The Center Magazine
Subscribe
Back to Stories

Humans of Rockefeller Center: Meet Dr. Mitch Cassel of Studio Optix

By Kate DonnellyJan 23 2024
Share
Link copied to clipboard
Topics
Visiting Rock Center? Include Top of the Rock in your plans. Purchase your tickets online today!
Buy Tickets
Related Articles
Events
06.21.24

What to Do in New York City in July 2024

Events
01.23.24

What to Do in New York City in February 2024

Events
12.21.23

What to Do in New York City in January 2024

Arts & Culture
12.19.23

5 New Things to Do at Top of the Rock This Year

Arts & Culture
12.19.23

How HERO Is Bringing the Northern Lights to New York City

“Humans of Rockefeller Center” is a series that highlights some of the people who make our campus such a bright, dynamic, and only-in-New York destination.

For close to 30 years, Studio Optix, the locally loved spectacle shop at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, has called Rockefeller Center its home. “We’re proud to be one of the longest tenants here," says Dr. Mitchell Cassel, an optometrist and the store’s owner, adding that in his line of work, “no two days are ever the same.”

Like all good origin stories, Dr. Cassel credits an interest in the vision space to his childhood. “I had an eye problem early in life,” he says, also mentioning he grew up with two optometrists in his family. After attending the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, Cassel moved straight to Manhattan. The year was 1982, and the rest, as they say, is history. Working a brief stint in the Garment District, Cassel learned a long-time duo of tenants in Rockefeller Center was retiring. “I was at the right time at the right place,” he happily admits, instantly jumping at the chance to take over their iconic storefront.  “It was a great find for us – right here, in the center of the universe,” he says.

A minimal, modern storefront, Studio Optix, also doubles as an optometric practice with a trio of optometrists who come equipped with the latest in high-tech, state-of-the-art technology. And for those in-a-hurry New Yorkers and out-of-towners, an on-site lab can even whip up same-day custom-tinted or polarized lenses. In a nutshell: “We specialize in caring for your eyes,” says Cassel.

Indeed, like all great New York stories, Studio Optix isn’t just your average eyewear shop. In fact, what brings Cassel the most joy are those patients who travel from around the globe with traumatic eye injuries and congenital defects. “We help them make them look whole again; it psychologically changes them,” Cassel says. That’s not all: Specializing in cosmetic and prosthetic contacts, Cassel’s known for his much sought-after, hand-painted, laminated soft lenses that can make brown eyes, for instance, turn blue.

Searching for a pair of simple, standard frames? You won’t find them here. “People come to us looking for something different, something unique,” Cassel explains, saying how his team often travels to Paris and Milan to scour for special bespoke labels. While where they find the coveted inventory is a tightly guarded secret, Studio Optix is known to house a whopping 5,000 plus frames – names like Francis Klein Paris, Jacques Marie Mage, and Barton Perreira Japan. “Really, there’s something for everyone,” he says. 

Looking around the studio, you can’t miss the rows of headshots and film stills adorning the shop’s walls. That’s because Cassel also wears a third hat: creating special effects contacts for movie and TV shows including Saturday Night Live and the Today show, two legendary, long-standing Rockefeller Center neighbors. He’s also behind the enhanced, special effects eye visuals of some big Hollywood names — De Niro, Cruise, DiCaprio, Hanks, Streep, and Bowie, to name a few. He even helped turn Jack Nicholson into a wolf.

Around Rockefeller Center, Cassel is a classicist, admitting he’s a fan of the Top of the Rock (the views alone) and the legendary Christmas Tree. And where does Cassel like to eat nearby to fuel his work passion?  “I don't have too much time to eat because I'm constantly with patients,” Cassel laughs; but when time permits, he drops by Breads Bakery, known for its small-batch chocolate babka and gourmet coffee. He also likes Del Frisco’s Grille. Perhaps that’s the magic of Rockefeller Center, an ideal mix of old and emerging tenants.  “Hats off to them for making big changes. There's definitely new energy, and this March, 30 years later, I’m still happy to be here,” he says.


Studio Optix is located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 7pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.

Share
Link copied to clipboard
Back to all Stories
Topics
Related Articles
  • Events01.23.24
    Events01.23.24

    What to Do in New York City in February 2024

  • Events12.21.23
    Events12.21.23

    What to Do in New York City in January 2024

  • Arts & Culture12.19.23
    Arts & Culture12.19.23

    5 New Things to Do at Top of the Rock This Year

  • Arts & Culture12.19.23
    Arts & Culture12.19.23

    How HERO Is Bringing the Northern Lights to New York City

The Center Newsletter

Receive important seasonal news and updates, learn about store openings, and get special offers.

Learn More

How was your view from Top of the Rock? Share your experience!

Loading...

Sign up for our newsletter

Subscribe Now

Follow Us

Download the free Audio Tour

Stay Connected

Stay connected with free Wi-Fi at Rockefeller Center.
@Rock Center Free Wi-Fi

  • Top of the Rock
  • Learn More about Top of the Rock
    Buy Tickets about Top of the Rock

  • Plan Your Visit
  • Map & Directions
  • News & Updates
  • Contact Us
  • Gift Shop
  • FAQs
  • Accessibility Statement
  • Executive Team

45 ROCKEFELLER PLAZA NEW YORK, NY 10111
212.588.86011.877.NYC.ROCK
© Rockefeller Center 2024 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED