Flora Bar, the upscale, critically acclaimed seafood restaurant from chef Ignacio Mattos, will not reopen after a four-year run. Mattos announced the news on his Instagram account on February 9.
“Unfortunate to share that Flora Bar will not reopen its doors at the Breuer Building as part of the new Frick Madison,” Mattos wrote on Instagram. The chef did not disclose further details on the reason behind the closure. Eater has reached out for more information.
Unlike Mattos’s two other restaurants Estela and Altro Paradiso, Flora Bar has not reopened after the citywide shutdown due to the pandemic last March. The restaurant was under different operating constraints, as it was located in the basement of contemporary art museum the Met Breuer, and the state had temporarily banned museums from operating due to the pandemic. Then, Artnet News reported last June that the Met Breuer would not be reopening after operating restrictions lifted.
It had previously been reported in 2018 that the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which oversees the Met Breuer, would be transferring the space’s lease in late 2020 to the Frick, an art museum located less than five blocks away known for its prized collection of Old Master paintings. At the time, it was unclear what that meant for the future of Flora Bar. Now, Mattos has confirmed via Instagram that the new museum, the Frick Madison — which is slated to open on March 18 — will not include Flora Bar. Instead, the new museum is offering “a light menu of refreshments and snacks,” run by Joe Coffee, according to the New York Times.
During its four-year run, Flora Bar attracted a following for hits like its shrimp cocktail, featuring crustaceans with “astonishingly fine flavor and texture,” and a well-executed tuna tartare that “isn’t like any I’ve had before,” New York Times critic Pete Wells wrote in a two-star review in 2017. Eater chief critic Ryan Sutton included the establishment on his list of the city’s top restaurants in 2017. New York Magazine critic Adam Platt named Flora Bar the best restaurant on the Upper East Side in 2018. Pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz was a James Beard semifinalist in 2018 and 2019, and a finalist in 2020, for Outstanding Pastry Chef, in part for her critically acclaimed work at Flora Bar.
In August 2018, Eater first reported that Mattos’s business partner Thomas Carter, a business partner at Flora Bar and his two other restaurants, was accused of harassing employees and creating “a culture of fear.” By December, Carter exited the restaurant group Matter House after Mattos had bought his shares.
Currently, Mattos continues to operate Altro Paradiso, which is currently open for takeout, delivery, heated outdoor dining, and soon-to-be indoor dining; and Estela, which is running a takeout and heated outdoor dining barbecue program on the weekends. Mattos also recently opened 1850, a joint members-only bar project with award-winning bartender Jim Meehan, at JFK Airport.