The decimation of legacy dining in Union Square continues. Crain’s is now reporting that controversial Southern fried chicken chain Chick-fil-A is in talks to take over the former space of well-liked jazzy seafood restaurant Blue Water Grill, which closed this month after more than 20 years. The Atlanta-based company, which is known for donating to anti-LGBTQ+ causes, has been on an expansion tear in New York.
Eater has reached out to Chick-fil-A reps for comment.
Word of the monied potential new tenant is in line with other fears of the “New York City soul snatching” of Union Square, as old New York advocate Jeremiah Moss calls it. Several other restaurants in the area have closed in the last few years due to rising rents, including Republic and the Coffee Shop. At one point, Blue Water Grill reportedly faced a rent of $2 million a year before it closed.
Along with the potential new Chik-fil-A, Chase Bank is in talks to slide into part of the former Coffee Shop space, though no lease is signed there yet. That restaurant, which was open for nearly 30 years, will be split into four retail spaces, three of which will go to restaurants.
Chick-fil-A is wildly profitable but didn’t enter the New York market until 2015. Though it faced backlash in New York for the CEO’s anti-gay comments, new locations still open to long lines of dedicated fried chicken sandwich fans. It opened the biggest location ever in FiDi last spring.
Stay tuned for more.