One of New York's most famous restaurants, Le Cirque, is likely closing because the rent is too high, the family tells the Times. The Maccioni family is looking for a new, smaller location for the restaurant closer to Madison Avenue.
Co-owner Marco Maccioni says the family is trying to save the restaurant’s space at 151 East 58th Street, near Lexington Avenue, though he notes that it is "more than likely” that the family will shutter the restaurant after service on New Year's Eve. They can stay in the building until January 5.
It’s a change of tone for the Maccionis. As recently as this past weekend, the family sounded more optimistic, telling Eater that they were negotiating with the landlord and planned to stay in the space. Still, staff has been telling customers about the closing date, and a group of regulars has been trying to put together a fund to keep the restaurant in the space.
The more than 40-year-old Le Cirque is a seminal French fine dining restaurant that’s graduated chefs like Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Jacques Torres, and Michael Lomonaco. In a 2013 profile, Esquire said that “no restaurant in America, perhaps the world, has graduated so many renowned chefs as Le Cirque.”
But things haven't been so grand as of late, most recently with a heated social media exchange seemingly from patriarch Sirio Maccioni that was later blamed on the restaurant's social media manager. Earlier this year, the restaurant filed for bankruptcy, and shortly after, former Ouest chef owner Tom Valenti left the head chef position. According to the filing, the family owed between $500,000 and $1 million to more than 100 creditors. The restaurant’s also been a recent target of a sexual harassment lawsuit and a wage lawsuit. And the last time the Times reviewed it, Pete Wells awarded it just one star.
If the Maccionis find a new place to open Le Cirque, it would be the fourth location. The restaurant currently resides in the Bloomberg Tower on East 58th Street and first opened in 1974 at different location.