The Roxy Files: Ruddy Harootian

Every team member at The Roxy wears multiple hats and has multiple identities- both on and off the floor. We’re behind the bar, we’re assisting guests, we’re pouring champagne or tending to rooms. But once we leave the property, we’re also artists, musicians, performers, designers and entrepreneurs. We champion individuality at The Roxy – and in life.

Perfectly emphasizing this idea is our Chef Concierge, Ruddy Harootian. For years now, Ruddy has been sharing his love of New York and art, by offering custom art tours of this great city. His weekly jaunts are a combination of street art, history and local gems- including favorite shops and culinary delights – the makings of a perfect tour.

When did you start the tours and why?

After living in Washington, D.C for 2 years I came back to NYC and dove into photography. My first project was a focus on the art underground in and around different train station platforms. So many people would ask me questions while I was out taking pictures that it inspired me to do a bit more research. All of a sudden, I was reading books about mosaics, tiles and the backgrounds of all of these different artists…then it hit me – why don’t I share this with people and start a neighborhood art crawl? It would let me interact with so many different people and it would let me share this incredible knowledge I’d been able to get my hands on.

How do you go about creating the tours – do you find suitable partners and shape the walks around them?

After the success of The Art Underground I felt that a natural progression was to take the tour above ground. It was also around the same time I started working at The Roxy Hotel. I was merging everything that I was learning and adding it to this exciting art experience project. I decided that Street Art would provide me a dynamic subject but also, NYC is an urban art gallery that is always changing. There is new art to explore all the time and many different neighborhoods to see. Once I started walking around to see what I could find, I started exploring the restaurants and shops in the area. It was natural for me to think that including these local shops and venues would not only enhance the tour, but create lasting memories and make people fans of places they might have missed on their own wanderings. People always remember how you made them feel and food definitely gives all the feels.

Do you have a favorite area that you’re touring right now, or perhaps a favorite pit stop?

My favorite pit stop is Stick With Me Sweets. No one can resist gourmet chocolate. Susanna Yoon was someone I connected with early on and I included the shop in the very first street art crawl I did. Ever since then it’s been included in almost every single tour. I feel like I’m becoming a brand ambassador for them because I’m so passionate about the confections they create. Our working together will reach new heights in July when Stick With Me Sweets release their limited edition flavor – Ruddy Was Here! I know! I’m still in shock and I’m honored.

Do people book your tours on your website?

My website is more of a collage, a hodgepodge. I like to think it’s a mood board. It’s important for me that people see what influences me and what my experiences are because all of these ideas could potentially be used to make a customized tour. People have been booking my tours via email for the most part. Right now I am working with AirBnB on a potential listing in the new AirBNB experiences site. I’ve also been pushing the tours with my concierge network who spread the word for me, and put my contact out there to their guests. Word of mouth has been my biggest ally.

How often are you holding tours?

Right now I am doing them about once a week, usually Sundays or Mondays.

Do you have a target audience for these tours – younger / older/ visitors / city residents?

Anyone can enjoy these experiences. The fact that I can customize them based on the type of food you like or the neighborhood you want to explore make them very accessible. I’m always really pleased when I get locals on the tour and they are walking around with me, experiencing something new.

Best comment you’ve had from someone on your tour?

My mom has actually been on a few and she got “Ruddy Was Here” tattooed on her back. I was shocked because she just did it without telling anyone, but she’s really proud of me and is my biggest cheerleader. Her support means everything to me.

What’s getting you excited about downtown neighborhoods right now – the weather? New openings? Upcoming events?

RH: The Lower East Side still has a gritty vibe, which I love. There’s always a new restaurant or project that I hear about that  catches my eye. It’s a neighborhood that has a lot of history. As an immigrant, I think the stories on the Lower East Side are invaluable to the American experience. Mix that in with the new and all of the art you can access and it makes for a great tour!

To learn more about the tours and to book one for yourself, please visit www.RuddyWasHere.com or contact Ruddy over instagram @ruddywashere.