If the Four Seasons can’t make it, who can? That’s the question weighing on the minds of many high-end restaurateurs and landlords following the news that the power lunch institution is going to close for good on Tuesday.
The Four Seasons was betting on being able to pull in enough customers to fill their 299-seat dining room, but fell short. Even on the final Saturday the Four Seasons was open, some tables were empty, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Managing partner Alex von Bidder said that investors had made the decision to close. “We were not doing enough business to satisfy them,” he said, according to the New York Times.
The restaurant took out close to $40 million in debt to open at SL Green Realty and Vornado Realty Trust’s 280 Park Avenue, not long after Aby Rosen booted them from the Seagram Building.
Another possible explanation for the restaurant’s recent fizzle is the bad optics its managing partner Julian Niccolini received when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge in connection to a female customer. The Four Seasons moved to distance itself from Niccolini, firing the previous co-owner in 2018, but the public is not so quick to forgive in the age of #MeToo.
Industry professionals also say that younger consumers are less interested in the idea of a “power-lunch,” and favor more casual options. Some restaurants are making the move to food halls, where the rent is much more reasonable. Greenwich Village Italian restaurant Dell’anima closed when it faced a 35 percent renewal increase, only to reopen in a West Midtown food hall.
As for Rosen, he still remains bullish on fine dining. His replacements at the Seagram Building, the Grill and the Pool, have received strong reviews, and he recently announced that Le Jardinier led by chef Alain Verzeroli will anchor his condominium tower at 100 East 53rd Street. Rosen also said earlier this year that he would be bringing a restaurant to the Chrysler Building, which he recently bought with partner Sigma Holding GmbH for $151 million. [WSJ, NYT] — Georgia Kromrei