New York restaurant numbers rise despite big-name closures

The number of permits issued for restaurants, bars and cafés rose over 27% over the last decade
October 09, 2014 11:20AM

While high-profile restaurant closures like Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café have painted a less than rosy picture of the restaurant industry’s health in recent months, the numbers tell a different story.

Despite rising rents and a growing number of layers of red tape, the number of permits issued for restaurants, bars and cafés in New York City rose over 27 percent to 23,075 at the start of the fiscal year 2015 this July from 18,606 in fiscal year 2006, according to Department of Health data cited by the Wall Street Journal. That, industry observers told the paper, is because more chefs are seeking out their own spaces and dinner-party gurus are turning pro, despite rents north of $15,000 in some Manhattan neighborhoods.

“Higher rents are happening because there’s greater interest in opening up restaurants so there’s a greater demand on space,” Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, told the Journal.

Across the river in Brooklyn, the dining scene has seen the biggest percentage increase in new restaurants over the last five years, the Journal reported. The number of eateries in the borough grew 10 percent to 5,658 at the start of fiscal year 2014, up from 5,151 in 2009, according to health department data. [WSJ]Julie Strickland