How a group of NYC friends turned an inside joke into one of the most exclusive tables in the city

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Tuesday, September 26, 2023
Group of NYC friends turn fake steakhouse into hottest spot in town
Mehran's Steak House started as an inside joke amongst friends before turning into one-night-only restaurant in New York City. Kemberly Richardson hs the story.

UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- What happens when an inside joke evolves into the worst kept secret in town?

For the masterminds behind Mehran's Steak House, which opened its doors in New York City for one night only, the answer is simple: commit to the bit.

During the pandemic, Willy Hopps was living on the Upper East Side with a group of roommates, including Mehran Jalali.

Jalali would often cook steaks, so as a joke, the roommates re-labeled their apartment on Google Maps as "Mehran's Steak House."

They didn't stop there, though.

Taking a step further, they created a website, jokingly saying the steakhouse was full of six months and you could leave your contact information for when reservations open up.

Though it wasn't real, that didn't stop New York foodies from vying for reservations for the not so true-to-form restaurant.

It also didn't help that the friends added glowing reviews to the made-up listing.

Not before long, the fake steakhouse garnered enough buzz on social media, along with a loaded waitlist.

"I live on the Upper East Side, two blocks away from where the supposed steakhouse was," said Kyle Hertzog, who was one of the hundreds who put his name on the waiting list and ultimately received an invite to the restaurant.

At that point, after all the faking, there was one thing left for the peers to do: make it.

They prepared for six months, renting out a place for Saturday night's gathering - inviting everyone on the waitlist.

As a testament to their commitment, Willy, Mehran and his roommates secured a one-day liquor license, food handling permit, and invited friends to come in to help serve a steak dinner.

"60 friends created a restaurant for one night," reads message on the website about the event, which included a

unique four-course meal and served over 100 guests.

The menu, centered around the theme of the evening "The Bovine Circle of Life," featured mixed green salad, veal meatballs, bruschetta with mozzarella, ribeye with rosemary potatoes, and more.

"I think I counted only 30 or so tables and there were probably 50 people on staff," said Hertzog. "You could tell the majority of them probably did not wait a table in their lives."

It wasn't long before diners eventually realized the whole thing was a ruse, but most took it in stride.

"I would say, I think my friend who I was dining with put it best," Hertzog added. "I've paid more for less."

An exclusive dining experience - if only for one night.

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