The end is near for one of the most storied partnerships in the modern restaurant industry: Sources close to front-of-house maestro Will Guidara and chef Daniel Humm say that the pair will end their eight-year business partnership later this summer.
Together, the duo has an empire of restaurants and bars spanning multiple cities — including their best-known restaurant, Michelin-starred (and “World’s Best” restaurant winner) Eleven Madison Park in New York. Though representatives have denied the split for months, the story has grown to be one of the worst-kept secrets in the restaurant and hotel industries.
Besides EMP, Humm and Guidara also own branches of the NoMad in New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas; multiple NoMad Bars; pop-ups in Aspen and the Hamptons; and the fast-casual Made Nice restaurant. Two other projects are yet to open, one in the Claridge’s hotel in London, and another fine dining project at 425 Park Avenue in Manhattan.
It’s bound to be a complicated divorce given the number of properties and interests, but many insiders speculate that Humm will completely buy out Guidara and take full control of the company.
Guidara and Humm met while running Eleven Madison Park under restaurateur Danny Meyer back in 2006 and eventually partnered with investors including billionaire Noam Gottesman to buy out Meyer in 2011. They went on to open the NoMad and turned EMP into a bucket-list global dining destination with all manner of accolades. Part of their allure and charm — besides the high-caliber food and earnest approach to hospitality — was their bromance, which has been documented in books, interviews, and on Instagram.
Though chefs tend to be the face of restaurants today, Guidara and Humm had the rare contemporary partnership where the front-of-house expertise received almost as much press as the food and chef. EMP’s known for employing a “Dreamweaver,” someone whose job is to do over-the-top service flourishes for diners, like printing family business logos on coasters ahead of the meal, or providing sleds and a chauffeured car to Central Park for visiting kids who’d never seen snow.
While sources close to Guidara and Humm say lawyers have been working on terms for a while now, the partners should be going public with the news soon.
Update: Guidara and Humm confirm to the New York Times today that Humm is buying out Guidara and that the staff found out this afternoon.