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Tishman Hires Barry Wine to Find New Operator for Rainbow Room

March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Restaurateur Barry Wine, who ran the Quilted Giraffe eatery in Midtown Manhattan, has been hired by Tishman Speyer Properties LP to find a new operator for the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center.

“We want to make it spectacular,” Wine said in an interview. “We want to make it more open to the public than it had been in the past.”

Tishman Speyer is seeking a new group to run the location after Cipriani USA Inc., the New York catering and luxury restaurant empire owned by Arrigo Cipriani and his son Giuseppe, agreed to leave at the end of July. Cipriani has operated the restaurant since 1999 and will depart after settling a court battle over a rent increase Tishman Speyer sought.

Wine said he has talked to a number of restaurant operators about the space. He declined to name them.

Wine opened the Quilted Giraffe on Second Avenue in 1979 and the 60-seat French brasserie became one of the most popular restaurants in Manhattan. It later moved to the Sony Corp. tower on Madison Avenue where it was regarded as a “sleek, trend- setting luxury restaurant,” according to a report in the New York Times in 1992.

The restaurant served items such as “lush beluga caviar beggar’s purses” and wasabi pizza, the newspaper said.

Tishman Speyer plans to close the Rainbow Room temporarily for renovations when Cipriani leaves, according to a statement issued by the real estate company.

The Ciprianis argued in court that in the current recession the Rainbow Room “could not possibly support” the rent Tishman Speyer sought. The family closed the Rainbow Grill restaurant on Jan. 12, citing a slowdown in business. They also accused Tishman-Speyer of seeking to evict the restaurant to convert the space, which has panoramic views of Manhattan, into offices.

“We remain committed to utilizing the space to house a world-class restaurant and have no intention of converting it to office space,” Tishman Speyer said.