[Via The Coffee Shop's Instagram account]
As you probably know, the Coffee Shop closed Sunday on Union Square after 28 years in business. (You can find photos from the last day at Gothamist.)
The rising cost of rent and wages were reportedly behind the closure.
Forbes had a piece back on Friday with Coffee Shop co-owner and president Charles Milite — who opened the space in 1990 with two other Wilhelmina models, Eric Petterson and Carolyn Benitez — that provides some perspective on the challenges of running a presumably successful restaurant here and now and in the future.
Milite told Forbes that rent had become “unusually high,” accounting for close to 27 percent of the restaurant’s gross revenues. Add in the scheduled $2-per-hour minimum wage hike set to take place on December 31 — an increase that, across Coffee Shop’s 150 employees and multiple dayparts of service, would have added $46,000 to the monthly payroll — made it impossible to break even by cutting costs elsewhere.
“It’s a wakeup call for our industry in general,” Milite said. “When a restaurant is one of the top-ranked restaurants in America, sales-wise, and can no longer afford to operate, you have to look at that and say there’s a shifting paradigm in the business.”
Milite predicts that this shift will lead to the gradual disappearance of 200- and 300-seat restaurants like Coffee Shop; in their places will come eateries with smaller, more focused menus and limited service. He’s already trying this with Flats Fix, a fast-casual taqueria right next to Coffee Shop on 16th Street.
A bank branch is rumored to be taking the space, Forbes reported.