Brooklyn Meals Corridor Gotham Market Mermaids 4 of its six grocers
Those who mutter about the health of the dining room may need to worry a little more. Four tenants at Gotham Market in Ashland shut down. Jar, one of its anchor tenants, has already closed, and John Stage’s three concepts – Flip Bird, Regional apizza, and Bar Granger – will be closed until the end of the month.
Closing comes barely a year after the bright new grocery hall opened on the first floor of Ashland in Fort Greene, just steps from BAM, Barclay’s Center and the newly opened Apple Store. The market’s other anchor tenant, Boqueria, remains open, as does the Hey Hey Canteen pop-up concept.
“We started something really good there and everyone worked very hard,” says Christopher Jaskiewicz, COO of Gotham organization and president of Gotham Characteristics & hospitality, who owns and operates the market. “John Stage and Mason Jar are incredibly talented and great to work with, but we’re making changes based on feedback from the community and the neighborhood.”
Mason Jar’s management did not comment, but issued the following statement: “It was a pleasure to work with Gotham to open Gotham Market in The Ashland and create a new destination in the neighborhood. We will continue to operate our New York City location and welcome our Brooklyn-based guests to visit us at any time. “
Jaskiewicz came on to replace Mason Jar Paul Longo (Idas Nearabout, Elder Greene), Kaelin Ballinger (American Beauty, Webster Hall) and James Cruickshank (Whitman’s, Lola) who have teamed up to open a modern American beer hall and kitchen in time for March Madness. The bar offers 15 to 20 draft craft beers as well as a selection of high-end cocktails. The menu (lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch) features traditional beer hall dishes like homemade soft pretzels, but mostly focuses on classic Americana – nachos, wings, burgers, and more.
The closings at Gotham Market in The Ashland follow the rumble at the food hall’s inflated promise. While grocery halls offer advantages over standalone restaurants – minimal startup costs, short-term leases, and rents that are much cheaper than larger traditional restaurant space – some say a variety of costs still make business difficult.
Julian Hitchcock, founder of F&B, a retail advisory and trading brokerage company, says grocery halls are ideal for today’s particularly brutal restaurant economy. “Have you seen NYC retail rentals?” he says. “Food halls are an amazing way to introduce new, exciting concepts and operators to the public. The NYC food scene is having a very challenging moment with a minimum wage of $ 15 coming soon. In the food halls, operators can share the cost of buses, dishwashing, deliveries and more. Without dining rooms, this situation would be even worse. ”
However, some operators say that the deals are too good to be true due to hidden costs, mandatory opening hours that don’t suit their needs, and the lack of autonomy of a standalone location. “The atmosphere in the food hall doesn’t work for all types of food and concepts,” says Hitchcock. “The operators have to be able to share space, music and atmosphere with others. Concepts of great food delivered at a good price in NYC will always thrive. “
Akhtar Nawab, the Alta Calidad chef who has run businesses in four different grocery halls, says there is a lot to be won, but there are also some pitfalls. “You have to pay rent, then pay your share of the marketing plan, and also pay the common area maintenance (CAM) fees that have become a four-letter word for many vendors,” he says. “Inexperienced operators don’t know what to look for. There are costs that are hidden. “
Even though Stage has closed all of its concepts at Gotham Market, it continues to believe in the concept of the Food Hall. “It can be great for operators, but it has to be the right concept,” he says. For new concepts like his Flip Bird, Gotham Market was ideal because it offered an incubator-like opportunity, he says. “It gives you the chance to try it out,” he says. Flip Bird, says Stage, has been successful and plans to move it to another location.
However, Apizza, a stationary restaurant in Syracuse, NY, did not fare as well. “It’s a restaurant that really needs its own home, where you can feel cozy and warm around the wood fire and look through the entire menu,” says Stage. “It’s not a slice joint. That doesn’t work in a dining room. ”
While there may be some casualties, Jaskiewicz says the food hall will continue to thrive. “There’s no chance the Food Hall concept will die,” he said. “But I don’t think anyone can assume that a concept will only be successful because it is in a food hall.”