From June to August, Eater documented more than 70 restaurant and bar closures in New York City. Together, they paint a picture of an industry struggling to recover from three years of the pandemic, an ongoing labor shortage, and the rising cost of supplies chalked up to inflation. Operators face new challenges, too, like a slow summer of business, in which New Yorkers have been more conservative with spending locally while vacationing abroad without restrictions on travel.
Some of the restaurants we lost were open for decades; others didn’t make it six months. We’ve selected a handful that made an outsized impact, whether it’s for their food, the community they created, or how they influenced this city’s conversation about restaurants. Here are some of the biggest closures of the summer, arranged in chronological order.
It was a long run for Drew Nieporent at 238 W. Broadway, who held onto that Tribeca address since the early ’80s, from its evolution as Montrachet; its fine-dining run as Corton with chef Paul Liebrandt; through the near decade of Bâtard. Open since 2014, Bâtard earned a Michelin star the following year and was crowned the best new restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation. The restaurant was a partnership between John Winterman, a former maître d’ at Daniel, and Nieporent, behind megahit chain Nobu and Tribeca Grill. Chef and owner Markus Glocker, now the chef partner in Koloman in Nomad, rounded out the trio. “I had big shoes to fill following Liebrandt,” said Glocker, “but I think we made a mark there.”
Frost, one of Williamsburg’s oldest Italian restaurants, closed this summer after more than 60 years. The restaurant, open since 1959, was often compared to Bamonte’s, a red-sauce institution in the area that’s almost twice as old, but fans of Frost insisted its food, and prices, were better. The hospitality belonged to a fading era: Plates of hot peppers would appear like magic at the start of the meal, and shots of espresso were served with a half-empty bottle of anisette liqueur that was passed around the dining room. The last day was June 4. The restaurant, and the townhouse next door on Humboldt Street, had been on the market for roughly a year. In May, employees confirmed the properties had sold.
Salt Bae Burger
Despite its many critics, Salt Bae’s burger restaurant in Union Square managed to last three years in Manhattan. Nusret Gökçe, an internet personality known for sprinkling salt onto his customers’ steaks in aviator sunglasses, opened this location of his burger chain in 2020. Eater’s critics said at the time that it “had all the charm of an airplane hanger,” while its menu reminded them of a more expensive, version of the Black Tap burger chain that wasn’t as good. The restaurant served burgers wrapped in gold foil, $99 milkshakes, and at one point, a vegetarian “ladies burger” that was pink — and free for women. A writer for Gothamist called it the “worst restaurant in New York City.”
A neighborhood mainstay for nearly 50 years, Alpha Donuts was known for its Irish breakfast: two eggs, Irish sausage and bacon, and black-and-white pudding. Its closing followed many other old-school diners this year. Yet just about any bootstrapping independent restaurant owner can empathize with the reason — everything is more expensive post-pandemic, making it a challenge now, more than ever, to survive. “I sat down and put the numbers together,” owner Patty Zorbas told the Sunnyside Post, ”and with insurance, taxes, and inflation, the amount of money I would have to spend was above my reach.” It closed in June.
Jay-Z’s Flatiron nightclub closed at the end of July after two decades in Manhattan. A spokesperson for the 40/40 Club said the restaurant planned to reopen at a new address next year. The lounge hosted a number of high-profile events over the years: The rapper J. Cole held a mixtape release party there, and LeBron James celebrated his birthday in the lounge. In 2012, Jay-Z pumped $10 million into a renovation to make the club more competitive with newer venues in Manhattan: It helped 40/40 Club stay open for another decade.
Landlords selling businesses to developers did a number on restaurants this year, taking on casualties like Basque restaurant Huertas, which closed in August after nearly a decade in the East Village. “I’ve been negotiating with the new landlord, but we haven’t been able to come to a number that works,” co-owner Jonah Miller wrote on Instagram. The restaurant received two stars from the New York Times in 2014. A year later, Miller and co-owner Nate Adler scrapped the tasting menu format and moved to a la carte. “We’re not sure what’s next,” Miller wrote of the closing, “but we’re proud of the restaurant we’ve built.”
Sushi Ginza Onodera
The Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Sushi Ginza Onodera closed in Midtown East in August. The city’s high-end sushi scene had become more crowded, Yoko Yamaguchi, the restaurant’s general manager, said in a statement: “It is necessary for us to reflect on our future direction.” When Ginza Onodera opened in Manhattan in 2016, it was one of a handful of high-end sushi counters to import fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market. The restaurant served a prolonged 20-course omakase that cost $450 per person, before tax. It was awarded two Michelin stars the year it opened. In 2020, it was downgraded to a one-star rating.
Marta and Maialino (vicino)
It was a surprise to everyone involved that Marta and Maialino (vicino) closed last month, that points to a growing crisis in the city, with over 100,000 migrants and counting. It is against this backdrop that the very visible Union Square Hospitality Group closed its two restaurants in the Redbury Hotel, days after it announced the hotel would house asylum seekers. “While we admire and respect the Redbury’s decision, the viability of our business relies significantly on hotel-related F&B operations, including event venues and the lobby bar, spaces that are now unavailable for our use,” the company said in a statement. A spokesperson confirms the group is looking for new locations for both restaurants.
Rice Roll Cart
Mei Leung, a street vendor who sold rice rolls above the Canal Street subway station, retired at the start of September. The stand had been a fixture in Manhattan’s Chinatown for 25 years: “This cart put her kids through college, bought her a house, and defined the childhoods of Chinatown residents,” Jaeki Cho, the host of Righteous Eats, said in a video ahead of the closure. Customers waited in a line that stretched around the block on the cart’s last day; Leung sold 300 pounds of rice rolls, three times her usual amount.