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Jun 24, 2014 06:30 AM

Union Square Cafe to Close

Even Danny Meyer has to call it quits at the Union Square Cafe due to rent hikes.

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  1. I don't know why the term "closing" keeps coming up. This is the second time in a half hour I've seen that Union Square Cafe is closing. Closing to me suggests going away forever. Each article that I've clicked through to read says that the restaurant is moving, relocating, going somewhere else, not disappearing.

    The story is really about the real estate issues, not that the restaurant is unsuccessful or that Danny Meyer has had it, or anything else food or restaurant related. It may be an issue of semantics but I feel that the imprecision is alarmist and misleading.

    8 Replies
    1. re: rockycat

      Agreed. The Eater post is titled "Union Square Cafe Forced to Move Due to Rent Hike." So this thread should really be called "Union Square Cafe to Close and Then Reopen Somewhere Else," but I guess that's not as dramatic.

      1. re: small h

        The restaurant is CLOSING. If and when he finds a new location, it will be called a RE-OPENING IF he keeps the name which he probably won't because he says it will NOT BE NEAR UNION SQUARE in which case it will be a NEW restaurant.

        1. re: sandiasingh

          I can hear you fine - no need to scream. It's possible that the new location will have a new name, but note that the Second Avenue Deli moved from 2nd Ave. to 33rd St., off 3rd Ave. Yet it is still called the Second Avenue Deli. And Madison Square Garden is no longer in Madison Square.

          1. re: sandiasingh

            Yes, and when the restaurant closes at night, it is closed. And when it re-opens the next day, it has re-opened. And it even still has the same name!

            I'm quite sure you get the difference between closing and moving. So why the need to have a shouting match?

            1. re: rockycat

              Perhaps I should use quotation marks for those with sensitivities to caps in my attempt to be clear. And "closing" at night and "re-opening" in the morning is not the same as closing a business. You know that and I know that.

              New York has many tourists, as you "probably" know and to open a new restaurant in a different part of town with the name Union Square could be very confusing since Union Square itself is a major destination.

              I try to use my noggin for more than a hatrack, but hey, what do I know. Danny Meyer will do what Danny Meyer wants to do.

              1. re: sandiasingh

                I didn't think you were screaming. We almost went for lunch a couple weeks ago, but ended up at Grammercy. I will have to pull out my Union Square cookbook and belly up to the kitchen counter!

                1. re: Bellachefa

                  Thank you for getting it. I wasn't screaming. I was laughing. Some people take every little thing way too far.

                2. re: sandiasingh

                  Doubt anyone will be confused by the old name in a new location. Heck, where do you find the Brooklyn Diner? Not in Brooklyn.

        2. Whatever it is, it's a sad day. When Danny opened Union Square Cafe in 1987, that neighborhood was nothing like it is now. The restaurant was truly an anchor for it, and everything else followed. Seems like there should be a place for pioneer at a rent that makes sense. Not $650K. Restaurants don't bring in that kind of profits... Can just imagine what he'd have to charge. Disgusting.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ChefJune

            That's the nut of this story--the rent hikes going on in NY. I can't imagine how you could be any more successful than Danny Meyer, but business is business and sometimes you have to make a tough call like this. It's very sad. As he says here "it can't go on."

            1. re: sandiasingh

              NYC is a global city and the real estate is driven by global demand. If you think $650k a year in rent seems crazy, you should see what $650k would buy you. It means that more restaurants will keep opening in Brooklyn and Queens and Northern Manhattan and ironically Manhattan below 59th St will turn into a wasteland of affordable chef-centric dining options.

          2. I just read the Times article about WD50 closing a few days ago, and now this, wow. It'll be quite a payday for Ellis if he can attract a tenant (which I'm sure he already has, but not at 650k), and bittersweet for Myer, who is filthy rich as well. These 2 guys know exactly what they're doing

            5 Replies
            1. re: BiscuitBoy

              Why do you think that $650k rent isn't realistic? Assuming that total rentable area is 2000 square feet, that's only $325 a square foot for rent for a high traffic retail space. That's actually quite reasonable for NYC. Last I saw, average retail rents were over $350 a square foot and the high end was north of $1000. I'm sure the landlord will have plenty of interest at $650k.

              1. re: Bkeats

                So 650 needing reno is a deal? He was letting USC stay all those years because he's a nice guy? I'm thinking Ellis had someone in mind from the getgo

                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                  Landlord was letting Union Square stay? There was a lease. Lease was probably done at the end of the '90s. Lease has expired. Landlord is bringing rent up to market. My guess is that $650k is on the low end. Landlord will probably get much more than that. Even after renovating. I have a small equity interest in a building that signed a 25 year lease on its commercial space. The lease will come up in 3 years. The tenant hasn't even asked about renewing because he knows what the market has done over the last 22 years. The difference between the rent he is paying and the current market is about 12x. That's the deal that was struck. Good for the tenant for many years but the lease is ending and why should the landlord continue to accept a below market rent? I think that Ellis was actually giving Meyer a break at $650k. My estimate of 2000 square feet and the rent per square foot is most likely low. The space could easily be worth over $1mm. So yes, the $650k rent is a deal. That's the NY commercial market. May not be where you are, but that's the way it is here.

                  1. re: Bkeats

                    I don't feel sorry for either one of these guys, just glad my president wants their wealth redistributed to me! The numbers were never published, but given your statements, Senior Frog's will pay 70mil for the times sqr location?

                    1. re: BiscuitBoy

                      Don't know what Senor Frog is so had to do a quick search. Maybe not $70 million but at least $25 million and could easily see close to $40-50 million. I work around the location and the foot track is insane with all the goddamn tourists who are willing to overpay for chain food.


            2. To reopen Union Square Cafe in the Upper East Side makes as much sense as moving Grammercy Tavern to Hells Kitchen.

              Open a new kitchen and space but give it it's own due and name. Let the landmark restaurant rest in peace.

              We will try to revisit before the closing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bellachefa

                Doesn't have to make sense. Like I pointed out, check out the Brooklyn Diner's location. What about the 2nd Avenue Deli on 33rd St?

                Not meaning to pick on you, but why do so many people call it Grammercy? There is only one M. There can be only one...