Bobby Ortense joined Meridian Retail Leasing in January after graduating from Penn State last year. In less than a year, the retail broker has closed eight deals. Not a bad start. And all against a backdrop of a post-pandemic retail market still in flux due to evolving shopping and dining habits and foot traffic shifts.
“Part of it is just a lot of work,” Ortense said. “I’m one of the first ones at the office, if not the first every day. I’m one of the last to leave. I’m constantly here on the weekends.”
Ortense managed to get deals done where others had failed. Just look at 79 Clinton Street on New York’s Lower East Side. Ortense first lost the assignment for the 1,200-square-foot turnkey restaurant. But, after the original broker produced no offers, the landlord came back to Ortense. Two months after taking over, he managed to lease the space to Cloud Vietnamese at asking rent, which came to $18,000 a month.
Another highlight is 109 Ludlow Street. The 3,000-square-foot space had remained vacant since a bar had shuttered, and other deals with big hospitality groups, such as Serafina, had collapsed over denied liquor licenses. Ortense got a deal done by bringing a client — one that had first bid for the Clinton Street restaurant — who wanted to open a gaming cafe.
It “totally switched up the use of what everyone thought that base could be,” Ortense said. “I was able to navigate losing one deal [for the client], bringing them into another deal and pivoting the use.”
The broker isn’t slowing down anytime soon. His current roster has 13 exclusive listings.