Chef Danny Meyer — of Shake Shack, Gramercy Tavern, and The Modern fame — is being forced to move his flagship restaurant, Union Square Cafe, out of it’s now-hip namesake home, says the New York Times.
Yes, the restaurant does have NYC culinary landmark status, but that still doesn’t save it from the same problem plaguing establishments all over Manhattan — the rent is too damn high.
The space that Meyer rented out for $US8 per square foot, or $US43,000 a year, in the mid-80s is now going for $US650,000. Meyer says that that increase, combined withe renovations it needs to maintain the quality of the entire experience, makes it impossible for him to stay.
Plus, Meyer doesn’t believe in taking money from one restaurant to sustain another (i.e. taking Shake Shack money to prop up Union Square Cafe). His model is that if an establishment can’t stand on its own, it can’t thrive.
So what model is working? The same one New Yorkers have been seeing restaurants and clubs take on since the financial crisis and even before. Many are finding homes within hotels, malls, apartment buildings and the like that offer restaurants and clubs lower rent because they draw in foot traffic.
Meyer first rented the space from the current owner, Ari Ellis’, father. The younger Ellis, for his part, thinks it’s better for both parties if they part ways.
“There are landlords out there willing to do back flips to get a Danny Meyer restaurant,” he told the NYT.
Later adding: “A Shake Shack could do very well in that space.”