldman Sachs &mdash or more specifically hummus salads and wrapspp&ldquoA lot of the really senior people are friends of mine&rdquo said Kostman 47 &ldquoThey like to say the managing director from Lehman is serving them hummus&rdquoppKostman the co-founder of the Mediterranean chain Nanoosh is among a stable of local restaurant owners periodically invited to set up shop in Goldmans cafeteria During a week in October Nanoosh served hundreds of employees in the firm&rsquos Lower Manhattan headquartersppCorporate cafeterias have become a side business for many local dining spotsppAramark the Philadelphia-based food services company that runs Goldman&rsquos cafeteria recently tapped Rosa Mexicano Hot Clay Oven and Fresco by Scotto an Italian restaurant with a to-go location near the investment bank&rsquos old headquarters on Broad Street A local sushi place Mai has a chef working in Goldman&rsquos cafeteria on a daily basis Restaurant Associates which runs the cafeterias of financial firms like Bank of America Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse follows a similar strategy setting up pop-up stations with local chefspp&ldquoOur competition is really the street&rdquo said Edward J Sirhal the president of Restaurant Associates &ldquoWe&rsquore not looking for national brands It&rsquos about local specialty products&rdquoppGoldman has developed a reputation as a corporate foodie The cafeteria tries to offer seasonal ingredients and features items like cage-free eggs and organic meats On Friday the menu will include tandoori chicken with mint raita and croque-monsieur sandwichesppSince moving its headquarters to West Street in 2009 Goldman has helped improve the neighbourhood&rsquos dining choices The firm encouraged the restaurateur Danny Meyer to expand in the area Meyer has opened North End Grill behind Goldman&rsquos headquarters as well as a Shake Shack and a Blue Smoke barbecue restaurantppGoldman Sachs and Aramark declined to commentppKostman&rsquos partnership with Goldman started last year after an Aramark representative made contact with him &ldquoIt was a totally unsolicited cold e-mail in the general mailbox of the company&rdquo Kostman saidppBusiness was robust at Goldman Kostman said Foot traffic in the cafeteria is so heavy at lunch that employees receive a discount if they eat during off-peak hoursppDuring the week he would run into acquaintances from his banking days who wanted to talk about the Israeli technology scene &ldquoIt did feel like a reunion&rdquo said Kostman who once advised technology companies on mergers and other transactionsppKostman still remains connected to his old life in small ways He serves on the boards of the Israeli software companies NICE Systems and Retalix which recently agreed to be acquired by the NCR CorporationppNanoosh has also been testing software made by LoyalBlocks a start-up backed by a venture capital firm Gemini Israeli Ventures Customers who download the LoyalBlocks app get rewards for frequent visits The restaurant in turn gets information on its customers eating habitsppKostman who has a law degree from Tel Aviv University and a masters in business administration from Insead in France got the inspiration for Nanoosh in London in the 1990s While working at NM Rothschild & Sons in his early investment banking days he would sometimes eat at the Wagamama noodle chain and was impressed by the comfortable casual diningppBut he put the idea on the back burner to focus on his business career After leaving Rothschild in 1994 he quickly climbed the ranks at Lehman In 2000 he left finance to join VerticalNet an online business software maker and was later the chief executive of Delta Galil US a private label apparel company He went back to Lehman in 2006 to head up banking for the global Internet groupppWhile at Lehman Kotsman and two partners started Nanoosh with a single location on Manhattans Upper West Side The aim was to offer fast food that was healthy In March 2008 he decided to leave Lehman to focus on Nanoosh By the end of the year the restaurant had attracted about 2 million in angel financing according to Kostman Since then Nanoosh has expanded to four locations in New York and New Jersey and even opened a space in Berlinhr pp alignrightem© 2012 The New York Times News Service emp

More from Sify: