Gargantuan Meatpacking District theme restaurant Spice Market is indeed closing this fall — on September 29, to be exact. Earlier this summer, landlord Midtown Equities announced plans to boot the restaurant from its home at 403 West 13th Street when its lease ended, in the hopes of finding a retail tenant that would open an "experiential" flagship in the space. Now, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Phil Suarez, and the Culinary Concepts team announce that they’re putting the pan-Asian mega-restaurant to bed a bit earlier than anticipated.
In a statement about the closure, Jean-Georges notes: "Someday, I hope to recreate this dream restaurant in an exciting new location." But the team has not announced any possible locations or a timeline for any potential reboot of the restaurant. Phil Suarez remarks: "The doors may be closing for Spice Market in the Meatpacking District, but we all know it’s not over till it’s over." The crew accepted an earlier termination offer from the landlord. The Spice Market team will be offering severance to the restaurant's employees.
Spice Market and its similarly-themed neighbor Buddakan were the focal points of the Meatpacking District’s clubstaurant scene in New York’s frothy post-Sex and the City era. In his one-star assessment from 2009, Frank Bruni summed up Spice Market’s sizzle factor when it first made its debut back in 2004: "[I]t was something else: the Asian mega-restaurant reclaimed from fatuous gaudiness; a theme park, yes, but an unusually classy one in which the cooking reflected nearly as much thought as the lighting." In an appreciation of the restaurant from earlier this summer, Post critic Steve Cuozzo wrote: "Shrugging off cackles from my too-picky pals, I unabashedly go about once a month."
Spice Market also has locations in Doha, Qatar, and Punta De Mita, Mexico. Vongerichten and Suarez operate dozens of other restaurants around the globe. The duo will debut a new vegetarian restaurant, abcV, this fall, and Vongerichten’s first solo restaurant, JoJo, is also getting a revamp and a new menu. If you have any remembrances from Spice Market during its heyday, please share them in the comments.