Omar’s La Ranita
Written by Courtney McConnell
We arrive on set around ten to Omar’s La Ranita for our cover shoot; the morning is the first beautiful morning of the season and La Ranita is everything I expected and more. The charming location and exterior compliment the glamorous at-home vibe perfectly, and inside you’ll find nothing short of elegance and imagination. As you descend past the topiaries into the open dining room and bar, you’re received by an alluring display of candlelight, rich, vibrant colors and textures, and an incredible full room hand painted blind contour mural by Ian Sklarsky. Beyond the bar to the left boasts an impressive black and white tiled hallway with stunning indigo and orchid pieces alining the walls that leads you to the private dining room and lounge.
The dining room is light, airy, and intimate with an amazing view of a small but lush garden that houses a remarkable greek bust. The sunlight pours in over the tables and chic black leather wing chairs as the rich forest striped walls and palm plants give you a lovely Beverly Hills Hotel affect. The lounge is an ideal complement to the dining room across the hall; lavish leopard prints and stunning accents of deep chartreuse, plush velvet and leather couches, a lovely stone fireplace and touches of gold create an edgy, luxurious feel throughout.
At about quarter of eleven, Omar Hernandez arrives, early, and greets us all with a warm and chic “Good morning, babies”. He is a perfect gentleman and introduces himself individually to those of us who he’d not yet met with a single la bise and a friendly hug. He speaks with a truly gorgeous Venezuelan accent and offers us all some scones and tarts. I happily accept.
The rest of the day is spent shooting and having a great time, as Omar has a lovely playful personality yet remains dutifully professional (which is why we actually finished on time, despite a technical error and reshooting two scenes). It’s time for our interview, so we set up in the private dining room. He again offers me more food or drink, to which I now decline, as I am still very full from all the scones.
On redefining success
“To me, the word success kind of encompasses a lot different aspects of one person’s life. And in business, I measure success by your level of passion. So, if you remain passionate, and you still have that sort of spark to you for what you do, that to me is extremely successful. And beside what the world may think of what your success should be about, it’s what you feel inside your success should be about that matters.”
On being an “awe jockey”
“I am passionate about a lot of things. Outside of my work I indulge in simple things; I love driving. I know it sounds vague, banal even, but driving for me is one of those things that allows me to be mobile, and experience many things in the city in a short amount of time. I consider myself an awe jockey. Anything that gives me the sensation of awe and of fun, I’m down for it.”
On his love of food
“I am in the restaurant business, so I am always passionate about discovering new flavors. I love going to new places and experiencing different cultures. I just want to discover the world; I try to absorb as much as I can. I think that’s my high.”
On his fashion inspirations
“I’m inspired by a lot of different designers. I think that right now for me, I still remain faithful to those 1970’s Yves Saint Laurent suits for men, I think they are timeless. I always try to replicate that, and I always try to find a designer that gets inspired by that. I’m also very much about my own tailoring, I love to take something like a beautiful Dior sort of a slim jacket, and somehow make it my own. I don’t necessarily go for brands so much anymore as I do shapes. I think for work, I am a big fan of Paul Smith, because he has the best utilitarian suits I can find. I think for dressing up I prefer European designers because they understand better the slim, 36 shoulder. They seem to understand my body type, and that is what I usually go for.”
On his celebrity clientele
“We’ve been here a little over a year and we’ve been visited by just an explosion of different friends, and headliners, celebrities and artists, financiers. It’s a great mix, and we’ve been very blessed to have the opportunity to meet a lot of great people. We’re very lucky that way, but I think in the end it’s because what we try to embrace here is the culture of a home, and we try to further the culture into the possibility that this could be home for everyone.”
On the design of Omar’s
“I have wonderful friend and interior designer that was sort of the magic maker of this whole space, Dan Mazzarini from BHDM; I would say I gave him a little bit of what I wanted the restaurant to feel and look like and he took it from there and created his beautiful inspirations from that. That was a very fortunate situation for me to have someone who truly understands your desire for a space and translated it into something that became way more than I expected. I understand now what it takes to create something that is beautiful and luxurious, but at the same time very simple. I think that is the key, and that was what I was so happy about seeing the final product, the idea that someone can take sort of a guideline and create a space that makes you feel even better than what you expected. I gave him some materials and memories, from my childhood, and from that he has created the story of my life a little bit here.” ✦
When I think of Omar’s, I think of the NYC melting pot, the city full of opportunity (remember that story?!) and think to myself ‘See, he came to NY to follow his dreams!” But the truth is, it’ s the passion for what he does that makes Omar’s one of the hottest restaurants in NYC. It’s his drive that got him to where he is today…well ok, being in NYC might have helped but ultimately his happiness and success comes from within. With that my friends, I hope you too draw as much inspiration from Omar himself as from the fabulous decor, as I do.
And yes there is more to this story, aren’t you curious who the masterminds of the interior design are and what inspired them?! I’ll tell you this much, you won’t be disappointed.
Xx, Fanny Z