New Food Hall in Amazon’s ‘Hank’ Building to Be Named for Female Retail Trailblazer

Food halls have been trending in New York City in recent years and many are just steps away from shopping areas, like Hudson Yards’ Mercado Little Spain and Rockefeller Center’s Urban Hawker.  So it’s fitting that the site of the former Lord & Taylor flagship will house a 35,000-square-foot one.

As another fashion nod, the dining destination will be called Shaver Hall in honor of the late Dorothy Shaver, who became the retailer’s first female president in 1945. Meant to be an homage to the pioneering executive, the moniker could also be seen as a collision of the old and the new. Shaver Hall will rest on the ground floor of what is now known as Amazon’s “Hank” building at 424 Fifth Avenue.

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Slated to open next spring or summer, the dining destination is being developed by the Food Hall Co. and will have more than 10 food stalls, including ones from Chick Chick and Taqueria Al Pastor, as well as two bars, a bodega and live music. Along with the thousands of pedestrians who stream past the historic Starrett & van Vleck-designed Italian Renaissance Revival building, Hank has “collaborative workspaces” for 2,000 employees, who will have new meal options.

Julie Satow, whose new book “When Women Ran Fifth Avenue” features Shaver, said she found the name “a tad strange, considering that a food hall has little to do with fashion, or Lord & Taylor — and Dorothy, as the president of the store, played a vital role in promoting American designers.”

But Satow said she was also happily surprised that Shaver’s name was recognizable enough that they would have thought to use it and hopes it will resonate with people. “Dorothy deserves greater recognition as an incredible female powerhouse. She championed American designers during World War II, before which U.S. fashions were almost exclusively copies of Parisian originals. And she was the first female executive to rake in a salary of more than $1 million,” the author said.

The author said Shaver arrived in New York City in 1919, as a single woman in her 20s, from a small town in Arkansas. “Through ambition and intelligence, some two decades later, she was president of one of the country’s oldest department stores, and dubbed ‘America’s No. 1 Career Woman’ by Life magazine,” Satow said.

The Food Hall Co. wanted to be sure the name had a “really important and impactful story,” and research into the building and Lord & Taylor led to Shaver, according to fractional chief marketing officer Emma May-Bradley. “So much of how she led and what she did at Lord & Taylor is also how we think about food halls,” May-Bradley said.

How Shaver and her legacy will be worked into Shaver Hall is still to be decided. “It’s likely that we will use a lot of the rich colors that Lord & Taylor was known for into our design expression. We’re looking to work with a lot of up-and-coming artists like she did,” May-Bradley said.

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