Over 50 Years Crafting The Art of Hospitality
In 1908, Benjamin J Denihan, an Irish immigrant, opened what was to become one of New York City’s most exclusive dry cleaning businesses, BJ Denihan Cleaners & Dyers, at 215 East 64th Street on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Early on, he realized that if his name was to be on the business, the quality of work must be something he was proud of – and he learned that if his employees were happy, his customers would be happy. With that philosophy guiding him-- and driven by unrelenting attention to detail -- he soon earned a loyal following among Manhattan’s elite, eventually expanding his business to serve the mansions of Long Island to the wealthy resorts of Florida. BJ Denihan Cleaners & Dyers’ enviable client list included the likes of the Rockefellers, the Astors, the JP Morgans, Marilyn Monroe and the Duchess of Windsor.
In 1963, when Manhattan real estate values were increasing, Benjamin "Bud" J. Denihan, son, namesake and now owner of his father's dry cleaning business, built an all-suite hotel on the site of the original dry cleaning plant on E 64th Street. Combining the last names of his parents, Lyons and Denihan, he called the hotel the "Lyden Gardens”. Today the hotel is Affinia Gardens.
From 1963 to 1973, Bud and his family including his growing children, operating as Manhattan East Apartment Hotels, purchased or built a number of additional hotels including The Beekman Tower, The Shelburne Murray Hill, The Plaza 50, The Eastgate and The Southgate Tower. During this period Bud built a foundation of values that his father Benjamin had taught him that led to the success in the dry cleaning business. Combining a strong work ethic, a culture of on-the-job training, respect for associates, and shared contribution are among the values that are still evident today.
Bud passed away in 1986 and leadership passed to four siblings, a son-in-law and a cousin, including Bud's two eldest children, Benjamin ‘Patrick’ Denihan and Brooke Denihan Barrett who are co-CEO’s and the sole family owners today. The second generation immediately continued to build upon their father’s foundation.
To honor Benjamin ‘Bud’ Denihan, the family acquired the Emory Roth-designed Beverly Hotel in Midtown Manhattan in 1997 and following a massive renovation, reopened it in 1999 as The Benjamin, Denihan’s first luxury hotel.
With a foundation of continued success based on personalized guest service, supported by extraordinarily long tenured employee resulting in high guest loyalty, the Denihan’s renamed the company Affinia Hospitality in 2003 and rebranded the Dumont Hotel as “Affinia Dumont”, the first of now six Affinia hotels. Affinia, derived from affinity, means a natural likeness and agreement, which made perfect sense for a family that built a business based on mutual respect and customer service.
In 2006, at the height of the real estate market, Brooke and Patrick acquired the management company and six core assets from the remaining four family owners/managing directors and changed the name of the company to Denihan Hospitality Group. The new co-CEOs quickly began expanding the portfolio while diversifying its customer offerings. Later that year, they purchased The James brand, which included the management company, The James Chicago and David Burke's Primehouse, still widely considered to be one of the nation’s top steakhouses.
Over the last seven years (2006 – 2014) Denihan has continued to expand its portfolio into other key U.S. cities, including Chicago, Washington, DC and Miami. In 2009, Denihan redeveloped The Surrey into one of the most luxurious hotels on Manhattan’s prestigious Upper East Side, which has become the only Relais and Chateaux hotel in Manhattan in 20 years. Following on the success of The James Chicago, the company has expanded the brand with The James New York, in SoHo (2010) and The James Royal Palm in South Beach Miami (2012). Today the company portfolio includes 14 hotels operating under Affinia and The James brands, as well a number of successful independent properties. Denihan has also become one of the industry’s most notable restaurant and bar operators, working with such well-known chef partners as Daniel Boulud, Geoffrey Zakarian, Art Smith and David Burke.
So it is with great pride that Denihan celebrates 50 years in the hospitality business. The foundation stemming from the values instilled into the family by Benjamin "Bud" Denihan is still evident today. The respect for associates, the attention to detail and the hand crafted focus on authentic guest service are the reason for 50 years of success. It’s not just the hotel business; it’s The Art of Hospitality.