District Profile: Suzanne Dumaine of Three Owls Market
September 19, 2019
Earlier this year, the Meatpacking District welcomed a new neighbor. Three Owls Market is an all-day market and café serving some of the best breakfast sandwiches you can get in the neighborhood. We spoke with Three Owls’ Chef + Founder, Suzanne Dumaine, to learn more about the inspiration behind the restaurant, why she loves the neighborhood, and more.
Name: Suzanne Dumaine
Title: Chef + Founder
Organization/Business: Three Owls Market
You opened Three Owls Market in the neighborhood recently. Can you tell us a bit about the Three Owls Market story and the role you play as both the chef and owner?
Three Owls is truly the business I’ve always wanted to create: a brick and mortar cross-section between a local neighborhood cafe, gourmet specialty market, deli, and wine bar. The name comes from a bedtime story my father made up for me about three owls who travel the world every night having all sorts of adventures. Given this is my grand adventure, and my father is my role model for entrepreneurship, it felt fitting to name the place after them.
While we opened a few months ago, I worked on this concept for the past two years, building the menu, the design and the concept. It’s a cliche, but it really is my baby. As the chef and owner, I oversee the direction of the food, the recipes, the display, the merchandise and new initiatives like our quickly-growing catering business. And yes, sometimes I’m also the one making your latte or breakfast sandwich.
You were previously the Director of Operations at Plated. Can you tell us more about your background (how you became a chef) and what led you to open Three Owls Market in the neighborhood?
I was constantly cooking and inventing new dishes as a kid, but going to a liberal arts college didn’t exactly lead me down a professional culinary path. I was working for a media company after graduating, and the urge to switch careers ultimately became too strong, and I was off to culinary school. I haven’t looked back since! I had spent my career in food media and food tech, working at companies like Plated.com and Food Network, but I began to crave the brick and mortar, four walls experience where I could match my love of recipe development most directly with my love of feeding people. I wanted to interact with my customers and be able to react to their feedback quickly to create a place people love and visit over and over. The neighborhood provides the ideal blend of residents, engaged tourists and offices to make that happen.
What do you recommend people try as a meal when visiting Three Owls Market for the first time?
I’m asked this all the time, and it’s a tough one; I’m so proud of every single thing we make here. That said, there’s a special place in my heart for the breakfast sandwiches, the rotisserie chicken and our salted butter chocolate chip cookies.
As a new business in the neighborhood, what do you love about Meatpacking?
When I first started developing the concept for Three Owls, I immediately envisioned this pocket of the city. Meatpacking has gone through several changes over the past 15 years that I’ve been living in New York, but right now feels like an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the neighborhood. Some of the most influential cultural contributions to the city are right here — the High Line, the Whitney Museum and Hudson River Parks – which are undergoing enormous change. The energy here is truly incredible, and the warm welcome I’ve gotten from local residents, offices and institutions has surpassed my expectations. Plus, the water view around the corner doesn’t hurt!
If you had a few hours, how would you ideally spend the day?
An ideal day in Meatpacking would start early, when it’s still quiet. I would grab a coffee from one of the many great places around here — I particularly love Kobrick if I’m not having coffee at Three Owls — and sit in the plaza. Next stop: The Whitney Museum, followed by a stroll on the High Line. Because the food couldn’t be better in the ‘hood, I would swing by a couple other favorites — RH rooftop for a giant, perfect salad, and then High Street on Hudson for Melissa Weller’s pastries. I’d wrap up the day with trout dip and a glass of wine at Three Owls, stopping to admire the sunset view down the cobblestone streets.
Where do you go to escape the crowds? People watch?
One of my favorite escapes is to dip out to Untitled, and post up at the bar with a glass of wine from their always-fantastic list. The space is somehow both serene and energizing, and with a wall of windows, prime people watching for the folks who have come from around the world to see the Whitney.
What do you believe makes Three Owls Market unique, specifically for New York City?
New York has an old history of delis and gourmet prepared food shops, and a more recent history of fast casual concepts, but not much in between. Three Owls is a place that is distinctly of and for its neighborhood, representing a modern take on the deli, the corner store and the local eatery, all rolled into one.
You can find Three Owls on October 12 at Harvest Fest. RSVP here.