For people in the know, the “NoMad” neighborhood of Manhattan represents the area "NOrth of MADison Square Park." It is centered within a designated historic district.
A new addition to the neighborhood has become a popular, upcoming and trendy restaurant operated by a husband-wife team that also has searched for opportunities to support their community. A match was made recently with a local church food pantry.
Suggestion Becomes A Community Program
LuLu & Me (253 Fifth Avenue) has received rave reviews since it opened two years ago as “NoMad’s Neighborhood Restaurant.” Not too far away, the food pantry of Holy Apostles Church has been a long-standing neighborhood support organization that is vital for some of the residents of the community.
As they conversed with their new customers, LuLu & Me owners Michael and Karen Fohrhaltz Miele indicated that they wanted to support the community beyond friendly service and fair pricing. Realizing that the parishioners of The Church of the Transfiguration (an Episcopal parish also known as the "Little Church Around the Corner") and Marble Collegiate Church (the oldest place of worship of the Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of the City of New York) had become loyal customers, particularly after Sunday services, the Mieles asked their patrons for ideas.
Reverend Andrew St. John of The Church of the Transfiguration suggested a donation to the Holy Apostles Church pantry as an appropriate gesture of commitment to the neighborhood. Pondering this idea, the Mieles decided that they wanted to expand beyond a one-time offer. Discussions eventually led to the creation of the “LuLu & Me: Help Your Needy Neighbor” program.
Beginning Sunday, May 4, Lulu's proprietors will donate five percent of all food sales every Sunday and Monday to the food pantry. At the official private reception launch of the program on Monday, May 5, Chef Karen will introduce new spring dishes that will contribute to the restaurant's support of the pantry. The new menu items include pan roasted sea scallops with red quinoa, mussels with lemon grass and ginger, Scottish salmon with miso butter and Heuvos al Diable.
Culinary Marketing Success
The Mieles have operated successful restaurants in New York City during every decade since the 1970s. The couple considers their establishments as neighborhood restaurants that are committed to presenting fresh, tasty and accessible food in comfortable surroundings.
After a landlord did not renew the lease for their funky and wildly successful rooftop Me Bar, the Mieles searched for a new location to create a new dining experience. They were drawn to the north side of Madison Square Park with the hope that they could attract area workers and residents who desired a relaxing and affordable evening.
Lulu & Me was christened during 2012 with Chef Karen’s Mediterranean- inspired menu that focuses on the freshest ingredients available at the market. Michael selects fairly priced wines to complement the dishes.
Since then, Lulu & Me has become a favorite dining experience for a diverse group of neighborhood customers that include the established textile firms that have anchored the business community for years, new media-related companies, local residents of all ages and tourists who frequent the many new hotels in the area. This success allowed the Mieles to identify an opportunity to support their neighbors and led to the creation of the Lulu & Me program with the local food pantry.