“There are neither victims nor villains in this story,” the restaurateur writes today in a New York Times op-ed, offering his take on why the current real estate climate has suddenly become so inhospitable to restaurants like wd~50 and his own Union Square Cafe, which will close and relocate at the end of 2015. Danny Meyer writes that the rent on his first, pioneering restaurant was recently tripled at the tail-end of its lease — a real estate broker tells Grub the figure is now at $650,000 a year — and that neighborhoods stand to lose even more central establishments as a consequence of the trend.
“My hunch is that they won’t be replaced by restaurants that will become similar pillars of their neighborhood,” Meyer writes. If the city had something akin to London’s municipal Rent Assessment Panel, he suggests, which mediates disputes, it would be a move toward stemming the tide of closures. Or at least a first step toward recognizing the value classic restaurants have that extends beyond issues of ever-escalating market profitability.