Ralph Lauren’s swanky celebrity haunt, Polo Bar, is changing its restaurant operator for the first time since it opened, The Post has learned.
The Fifth Avenue restaurant and bar, known for celebrity clients like Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez and Meghan Markle, has tapped hospitality management firm Apicii to replace Chicago-based Gibsons Restaurant Group, the fashion firm told The Post.
The restaurant’s 156 employees are expected to be retained by Apicii, the company said in explaining a New York state Department of Labor “WARN” notice for Polo Bar staffers filed last week. That’s good news for diners, who have grown loyal to the Polo Bar’s seasoned waiters and maitre d’s.
A Ralph Lauren official who asked not to be identified stressed that the change will not alter the customer experience.
Ralph Lauren did not explain why it was changing operators except to note that Apicii is based in the Big Apple. Apicii did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The current operator, Gibsons, will continue to look after Ralph Lauren’s Windy City eatery after the transition takes effect in February, officials from both companies said.
“Gibsons Restaurant Group have supported select administrative and operational aspects of RL Chicago and The Polo Bar,” a Ralph Lauren spokeswoman said in a statement. “For the The Polo Bar these functions will transition to a local New York-based provider in February.”
The Polo Bar’s town-and-country-style dining room, where patrons can nosh on a $70 Dover sole, has been a hot spot for big names, including President Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, since it opened in 2015. The restaurant’s power crowd was relieved in 2017 when Ralph Lauren said it would keep the eatery open despite the closure of the Fifth Avenue store.
The shift will put the Polo Bar in Apicii’s already elite portfolio, which includes several luxe restaurants and hotels such as The James in SoHo and the private dining room at the 432 Park Ave. skyscraper. The Greenwich Village-based company also provided underwriting for the catering and operations at the 42nd Street and Wall Street Cipriani restaurants, according to its website.
Ralph Lauren still has a “strong and longstanding” relationship with Gibsons, which has managed its Chicago restaurant for two decades, the Lauren spokeswoman said.
“We’re great partners with Ralph Lauren and intend to support them completely through the transition and beyond if they need our help,” said Becky Brzeczek, Gibsons’s vice president of human resources.
Additional reporting by Steve Cuozzo