Sushi by Bou at Suite 1001 might be Manhattan's only sushi bar speakeasy run out of a 150-square-foot hotel room.
Diners get a room key to the hidden restaurant behind a nondescript room door on the Hotel 3232's 10th floor. Inside there's a four-seat sushi bar, a lounge area (complete with a sake vending machine) and a 500-square-foot terrace bar with views of the Empire State Building.
The hotel room sushi bar is regularly completely booked, with diners typically making reservations two months in advance, according to Michael Sinensky, CEO of Simple Venue, the hospitality group behind Sushi by Bou.
The concept all started as a way for Hotel 3232 to boost revenue and stand out in a crowded market.
"It's a wild idea, which I love," says Chrissy Kopplin on the premiere episode of CNBC's "Five Day Biz Fix."
On the show, Chrissy and her husband Erik use their design and construction expertise to give small businesses quick overhauls aimed at boosting profits. The Kopplins transformed the tiny Hotel 3232 room into the sushi hot spot in five days for $100,000 on the premiere episode, which airs Wednesday.
Hotel owner Mark Shemel figured instead of renting the room for just $500 a night, a sushi bar (no kitchen needed, just refrigeration and a prep space) could bring in thousands of dollars.
So the Kopplins converted the room's sleeping area into the sushi bar (featuring a $2,000 custom-cut slab of maple wood to top the bar), overhauled the remainder of the hotel room into a lounge area and turned the terrace into a hip outdoor bar.
For the food, the hotel partnered with David Bouhadana, who already runs multiple well-reviewed sushi restaurants across the city. (Bouhadana faced criticism two years ago after a reporter overheard him talking in a fake Japanese accent to his customers, though the chef later apologized.)
Bouhadana's restaurants typically charge $125 per hour, per customer for a high-end omakase sushi dinner. With six seatings per night, that works out to well over $3,000 per night in revenue once drinks are factored in. And, the terrace bar (which has room for 20 or more people at a time) can generate additional revenue from guests who visit just to order cocktails.
The concept has already brought in over $1 million in revenue in its first year of operation, while generating nearly three times the profit of what the space used to bring in as a hotel room, according to Simple Venue's Sinensky.
The buzz from the restaurant (publications like The New York Times spread the word about the "secret" restaurant that Bloomberg called "New York's most innovative new sushi bar") has lead to increased bookings at the hotel, allowing Hotel 3232 to increase its rates by 10% overall while maintaining a competitive occupancy rate, according to Sinensky.
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