Danny Brown has closed his Upper East Side wine bar Charc less than a year after it opened in a tiny nook on East 84th Street.
Brown, known as the chef behind the first restaurant to receive a Michelin star in Queens, closed the cocktail- and wine-driven restaurant in July, although no formal announcement was made. The 20-seat venue that specialized in charcuterie sat on a tree-lined residential street at 316 E. 84th St., between First and Second Avenues — a location that simply didn’t provide the foot traffic, nor the right crowd to keep the place running, Brown says.
Charc opened its doors in November 2017, and its debut was followed by a couple of busy weeks. When the holidays arrived, though, this slice of the UES fell silent, Brown tells Eater. “Once Thanksgiving hits, the streets are totally empty,” he says. “It probably wouldn’t have been that way 30 years ago.”
Even after the holidays, it struggled to reel in a steady crowd, the chef says. Sometimes there’d be a good turnout on Friday and Saturday, but such a small space can’t survive on two days’ worth of business, he says.
Before debuting Charc, Brown operated a Parisian-style French bistro called X Bar/Bistro within the the same space. But that concept also failed to connect with the neighborhood. “We had two cracks at it in that space and couldn’t seem to come up with the right recipe,” he says.
Brown is one of several chefs who have diverted their restaurants from Queens to Manhattan or Brooklyn in recent years. In 2011, his original restaurant Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen was the first in Queens to receive a Michelin star. Brown was forced to close his flagship space in 2015 following a landlord dispute.
He planned to open another restaurant in Long Island City, though that deal fell through, too. He spent the following years trying to nail down a new space in Queens and ended up in the UES after stumbling upon a “for rent” sign.
But the chef is remaining active in the restaurant scene: In August, he hopped over to Brooklyn to steer the kitchen at Circa Brewing Co., a wood-fired pizza restaurant and brewery. He declined to say what will happen to the UES space that once held Charc and X Bar/Bistro.