New York's real estate brokers who specialize in restaurant deals make up a small group of people who often know what's coming down the pipe long before even the most die hard dining fans know what's up. The Real Deal spoke to seven of them, asking the same set of questions about what's happening in the market now and where it's going. Here are five things they revealed:
1) Restaurant leases are on the rise: If it feels like the flood of new restaurants in NYC never stops, most brokers agree. James Famularo of Eastern Consolidated says, "Leasing activity has increased 25 percent within the last two years, and I think this is due to the extremely talented chefs and foodie culture. Everyone wants to be in the restaurant business."
2) Healthy fast-casual lunch spots like Dig Inn, Little Beet, and Sweetgreen probably aren't going anywhere. "New York City remains underserved in the quick-and-healthy lunch market," says Spencer Levy, of Robert K. Futterman & Associates. Apparently, office drones are only willing to walk three blocks for lunch most days, so that leaves plenty of blocks that could soon sport something like these places.
3) Union Square Cafe might be moving out because of a rent hike, but some landlords are willing to take a lower rent for a different payoff. Case in point: "Gotham West helps attract residential tenants to a part of town that is otherwise short on restaurants. The rental revenue is secondary to the big picture," explains Max Talpalar of Sinvin Real Estate.
4) Park Slope and Chelsea restaurants are struggling. "Chelsea, specifically on Eighth Avenue from 14th to 23rd streets, has seen a rise in for-rent signs and turnover," notes McDermott. The hottest neighborhoods, meanwhile, in terms of affordable rent, include Midtown East and West, the FiDi, Downtown Brooklyn, and Greenpoint.
5) At least a couple NYC chefs are apparently looking into expanding to Cuba. Famularo tells the Real Deal: "We are working with several concepts looking for locations in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Dubai and Panama, and some are considering Cuba."