Each July, Maisano and a half dozen artists begin the two-month process of recreating Rolf’s canopy of garland, ribbon and ornaments—many are vintage finds and Bavarian imports. We stopped by to admire their handiwork and to chat with Rolf’s patrons and employees. Click through to meet them and find out what drew them to this unabashed holiday haven.
Chelsea Henriquez, Queens, NYC
“There’s no other more Christmas place in the City. Rolf’s is just the epitome of Christmas. You come in and you feel the spirit right away. Courtney [pictured on next slide] and I are both content creators, so we wanted to capture that feeling for our audiences.”
Courtney Seamon, Manhattan, NYC
“I came here once last year just to take pictures, but it seemed a lot more hectic. This is pretty chill. I used to live in Brooklyn and then I moved to Murray Hill not far from here. Now all the iconic Christmas stuff like Grand Central, Rockefeller Center, Radio City—plus this place—is nearby, which is so fun.”
Alice Casey (left), Manhattan, NYC
“My friends are visiting. I live in the City so I invited them to come here because it’s festive and they’ve never been. We’re very lucky to get in because we didn’t have a reservation. “
Brian and Mary Cummins, Spring Lake, New Jersey
“We feel like we’re in Bavaria.”
Linda and Alison Clay, Long Island, New York
Linda: “We’ve known of this place for years but it’s our first time in here. We always come into the City this time of year—just mom and daughter. Our first impression of the restaurant was ‘Wow.’ I was curious if anything would be dusty, but there’s no dust at all.”
Minnie Mendez (left), Carolina, Puerto Rico, and Natalie Gonzalez, Manhattan, NYC
Natalie: “She’s like, We could do this at home! I was like, Yeah, ok, think again. It is beautiful though. If you are a grinch, you won’t be one after you come here. It’s a must-see place in New York City for the holidays.”
Inside Rolf’s Restaurant
“I was here way before those lines started,” says Robert Maisano, manager of Rolf’s German restaurant in Gramercy. He gestures toward the eager guests who are queued up on Third Avenue, waiting for a glimpse at the extravagant Christmas decorations the restaurant is known for. It’s thanks to Maisano that Rolf’s is the master at decking the halls. “I started working here in 1981, and the decor wasn’t nearly as extensive as this,” he says. “I thought we needed to be more standout-ish, make a statement.” Some 150,000 lights, yards of hanging garland and a smattering of antique dolls later, Rolf’s has made its holiday spirit loud and clear. Take an up-close look at what’s—and who’s—inside.