Interview: The Belkin Sisters, Owners Of DUO Restaurant & Lounge

by Allison Stephens · November 11, 2011

DUO recently opened as an American cuisine restaurant and lounge located on Madison Avenue between 27th and 28th street -- and from their unique food (think cookies and crème French toast), to the atmosphere, and now Sunday brunches, this newcomer making a name for itself.

Check out our interview below with the owners, Sabrina and Lorraine Belkin.

Tell me a little about each other and what inspired you to open DUO together?

Sabrina: Well we have been in the family business our whole lives and we felt it was time in our lives to venture out on our own. We took a year off, traveled the world and came up with some different concepts and ideas for DUO.  We opened up about four months ago, its contemporary American cuisine. We also are starting our Sunday brunches now, so we have a lot of different things going on.

What was your inspiration behind your decor choices?

Lorraine: A lot of this has to do with us and our personalities. A little bit of each of us can be found both décor like the two portraits, the chandeliers, the textures.

What do each of you bring to table, do you have different talents that compliment each other?

Sabrina: We are with each other at work, we live together, and even have many of the same friends, so you can see we are together a lot.  I think I have a little bit more of the negotiating, meetings and structure end of it from working in the business with my family. Lorraine has a lot of the marketing, design and special events having attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. Ultimately though we make decisions together, we balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s a joint effort.

Lorraine: We really are a perfect match!

How would you compare your Sunday brunch to others, or what do want your Sunday brunches to be like?

Sabrina: The goal is to transport people out of their New York mindset, take them away for a few hours, through the look and feel of the venue and the food. With Sunday brunch, we just want people to have fun.

I know you offer lots of unique dishes here, what would you say is one of your favorite dishes?

Sabrina: Everyone asks us this question. The problem is that we created the menu so we love everything on it. My favorite it the peanut butter and jelly stuffed French toast.

Lorraine: Mine is the cookies and crème French toast. We wanted the dishes to be modern, sexy and mature but still bring you back to your childhood.

It's inspiring that DUO is run by two women, do you have any advice for other women who want to start their own business?

Sabrina: For us, it’s more natural because we come from this background and we feel comfortable in it but definitely it’s not easy.

Lorraine: Its a difficult business. We work a lot of hours.

Sabrina: Ultimately though to make any business successful you have to have the pure passion for what you do behind it. If you have that and your ideas and inspiration, I think you can make a wonderful concept.

Lorraine: I agree. You have to love what you do. You really have to want to work and make it grow.  It’s difficult, but it’s worth it.

[Go HERE for more photos of DUO]

[Go HERE for our post about DUO's Sunday Brunch]

For more information check out www.duonewyork.com