When Sheldon “Shelly” Fireman opened Redeye Grill across from Carnegie Hall 25 years ago, the term “restauranteur” didn’t exist. But by that point, he’d already gained local celebrity status for Greenwich Village’s all-night Hip Bagel and had the foresight to open Cafe Fiorello near recently completed Lincoln Center. Today, Shelly is the CEO of Fireman Hospitality Group, which operates six restaurants in NYC as well as two on the Potomac River in Maryland. And though he can most definitely be called a restauranteur now, Shelly stands out amongst the myriad food influencers in the city. Though his establishments exude an old-school New York charm and certain nostalgia, he has found the formula to withstand the test of time.
After a 2018 kitchen fire, the iconic Redeye Grill reopened in July. We recently sat down to lunch with Shelly to hear more about his story and take a tour of this classic Midtown restaurant.