New Listing - Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

In another life, I would have rented our latest exclusive myself and developed a concept for this amazing space.

Located in Williamsburg, our inspiration for creating this flyer drew from things we love to see in spaces; an amazing backyard, rustic finishes and the ability to grow fresh produce on site. All it needs is a strong operational team and a little capital.

If these are things that interest you in a space, feel free to reach out to us for more information;


New Listing - West Village Iconic Cafe/Restaurant/Supper Club

Thrilled about this new listing - the iconic Cornelia Street Cafe has been open for the last 30 years. The current owner has decided it's the right time to pass the baton to the next owner. 

The space contains outdoor cafe seating, 2 kitchens, 2 bars (one in the lower level), a performance theater and private supper club in the lower level. 

Contact for more details.

Where NYC's bartenders like to grab a drink

Glad to see our client and friends at the Up and Up made the list. 

Here's where some of the cool kids like to hang after work.

It’s not often that an accomplished New York bartender has the opportunity for a real night out on the town; on the weeknights, weekends, or holidays when the rest of us are out drinking, bartenders are hard at work. But on those rare occasions when they do have a night to themselves, New York’s best bartenders know exactly where to go.

Sometimes they’ll visit industry friends, sometimes they’ll go on a date -- other times, they’ll just hang out at their own establishments, on the other side of the bar. And while some go out in search of a great cocktail, just as many crave a simple beer and a burger (and usually, a shot or two.) We chatted with 11 of NYC’s best bartenders about their favorite night-off haunts.

Stacey Swenson

Head bartender at Dante
Choice spots: Saxon & ParoleMidwaySauvageHoliday Cocktail Lounge

While Stacey Swenson is a spirits enthusiast through and through, her tolerance doesn’t always keep up, so she tends toward lower-proof cocktails, like the aperitivo-style drinks she often serves at Dante. When out from behind the bar? Saxon & Parole for a Japanese highball and mushroom pâté, or Sauvage, from the Maison Premiere team, for crab legs and rosé. For something dive-ier, it’s Williamsburg’s Midway Bar, where there’s always cold Miller High Life and great music.

And like many bartenders in New York, nights for Swenson often end at the recently revived East Village dive Holiday Cocktail Lounge, now with serious cocktails alongside the shot-and-beer specials. “If you’re a bartender and want to go where everybody knows your name and all the lyrics to Toto’s ‘Africa,’ and be greeted with sloppy hugs and big smiles, this is the place for you,” she says.

Tonia Guffey

Head bartender at Dram, bartender at Basik and Bushwick Country Club
Choice spots: BasikThe RichardsonNitehawkBushwick Country Club

Even in her off-hours, you’ll find Tonia Guffey at the Brooklyn bars she works at. “I hang out at Basik a lot. It’s my second home. There are always neighborhood regulars, and we get some fun games of dominoes or cards going on slower nights. Plus, my fella watches hockey there.” Towards the end of the night, she can likely be found at the ironically named Williamsburg dive Bushwick Country Club (another place she bartends), where, she says, “we all rip shots and know we won’t have to apologize for anything later, because everyone will be too [inebriated] to remember!”

For date night, it’s wine and cheese at The Richardson, or movies at Nitehawk. “Anywhere you can get queso, a margarita, and watch a movie all at once without having to sneak a flask is killer in my book,” Guffey says.

Danny Neff

Bar manager at Roebling Tea Room, head bartender at not-yet-open Holy Ground
Choice spots: Extra FancyBasik

The bars that Robeling Tea Room’s bar manager Danny Neff feels drawn to the most are those that make him feel “cozy and loved” -- specifically, Extra Fancy and Basik, both in Williamsburg, and both industry hangouts. Since Neff and his Roebling co-worker Andrew Lindh both used to work at Extra Fancy (or just “Fancy,” for short), they’ll often stop by after a shift to grab a pint and unwind. His best rec: the lobster bisque fries and a lobster roll.

In their off-hours, most bartenders crave a low-key joint where you can just as easily get a shot and a beer as a classic cocktail. For Neff, that bar is Basik: “If you're not going to Basik on a Sunday, you're not doing Brooklyn right,” he says. Though the bartenders are all pros who can make you an impeccable Negroni or Sidecar, there’s nothing stuffy or pretentious about the place. If you stop by, give Russell Dillon behind the bar (“the kindest man in the world”) a hug for Neff. Neff’s ideal night finds him with a Budweiser, a shot of rye, and a cast of industry friends, including Tonia Guffey (above) and her fiancé Jackson Stamper.

Ryan Te

Head bartender at Oiji
Choice spots: Goodnight Sonny and Noorman’s Kil

When Oiji’s Ryan Te isn’t devising soju cocktails, rock climbing, or reading in the hammock listening to Lenny Kravitz, he hops around to his favorite restaurants -- grabbing a burger at Black Iron Burger, seafood at Cull & Pistol, or ramen at Hide-Chan. As for bars, Goodnight Sonny in the East Village is his after-work go-to, where he’ll roll up after a shift for oysters, brandade, whiskey, and maybe a shot of Fernet. If he’s over in Williamsburg, Te’s favorite spot is Noorman's Kil, a low-key bar with a formidable whiskey selection. His standard order there is a dram of Springbank 15 and a “Sylvia” grilled cheese with herbs de Provence, tomato, and melty Empire Jack.

The Absolute Best Cocktail Bars In NYC

Richard P. Murphy

Beverage director at Kings County Imperial
Choice spots: The Dead RabbitLittleneckMr. Fong's

Lots of New York bartenders visit whiskey-and-historical-punch paradise The Dead Rabbit for the drinks, but Kings County Imperial’s Richard Murphy will take any excuse to go there -- be it lunch, dinner, or $1 oysters. In his own neighborhood, Gowanus, the Massachusetts native loves Littleneck, which he vouches for as a legit New England seafood shack, with $1 oysters during happy hour (sensing a pattern?). For a welcoming, comfortable spot, it’s Mr. Fong’s in Chinatown, where the owner crafts “delicious, unfussy cocktails” and the DJs always play good music.

Katie Byrum

Bartender at The Up & Up
Choice spots: Zinc BarHi HelloThe Up & Up

With such a social job, The Up & Up’s Katie Byrum tends to gravitate toward lower-key venues. “It’s important to find that kind of balance when you essentially host a giant party for a living.” After a shift, that means Zinc Bar across the street, for a cold beer and live music.

In Bushwick, where she lives, Byrum loves Hi Hello on Starr St, which is the kind of bar that, despite its high standards for booze, doesn’t take itself too seriously (note The Simpsons playing with closed-captioning on the TV). And while she doesn’t intend to drink at The Up & Up quite so much, “the vibes and the drinks are so dang good, it’s hard to stay away!”

Nick Bennett

Head bartender at Porchlight
Choice spots: Suffolk ArmsFeatherweightThe Dead Rabbit

Having recently turned 35, Nick Bennett is feeling those hangovers worse than ever -- so if he’s having a night out, it better be worth it. “If my mornings are spectacularly miserable, I expect my nights off to be the reverse.”

Worthy enough to merit a hangover is Suffolk Arms, “an unapologetically New York neighborhood bar” on the Lower East Side, or the Featherweight in Williamsburg, which Bennett considers one of the most unsung cocktail bars out there (the space, he says, feels pleasantly secluded). Since his fiancée is a 9-to-5er, they’ll often meet up near her office in the Financial District at The Dead Rabbit; Bennett tends to kill time with a Guinness in the taproom before their date nights in the parlor.

Hemant Pathak

Head bartender at Junoon
Choice spots: BlackTailFlatiron RoomEmployees Only

When he’s not researching Asian flavors and playing with cocktail ideas in Junoon’s spice room, Hemant Pathak is probably eating macaroni and cheese and drinking Kentucky bourbon at the Flatiron Room, or hanging out at BlackTail, the new bar from the Dead Rabbit team, sipping a vodka-and-celery highball. Like with most New York bartenders, Employees Only is also a regular stop, with a reliable industry crowd -- all of whom seem to know someone behind the bar. For Pathak, it’s his bartender friend, Ulysses Vidal, who will make him Palomas until late-night.

Eddie Kennelly

Head bartender at Tavern62
Choice spots: Donovan'sWollensky's GrillBobby Van's

When it comes to going out, Tavern62 head bartender and native Irishman Eddie Kennelly’s heart lies with an old-school Irish pub, like Donovan’s out in Woodside, Queens -- which offers history aplenty and one of the best burgers in the borough. If he’s not there, you can probably find him in Midtown, getting a chicken Parm at Bobby Van’s -- yes, the steakhouse -- or at Wollensky’s Grill, hanging out with Patty Ford, “a legend among NYC bartenders and the biggest ball-buster alive.”

While Kennelly’s nighttime routine has changed up a bit since the birth of his three-year-old son, said son is perfectly comfortable in the bar world. “He knows more bartenders and chefs than he should at his age,” says Kennelly. “Both my kids grew up in the restaurants and bars their dad worked in.”

Erika Ordonez

Bartender at Slowly ShirleyPorchlight, and Montana’s Trail House
Choice spots: Black CrescentChilo’sPearl’s Social & Billy ClubHouse of Yes

Bartender Erika Ordonez is so devoted to Lower East Side oyster-and-cocktail bar Black Crescent that when it burned down after a year in business, she organized the first fundraiser to help get the place back on its feet. Now that it’s back, she’ll stop by for the Hempen Halter, a Negroni with hickory-smoked Carpano Antica vermouth, and comfort food that can sustain a drinking crowd for the long haul.

Chilo’s in Bed-Stuy is another one of her favorites, mainly for its agave spirits and tacos (and homemade hot sauces) from the truck out back. In Bushwick, the cozy Pearl’s Social & Billy Club is Ordonez’s everyday-drinking bar, with friendly bartenders and a great liquor selection; and if she’s looking for good people-watching and crazy spectacles, it’s performance venue-theater-bar House of Yes.

Ordonez also loves visiting her coworkers when she’s off, for very good reason. “They know just how I take my sherry, rum, and agave.”

St. John Frizell

Proprietor at Fort Defiance
Choice spots: “Home, home, home”

You wouldn’t expect an office worker to head back to the cubicle on a night off or a doctor to hang out at a hospital. By that same logic, plenty of bartenders we talked to -- particularly the parents and coupled-up among them -- said they have very little interest in bar-hopping or restaurant-crawling. St. John Frizell of Fort Defiance is an avid cook and would rather be home making a meal, with his girlfriend and/or son, than anywhere else. “Wednesday is Taco Night in my house, and has been since my son Chester was two (he's seven now). It's a ritual we observe with the dedication usually reserved for religious practices. He'll eat literally anything if it's wrapped in a tortilla.”

A cuisine that's been largely ignored for decades could be the next big thing in America

Always love to see when one of our favorite clients is getting some positive press.

I feel blessed and fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to assist the team at Indikitch in finding their first flagship location at 25 W. 23rd Street three years ago. Since then, we have signed leases for five other locations and are continuing our expansion throughout Manhattan and the U.S. 

See the article below from Business Insider, which highlights some of the brands accomplishments.

When it comes to aromatic and flavorful food, Indian cuisine is unparalleled.

So why is it so underrepresented in America?

According to a Washington Post report, there are over 40,000 Chinese restaurants across the nation and roughly the same number of Mexican restaurants — yet there are only about 5,000 Indian restaurants.

Many point to the need for fine culinary skills to create quality Indian cuisine, which results in higher prices. Most Americans don't expect to pay above a certain price level for food, which leaves only subpar Indian food as an option. And once you've had bad Indian food, it takes a while to want to roll the dice again.

But despite this, Indian food is making inroads in the American palate. Millennials generally have more adventurous tastes, and Nation's Restaurant News predicts Indian food will be one of the biggest trends of 2017.

This includes more than just upscale joints — some major chains are starting to dabble in Indian flavors.

Nation's Restaurant News reports that curry is taking over. Tava Kitchen, a chain in the Bay Area, is serving up fragrant Indian-inspired burritos, wraps, bowls, and salads. Biju's Little Curry Shop, a chainlet in the Denver region, is getting a lot of buzz for its Southern Indian cuisine. And the fast-casual giant Sweetgreen recently introduced curry cauliflower to the menu with much fanfare.

Indikitch, a chain based in New York City, is bringing Indian cuisine to the fast-casual craze with huge success. Business Insider visited Indikitch in August 2015, and what we found could be the answer to Indian food's American conundrum.

Based on Chipotle's fast-casual service model, the restaurant serves all-natural, GMO-free ingredients right in front of the customer. The first location opened in early 2014, and Indikitch has since opened another location in New York and expanded its menu to accommodate more diners on the go.

The restaurant industry is facing increased demand for fresh, quality foods with diverse and ethnic flavors — and the time is right for Indian food to hit its stride.

The "Restaurant Industry Bubble"

I shared a similar post a month or so ago regarding how the law to increase the minimum wage will have a profound effect on the restaurant industry.

This article by Thrillist discusses that and more...


AS SOON AS HE WALKED THROUGH THE DOOR, Matt Semmelhack knew it was over. He'd been away from his San Francisco restaurant AQ for less than a week, but when he got back, it just felt different. It went beyond the usual concerns of the modern restaurateur. "I wasn't worried the lights were properly dim, or the regulars were in the right booths," he says. Instead, Semmelhack was just looking at his staff -- people he hangs out with on weekends, people whose livelihoods he supplies, some of his closest friends -- and all he could see was the money each one of them was costing him, flashing in front of him like a video-game score. "I knew right then," he says, "we had to shut it all down."

Semmelhack is not the only restaurateur looking to duck and cover. The American restaurant business is a bubble, and that bubble is bursting. I've arrived at this conclusion after spending a year traveling around the country and talking to chefs, restaurant owners, and other industry folk for this series. In part one, I talked about how the Good Food Revival Movement™ created colonies of similar, hip restaurants in cities all over the country. In the series' second story, I discussed how a shortage of cooks -- driven by a combination of the restaurant bubble, shifts in immigration, and a surge of millennials -- is permanently altering the way a restaurant's back of the house has to operate in order to survive.

This, the final story, is simple: I want you to understand why America's Golden Age of Restaurants is coming to an end.

To do that I'm going to tell the story of the rise and fall of Matt Semmelhack and Mark Liberman's AQ restaurant in San Francisco. But this story isn't confined to SF. In Atlanta, D.B.A. Barbecue chef Matt Coggin told Thrillist about out-of-control personnel costs: "Too many restaurants have opened in the last two years," he said. "There are not enough skilled hospitality workers to fill all of these restaurants. This has increased the cost for quality labor." In New Orleans, I spoke with chef James Cullen (previously of Treo and Press Street Station) who talked at length about the glut of copycats: "If one guy opens a cool barbecue place and that's successful, the next year we see five or six new cool barbecue places... We see it all the time here."

Even Portland, the patient zero of the Good Food Revival Movement, isn't safe. This year, chef Johanna Ware shut down universally lauded Smallwares, saying, "the restaurant world is so saturated nowadays and it requires so much extra work to keep yourself relevant." And Pok Pok kingmaker Andy Ricker closed his noodle joint Sen Yai, citing "soaring rents, the rising minimum wage, and stereotypical ideas about 'ethnic food' as 'cheap food'" in an interview with Portland Monthly. 

Rising labor costs, rent increases, a pandemic of similar restaurants, demanding customers unwilling to come to terms with higher prices -- it's the Perfect Restaurant Industry Storm. And even someone as optimistic as Ricker offers no comforting words about where we're headed.

"These are tough issues that many restaurateurs may face in the very near future," he says. "Closing now is preemptive."


AQ opened for dinner at the corner of Mission and 7th St on a rainy Thursday, November 3rd, 2011. Though this was Matt Semmelhack's first restaurant, the Princeton graduate and former real estate analyst spent several years working in restaurants in all capacities with an eye towards this opening, and he partnered with an experienced fine-dining chef in Mark Liberman, who'd worked at Michelin-starred restaurants in the past. "I wasn't flying totally blind," laughs Semmelhack. "Just, you know, partially."

He and Liberman wanted to create a hyper-seasonal restaurant with a menu and decor that changed with the seasons. So winter meant stark white walls and Brussels sprouts and winter squash, and fall meant harvest colors and apples and mushrooms, and summer meant tomatoes and bell peppers and, um, bikinis or something. Menus changed whenever new ingredients came in. "I think we had like five or six fall menus at one point," says Semmelhack. "If there was something new at the market, even just for a couple of weeks, chef was going to use it in a dish."

The buildout of the restaurant, from lease signing to serving the first customer, took 13 months, a relatively short period of time in the restaurant world. Total costs to open were just under a million dollars. No paltry sum, but a relatively standard amount for a restaurant in gilded San Francisco, helped along by the somewhat questionable location in Mid-Market, an area that was mostly known for its homeless population's casual attitude towards public nudity. "We had no idea what to expect," Semmelhack says. "It could've broke bad."

It did not. Accolades started pouring in, beginning with all-powerful San Francisco Chroniclerestaurant critic Michael Bauer, who gave it three and a half starsEsquire’s John Mariani named it one of America's Best New Restaurants for 2012Bon Appetit put it in the extended Best New Restaurants list. A Japanese magazine said nice things. By the end of year one, it'd made a $250K net profit on $2.9 million in revenue, a rare feat for a sit-down restaurant run by a first-timer.

But the finest moment of a banner year came away from the restaurant in New York. AQ was a 2012 James Beard finalist for Best New Restaurant in America, and Semmelhack, his now-wife Robin, and Liberman flew in for the ceremony. And though they didn't win, Semmelhack recalls it all perfectly. "I remember seeing my wife in a gorgeous dress outside of Lincoln Square. I remember sitting amongst all these legends, people I'd looked up to, restaurants that I'd studied, and just feeling really proud. And then we went to Gramercy Tavern after (whose own Michael Anthony had just won for Best Chef New York City), and I got to meet Danny Meyer and totally fanboy-embarrass myself." He stops talking and leans back in his chair. "We felt pretty invincible."

In the restaurant world, rent always sucks. Unless you manage to play it perfectly, as a restaurant owner you're either moving into a sketchy or "emerging" neighborhood where the rent is cheap but few want to go there, or you're overpaying for an established 'hood and need to be a runaway success from day one. And even if you do manage to make it in the former type of neighborhood, your success often ends up pricing you out of the 'hood you helped revitalize.

In Miami, Michelle Bernstein's Cena by Michy helped rebirth the MiMo historic district but was forced to close this year, after the landlord attempted to triple the rent. And even Danny Meyer had to close and move Union Square Cafe in New York, which, since 1985, had served as one of America's culinary landmarks, when he couldn't rationalize paying the huge rent hike the landlord proposed.

Nonetheless, rent hikes are the devil the restaurant owner knows. The tricky part is figuring out how to survive when every other cost rises too.   

Thanks to its dubious location, AQ didn't really have a rent issue (in fact, once it became a national success, the landlord was so incensed at not charging more that he actually sued the real estate broker). And in 2013, it actually increased its revenue, pulling in $3.1 million. But despite making $200K more than it had the previous year, its net profit was $50K lower, as costs continued to creep up and up. What started as $250K profit and an 8.5% margin in 2012 was down to $40K and 1.5% by 2015. Because it had to pay off $42K in Small Business Association loans each year, this meant negative net cash flow for 2015. 

Then came 2016. In 2016, AQ's projected revenue was $1.6 million, down a million dollarsfrom the year before. They went from doing 240 covers (dinners served) per night at their peak to around 100 this past year. Naturally, there were a lot of factors at play. Maybe Semmelhack and Liberman took their eyes off the ball while expanding their restaurant empire. Maybe Michelin's refusal to award AQ a star cut the restaurant off from deep-pocketed travelers, crucial to such an ambitious spot after the new-restaurant shine wears off. Maybe it's because there were 3,600 restaurants in SF when it opened, and now the SF Environmental Health Department puts that number at 7,600. Maybe the physical and mental toll of running an aspirational sit-down restaurant for five years was just too much.

Whatever it was, with losses of around $250K and a 40% drop in revenue, there was little Semmelhack and Liberman could do to justify keeping their flagship restaurant open. AQ will serve its last meal sometime in January, 2017. The menu will consist of seasonal winter specialities. The walls will be stark and white.


Across the nation, restaurants like AQ -- chef-driven, ambitious, fine-casual dining spaces that straddle the gap between neighborhood fixtures and destinations -- are the ones closing their doors most quickly, mainly for a reason above: labor costs. And it's happening everywhere -- research firm NPD Group reported that in 2016 the number of independent restaurants in the US dropped 3%, while chains increased, and said the majority of those independent restaurants closing were sit-down. The reasons the costs are going up are complicated, involving a mix of laws and taxes and other inherently unsexy things.

I should say before I go any further that all of the restaurant owners and chefs I've talked to are compassionate humans who support better coverage and livable wages, and seem on the whole progressive by nature, but restaurant margins are already slim as hell. There are no political agendas here -- they're just genuinely worried about how to afford to pay extra without radically changing the way they do business.

Let's start with the minimum wage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 2.6 million people earning around the minimum wage in 2015, the highest percentage came from service jobs in the food industry. Though the Obama administration's attempt to increase the federal minimum wage above $7.25 failed, 21 states and 22 cities have raised the minimum wage starting this year, including Washington, DC ($12.50 an hour), Massachusetts ($11), New York ($9.70), and Arkansas ($8.50).

Considering that hour-wage workers are usually the lowest earners and the increase is essential to ensure they earn an actual living, this is the least controversial of the newer expenses and something almost everyone in the industry supports, in theory, but it doesn't change the fact that it's an additional cost that must be factored in. If you have 10 hourly employees working eight-hour shifts, five days a week and you raise the wages a dollar an hour, that comes out to a nearly $20K increase on the year. In AQ's best year -- a phenomenal year by restaurant standards -- that would have been nearly 10% of profits. 

Then there's health care. For the better part of its history, the restaurant business was a health care-free zone, which is ironic, given this Bureau of Labor Statistics' description of the back-of-house work environment: "Kitchens are usually crowded and filled with potential dangers." With the introduction of Obamacare, most restaurant workers finally got the coverage they've needed for years through the employer mandate, but critics often talk about the strain it puts on small-business owners due to a puzzling and controversial element that defines "full time" as 30 hours per week, and not the 40-hour workweek used almost everywhere else (the Save American Workers Act proposes to move this back to 40 hours).

Though this mainly affects bigger restaurants with staffs of 50 or more full-time workers, independent sit-down restaurants still need to provide suitable coverage (meaning it has to be affordable, less than 9.5% of the employee's income) or face fees of $2K per employee. Consider AQ. Semmelhack told me that in 2012 they paid $14,400 for health care costs. In 2015, they paid $86,400. That's an increase of $72K MORE per year than 2012, or 29% of their best year's profit. 



One of the unintended consequences of the Golden Age of Restaurants was unreasonable customer expectations for virtually every eating experience. "Customers now think life should be one endless brunch," says New Orleans' chef Cullen. "With freshly made bottomless mimosas." It is no longer impressive that things are local, farm-sourced, and handmade -- it's expected. But, as Cullen explains, the rise of the Golden Age "scratch kitchen" (in which everything is made in-house), long a point of pride for fine-dining kitchens, isn't usually financially realistic in the more casual kitchens.

"It's self-flagellating chef martyrdom at its best," says Cullen. "Chefs all want to make their own charcuterie and bake their own breads. And if you're wildly talented and you're making exceptional stuff, great. But most chefs know in their heart they can buy it from a local butcher or baker and it'll be at least just as good, but they're too proud. And so you've got these kitchens putting in just as much labor as fine-dining spots, but not charging nearly enough to make it worth their while."

Those elevated expectations now even extend to delivery. And the rising food delivery apps promising local, higher-quality foods at cheap prices (Munchery, Blue Apron, Zesty, UberEATS, DoorDash, Postmates, etc.) are starting to seriously position themselves as, at best, major nuisances and, at worst, that annoying word everyone in the tech industry throws around: disrupters.

"I think they're the ones pricing out fine-casual dining restaurants," says Anjan Mitra, owner of the DOSA restaurants in SF. "These apps are all backed by hundreds of millions from the VCs (venture capitalists) -- so it doesn't even matter that they're all losing money. They can afford to pay chefs and line cooks and prep cooks more than any restaurant, and though many of them work with restaurants now, the bigger, ambitious ones are figuring out ways to completely cut restaurants out of the picture. And if that happens to take 10% of the revenue from a local sit-down restaurant, that's a massive hit. That could be the difference between staying open or shutting down."


In this day and age, we expect so much from our restaurants and chefs. But chefs aren't real estate agents. They aren't lawyers or social media managers. They aren't accountants or tax code experts or HR managers or media personalities or improv actors or CEOs. They want to make some delicious food, and feel a sense of accomplishment and do that thing they love. You don't get into this for the money because THERE IS NO FUCKING MONEY. But you need to survive to continue your art and the deck is being stacked higher and higher against the average restaurant every year.

And now opening a sit-down restaurant is like walking into one of those machines in roller rinks where you have 30 seconds to grab as much money as you can, except all the money is fake, minus one lottery ticket taped to the bottom of one of those dollars. And that one lottery ticket is a restaurant unicorn like State Bird Provisions or Momofuku Ssäm Bar or Rose's Luxury or Au Cheval

And if you happen to be the lucky owner of that ticket, you cash it in and head back to the restaurant casino and buy more chips and take them to a higher-limit table and keep betting on yourself and your food and your people and you hope that your wherewithal and previous luck and skill keep it all going, and you become a place like Zuni Cafe or The Spotted Pig or, hell, Commander's Palace and you're able to last into paying off investors and actually making a living and becoming the nostalgia pick, the place everyone goes to recall that feeling they had when they walked in and discovered that the food you make is art, and you are a national treasure.

And then your lease runs out, your landlord sells to a developer, and they triple your rent.


So what have we learned? Well, for one, the restaurant bubble will not burst like the stock market. There will not be massive simultaneous closures -- different cities will be affected at different times, some places may hang on years, often propped up by personal savings or an owner who either doesn't care about losses or refuses to see the writing on the wall.

But for the average city diner, the bubble bursting will have very real consequences. For one, most sit-down dining will, in many ways, revert back to what it was in the '80s/'90s: reserved for special occasions. And this is for the simple reason that restaurants need to universally raise their prices to keep affording to pay their workers and buy food and serve you a choice of sparkling or still water with your house-baked bread and house-cultured butter (this will also serve as a gut check for the mass of people who claim to be for changes to restaurants that result in paying fair wages, but as soon as they see higher prices themselves as a result of said wage increases, immediately forget their lofty talk and take to Yelp to complain).

But then again, more and more restaurants will also opt to go the other way, and become hip iterations of fast-casual restaurants, with smaller menus, counter service, and a skeleton crew of front- and back-of-the-house staff. "The age of the cool counter-service bar is upon us," says Semmelhack. Big-name chefs are already moving away from their sit-down restaurants to join the fray: Chef James Holmes shuttered his nationally lauded Olivia restaurant in Austin and turned it into Lucy’s on the Fly, the fourth location of his fast-casual fried chicken concept, and just a few weeks ago, the celebrated chef of NYC's Del Posto, Mark Ladner -- owner of a four-star review from the NY Times, and a Michelin star -- announced he'd be leaving at the end of January to open his own fast-casual Pasta Flyer joint.

Until the point of over-saturation, the places these chefs are creating, the cheaply hip, fast-casual counter joints, will thrive. You can already look to spots like Hat Yai in Portland, New Orleans' Company Burger, and Honey Butter Fried Chicken in Chicago to see that that model currently works. Combine that with the proliferation of well-curated food halls -- Atlanta's Krog Street Market, New Orleans' St. Roch, Revival Food Hall in Chicago, Pearl in San Antonio, etc. -- and the aforementioned rise of app-based dining, and it's hardly a question why most casual fine-dining restaurants are endangered.

And maybe that's fine for the diner, who will surely adapt and maybe even appreciate saving some cash while still getting most of the trappings of the cool sit-down restaurants, and maybe it's even good in the long run for the restaurant industry, as the lack of capital forces people to get creative and experimental. But that doesn't change the fact that the current owners and chefs who've poured all their savings and passion into restaurants open now will never be able to get that money and time back. 

What we're witnessing, as you see this rise of both the high and low end, is the hollowing out of the restaurant industry center -- the gentrification of food, carried to its logical conclusion. You had something that was interesting and a great value, it attracted everyone, and now all that's left until a rebirth is extravagance or thrift.


Once Semmelhack quietly announced he was selling the restaurant, potential restaurateurs began inquiring, asking to look at the space. On an unseasonably warm day in December, just over five years after he'd opened the doors, Semmelhack showed around a couple of prospective buyers. One was a fine-dining concept doing high-end, exquisitely tasteful prix fixe small plates. The other was a small pizza chain. AQ's ground floor, it said, would be perfect for a catering business on the side.

10,000 SF Restaurant/Steakhouse/Event Space for Sale

221 West Broadway, TriBeCa, New York

10,000 SF Restaurant/Steakhouse/Event Space for Sale


Fed Raises Rates; Borrowing Costs Sure To Rise in 2017


Federal Reserve officials raised interest rates for the first time this year and forecast a steeper path for borrowing costs in 2017, saying inflation expectations have increased “considerably” and suggesting the labor market is tightening.

The Federal Open Market Committee cited “realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation” in increasing its benchmark rate a quarter percentage point, according to a statement Wednesday following a two-day meeting in Washington. New projections show central bankers expect three quarter-point rate increases in 2017, up from the two seen in the previous forecasts in September, based on median estimates.

The central bank said monetary policy supports “some further strengthening in labor market conditions and a return to 2 percent inflation,” adding the word “some” in an indication that officials see less room for improvement in the job outlook. The word “strengthening” also replaced “improvement.”

Inflation has firmed toward policy makers’ 2 percent target, unemployment has dipped further and President-elect Donald Trump has pledged growth-fueling tax cuts and infrastructure spending that could warrant a faster pace of Fed tightening. Trump has accused Fed Chair Janet Yellen of keeping rates low to help Democrats, a charge she denied. Now, higher interest rates have the power to blunt the impact of any fiscal stimulus.

The FOMC didn’t include language in its post-meeting statement explicitly referring to changes in fiscal policy.

Widely Expected

Wednesday’s interest-rate increase, only the second since the central bank cut borrowing costs to near-zero in 2008, was both telegraphed by Fed officials in recent weeks and widely anticipated in financial markets, with futures traders putting the probability at 100 percent.

All 103 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News had projected a hike on Wednesday. Economists saw two rate increases in 2017, according to the average probability in a separate survey of 41 respondents conducted Dec. 8-12.

The FOMC’s decision was unanimous for the first time since July. The move brings the target for the federal funds rate -- the overnight lending rate between banks -- to a range of 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent. That will potentially lead to marginally higher borrowing costs for consumers and companies while giving savers a boost.

Recent information shows that “the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been expanding at a moderate pace since mid-year,” the central bank said in its statement. Job gains have been “solid,” consumer spending is “rising moderately” and business investment “has remained soft,” the Fed said.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen will discuss the decision at a press conference scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in Washington.

‘Roughly Balanced’

Officials repeated that near-term risks to their outlook are “roughly balanced.”

Fed officials continue to project three quarter-point rate increases in 2018, based on median federal funds forecasts of

1.375 percent in 2017 and 2.125 percent the following year.

The Fed’s projections show little change from September in the outlooks for growth, unemployment and inflation over the next three years. Policy makers see gross domestic product growing 2.1 percent in 2017, up from a previous forecast of 2 percent.

Policy makers slightly reduced their outlook for unemployment in 2017 to a fourth-quarter level of 4.5 percent. Joblessness sank to 4.6 percent in November, a nine-year low.

The median projection for the longer-run federal funds rate increased to 3 percent, a small shift from about 2.9 percent in September. That projection had been on a downward trend.

The Fed had expected to make four quarter-point increases this year when surveying the outlook in December 2015. But its forecast was thwarted by a range of headwinds including China-spurred turmoil in financial markets and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Jobs Added

Despite global risks, the domestic economy has moved closer to the Fed’s goals. In addition to the drop in unemployment, the country has added 180,000 jobs a month on average this year.

Meanwhile, inflation has steadily approached the Fed’s 2 percent goal. The central bank’s preferred index of consumer prices climbed 1.4 percent in the year through October. Core inflation, which strips out volatile fuel and food, is running at 1.7 percent.

With bond yields rising sharply since Trump’s Nov. 8 victory in anticipation of higher inflation, the Fed said Wednesday that “market-based measures of inflation compensation have moved up considerably but still are low; most survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance, in recent months.”

Trump, who will be inaugurated as U.S. president on Jan. 20, has pledged as much as $1 trillion in infrastructure investment and cuts to corporate and individual income taxes. But the plans haven’t been thoroughly detailed, and what will actually be backed by Congress is even less clear.

The Fed meets next on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in Washington, though that meeting won’t be accompanied by economic projections or a press conference. The next gathering with a press briefing takes place March 14-15.


New York’s Disappearing Diners, Dustin Wilson Opens a Wine Shop, and More Intel

— According to Department of Health records, NYC has half as many diners as it did two decades agoTimes contributor George Belcher writes about his favorite member of this endangered species, Metro Diner, on the corner of Broadway and 100th Street: "One of the charms of the Metro, and of many other diners in the city, is that the employees’ backgrounds are as varied as the languages spoken by the tourists who have found their way here. Costa Rica, Ecuador, Greece, Mexico, Poland, Romania — these are just a few of the countries where staff members come from. Together they constitute a microcosm of the immigrant groups that continue to arrive in New York — who not only made the city what it was, but the best of what it is and could be."

— Bucking the trend, one vanished greasy spoon, Lyric Diner, recently sprang back to life. The coffee shop on the corner of Third Avenue and East 22nd Street reopened under the name Tivoli Diner earlier this month. Over the summer, proprietor Gus Kassimis said that this would be a "traditional diner with newer flair."

— One amusing tidbit from the great NYT profile of former district attorney Robert Morgenthau: At one point in time, his father, Henry Morgenthau Jr., was planning to open a restaurant with his boss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, after he left office. Morgenthau remarks: "This for some reason has never got any attention....F.D.R. was going to be the maître d’, and my father was going to be the chief chef. They actually bought the property."

— Dustin Wilson, the former Eleven Madison Park sommelier who was in the film Somm, recently opened a Tribeca wine shop in the old 24 Hubert space called Verve Wine. The store specializes in European wine, and there is a section dedicated to bottles that Wilson’s sommelier friends are stoked about these days. He tells Tribeca Citizen: "If Michaël Engelmann at the Modern is excited about something he’s pouring by the glass, we can share it here, with some visuals explaining it."

— Marguerite Preston visits recently-relocated Nepalese restaurant Dhaulagiri Kitchen in its new home in Curry Hill: "Though it says so on the menu, a server will still warn that the samay baji, a set meal served here in a bento box, always comes with bhutun (or bhuttan as it's occasionally spelled), a sautéed blend of chopped goat stomach, kidney, liver, and heart; this is a dish for offal lovers. It also comes with a choice of chicken, beef, or goat cooked in a hearty blend of spices and piled on top of the organ meat to temper their funk."

 Paulie Giannone is still fighting against his neighbors to get a beer and wine license at his new slice shop spinoff of Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint: From a message on Instagram: "If you live in the community and have appreciated the family dining experience that we have brought to the neighborhood since we opened our doors in March of 2010, please find it in your heart to come out to the Community Board #1 meeting on Tuesday night (11/29) at 6:30pm at The Swinging 60s Senior Center at 211 Ainslie Street."

— Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman prepared a very cool midday feast for their friends at Prune recently, and T Magazine documented every detail of the meal. Hamilton writes: "I’ve eaten the preservice family meal at 4:45 p.m. for so many decades now that I couldn’t drum up an appetite at 8 p.m. anyway."

— Milk Bar is expanding to Los AngelesChristina Tosi and her crew have not yet announced an exact location or opening time frame, but they are scoping out spaces in the LA area.

— Downtown beer bar/shop Milk & Hops is expanding to the Upper East Side. The new 50-seat location of the bar will open at 1159 First Ave sometime in March.

Other Fall Restaurants Opening This Week

Danny Meyer, Sam Lipp, Carmen Quagliata, and the rest of the Union Square Cafe team are putting the finishing touches on the new iteration of the restaurant on the corner of Park Avenue and East 19th Street. The team was targeting an opening date before Thanksgiving, but now it looks like the grand debut will be sometime next week — or possibly the week after. The extra time for the build-out is completely understandable when you consider the scope of this bad boy. Union Square Cafe 2.0 will inhabit a 10,000 square foot space (compared to the 6,000 square feet of the original). Expect seating for 90 guests in the dining room, plus two bars areas and three private spaces, including a PDR that will accommodate 20 to 40 guests (as pictured above). Union Square Cafe will also have a next-door sidekick called Daily Provisions, which will be open all day long. 

In other fall mega-blockbuster opening news, work on Dan Kluger’s forever-delayed farm-to-table restaurant Loring Place is nearly complete. The restaurant at 21 West Eighth Street will serve new dishes from the former ABC Kitchen chef like charred broccoli with pistachios, and Brussels sprouts with avocado and sunflower seeds. Kluger recently told Tasting Table about his idea for the design of the space: "I wanted it to be simple, muted colors and then the food to be pops of color, the people to be the pops of color." Some of the tables will be made from old floorboards harvested from the building, and the food will be served on Jono Pandolfi plates. If the stars align correctly, Loring Place will also open next week.

Eater's Best Bars in New York to Watch the Olympics

The 2016 Summer Olympics kick off August 5 in Rio de JaneiroFor two weeks, the best athletes from all around the world compete for the gold, silver, and bronze in sports including soccer, gymnastics, tennis, weightlifting, and water polo. Here's a guide to 30 greats bars in New York forcheering on your favorite athlete and country.


Excited to see the new lineup from one of our best clients - Indikitch

Indikitch, the Chipotle-style Indian food chain based in New York City that aims to bring Indian food to the masses, is rolling out some new products.

Indikitch's existing menu is reflective of the different cuisines across India. The menu includes these main courses:

  • Feast: Includes your choice of main sautéed in traditional sauce with sides of rice, dal, kachumbar, and naan. The meal is representative of North Indian cuisine.
  • Biryani: A saffron rice bowl with your choice of main sautéed in biryani sauce, pickled onions, and fenugreek leaves. The bowl is topped with crispy fried onions and includes both pineapple raita and peanut mirchi dressing. This dish is reflective of Mid-South Indian cuisine.
  • Dosa: A rice and lentil crêpe filled with your choice of main, sautéed with pickled onions, tawa masala spices, coconut and coriander pestos over romaine lettuce with coriander mayo. The meal represents South Indian cuisine.

While all of these meals are delicious, as Business Insider video producer Joe Avella noted, there's a reason Indikitch isn't yet the next fast casual phenomenon: "Not only do we want it fast, but we want to eat it fast. While we drive, while we walk, while we work." And you can't do that with Indikitch's existing menu.

"We took it to heart," one of Indikitch's principals, Deepak Amin, told Business Insider. "We said that's a challenge."

Amin and his wife, Dipali, who creates all of Indikitch's dishes, spent six to seven months developing the new menu item, which can be eaten on the go.

Enter Indikitch's newest creation: the kati roll, which is madly popular on the streets of Kolkata, India. The kati roll includes of your choice of main rolled up in paratha, or flatbreadlike crust, sauteéd in mint chutney, tandoori pesto, and pickled onions. It's the closest thing resembling a sandwich in India. An order is $9.19 plus tax and includes two rolls.

Two kati rolls. Hollis Johnson

In addition to the kati roll, Indikitch will also be rolling out kulfi, or Indian ice cream, and grab-and-go snacks. The kulfi will be available in pista (pistachio and rosewater) and malai (cooked milk, rosewater, and caradamon).

The kati roll, kulfi, and snacks will debut at Indikitch's Flatiron location (25 W. 23rd St.) on August 3, and its Columbus Circle location (940 8th Ave.) on August 4. The brand is also opening four new locations — three in Manhattan and one in New Jersey.