Danny Meyer's trailblazing Manhattan restaurant, Union Square Cafe, will close in its current location by the end of 2015. The space that holds the near 30 year-old restaurant, which was the very first in Meyer's now massive empire, goes on the market next week, the Times reports, because even the king of hospitality himself can't keep up with the soaring rent. As Meyer tells Julia Moskin, "There's no such thing as a New York restaurant that is immune to real estate." He promises that the restaurant will reopen somewhere else in the city, but adds that it probably won't be in or near Union Square.
Meyer began renegotiating the lease with the landlord back in 2013, but to no avail. If it comes as a shock that such a successful businessman as Meyer could be priced out of a space, the restaurateur explains that each of his restaurants operates as an individual business. Therefore the money pouring in from Shake Shack can't be used to pay the rent on Union Square Cafe. Meyer also says that he would save the space on his own dime "in a heartbeat" if it made sense to do so, but the cost would be too high to make that worthwhile. With old equipment, high standards, and benefits for its employees, Union Square Cafe has just as thin a profit margin as any New York restaurant. The landlord now plans to ask for $650,000 a year for the space.
This is of course not the first of Meyer's restaurants to undergo changes. He shuttered Tabla back in 2010, and sold Eleven Madison Park to Daniel Humm and Will Guidara in 2011. The announcement is also not the first of its kind in recent months. Earlier this month, Wylie Dufresne announced that wd~50 would be moving in November, to make way for a new development. And now the Times reports that the beloved East Village restaurant Hearth has been hit with a 65 percent rent increase. It will not close, but Marco Canora says that the hike means his "entire business model may have to change."
· Union Square Cafe Joins Other Victims of New York's Rising Rents [NYT]
· All Coverage of Union Square Cafe [~ENY~]