Gerard Renny is among the third generation of an Italian-American restaurant family. His great-grandparents owned and operated Pep’s Bar and Grill, in the East New York section of Brooklyn, and his maternal grandfather owned Ferdinand’s Restaurant and Catering, in Queens. Through his grand-uncle, Meade Esposito, the longtime chairman of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn, Gerard got his start in the hospitality business and in 1977 landed a job, at age 18, at Studio 54 in its heyday.
After the Studio 54 days, Gerard got his first serious restaurant gig as general manager of the pioneering Soho bar/restaurant/gallery, Central Falls. In 1983, along with owner Bruce Goldstein, Gerard helped launched the Central Falls Roadshow, an on-location film & event catering business, complete with a state of the art catering truck that Gerard helped design.
It was during this time that Gerard built both professional and personal relationships that have survived to this day, working on such films as Francis Coppola’s The Cotton Club and Falling in Love starring Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep, along with catering for the VIP tents and personal trailer for Diana Ross during her well- documented concert in Central Park.
With the pioneer spirit he inherited from his Central Falls days, Gerard put his first big restaurant deal together in 1985 with the opening of the 300-seat Liberty Café, on South Street Seaport’s Pier 17. From there, in 1993, Gerard and his then-partner took over the former O’Neal Brothers Restaurant space at the corner of 6th Avenue and 57th Street and opened Lucky’s Bar & Grill. They soon followed up with the opening of Brasserie Americaine in 1994, across the street from Lincoln Center. Branching out to Miami’s South Beach in 1997, the team restored and reopened the historic Art Deco landmark Century Hotel, which they operated until 2001.
In 1997, on his 38th birthday, Gerard signed the contract to write his much-acclaimed cookbook, The Men of the Pacific Street Social Club Cook Italian (William Morrow), which celebrates his family’s roots and the infamous Brooklyn neighborhood where he was raised.
In 2001, Gerard ventured out on his own, conceptualizing and opening the 1960s- themed Sushi à-Go-Go restaurant directly across from Lincoln Center (as Featured in Interior Design Magazine; May 2002), and then becoming the creative force behind Uncle Bacala’s, an Italian restaurant in Garden City Park, NY, based on the stories and recipes of The Pacific Street Social Club Cook Book.
In 2006, reuniting with his former partner, Gerard took over a space in New York’s Flatiron District and opened a restaurant that would redefine his career, the Southern Italian trattoria, Bar Stuzzichini. Based on his travels through Southern Italy, Gerard was the first to introduce “Stuzzichini” (Southern Italian small plates) to the New York dining scene, helping start a local craze.
Critically acclaimed both for its concept and food, Bar Stuzzichini was awarded two stars by New York Magazine’s Adam Platt in 2007 and “Best Small Plates” in New York’s “Best of New York” for 2008. New York Magazine also selected Gerard’s Pane e Panelle Sandwich as number two overall in their “101 Best Sandwiches” list of 2010.
These successes prompted Gerard in 2009 to open a spinoff of Bar Stuzzichini, the Michelin-rated Stuzzicheria / Pane Panelle, at Church and Walker Streets in Tribeca. Eater NY selected it as one of the “Top Ten Sandwich Shops” of 2011, and it had the winning recipe in 2011′s Brooklyn Meatball Slapdown.
Since then Gerard has been consulting and project-managing for numerous projects in the New York area, most notably Morimoto’s Bisutoro; The Savoy Tavern, Merrick, Long Island; Los Americanos Latin Restaurant/Bar in Tribeca and the Church Street Tavern / Bandit’s Roost Lounge, where the team created the critiquely acclaimed Tavern Burger (NY Magazine “Most Important Burger” list & Bloomberg News “Top 5 Burgers” of 2015).
In May 2016, Pacific St Hospitality launched Ethyl’s Alcohol & Food (ethylsalcohol.com) on Manhattan’s Upper Eastside. The Ethyl’s team is currently working on expanding their brand and planning to open a new Ethyl’s outpost in Brooklyn, expected Summer 2018.
Gerard has three sons. Wife Carolyn is lead food stylist for Food Network’s award-winning show Chopped. The couple currently reside in New York City.