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NFL enters dining business

The National Football League is going into the restaurant business for the first time, hiring Union Square Hospitality Group to run a steakhouse the week before the Super Bowl and putting the venue’s most desirable tables up for purchase at $50,000 each.

Forty Ate, which takes its name from the 48th edition of the NFL championship game that will be played Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., will serve lunch, dinner and bar snacks from Jan. 27 through game day inside the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel, according to Mary Pat Augenthaler, vice president of events for the NFL.

“It’s the first time we’ve done a restaurant, and it’s a pop-up,” Augenthaler said in a telephone interview. “What we’re trying to do is for anyone, an NFL fan or a non-NFL fan, to come and experience the Super Bowl in a different sort of way and have access to what we think is the best hospitality out there.”

The restaurant will be in an existing lounge and seat about 80 people at a time. The Pro Football Hall of Fame will provide memorabilia, such as the 47 Super Bowl champions’ rings, while league players will make appearances.

With 270-degree window views, five tables at Forty Ate will look directly over the NFL’s Super Bowl Boulevard, which will feature concerts, autograph signings and a 180-foot toboggan run on Broadway.

“We are making those tables available to ‘own’ from Thursday through Saturday,” Augenthaler said. “It’s for the business community to say, ‘Look, this is my taste of NFL hospitality and we can book our clients in there for a couple of lunches, an afternoon bite and a few dinners.’ ”

Exclusive access to the four-seat tables will cost $50,000. Included are food and non-alcoholic drinks, four tickets to the Super Bowl and the NFL Tailgate Party, a stadium parking pass and a concierge to manage reservations.

“We’ve already sold a couple, so there’s only a few left,” Augenthaler said.

The restaurant was created to run in conjunction with NFL House, the league’s VIP hospitality center that will host league insiders and business-to-business meetings the week before the game.

Entrees generally will range from $16 to $36 and the last seatings will be at 10:30 p.m.

Forty Ate expects to begin booking reservations Jan. 6 and will also hold some seats for walk-ins.

Danny Meyer, a volunteer on the Super Bowl Host Committee, is the chief executive officer of Union Square Hospitality Group.

The company owns the Shake Shack chain of restaurants that opened in 2004 in New York’s Madison Square Park and now operates in Philadelphia, Washington, Kuwait City and Moscow.

The company’s other New York restaurants include Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and Blue Smoke.

The group’s events division will run Forty Ate, Jee Won Park, a spokesman for the company, said in a telephone interview. Meyer was traveling and unable to comment on the agreement, Park said.

“We talked to almost everybody out there and the thing that made Union Square Events so different is their concept of enlightened hospitality,” Augenthaler said. “They take everything that you could almost already know and take it just to that next step that makes it special.”

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