Joseph Smith of Bobby Van’s Brings Old School Philosophy to the Brand New BV’s Grill


In the hospitality business, common sense tells us that every customer should be treated with tender care. Unfortunately, “common sense isn’t all that common,” according to long time restaurateur Joseph Smith, who’s latest endeavor BV’s Grill (919 Third Avenue; 212-935-6800) marks his and his partners’ tenth restaurant in New York.

Smith started as a waiter on the Queen Mary and Northern Star cruise lines before entering the Manhattan restaurant scene, where he quickly made connections. “Ninety-five percent of my friends come from restaurants,” Smith says.

Smith teamed up with one of those friends — Alan Rosen of Junior’s cheesecake fame — for his newest spot. “It has to become more personal than business,” Smith says. And as with the other Bobby Van’s restaurants, they looked for real estate in neighborhoods with an equal mix of offices, residences, and tourist activities, and then hired outgoing staff committed to getting to know regulars and their favorite dishes. “Not everybody’s got that personality,” says Smith.

The large space features high ceilings and large windows; a large rectangular bar anchors the entrance and is ideal for those looking to chat up a bartender or meet up with a friend. The 140-seat dining room is supplemented by a private room; ample booth seating along the side walls can also accommodate groups. There’s also a 60 seat outdoor patio that’s well removed from the street — somewhat rare in midtown — and a quick service coffee cafe with a separate entrance to feed the breakfast crowd.

BV’s Grill is a reflection of the modern palate. There’s the trademark New York strip available if you’re planning on tapping into the expense account, but there’s also kale and barley salad and a roasted chicken entree if you’re searching for healthier fare. Scallops, lobster salad, and chicken parmesan all make the menu, reflecting what Smith sees as a change in diners’ tastes. A grill menu offers more approachable fare, and it caters to the lunch crowd.

For a first look at BV’s Grill, click through the photos on the next page.