53-Yeard Old Le Perigord Shutters to Displace Union Labor

The costs involved with running a restaurant in New York City have never been more daunting.  Even for a stalwart of the fine-dining breed, labor costs can undue profitability.  And when a union is involved, the costs can become insurmountable.

Georges Briguer, who has owned the old-school French institution since 1966, has closed Le Perigord as he has not been able to reach terms with the restaurant union, Local 100.  The owner and the union had negotiated for four months to no avail.  Now, legally, closing and reopening as a new business is Mr. Briguer’s path forward.  According to the owner, “We would have to increase the price of the dinner too much…we have no choice,” in order to meet the new deal that would have required an additional $80 per day, per employee–about $12,000 per week–to cover the additional healthcare and pension requests.

In six months, the restaurant at 405 East 52nd will turn the lights back on under a new name: Restaurant 405.  Le Perigord, which once served neighborhood regulars and celebrities such as Truman Capote and Donald Trump alike, will be a memory.  The revised restaurant will have a new menu, but the owner hopes to rehire his staff, sans union.

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Colicchio & Sons to Close

19COLICCHIOS-WEB-master768.jpgColicchio & Sons, the eponymous Chelsea restaurant from Tom Colicchio, recently announced they would close their doors after a final dinner service on September 4th The restaurant has been open for 6 years, during which it earned 3 stars from the New York Times for it’s sophisticated techniques and devotion to craft.

Tom Colicchio announced the closing on August 18th, but did not give specific reasons. A likely possibility is that he is moving to focus on more casual concepts for financial reasons, as the market grows less friendly towards fine dining. Mr. Colicchio also plans to open a new concept, called Fowler & Wells, in the Beekman Thompson Hotel in the financial district.

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Bloomfield’s Planned FiDi Opening Called Off

April Bloomfield, the chef behind NY staples Salvation Burger, The Breslin, and The Spotted Pig, has officially called off plans to open a complex of restaurants and bars at the top of 70 Pine Street in the Financial District. Bloomfield had originally planned to open the project with business partner Ken Friedman and developer Adam Rose, who is converting the the former AIG building into apartments. But by mutual agreement the plan has been called off, supposedly due to the complexity of the concept and logistics necessary. According to Rose, “we need a simple bar with basic (but nice) food to make it work 66 stories up in the air on top of a landmark.”

Rose is now working on securing another chef or operator, but has not announced any possible partners yet. He says that a future collaboration with Bloomfield and Friedman is still “highly likely.”

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The Wizard Retools His Lab

David Bouley dreams of engineering a whole different concept of a restaurant.

The famous chef’s eponymous restaurant opened at 165 Duane Street, Tribeca in 1987.  According to Bouley, the restaurant will be going “on sabbatical” and then reopening in a smaller space (planned for Tribeca) with a mission of healthful eating.  The new space will accommodate only 20-25 seats and open five days a week.  The Bouley that New Yorkers have come to know over the past thirty years will be gone in a few months.

In recent years, Mr. Bouley has become obsessed with health issues.  Towards the end of the year, he will engage in a deep study of the relationship between health and food.  He plans to take nutrition classes at New York University and consult with doctors and experts, internationally.

The new restaurant’s mission will be to optimize health.  Tasting menus will be developed to address a variety of dietary restrictions and medical concerns.  “Food should give you calories that you burn off, not calories that you store,” said Mr. Bouley.

David Bouley plans to rejuvenate his restaurants and projects (Bouley, brushstroke, Bouley Test Kitchen and Bouley Botanical) and himself.  He is quoted as saying “Gastronomy and science, meeting together.  I want to learn how to do that better”.

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Fairway Files for Bankruptcy

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As of Monday (but predicted long before), Fairway Market has officially filed for bankruptcy after losing $300 million in five years and accumulating $267 million in debt. According to a statement released by the company, they have a plan underway to restructure debt while keeping all 15 stores in operation and continuing to pay wages, benefits and other obligations.

Fairway CEO Jack Murphy is publicly optimistic, stressing that the bankruptcy deal is the grocery chain’s best opportunity to continue operating and survive the recent turmoil more or less intact. Indeed, the news that all stores will remain open comes as some surprise, since initial reports predicted that at least the poorer performing branches would be forced to close.

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7/26: The Four Seasons Auctions Off Its Entire Iconic Interior

fourseasons5.0.jpgDetails were released yesterday about the much-anticipated auction of the furniture and smallwares formerly used at the Four Seasons Park Avenue, and there are certainly more than a few New Yorkers out there already reaching for their pocketbooks.

The auction will be held by Wright Auctions, a Chicago-based company specializing in mid-century design. It will take place on-site on July 26th. The restaurant has long been iconic for it’s interior design and aesthetic; in fact, the architectural fittings and detailing have been landmarked (and as such are among the only items not available for sale). According to Richard Wright, founder and president of Wright Auctions, “[we] have always held a particular focus on modern architecture and design, and this interior so perfectly captures the modern spirit in heroic and elegant fashion.”

There will soon be a catalogue available of the full auction list, but New York collectors can already look forward to the Grill Room’s famous banquettes, the custom tulip tables, and bespoke small wares ranging from wine coolers to pots and pans.

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Fairway Owners Fight Collapse with Bankruptcy Deal

After rapid and apparently misguided expansion, the New York grocery store Fairway may finally be reaching the end of its lifelines. Stocks in the store, which went public in 2013, have been falling since CEO Jack Murphy came on in 2014; they now rest at 30-40 cents a share. Nasdaq has twice warned the company that they may be delisted, and over the past 5 years they have accumulated $267 million in debt.

The chains owners have made attempts to sell, but have not been able to come up with buyers. Now, in a last-ditch effort to keep at least the most successful stores open, they are attempting to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection by the end of May and restructure their debt. If the deal goes through, creditors will take over the company temporarily until they (hopefully) reach more solid footing.

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