Launching Lord’s

On the eve of opening her second NYC restaurant, Patricia Howard ’13 reflects on her burgeoning empire.


Photographs by Jörg Meyer

Patricia Howard ’13 has a lot on her plate right now. She also has, quite literally, a lot of plates. She and her partner, chef Ed Szymanski, recently returned from a trip to Europe where they visited flea markets and antique shops to source vintage china, cutlery and glassware for their hotly anticipated new restaurant, Lord’s. When we met in mid-September, the resulting haul was stacked on almost every available surface of the inviting hunter green space. Now, with less than a week until Lord’s October 3 launch, Howard is putting the finishing touches on the English bistro that she and Szymanski hope will cement their reputation as two of NYC’s most exciting restaurateurs.

For those who don’t follow the city’s food scene, Howard and Szymanski’s first venture was Dame, an English seafood restaurant that became a critical darling and bona fide New York sensation (just ask the hundreds of diners on its waitlist every night). The seeds for Lord’s are in fact rooted in Dame, which was conceived as a meat-centric restaurant in the British nose-to-tail tradition. Howard and Szymanski launched a series of pop-up dinners in February 2020 to showcase their original Dame concept to potential investors, but Covid-19 quickly slammed the brakes on their plans.

With restaurants in New York closed, they found themselves debating what to do next — and the answer was charity. Inspired to act after George Floyd’s murder, the pair relaunched their Dame pop-up to raise money for Black Lives Matter, and pivoted from meat to seafood. “We realized how much sense that made during Covid,” she says. “People were cooking at home but they weren’t cooking fish — it smells up your apartment, and it’s intimidating.” Fish and chips became their star item: difficult to make at home, easily packaged to go, the dish became an instant lockdown smash hit.

Howard knew the couple had created something special when The New Yorker came calling. “When I was at Columbia, my dad would send issues to my mailbox in Lerner; it was always such a prestigious magazine to me,” she says. “I would bring my copy to a coffee shop and that would be my treat on the weekends. So for them to reach out and want to profile our little pop-up — where we served fish on paper boats — that was pretty surreal.”

By the end of that summer, Dame had raised $20,000 and Howard and Szymanski were ready to go brick and mortar. In June 2021, they opened at 87 Macdougal St., right next to where their pop-up had stood. With just 24 seats, a Dame reservation is now one of the hardest-to-get tickets in NYC. They wanted to reach more diners, so when a nearby space became available this past spring, the couple jumped on the opportunity to open a sister restaurant that would focus on their original concept (think beef Wellington, meat pies and skewers). At Lord’s, the focus is on creating an upscale bistro experience rather than the more casual vibe cultivated at Dame. “It will still be a party, but maybe less so than Dame,” Howard says. “We’re growing up, and so are the restaurants.”

Since signing the lease in May, Howard has been both managing daily operations for Dame and designing the build-out for Lord’s (she calls the look “something between English countryside home and hunting lodge”). She and Szymanski have mapped out how to divide their time between the spots, hiring more staff so they can move seamlessly between them. “The restaurants are three blocks apart and we live in the middle, so we’re hoping it’s possible!” she says with a laugh.

Howard’s journey to “it” restaurateur has been winding. A non-fiction creative writing major, she took a communications job at a startup after graduation but didn’t feel passionate about the work. “I didn’t have much of a direction,” she says. “I knew I was good at social media, I was good at writing, but I didn’t see a straight path toward a career.” A friend told her about an opening for an assistant role with the now-defunct Metric Hospitality Group, and she was suddenly thrust into the behind-the-scenes world of restaurant management and ownership, learning everything from legal dealings to managing finances and from ordering inventory to event planning. She later joined chef Angie Mar at The Beatrice Inn as her assistant and operations manager (it’s also where she met Szymanski). Howard then partnered with Greg Rales ’12 to open Red Gate Bakery in 2019 while she and Szymanski worked on their plans for Dame.

Sitting in a back booth at Lord’s, Howard was calm despite the mountains of boxes to unpack, décor left to hang and previously mentioned stacks of dishes to store. Balancing the demands of success has been challenging, but she is embracing the moment: “Neither of us were expecting it to be so successful, but I think we are both perfectionists and have very high standards for ourselves,” Howard says. “We would have been sad if it’s anything less than what it currently is.”