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“Serendipity has always been about celebrity involvement,” said Serendipity3’s creative director Joe Calderone.

Iconic New York City brand Serendipity focuses on celebrity partnerships

After 67 years, the brand is trying to expand beyond New York City

Serendipity3 — or Serendipity, as it’s more commonly known — has been a New York City fixture for 67 years, hosting the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Kim Kardashian. It was forced to close for over a year due to COVID and the lack of outdoor dining at its flagship location in the Midtown East neighborhood. In July, it reopened with a new part owner, menu and plans for the future.

Serendipity3 reopened without the luxury of outdoor dining, which benefits many New York City operations, and the restaurant doesn’t offer takeout. But it has been busy. Since the July 9 opening, Serendipity3 has been emphasizing what made it famous in the first place: celebrities.

“Serendipity has always been about celebrity involvement,” said Serendipity3’s creative director Joe Calderone.

Marilyn Monroe, Gene Kelly, Andy Warhol, Cher and Grace Kelly have all graced the restaurant’s tables along with the brand’s new partner, actress and singer Selena Gomez. Gomez became a part owner in 2020 and recently collaborated with the brand on a new ice-cream flavor for its consumer packaged-goods line.

Calderone remembers some of these celebrities – like Gomez and Kim Kardashian – dining in Serendipity3, since he’s been with the restaurant for 35 years. But having Gomez on as a co-owner and investor has taken the brand’s celebrity involvement to a new level.

Since that announcement, Serendipity has also partnered with up-and-coming New York-based fashion brand Batsheva on its New York Fashion Week show in Fall 2021. Last week Serendipity3 announced a collaboration with the musical Waitress.

To celebrate the reopening of another New York City institution – Broadway – the restaurant began offering the “Pie in the Sky” sundae on its menu to celebrate one of Broadway’s hit shows.

Serendipity3’s desserts are almost as famous as the celebrities themselves, including the selection of sundaes and frozen hot chocolate, which has been sold nearly 30 million times, according to the brand.

Even without takeout, business hasn’t slowed down for the decades-old brand.

“On weekends we’re packed with a line out the door as usual,” Calderone said when asked whether the Delta variant was scaring off potential customers. “New York City is back, I believe, and people are really wanting to experience dining in again.”

Average checks run between $28 and $30 per person at Serendipity3.

The brand also just earned a Guinness World Record for the most expensive French fries. It can add that record to its list that also includes the most expensive milkshake, most expensive sandwich, and most expensive dessert.

“We're coming off … the big high of getting a new Guinness World Record right after the opening, which was another kind of thing that we did to really tell the world, ‘Hey, we’re back,’” said Calderone.

Its consumer packaged goods are also doing a good job keeping the Serendipty3 name in the mouths of Americans across the 20,000 stores that stock it. Calderone wouldn’t reveal what’s in store for the brand, but insisted that there are more consumer items coming down the pipeline.

Growth is also almost definitely ahead for Serendipty3. Calderone’s dream is to have 10 locations in the next 5 years. This would be the first brick-and-mortar growth in company history.

“We're looking to continue our line of greatness that we’ve experienced for all these years, and being in the forefront of things,” said Calderone. “We want to be the pioneers who start the trends, not follow.”

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