The new, hottest corner on the Manhattan restaurant scene isn’t in NoMad or Tribeca, it’s at the heart of reviving Midtown.
Lead restaurateur Simon Oren is taking over the long-empty Wayfarer space at the Quin Hotel – a breakthrough for the high-energy intersection of Sixth Avenue and West 57th Street, where Oren’s as-yet-unnamed location will occupy the northwest corner.
The location at 101 W. 57th was once home to Wolf’s Delicatessen and closed decades ago, followed by successive fiascos. Oren’s lease puts more energy into the corner where two other busy, major league diners come out for tourists and returning office workers – Marc Packer’s on Rue 57 at the southeast corner and the Stillman family’s Quality Italian just north of the intersection.
Ruins Managing partner of the Tour de France Group (Nice Matin, L’Express, Cafe d’Alsace) and Dagon, Barbounia and the Five-Napkin Burger chain. He and his partners also recently launched Monterey on the former Maloney & Porcelli site on East 50th Street.
He said the new location will be the Middle East, with a focus on modern Israeli cuisine and the eastern Mediterranean that is lacking in the Midtown mix.
Oren said that the requested rent is $1 million per year, but “We paid less.” The highly visible area has 3,800 square feet at pavement level, 2,500 on the second floor and 2,500 square feet below ground. The site was the latest Wayfarer. closed at the start of the pandemic.
Quin is a brand of Hilton Grand Vacations, which owns the restaurant space. Brad Schwarz of Lee & Associates represented Oren and Jared Lack of CBRE, and Andrew Goldberg represented the host.
Oren said the newly signed lease was “made a year and a half ago.” “I don’t mean to say they were picky, but they were more interested in finding the right tenant than renting.”
“Several groups were interested, including those from out of town,” Oren added. “But they really wanted a local operator with a background. Due diligence took a long time but no one was in a rush.”
The new venture will have 120 dining rooms on the ground floor and 30 dining rooms on the upper floor, including private rooms.
The opening probably won’t be around nine months.
“You’re taking over a place that used to be a restaurant, so you think it’ll be easy and only take four or five months,” Oren said. “It doesn’t work that way. Monterey took me a year to build even though it was a restaurant before.”
Oren is cautiously optimistic about the future.
“You have to be optimistic and naive to be in this business,” he laughed.
He admitted all the bad news everyone had heard about the restaurant scene was “true”, including inflation, customer hesitancy, and labor costs, which rose 25% in the last 12 months. Despite that, “It’s been a good season for us.”
Unlike some other restaurateurs, Oren is not expanding into Miami or elsewhere.
“I love New York, it’s my city,” he said.
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