Feasting on leftovers: Restaurants snap up fancy digs abandoned during pandemic

Fushimi takes over Hakkassan’s $10M buildout near Times Square


The former Hakkasan restaurant space just off Times Square has so much marble, it could compete on Instagram with the Karl Lagerfeld bathroom at Paris’ Hôtel de Crillon.

From a long hallway of blindingly white tiles to stone screens carved by water jets, the space includes nearly 5,000 square feet Calacatta marble, which prompted the New York Times to deem it a “multi-million dollar exercise in Orientalism.”

Hakkasan spent about $10 million building out the space before opening a decade ago. But the restaurant shut down in late 2020, leaving the installation behind.

The elaborate buildout was a major draw for the sushi chain Fushimi Group, which leased the massive space at 311 West 43rd Street. It spans 20,000 square feet and can seat 650 diners.

Pricey, eye-catching restaurant spaces vacated during the pandemic are being snapped up by a new wave of operators, said Meridian Retail Leasing’s James Famularo, who leased the former Hakkasan space for landlord DivcoWest.

“These second-generation restaurant spaces are being leased like hot cakes,” he said. “People are seeing the tremendous value that the prior operator adds by building out the infrastructure.”

In another Famularo deal, last year Brooklyn Chop House leased a 25,000-square-foot venue on West 47th Street where Buffalo Wild Wings left behind a $15 million buildout.

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When restaurants build out a space, they buy tables and chairs and lease refrigerators, ranges and other equipment. But anything that gets glued, screwed or otherwise affixed to the premises becomes the property of the landlord.

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The Michelin-starred fine-dining Chinese chain Hakkasan launched in London in 2001 and became popular with celebrities including Britney Spears, Rihanna, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.

The restaurant opened in New York in 2012 to much fanfare, but was derided as overpriced. The braised abalone priced at a “lucky” $888 was an easy target for critics.

The owners closed the restaurant in November 2020, citing the impact of the pandemic. DivcoWest was asking $1.2 million a year for the space when Fushimi Group leased it.

Famularo said so many restaurants have closed that restaurant operators have their pick of prime spaces.

“Only a fraction of these spaces would be available if it weren’t for Covid,” he said.