After 36 years — and one major, recent chef change — fine dining trailblazer Gotham Bar & Grill is closing. Saturday, March 14 will be its last night of service, according to an email sent to customers.
Restaurants across the city are closing temporarily as new measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak have led to declines in sales, but Gotham will not be reopening.
The closure follows a brief tenure from its new chef Victoria Blamey, who started leading the kitchen only last year — and was a significant change for the longtime regulars of the storied American fine dining restaurant. The previous chef, Alfred Portale, ran the kitchen for more than three decades and through its many accolades, including Michelin stars and James Beard Awards. He left to open his first solo restaurant, Portale, in Chelsea.
Blamey did not come into an easy situation. Much of the staff and the clientele were intensely loyal to Portale, who created dishes that became icons, like a riff on tuna tartare. He’d also been there for most of the restaurant’s tenure. Gotham opened in Greenwich Village in 1984, and he took over the large, white tablecloth establishment a year later.
Moreover, Gotham is a fine dining legend; its menu shaped what American fine dining looks like in New York. The pressure was on for Blamey, who was expected to bring a younger crowd to the restaurant. And under her, Gotham retained its three stars in the New York Times, with Pete Wells delighting in her additions to the menu.
But Eater critic Ryan Sutton said the restaurant still felt dated, and even with Wells’s positivity on the food, he noted that the new crowd “looks a lot like the old crowd.”
A source at the restaurant said the closing was only in part due to the economic impact of new coronavirus measures, and that staff found out less than 24 hours ago.
A spokesperson for the restaurant provided the following statement:
We have been forced to make the very difficult decision to close the Gotham after 36 wonderful years because the unforeseen situation created by the coronavirus has made operation of the restaurant untenable. As you can imagine, this has been a very painful decision to make but one that is necessary given the current circumstances. We are grateful to our staff and guests who have supported us over these many years and will now look forward to doing what we can to help our industry and city recover.
This post was updated with a statement from the restaurant.