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A new era for pre-train dining is on the horizon as Penn Station’s newest complex, the Moynihan Train Hall, plans to open a brand-new, upscale food hall in its state-of-the-art station. Hungry LIRR and Amtrak commuters longing for something other than Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, Chopt, and H&H Bagels will have to wait, however, as the majority of its planned food kiosks have yet to open.
The 25,000 square-foot complex, managed by developer Vornado Realty Trust, is now anchored by The Bar, which has just opened. The concept has been developed by hospitality giant HPH, the owners of Le District, Harry’s, and the beloved Dead Rabbit.
The Bar is an elegant watering hole outfitted with warm, walnut wood features not unlike the interior of the Dead Rabbit. It also has the advantage of being open to all visitors in the train hall, Madison Square Garden, and Penn Station — unlike Amtrak’s new Metropolitan Lounge, which is currently only open to ticket holders. The Bar will also provide desperately-needed seating in the main train hall which, as the Patch noted this summer, is notoriously short on benches.
The food hall will soon have outposts of several New York-centric franchises like the UWS-founded comfort food joint Jacob’s Pickles, Sauce Pizzeria, EAK Ramen (whose other locations include a shop in Hell’s Kitchen), Birch Coffee (which recently closed its flagship Nolita location), the Parker Meridien’s beef speakeasy Burger Joint, Brooklyn-based Threes Brewing, and Italian specialty shop Alidoro.
While the food hall’s opening elicited more of a whisper than a bang due to its limited inventory and the holiday onslaught of Omicron, HPH partner Danny McDonald asserted that traffic was steadily climbing as The Bar goes through typical opening steps. “We only got our liquor license this month and we didn’t put the vodka on the bar until last Friday. We’ve seen a steady stream of more people every day,” McDonald told The New York Post. The jury is still out as to whether Moynihan will fare better than the previous Penn Station-adjacent market, Pennsy, which closed in March of 2020.
And Moynihan isn’t the only part of Penn Station that’s under construction — Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced a plan to scale up renovations for the station’s main building, which has been undergoing improvements over the past several years.
Hochul proposed spending as much as $7 billion and said the renovations would focus on brightening the preternaturally dark and dingy station (frequently named America’s Worst Train Station) by removing its upper level. It’s unclear what specific food options would be included in the larger Penn Station’s renovation plans, and what will replace the many kiosks shuttered during construction. For now, diners looking for a bite can grab a beer at The Bar to hold them over.