If you are a fan of old New York (think Mad Men, The Apartment, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s), then you are definitely going to want to consider the Campbell for your wedding reception, as there is nothing quite more classic than this New York institution. Not only is it absolutely exquisite, but its rich history will give your guests lots to talk about at cocktail hour. Tucked in the southwest corner of Grand Central Terminal, this was the original private office and reception hall of financier John William Campbell back in 1923. And though he mainly used it for business affairs, he also threw the occasional party with guests like his neighbor William K. Vanderbilt. Plus, who wouldn’t want to show off such an amazing space? Campbell had the 25-foot ceilings hand-painted in an ornate Italian pattern to go with the chairs and rug he had shipped in from abroad.
As you can imagine, after Campbell died and many years passed, the space began to decay, even temporarily serving as a jail and where the Metro-North Commuter Railroad police stored their guns. Finally, in 1999 Hospitality Holdings bought it and did a $2.5-million renovation, but still made sure to keep much of the original design, including the beautiful grand stone fireplace and original bar topped with green quartzite. Named the Campbell Apartment, it quickly became a hotspot for the Midtown business crowd—everyone loved the throwback to classic New York with a strictly enforced dress code required (no flipflops and shorts here!). The Campbell Apartment was even featured in a pivotal scene in the Gossip Girl pilot!
Being such a popular place, New Yorkers were surprised and upset to hear last year that the venue, home to many weddings, was being closed. However, it turned out it was actually just in the process of being renovated once again when the Gerber Group (the group behind Mr.Purple) took over the property. As part of their acquisition, they renamed it the Campbell, spruced up some of the décor with new custom mohair and leather furnishings along with carpeting (but again very much staying with the original designs), as well as opening up two bars right outside of the main space to allow more people to get into New York’s most historic bar (there is often a line out the door).
Now there is the Campbell Palm Court, an indoor lounge with rattan bar stools and high top café tables surrounded by towering palm trees with a view into the main terminal, and the Campbell Terrace, a sweeping outdoor covered veranda complete with a full bar, where guests can enjoy the weather as well as the bustle of Midtown. Randy Kemper, designer at Ingrao Inc. says, “We focused on restoring the space’s original features, while utilizing traditional materials and design features whenever possible. The end result is a breathtaking revitalization that brings the historic venue seamlessly into the 21st century while paying homage to its storied past.”
With these new upgrades, the Campbell is the perfect location for a party after a City Hall wedding or a Central Park ceremony. Since it is located right near Midtown, you are right by some of the best hotels in the world, not to mention great shopping, museums, and access to the subway. Plus, Grand Central is a sight to see in and of itself. The venue can accommodate up to 250 guests, but does not do seated dinners, only reception-style events. For weddings, the Campbell's price range will be between $20,000 and $60,000 (depending on date and time).
Though the Campbell itself is a showstopper, it's the new cocktails that accompany the reopening that will really get your guests talking (though they may start to slur eventually). The full bar has all your classic drinks, but some of their new concoctions are absolutely perfect for a wedding—see the beautiful violet-colored Aviation (made with Nolet’s Gin, crème de violette, Maraschino liqueur, and fresh lemon). Any bride, perhaps in a classic 1950s white dress (Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face), would look lovely holding a coupe as she chats with her guests. For the groom, how about the Blonde Negroni or the Vieux Carré, made with cognac and Benedictine? For a summer wedding, the Grand Central Spritz is the perfect light mix, made with Grey Goose, St. Germain, mint, and Prosecco.
The fare includes the Butcher’s Block, with charcuterie and country pâté; crispy tuna tartare tacos (with smoked chipotle mayonnaise); and meatball sliders (with Pecorino and basil). A kale and endive salad (toasted pistachio, Pecorino, and mint), a French dip (with caramelized onions and red wine au jus), and superb mini grilled cheeses (with aged Gruyère and smoked mozzarella on sourdough) are lovely small-bite options.
For the couple that is all about New York City and wants to celebrate amid its glorious past, the Campbell should definitely be high on your list. And you can take a train to your honeymoon destination immediately after the party!