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Longtime Union Square Restaurant Blue Water Grill Shutters

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The restaurant, open for more than 20 years, closed on January 1

Blue Water Grill Blue Water Grill/Facebook

The end of the year also marked the end of longtime Union Square seafood restaurant Blue Water Grill — which closed its doors Tuesday after more than 20 years in the neighborhood.

The warm, jazzy American restaurant has been operating in the same location since 1996 but has struggled to keep up with rising rents in recent years. In 2014, Blue Water Grill considered relocating when faced with a million-dollar rent increase. (Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe was forced to move to a new spot for similar reasons around the same time.)

But Blue Water Grill managed to hold onto its spot at 31 Union Square West, between East 16th and 17th Streets for a few more years. The financial troubles resurfaced in 2017; the restaurant announced it would close within a year or so due to a new rental rate of more than $2 million per year.

“While it was always our hope to stay in Union Square, unfortunately the lease increases in the area have made it impossible to operate at a profitable level,” says Howard Cole, the COO of the restaurant’s parent company Landry’s. The company is trying to relocate staff.

Blue Water Grill Tipster

Blue Water employees shared heartfelt farewell messages on Instagram, some saying they’ll be transitioning over to the company’s UWS restaurant Atlantic Grill. BR Guest — which was purchased by Landry’s a few years back — operated Blue Water Grill and still runs a slew of restaurants in the city like Blue Fin in Times Square and a number of Dos Caminos locations.

The restaurant’s closure follows the demise of once-nearby restaurants like Republic and Coffee Shop, all of which entered Union Square at affordable leases and contributed to the neighborhood’s increasing real estate value, yet couldn’t sustain the rent hikes that followed. It’s a trend seen across NYC, especially in this particular area. Now, Union Square is dominated by chains.

The restaurant is also one of several that appeared in Sex and the City to close, including Tortilla Flats, Sushisamba, and Coffee Shop. Charlotte brunches there in season 3.

Some restaurant employees took to Instagram to say goodbye:

Blue Water Grill

31 Union Sq W, New York, NY 10003 (212) 675-9500 Visit Website