It's been over a week since we learned that Danny Meyer's pioneering Union Square Cafe would leave its 29-year home at the end of next year due to a rent increase. Now the restaurateur sheds some light on the situation and wades into a deeper discussion of NYC's "problem" of rising rents and diminishing character in an op-ed for the Times.
Meyer laments the "untenable rent escalations" brought down not only on his restaurant—which was gouged with an asking price three times higher (around $650,000) than their current lease—but with other restaurants and small businesses in now-trendy neighborhoods being taken to task by landlords "using this moment to demand the significantly higher rents they've been waiting for since first betting on their neighborhoods." He believes, as many do, that what comes next after these independent businesses leave won't be "similar pillars of their neighborhoods."
The op-ed echoes the sentiments of nearly every other New Yorker who isn't a landholder, including the frustration regarding "banks, drugstore chains and national brands" popping up everywhere, as well as the influx of bland condominiums. "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," Meyer concludes. You're preaching to the converted, man.