It's become increasingly clear that nobody is safe from the whims of greedy landlords, not even if your name is Danny Meyer. The restaurateur's flagship restaurant Union Square Cafe, which heralded in the Age of Meyer and his restaurant group called, fittingly, Union Square Hospitality Group, will shutter at the end of next year. The 29-year-old restaurant was unable to withstand a drastic rent increase in the trendy neighborhood, reports the Times; "There’s no such thing as a New York restaurant that is immune to real estate," Meyer told the paper.
The East 16th Street space will go on the market later this week and brokers at Robert K. Futterman tell the Times they plan to ask $650,000 per year for the lease, over $600,000 more than when Meyer opened the Cafe in 1985. Since all of USHG's restaurants operate independently, profits from other establishments couldn't be used to "save" the Cafe and though he would use his own money "in a heartbeat," Meyer says the logistics simply don't make sense. There are plans to relocate the restaurant somewhere else but "not necessarily in or near Union Square."
Other USHG restaurants have been released in recent years, including shutting down Tabla in 2010 and the sale of Eleven Madison Park in 2011. Conversely, the Group's Shake Shack presence has grown exponentially, with the 48th store now open in DC as of this week. Coincidentally, and without any apparent trace of irony, landlord Ari Ellis envisions some kind of fast casual restaurant taking over when the Cafe departs at the end of 2015. And what kind of place exactly? "A Shake Shack could do very well in that space."