The hottest thing in New York right now is an early dinner

New York’s hottest thing? An early dinner | Soho House

The Big Apple’s new preferred dining time is a gift for the WFH crowd, and we can help you enjoy it at all of our Houses

Sunday 23 October 2022 By Robin Reetz

There’s been a lot said about the pandemic and the new normals we’ve now come to embrace. Daily practices that may have been downright strange a few years ago are now completely common – think standardised remote jobs, hybrid work environments, lining up for a last-minute PCR test before a holiday or mask wearing, the list goes on.

For New Yorkers, there’s another new normal that’s crept up on bars and eateries around the city, and has only increased as we settle into our post-pandemic lifestyles: the early dinner reservation. Stroll around buzzy neighbourhoods all over the city on any given weekday and you’ll experience what was once a rarity – sidewalk cafes and cosy dining rooms filled with New Yorkers ending their day with a drink or a dish closer to happy hour than dinner hour.

The New York Times recently took note of this trend, observing that restaurants were now –more than ever – full at unfashionably early times, and calling ‘6pm the new 8pm’.

You could blame it on the decrease in commuting that’s given office workers more time and energy to put into evenings and personal lives. This simple scheduling switch removes that commuting, cleaning, unpacking and decompressing time that comes after a day at the office. After all, there’s no reason to save it for the evening when errands and household chores can be done during the day in breaks between meetings and projects.

Or, maybe it’s part of a larger reprioritisation of what matters to a society of American city dwellers. Compared to other international cities in, say, Europe, New Yorkers are known for their obsession with overbooking their schedules and working late sometimes just for the sake of working.

But post-COVID, boundaries firmly in place, the days of regularly manning the desk at a corporate job until 7pm (or later) are hopefully gone and thoroughly forgotten. More flexible schedules and remote workplaces have cut down drastically on all that in-between time once spent on errands and commuting, and reminded us that there’s more to life than work. Perhaps because of this, restaurants on the whole have seen the rise of the 6pm reservation.

Needless to say, it’s a change. After all, New York is famous for its late dinners. It was once considered a faux pas to eat early. Eating later in the evening showed either status at being able to secure a reservation or a table during prime dining time, or the freedom of a schedule that allowed you to eat out late with seemingly no responsibilities to rush home to. 

Now, it’s the reverse – if you’re eating early, one of a few things are true: either you’ve set a boundary between your work and personal life, or you have a schedule that allows you to call it quits when the time feels right. Either way, both of these things are pretty cool.

And as the seasons change and darkness comes earlier, there’s all the more reason to finish your working day a little early and swing by one of our New York Houses – maybe Soho House New York or Ludlow House for a happy hour Picante, or head to DUMBO House to catch the sunset on the terrace before it’s too cold. 

Whatever time you’re done these days, your drink of choice – and maybe some dinner – will be ready and waiting.

For restaurant bookings at Soho House New York, Ludlow House and DUMBO House, head to the SH.APP. 

Interested in becoming a member?