Chef Jesse Schenker has shuttered his Flatiron American restaurant The Gander, citing rising costs and decreased sales. Schenker has moved his family to Oyster Bay, Long Island and will instead focus on opening an American brasserie in the bayside town.
The Times first reported the closure, which Schenker says is based on a combination of factors that include rent and insurance increases, rising minimum wage, and a dip in sales. He first noticed a decline in check averages in the last quarter of 2016 from people buying more drinks and snacks rather than full meals, and he attempted to accommodate for that by expanding the restaurant’s bar area.
“I needed a bigger bar and a smaller dining room, so I tried to raise the cover count to make up for the fall on the check average,” he says.
The changes did not catch on enough, though, and “unusually slow” sales this summer was the last straw.
“The economics in the space unfortunately just did not work anymore. It was a hard pill to swallow because I put my heart and soul into that space, but just with the extreme costs and dining trends in Manhattan, it couldn’t,” he says.
The Gander first opened in April 2014 as a follow-up to Schenker’s West Village hit Recette. It became known for its meats, with standout dry-aged burger, pork chop, and NY strip steak. A rent increase forced Recette’s shutter two years later. The Gander was Schenker’s last Manhattan restaurant.
Schenker is either bringing his Gander staff, like the chef de cuisine and lead porter, to 2 Spring or has found other jobs in the city for them. The new restaurant will focus midcentury favorites like Caesar salad and whole roasted fish, using local purveyors. It’s on track to open in November.