Upper East Side neighborhood institution Demarchelier is closing after 41 years of serving up French bistro classics like coq au vin, steak tartare, foie gras terrine, and duck a l’orange. The building it’s located in, at 50 East 86th Street, at Madison Avenue, is being demolished to make way for a new condo development. The restaurant’s last day will be December 28, confirmed co-owner Emily Demarchelier.
“It is unfortunate that it had to end this way,” she says. “But we’re not the only restaurant having to deal with something like this on the Upper East Side. Entire blocks are being torn down in this neighborhood, and only big restaurant groups can afford to survive in this city.”
Demarchelier is relocating to Greenport, Long Island, where it will open next year as a smaller, more compact version of the French bistro that served the Upper East Side for so many years. Exorbitant rents in the city prevented the owners from finding a new home in the city, Emily tells Eater, but she is hopeful that she might return some day.
“Perhaps if the environment changes, and Manhattan becomes friendlier to small businesses, we will return,” she says. “Right now we’re just at the mercy of our landlords.”
Emily’s father Eric opened the restaurant at the corner of East 62nd Street and Lexington Avenue in 1978, and it’s since become known for its artwork as much as its classic French fare. The Demarchelier name has also become well-known because of Eric’s brother, famed fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier. (Patrick, who’s been accused of sexual misconduct, isn’t involved in the restaurant.)
In the 1990s, the Demarchelier family relocated the restaurant to its current home on East 86th Street and Madison Avenue. The walls are still adorned by the Cubist and Surrealist paintings created by Eric, an avid painter, and many of his works will go back on display when the new bistro opens in Greenport.
The building adjacent to Demarchelier’s once housed Michael White’s Ristorante Morini, which closed in August this year for the same reason. NYC property developer, the Naftali Group, plans to demolish the buildings at 50 East 86th Street and 1167 Madison Avenue for a new condo development — they recently purchased the parcel for $71 million.
These neighborhood establishments aren’t the only restaurants to face the axe in recent years. Atlantic Grill closed its UES location after 20 years this year due to expansion work by an adjacent hospital; in May, Italian restaurant Il Valentino Osteria shuttered after four years; and Uno Pizzeria & Grill closed after a decade in the neighborhood last year.
Additional reporting by Eater NY contributing editor Beth Landman.