Union Square

Two Iconic Union Square Restaurants Closing, Owners Cite Soaring Rents

Two iconic restaurants in Union Square will be closing at the end of the year, their owners have confirmed. 

Republic, the Thai noodle shop, and Blue Water Grill, the seafood restaurant, will soon be shuttering because they can't keep up with soaring rents, Bloomberg reports

Blue Water Grill will relocate within the next year, after its owners say the rent there was just recently raised to "well over $2 million" a year. 

Republic owner Jonathan Moor, meanwhile, says he expects to close the 3,800-square foot space by the end of 2017, three and a half years before the lease expires, according to Bloomberg. 

The two Union Square staples follow the famed Union Square Cafe out of the area: in 2015, it closed its space there, also because of a fivefold increase in rent over 30 years. It has since relocated a few blocks away. 

Moor said rent was "relatively inexpensive" when Republic first opened in 1995, about $220,000 a year.

"But remember, when I opened, Union Square was very different than it is today," he told Bloomberg. "There was very little there along with drugs in the park. At the time we were taking a risk." 

The landlord of the building that houses Republic told Bloomberg that taxes have gone up dramatically since the restaurant first signed its lease. 

Moor says he's not sure if he'll reopen Republic at another location.

"You have to think of restaurants as artists, or neighborhood pioneers," Stephen Sunderland, senior managing director of Optimal Spaces, a tenant broker in the city, told Bloomberg. "They come into a neighborhood, it becomes hip, and that's the source of their demise. They create the trends that undo them." 

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