We’ve now gotten confirmation from a source in the know that SushiSamba was indeed looking at the Merkato 55 space, but decided against it because the landlord was asking for a high rent and for partnership in the project. We hear that SushiSamba (which, while we’re on the subject, just relaunched its Sushi + Sake 101 class, starting September 21) now has designs on another location in the meatpacking district, and on still another location in an unspecified neighborhood. And here’s the interesting part: We’re told that owners in Bagatelle took the Merkato 55 space yesterday. We’re awaiting confirmation from the folks at Bagatelle, but, if true, this is a spectacular move — one of the meatpacking’s party-brunch spots takes over another. It also shrinks the meatpacking’s number of players, what with BR Guest opening a third venue there, EMM Group now overseeing Abe & Arthur’s/Simyone as well as Tenjune, and, of course, Bagatelle’s David Graziano and Corey Lane having just opened Gansevoort 69.
The Merkato 55 space. Photo: Brian Kennedy