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

 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.

“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.

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 is still open, but not for long. The restaurant is folding to make way fora new part-commercial, part-residential development.

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