PHOTOS: Service After Midnight at Employees Only

employees only jess chou

Sure New York is the city that never sleeps, but as most locals (and few tourists) know, places still tend to shut down after 2:00 a.m. — especially during the week. Not so at Employees Only, the West Village institution open until 4:00 a.m., seven days a week.

This includes the kitchen, which churns out everything from steak tartare to oysters to hanger steak up until 3:15 a.m., when the last orders are taken. “We usually get a rush right around 2:30 a.m.,” chef Julia Jaksic says. The grand finale, then, arrives around 3:30, when the kitchen dishes out cups of chicken noodle soup to send off revelers with a little more nourishment than booze.

We dropped by one Thursday night (or rather, Friday morning) to catch the kitchen staff, and co-owner Igor Hadzismajlovic in action.

employees only jess chou

2:22 a.m.
First glance at the kitchen, where Ernesto Gonzalez is manning the line.

employees only jess chou

employees only jess chou

2:23—2:30 a.m.
A steady stream of orders starts trickling in — most popular being the Parmesan fries, followed by the steak tartare and lamb chops.

employees only jess chou

2:31 a.m.
Chef Jaksic finishes up the pickles to be served the next day.

employees only jess chou

employees only jess chou

employees only jess chou

2:32—3:00 a.m.
Ernesto plates some lamb and bone marrow poppers, which chef Jaksic helps garnish.

employees only jess chou

employees only jess chou

3:04 a.m.
The soup gets some finishing seasonings — a squeeze of lemon and some salt. “We typically go through four quarts on slow nights, six on the weekends,” Jaksic says.

employees only jess chou

3:20 a.m.
Ernesto plates a grilled cheese with chicken for staff members, many of whom work 4:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. “They order off a staff menu,” Jaksic explains, which also includes a hamburger “Igor” style — medium with cheese and Parmesan fries.

employees only jess chou

employees only jess chou

employees only jess chou

3:30—3:33 a.m.
Igor and Julia dish out the chicken soup for tipsy revelers upstairs.

employees only jess chou

employees only jess chou

employees only jess chou

employees only jess chou

3:33—3:36 a.m.
They hand out soup to the crowd, and run out in minutes. A few hungry ones get seconds.

employees only jess chou

3:42 a.m.
Meanwhile, the kitchen downstairs receives a late-night delivery of fresh pitas.

employees only jess chou

3:54 a.m.
Six minutes before closing time — and the bar is still packed. “We put on Tom Waits around 3:30 a.m. to get people out,” manager Allyson Noman says. “And then [the bouncer] Robert comes in.”

employees only jess chou

4:15 a.m.
A few stragglers finish up their last drink, while the bar clears out.

employees only jess chou

4:34 a.m.
And as a ritual, bartender Milos Zica and Igor get some beers, bust out some cigarettes, and start counting the bills.

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