Made Nice — the Flatiron fast-casual restaurant from the Eleven Madison Park crew — has closed nearly four years after it opened at 8 West 28th Street, between Broadway and Fifth Avenue. EMP chef and owner Daniel Humm made the announcement on his Instagram account yesterday, and cited the pandemic-related downturn for the closure.
“COVID has been such a tough time for our whole industry, and we have not emerged unscathed, like so many of our peers and friends,” Humm wrote on Instagram.
Made Nice debuted in April 2017 serving lunch items like a smoked salmon salad, curry cauliflower, slow-roasted pork with grains, and a beloved soft-serve. At $11 to $15 per dish, the fast casual restaurant presented a stark contrast to EMP’s $335 tasting menu, and was initially pitched as a low-cost interpretation of the upscale dishes at the lauded restaurant. The fast casual route and cheaper prices didn’t get food critics jumping on board, though.
The New York Times’ Pete Wells gave the restaurant zero stars writing at the time that the food “doesn’t just suffer by comparison; it can also suffer all on its own.” Eater’s chief critic Ryan Sutton similarly gave the restaurant a negative review writing that the spot served “a broad and somewhat bland American menu.”
In response to the feedback from critics and customers alike, the restaurant revamped its menu the following year and introduced a slew of new chicken dishes including a chicken schnitzel sandwich, a chicken pot pie, and a chicken sausage banh mi. But like many lunch-focussed spots that have suffered due to office goers largely working from home during the pandemic, Made Nice too has been forced to close its doors for good.
Meanwhile, Humm’s marquee establishment, EMP, is no longer in danger of closing. The chef said in September that he had worked out a favorable agreement with his landlord, and would definitely reopen, with a best-case scenario involving a mid-November reopening, and a worst-case situation seeing a March opening. In the interim, EMP has partnered with nonprofit Rethink Food to provide meals to those in need, and is doing takeout meal kits for paying diners.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than a 1,000 NYC restaurants have permanently closed due to the downturn in business. Some estimates say nearly two-thirds of the restaurants in New York state could close by January next year if more federal aid doesn’t come through.