Union Square Cafe closing up, says rent's just too high

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Sandra Bookman is at the venerable restaurant to find out why it plans to move. (WABC)

Bustling Union Square is losing a little bit of its mojo.

The famed Union Square Cafe is leaving its East 16th Street location because of rising rent after nearly three decades.

g rent forcing it out of its East 16th Street home by the end of next year after nearly 3 decades.

"I honestly think it's really sad because you're taking people who are pioneers, who have created the neighborhoods almost from the beginning, and now saying they can't stay there anymore," said
Vanessa Miller, entrepreneur.

The restaurant and landlord had reportedly been negotiating for more than a year, but couldn't reach a deal. The lease for the next tenant: $650,000 -- triple the current rate.

There was also the cost of needed renovations to consider. In the end, management said a new location seemed to make the most business sense. The restaurant will move by the end of the year.

"Rather than think about this in terms of trepidation or fear, I think it's a beautiful opportunity to write the next great chapter for this restaurant," said Sam Lipp, a managing partner for the restaurant.

Union Square Cafe was the first in restaurateur Danny Meyer's empire, which includes Shake Shack, Gramercy Tavern and Blue Smoke. The restaurant is considered the catalyst in a once-derelict neighborhood.

"It's an honor to hear something like that, truly," said Lipp. "When it becomes more than just a place to nourish your body ... we don't take that lightly."

Lipp said the neighborhood is the first place the restaurant will look for its next home.

Related Topics:
foodrestaurantslower east sideUnion SquareNew York City
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