This Inside Goldman Deal Comes Steamed, With Sauce
The New York Times 1/12/12
By KEVIN ROOSE
Ángel Franco/The New York TimesThe Rickshaw Dumpling truck often parked near the old offices of Goldman Sachs on Broad Street; above, at Broadway and 55th and 56th Street.
Kenny Lao has the kinds of credentials — a master’s in business administration from New York University and a former job as a Wall Street analyst — that might come in handy when pitching business to Goldman Sachs.
But the only deals he had to offer Goldman were stuffed, steamed and served in packs of six.
Mr. Lao is the co-founder of Rickshaw Dumpling Bar, a Manhattan restaurant that has been serving up dumplings since 2005. This week, Rickshaw was invited to sell its dumplings inside Goldman’s cafeteria, an 11th-floor outpost inside the firm’s gleaming skyscraper at 200 West Street in Lower Manhattan.
“It looks like ‘Gattaca,’” Mr. Lao said of the bank’s commissary, referring to the 1997 science-fiction film. The cafeteria features sleek chairs and futuristic décor and windows overlooking the Hudson River. “It’s so far from my dirty, gross life on the street.”
Goldman’s dumpling connection began several years ago, when Rickshaw operated a food truck that often parked near the bank’s former headquarters on Broad Street. When the firm moved to the new building in 2010, Rickshaw found it harder to park nearby.
“So many Goldman people e-mailed us, telling us to come to 200 West,” Mr. Lao said.
This winter, a Goldman representative asked Rickshaw to sell dumplings for a week in its cafeteria, which on most days features sushi, a carving station and upscale menu items like truffled macaroni and cheese. Mr. Lao jumped at the opportunity.
“The truck business is very cyclical,” he said. “For us to have the opportunity to be indoors at a company where we have fans is great.”
Mr. Lao has been observing his Goldman clientele with interest. They tend to eat lunch in regular shifts, he said, around 11:35 a.m., and 12:15 and 1:30 p.m. They prefer the pork and chicken-based dumplings to the vegetarian option, an edamame-based dumpling with lemon sansho dip. (“A very meaty crowd,” he said of the bankers.)
And despite the firm’s food-stocked headquarters, he said he hasn’t noticed any visible heft in the work force.
“There are all these skinny Indian girls and ex-rowers from Princeton,” he said.
Goldman declined to comment.
Mr. Lao, a 1998 graduate of Brown who worked briefly at Putnam Investments after college, has even seen several of his old college classmates during his Goldman stint. “They’re all managing directors now, and they come up to me and I’m sweating through lunch,” he said. “It’s a little degrading.”
Goldman’s cafeteria, which is run by Aramark, often features guest chefs and food brought in from New York restaurants like Hill Country. At a coffee bar just outside the cafeteria, employees can buy La Colombe coffee and cookies from Bouchon Bakery, the high-end establishment founded by the chef Thomas Keller
Rickshaw, which has three Manhattan locations in addition to its truck, has done a brisk business this week — selling as much as it normally does during a busy summer week, according to Mr. Lao.
Asked if he had picked up any insight on Goldman’s finances as the bank heads into earnings season, Mr. Lao laughed and said he had not.
“I know they’re bullish on dumplings,” he said.