Owners Talk Sourdough Starters, ‘Money Heist,’ Weight Gain in Quarantine


Ah, owners. The titans of industry. Captains of their domains. Masters of all they survey in the real estate capital of the world.

Well, that was until COVID-19 forced them out of Gotham and into (gasp!) the confines of their second homes.

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The past seven months have unleashed a kaleidoscope of emotions for most as we settled into home offices and — in the absence of all the fun stuff New York has to offer — learned to appreciate the simpler things in life: family, Netflix and homemade banana bread.

Of course, sitting on one’s derriere for several months embracing said uncomplicated joys does present the risk of gaining some extra poundage, a.k.a. the COVID 15.

Of the owners we surveyed, 31 percent gained weight, 23 percent lost weight, and 46 percent aren’t having to have their clothes altered at all.

Christopher Conlon, executive vice president and CEO of Acadia Realty Trust, gained a few pounds, but emphasized, in all caps, that it was “ALL MUSCLE … LOL.”

Jared Epstein, principal at Aurora Capital Associates, outperformed the average man and gained roughly 19 pounds.

Lightstone Group President Mitch Hochberg is turning to the British imperial system to convey his gain of “two stones” more gently.

And Craig Deitelzweig, president and CEO of Marx Realty & Improvement Co., is blaming any extra weight on Tara Stacom’s relentless KFC deliveries.

Hats off to John Catsimatidis, who lost a whopping 65 pounds to “get ready for a challenge in 2021.” (Commercial Observer is curious as to whether we might see The Red Apple Group and United Metro Energy chairman and CEO on “The Amazing Race” next year?)

Then, there’s Silverstein Properties CEO Marty Burger, a die-hard SoulCyclist, who dropped a pant size or two, as he now has a SoulCycle bike at Casa Burger. 

Nicholas Bienstock, co-managing partner at Savanna, won’t be pigeonholed: “While I put on the COVID 10, I exercised every day.  So, I’m fat and fit!”

As lockdown boredom ensued, our owners turned their attention from the dough in their pockets to another type of bread, churning out baked delicacies as they balanced Zoom calls with family life (or “not taking care of the grandkids,” in Durst Organization Chairman Douglas Durst’s case). 

Of the 30 owners who responded, 54 percent bucked the trend and didn’t bake banana bread OR sourdough, thank you very much. Instead, they opted for rye, babka, challah, monkey or — in the case of Leslie Himmel, co-managing partner at Himmel + Meringoff Properties — seven-grain bread. (“How’s that for a walk on the wild side?” she asked.) 

Those who did respond affirmatively were tied, with 23 percent on team sourdough and 23 percent who were bananas for banana bread. We don’t know how to settle this, other than having a live bake-off at some point.

Just don’t bother trying to impress Robert Lapidus, co-founder, president and chief investment officer of L&L Holding Company, with your Instagram-worthy creations, ok? “Bread has never really excited me,” he said.

“Netflix and chill” took on new meaning during the pandemic, as landlords escaped an unraveling world with some drama that wasn’t their own. Shows deemed binge-worthy include “Succession,” “Money Heist” and “The Last Kingdom,” while David Dishy, president of development and partner at L+M Development Partners, threw it way back and watched “The Sopranos.”

Jeffrey Levine, founder and chairman of Douglaston Development, binged the BBC serial killer hit “Luther,” after meeting Idris Elba at a function — we’d like to know if he can bring us next time — and also “Killing Eve.” Don’t cross Jeff in a dark alleyway, is all we’re saying.