Burger chain Umami Burger will soon close its location in the Hudson Hotel, the Post reports — making it the third location that the LA-based company has shuttered in NYC since January. After this Hell’s Kitchen location closes in July, just one outpost of the restaurant will remain open in the city.
A spokesperson for SBE, which owns Umami Burger and the hotel, tells Eater New York that the impending closure of the Hudson Hotel location will be temporary until the brand decides whether to reopen it or open a new concept. Another rep for SBE told the Post that Umami might not be the best fit for the hotel and that “Umami might work better as a stand-alone restaurant.”
But standalone locations haven’t exactly been immune to closure. In fact, the only NYC location that remains intact is in the food hall Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place. The other two restaurants — in Williamsburg and Greenwich Village, both standalone — closed abruptly in January.
The spokesperson blamed these closures on ended leases and spaces that were too small; by comparison, one location in an LA mall has 175 seats. In New York, the Greenwich Village location had about 60 seats, but the Williamsburg one had 140 seats, indoors and outdoors; it was also frequently empty.
Adam Fleischman founded Umami Burger in Los Angeles in 2009 after eating a “double double” cheeseburger at In-N-Out and contemplating the word “umami.” Thick-patty burgers at Umami are seasoned with a sauce containing soy sauce as well as “Umami dust,” made with dried porcini mushrooms, dried fish heads, and other ingredients associated with the umami flavor.
The restaurant made its NYC debut in Greenwich Village in 2013 and expanded to Williamsburg in 2015. A spokesperson tells Eater NY that two new locations are planned for NYC but could not provide details about where they will be located. “New York is a very, very important market for us,” the spokesperson says.
Though Fleishman still owns a stake in the company, SBE became a majority shareholder in 2016 with grand plans to expand globally. But several Umami Burger locations have shuttered around the U.S. since then. The brand’s growth has even stalled in its hometown of Los Angeles. Two longtime locations there closed at the end of 2017, and the original restaurant on La Brea hasn’t been around since 2013. Nine LA locations remain, including in LAX, and there are also Umami Burger restaurants in Orange County, Oakland, Palo Alto, Chicago, and Las Vegas.
Its sole Florida location in South Beach Miami lasted only two years, shuttering in 2014. Still, the brand is ramping up its international presence with expansion plans in place for Japan (where there’s already one location), Mexico, the UAE, and Qatar. Despite the increasing number of closures stateside, the SBE spokesperson says that international and U.S. expansion are “equally important.”