After 28 years of serving diner food to celebrities, tourists, and fashiony New Yorkers, Union Square’s iconic restaurant the Coffee Shop at 29 Union Square West will close, the Post reports.
Never quite known for its food — which skews Brazilian-ish — the Coffee Shop has nonetheless become a cultural sensation, appearing regularly on HBO’s Sex and the City. It has been a bad year for restaurants frequented by Carrie Bradshaw and friends: Sushisamba also closed in January.
Former Wilhelmina models Charles Milite, Eric Petterson, and Carolyn Benitez opened Coffee Shop in 1990, and it quickly became a sceney fashion destination. There was even a long-standing rumor that the restaurant only hired aspiring models as servers. When the restaurant closed for just a few days in 2007 due to DOH violations, then-pregnant actress Naomi Watts, was one of the first customers who showed up for its reopening, the Post notes. For those less fashion-inclined, the restaurant’s location near a major transit hub and park made it a frequent destination for New Yorkers and tourists — who could easily meet in Manhattan right near the massive sign.
As for the impending closure, Milite cites rising rents and costs of doing business. “The times have changed in our industry,” Milite told the Post. “The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees.” The Post also reports that Milite is breaking the news to the restaurant’s 150 employees today.
The diner is one of the last remaining non-chain, sit-down restaurants left in Union Square, which has suffered a spate of high-profile closures like Union Square Cafe and Republic. Blue Water Grill remains open, but it’s fate is still uncertain.
The Coffee Shop will shutter on October 11. Flats Fix, which the Coffee Shop team also owns, remains open.