Sunday, February 01, 2009

Revenue Down Slightly At Stephen Starr’s New York Restaurants; Stephen "Concerned"

"The lady will have the tasting menu, but with some substitutions: instead of … any of it, she’ll have a cup of hot water with a chicken bone in it … and a bowl of salted ice cubes."

From the Times:
Mr. Starr, meanwhile, said business at his Manhattan restaurants was solid until December, when sales fell 5 to 9 percent. Now, he said, “We’re all concerned about this quarter.”
We’d be shocked if revenue wasn’t down at least somewhat.

And 5 to 9 percent does not sound that bad.
Industry watchers are anticipating a shakeout. Mr. Cannon, for one, predicts that 10 to 15 percent of New York’s high-profile restaurants will close in the coming months.
That may be true, but Mr. Starr should be able to weather this one out.

Maybe even expand?
Still, the downturn offers opportunity for chefs or restaurateurs with access to cash and a good concept. After a breathtaking run-up in rents over the last several years — which gave rise to the $30 and then $40 entree as restaurants tried to cover their costs — many landlords are lowering their asking rents.

More favorable lease rates and a large pool of talent available for hire add up to “great opportunities to expand right now,” said Danny Meyer, the C.E.O. of the Union Square Hospitality Group. High rents are one reason his company hasn’t signed a lease for a fine-dining restaurant in five years, he said.

Mr. Roseman noted that many well-known chefs still did not have a presence in New York. “You can have the best restaurant in Cincinnati, but you’re not that big until you’re in New York City,” he said. Some starry-eyed chefs and restaurateurs are sniffing around, he said, adding, “There’s action.”

And there’s always To-Go menus…

Putting Capital at the Top of the Menu [ New York Times ]

[ Photo via The New York Times ]

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