Photo by Stefan Radtke
When Matthew Karp gave notice as sous chef at venerated Bouley restaurant in TriBeCa in 2002, he informed his wife, Wendy Weinstein Karp, that he was ready to open his own restaurant and had just the business partner in mind.
“I knew I needed Wendy,” Matthew, 42, says. For her part, “I always surprised myself by the amount of time I spent in the corporate world.” She had worked as a marketing exec for San Pellegrino until she opened her own marketing consulting business in 1999. “I was an entrepreneur trapped in a corporate person’s suit. I always wanted to do something on my own, so when this came about, I co-opted his vision.”
They opened Plates in Larchmont in 2004. “He cooks, and I cook the books,” Wendy, 50, quips. The restaurant has grown so successful that the couple has expanded the business to include catering. They also founded the Larchmont Farmers’ Market.
When Wendy wrote their business plan, she built in controls that would support their marriage and children. Any prospective building would have to be located near their Larchmont home and include a playroom for their kids. “I said, ‘Take a compass, and draw a three-mile radius around our house, and that’s where the restaurant can be.’ I knew if it were any farther, we’d never see him.”
The children became a part of the restaurant, spending Saturday nights in the playroom upstairs until they fell asleep. “They were in their pajamas,” Wendy says. “We called them Thing One and Thing Two. If they needed something, they knew they had to flag someone down. It was important that they knew when they were at the restaurant, they weren’t first in line.” In 2005 they had a third child—“Thing Three.”
A year and a half ago, the couple promoted an employee to the position of full-time business and catering manager so Wendy could focus on her marketing consulting business. “I always say it was child, child, restaurant, child,” Wendy says, “and the third one was the most needy.”