President & CEO of Merchants Hospitality Inc.
14-year BPC Resident
Favorite Battery Park City Spot: Teardrop Park
After emigrating from Pakistan to New York over 32 years ago, Abraham Merchant started his career in the hospitality industry. As time progressed, he quickly moved up the corporate ladder, holding a series of positions with increased responsibility and eventually began managing restaurants.
In 1986, Abraham founded Merchants Hospitality Inc., a full service hospitality company. One of the company’s first milestones was the opening of Anaconda, a modern Brazilian restaurant in the East Village. Merchant soon expanded with the opening of another establishment in the Village called Art Bar, which was known for its casual Bohemian vibe. Abraham says he learned just how successful this bar was when he read in the Michelin Guide that you would have to “sell your soul” to get a seat there!
Abraham later decided to open Merchants NY in Chelsea where his goal was to create something unique that introduced a living room concept on the ground floor. This type of arrangement was the first of its kind for a restaurant in New York and it was meant to provide a cozy environment where people would feel comfortable to sit back and take their time.
In 1999, Merchant’s SouthWest NY opened along the waterfront in the World Financial Center. Abraham’s decision to establish a presence in Battery Park City was prompted by one of his business partners, who one day was visiting and experienced firsthand the beauty and promise of the developing neighborhood.
Due to the events of September 11, 2001, Abraham was forced to temporarily close SouthWest NY for several months. Thanks to the high demand & patronage from local workers and residents he was able to re-open in February 2002, making SouthWest NY the first restaurant in Battery Park City to re-open following the attack. Due to his commitment to stay in the area following that tumultuous time, he is credited with helping restore confidence in Downtown. Despite the many challenges and obstacles of that time, Abraham decided then Battery Park City was where he belonged.
SouthWest NY relocated to South End Avenue and Albany Street in 2012 and shortly thereafter was accompanied by another Merchant enterprise – Black Hound Bar & Lounge. Like the original Merchants in Chelsea, the space incorporates a casual and relaxed atmosphere. The next year Abraham decided to expand further in Battery Park City with the opening of Merchant’s River House along the Esplanade.
Aside from business, Abraham enjoys tennis, squash and spending time with his family in Battery Park City, which has been his home for the past 14 years. He and his 10-year old son spend many days at Teardrop Park, riding their bikes on the Esplanade before stopping at the local Le Pain Quotidien for a muffin.