Gramercy Park Block Association - Neighborhood News #572
The GPBA continues to monitor real estate in the Gramercy Park area, including the trend of beloved restaurants closing due to the city's soaring rents. Please see our dear neighbor restaurateur Danny Meyer's Op Ed piece in this morning's New York Times.
Danny Meyer: Union Square Cafe Is a Casualty of Rising Rents
By DANNY MEYER
"It is sad that the more 'successful' a neighborhood becomes, the more it gradually takes on a recognizable, common look, as the same banks, drugstore chains and national brands move in. Be honest: Would you rather have one more bank branch in your neighborhood, or another independent restaurant?"
"Compare this with a place like London, where neighborhoods have, for generations, succeeded in retaining their distinctive identities and institutions. There are scores of restaurants and pubs that are far, far older than Union Square Cafe. Landlords permit classic establishments to endure even when their original operators sell them, for there is something in that culture that prizes continuity, even over maximized profit."
"We need to consider the consequences of a city economy wired to spit out otherwise healthy businesses - establishments that helped to make it feel like New York in the first place."
With rents increasing in all of the prime retail areas, and longtime restaurants like Union Square Café shuttering after 30 years, restaurateurs are looking elsewhere to plant their flags.
Danny Meyer, whose Union Square Café is among a long list of restaurants opened through the Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), including Gramercy Tavern, The Modern and the Shake Shack chain, shocked the industry and patrons when he announced recently that the restaurant will forfeit its lease on East 16th Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue, after 30 years in business.
Blaming rising rents, Meyer's spokesperson at the USHG said in an e-mailed statement, "We are viewing this as an opportunity to write the next great chapter for Union Square Cafe." Meyer told the the New York Times the restaurant would reopen in the future, but "not necessarily in or near Union Square."