District Profile: Jeffrey LeFrancois
March 14, 2019
Name: Jeffrey LeFrancois
Title: Executive Director
Organization/Business: Meatpacking BID
What do you do, and how did you get here?
I’m the new Executive Director for the Meatpacking District! I’ve been working for the neighborhood for the past four years as the Director of Operations + Community Affairs and am thrilled to be stepping up into this new role. In this new position, I’ll do more work with property owners, retail and restaurant establishments, elected officials, residents, and city agencies to ensure the Meatpacking District remains a cutting-edge, ever-evolving neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. I’m excited to work to further the brand of the neighborhood, develop programming, and drive local and visitor traffic.
We’re a 24-hour district, and making sure people know you can have breakfast, peruse a gallery, restock your wardrobe and hit it hard on the dance floor all in the same day is pretty unique.
We’re in a moment of discovery, which is very exciting. After four years of construction, 20,000 square feet of plazas will be returned to the public for use. People will be able to enjoy a rendezvous spot to have coffee outside or eat lunch, people watch, and for the BID we’ll be able to activate them and bring public art to the neighborhood.
It’s an exciting time for our part of town, and it’s an honor to be a voice and advocate for the whole neighborhood.
What do you love about Meatpacking?
That even in a city like New York with five boroughs and a hundred plus neighborhoods, it still stands out as the cool corner of Manhattan. The juxtaposition of old and new shines here. It’s exciting to build upon what has become a fascinating intersection of fashion, food, art, tech, and nightlife.
If you had 15 minutes, how will you spend it in the neighborhood?
I would pop into Chelsea Market to sample and end up buying several cheeses from Saxleby’s at Chelsea Local. I’d either grab a coffee and enjoy it in 14th Street Park, or go do some quick window shopping at The Kooples or Mr. Turk to make mental notes to return later with more time to try and buy.
If I’m feeling artsy, I’d peruse the public gallery at the Whitney Museum on the first floor.
Where is your favorite place to grab a cortado?
If I’m north of 14th St, Ninth Street Espresso. I like standing at their rough rock counter, swirling the yellow porcelain cup and sipping through it, watching the residual steamed milk and espresso combination leave its mark on the side of the glass like an ebbing tide.
If I’m south of 14th St, Kobrick Coffee if I’m solo; Kava if I’m +1. Our coffee shops are boisterous from the chatter of customers, bean grinder, and steamer that together create a coffee cacophony in the air. It’s a lot of fun.
What’s your most memorable moment or experience in Meatpacking?
As a political junkie, I loved watching Amanda Burden, the former City Planning Commissioner, make her way across the cobblestoned Ninth Avenue in heels. She is a storied and consummate New Yorker who has dated Charlie Rose for years and so I wanted to stop her and ask what she thought of the neighborhood. So much of the Bloomberg Administration’s work around us has been realized now — the High Line, the Whitney Museum, landmarkings, and re-zonings that surround and affect the neighborhood. I’d be curious to hear her thoughts.
On an early April morning in 2015, there was a group of three people looking quite confused on the northeast corner of 14th Street and Ninth Avenue. I asked if they were looking for something. “A real New York bagel,” a gently aged lady with a sweet southern accent blurted out, grinning ear to ear. “Well, I’m going to the deli right across the street and they have wonderful bagels. Follow me” She grabbed my arm and looked at her friend and said “I’m with him!” They were in town from Texas, and she had just visited NYC for the first time last year at age 76. “So you came back again to party some more, huh?” I said. “You’re darn right I did!” I then talked them through the customs of deli edict, how you walk to the back to order and slowly inch forward as requests of eggs and cheese, tuna salad on a roll, and bagels of all sorts are sliced, toasted, smeared, wrapped, and passed off to eager customers. After some laughs and more storytelling, her daughter insisted on buying my breakfast. It was a wholly unexpected gesture and I’d say we all made each other’s morning.
What new openings in the district are you most excited about?
I’m not over the luster of RH being here. Its coffee shop is a gem because you grab a cup then take your meeting while enjoying any of the furniture anywhere in the gallery. Talk about a comfortable meeting spot! And we’ve got a bit of a home design center, with RH, Arhaus, and AYU all within two blocks of each other.
I’m also super excited that Pastis is opening anew. Even as a vegetarian, I’m happiest at French bistros where I’m content with salty fries and martinis or good wine.
What should we know about you outside of Meatpacking?
I’m an avid potter. On Monday nights after 8pm, I’m hard to reach because I’m at my pottery studio in Hell’s Kitchen down the street from my house, usually until 11pm.
I also love to cook (it’s a therapy) and I get pretty excited when it comes to talking about public transit, especially ferry service.