Mark’s Off Madison in Manhattan Serves Elevated Schmaltz
Toasty lighting, a caper of savory tiling, and a healthy schmear of graphic design—Mark’s Off Madison is the everything bagel of hospitality and retail design. Chef Mark Strausman recently opened the restaurant and all-day bakery at 41 Madison Square Park as an ode to his 30-plus year culinary career and his days at Freds at Barneys and is serving some of his greatest hits (think: Madison Ave salad and Estelle’s chicken soup). The restaurant’s interiors meanwhile are elegant, warm, and familiar with tailored New York touches, designed to parallel Strausman’s own cooking style and background.
The 4,250-square-foot space, designed by Schefer Design, features high ceilings and full-height windows with an open bakery at the center of the restaurant, allowing patrons to engage with the production process. In the main dining room, a wood coffered ceiling, antiqued mirrored wall, and a walnut floor are lit by the warm glow of a series of globe light fixtures from Jeffrey Nathan Lighting Design, fostering a warm environment. “We wanted to evoke the international style in a way that was comfortable and to a degree casual during the day, but also sexy and romantic at dinner,” Strausman says. “David and Eve-Lynn Schefer did a wonderful job intuiting what we wanted and we get compliments on the design all the time. Mark’s Off Madison was created to feature our bakery, specifically our bagels, and so we decided to place the bakery in the dining room with large windows so diners could see into the bakery. It’s there, but not intrusive. It’s not a floor show, but it adds an element of visual interest.”
The logos, signage and other graphics, by the pricelessly named The Young Jerks, were inspired by vintage menus from New York’s fine dining establishments (including some pulled from Strausman’s personal collection) as well as printed ephemera from New York’s Jewish and Italian immigrant food makers. “Mark as a chef, and a person, is a mix of upscale and fully down-to-earth,” Dan Cassaro of The Young Jerks says. “He’s a fun guy who takes his cooking seriously and we wanted the branded touchpoints to capture that unique spirit.” His colleague Dan Christofferson adds: “We looked at a lot of vintage culinary graphics so we could pull from that rich history, have fun with some time-tested aesthetics, and reimagine them in a contemporary restaurant setting.”