Restaurant owners looking for rent relief over coronavirus slowdown
Restaurateurs staggered by the loss of customers to the coronavirus want relief on their highest operating cost — the rent.
Phil Scotti, an owner of three P.J. Clarkes locations in Manhattan and a partner with chef Jonathan Waxman in recently reopened Barbuto, told The Post:
“Today I composed letters to all of my landlords in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, that we will not be able to pay the rent. They’re going to have to work with us in some way on the back end of leases.”
Scotti said, “There’s no location where I pay less than $1 million a year” including base rent and percentage of sales.
How much of a reduction does he want? “I basically said 100 percent for now,” Scotti said. “If business is down 50 percent, it just can’t support it.”
Scotti’s landlords include publicly traded SL Green at P.J. Clarke’s original iconic location at 915 Third Ave. at 55th Street. A rep for SL Green said the company wasn’t ready to comment on restaurant situations.
Jeff Zalaznick, managing partner of Major Food Group which owns The Grill, The Pool and Carbone and Dirty French, said more cautiously, “We have great relationships with all of our landlords and I have no doubt they will work with us on our rent during this difficult time.” The company’s best-known landlord is Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty at the Seagram Building.
CBRE commercial superbroker Stephen B. Siegel, who’s also an owner of Knickerbocker Bar & Grill on University Place, knows the issue from both sides. He said, “It behooves landlords to help restaurants that are obviously losing business. There’s a window of time for them to get help. Beyond that, landlords will have empty spaces on their hands.”
Stephen Starr, whose Manhattan 1,500-seat eatery empire include highly-regarded Veronika, Buddakan, Le Coucou and Upland, said, “Some landlords have come forward to say, ‘This is terrible, let’s see what happens,’ with the implication they’re willing to talk about it. This is an American crisis, a world crisis, and we’re in this together.”
The only individual landlord to respond to questions about virus-affected restaurants, GFP Real Estate co-principal Jeffrey Gural, emailed us, “If theirs is a hardship based on financial info provided by the tenant we try to help.” GFP’s restaurant tenants include Westville Hudson at 333 Hudson St. and Havana Central at 147 W. 46th St.
The scramble for rent relief came on the heels of Danny Meyer’s shocking announcement on Friday that he was closing until further notice all of all his Union Square Hospitality Group locations, including iconic Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern.
Starr hasn’t closed any of his restaurants but said, “I’m miserable” over the situation.
“I’m brain-dead,” echoed Shelly Fireman, who runs a half-dozen popular, high-volume Manhattan restaurants. “It’s worse than after 9/11, when we all went out to eat like it was our last night on earth.”
Fireman’s popular Trattoria dell’ Arte, Fiorello and Redeye Grill remain open but they’re at risk because they’re located close to now-dark performance venues that provided many customers, such as Broadway theaters in the West 40s, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
Most in the coronavirus crosshairs is Bond 45, a 270-seater he launched two years ago in the Edison Hotel on the same West 46th Street block as three Broadway shows, including “Hamilton.”
Fireman’s snipped away at staffing and menu size at all his places, but the toughest nut to crack at Bond 45 might be the rent — a reported $1.5 million a year in 2018.
Source: Read Full Article