The Real Deal New York

Soaring rent’s latest victims: celebrity chefs

Manhattan rent is just too damn high for these four celebrity chefs

June 28, 2014 11:00AM

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Clockwise from left: Danny Meyer and the Union Square Cafe,

Clockwise from left: Danny Meyer and the Union Square Cafe; WD-50 and Wylie Dufresne; Bobby Flay and the Mesa Grill; and Marco Canora’s Hearth

WEEKENDEDITION As retail rents in Manhattan continue to climb ever higher, even celebrities aren’t safe. Recently, four high-profile chefs have closed their restaurants, unable to keep up with their landlord’s demands.

Retail rents in Manhattan range from an average of about $280 a square foot to $3,500 a square foot, depending on the neighborhood, according to data from CBRE Global Research and Consulting cited by the Wall Street Journal. And those sky-high rents aren’t just hurting mom-and-pop businesses. It is also ousting celebrities.

From left: Danny Meyer and Union Square Cafe

Danny Meyer and Union Square Cafe

“There’s no such thing as a New York restaurant that is immune to real estate,” celebrity chef Danny Meyer, who is closing one of his Manhattan restaurants told the New York Times.

Meyer will close the iconic Union Square Café — a staple of the neighborhood for nearly three decades — in December 2015. Meyer had been paying just $48,000 a year for the space, but the building’s landlord now plans to market the space for $650,000 per year.

Bobby Flay and the Mesa Grill

Bobby Flay and the Mesa Grill

Last year celebrity chef Bobby Flay closed one of his New York restaurants, Mesa Grill, when the rent was set to double. And back in 2007, developers forced Flay to close Bolo to make way for condos.

Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant WD-50

Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant WD-50

Wylie Dufresne’s restaurant WD-50 is still open, but not for long. The restaurant is folding to make way fora new part-commercial, part-residential development.

Marco Canora’s Hearth

Marco Canora’s Hearth

And finally, Marco Canora’s Hearth has been hit with a 65 percent rent hike, and the restaurant may not last, the chef and owner, Marco Canora, told the New York Times. “I’m trying to be a smart businessman…but I can’t do that at the cost of turning my back on my entire belief system and serving commodity pork and Perdue chicken.” [WSJ] Christopher Cameron

  • Sam from Brooklyn

    Landlord greed knows no bounds.

    • half off sale in Litaly

      Landlords have to pay excessive real estate taxes but retailers are claiming that they refuse to pay that percentage hike yet their prices certainly have increased and no one complains about that.

      These chefs should wander down to Little Italy where there are a number of affordable spaces for rent.

  • R

    “When Mr. Meyer opened his doors that year, taking over the lease and kitchen from a vegetarian restaurant, the rent was $8 per square foot, for a total of about $48,000 a year.”

    Based on the information above, the the space is 6,000 square feet.

    “Today, as the neighborhood has become home to international chain stores like Zara, Gap and Anthropologie, brokers at Robert K. Futterman say they plan to ask $650,000 a year for the lease.”

    $650,000 annually for 6,000 square feet is $108 per square feet. Not crazy considering tRD is citing $280 – $3,500 above. The Times has an agenda, as always..

  • Omnivore2121

    U Sq Cafe would have profited at the higher rent levels. Meyer want excessively lower than market rent bc he feels he deserves it. Maybe he does. But he didn’t get it. So he walked. Someone should open the Union Square Grill in its place. It will turn a profit if run correctly. The landlord isn’t being greedy, he’s just asking for rent that’s reasonably close to market. Anyone who disputes that can ask themselves if they would work for 1/2 price.

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