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NYC’s hottest new bars are really underground

Beneath the starkly lit lobby of the New Yorker Hotel in Midtown, a former bank vault now serves as the dining space for a steakhouse and cocktail bar.

Butcher & Banker is the latest use for the basement of the hotel, which was part of a branch of the former Manufacturers Trust Company until 1980 and used for clients’ safety-deposit boxes, locked away behind a 28-inch-thick vault door. Before the steakhouse opened in November, the dusty vault was mostly used for storage for the hotel and was largely inaccessible.

The restaurant’s design team used what they found in the storage area to outfit the space: grand crystal chandeliers and old safety deposit boxes — the drawers were cut out to give the restaurant more space, but the drawers’ antique-looking faces now cover a wall. They also kept the original terrazzo flooring. “To cover over the floor would be, as my late grandmother would have said, a sin,” says the restaurant’s designer, Michael Whiteman of Baum + Whiteman.

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