Friday, April 12, 2019

Wagamama is closing its East Village location

After nearly 18 months in business, Wagamama is shutting down its East Village location.

This outpost of the London-based chain that serves Japanese-inspired cuisine opened on the corner of Third Avenue and 11th Street in October 2017.

Here's the message posted to the Wagamama website: "As of april 12 we will [be] closing our doors. we wanted to say thank you, east village for being our neighbor. don’t worry, you can get your noodle fix at either our location on 25th and 5th or our newest location at 39th and 3rd. we look forward to seeing you soon."

On the surface, this seems to be a bit of a surprise: a well-known restaurant brand opening in a location surrounded by a large college population (NYU, Cooper Union, the New School) in a well-travelled corridor. (Not exactly a sleepy side street.)

This closure comes several weeks after Wagamama's 11th Street building mate Martina bid farewell to their space. Danny Meyer's attempt at a quick-serve pizzeria opened in August 2017.

In 2014, this previously rather drab and dormy-looking residential building received a facelift and rebranding to become more luxurious with rents going upwards of $10k a month.

The retail spaces underwent a major rehab after M2M closed here back in February 2017.

[EVG photo from June 2017]

Meanwhile, the Smith appears to still be doing big business in this complex.

Previously on EV Grieve:
55 Third Ave. sells for $57 million — AGAIN

Someone actually paid $57 million for this East Village building

Reimagining this 12-story East Village building, now on the market

NY Copy & Printing forced out of longtime E. 11th St. home, opening second location on E. 7th St.

Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group planning Martina for 55 3rd Ave.

A few details about the Wagamama coming to 3rd Avenue


Anonymous said...

Good. I’m still very salty that this terrible restaurant took over m2m’s spot

Anonymous said...

Food here was good and I always looked forward to a big frosty mug of Sapporo. To echo Grieve, this and Martina's closing merit concern. Why can't pan-Japanese and nouveau pizza thrive? The Smith really nailed a concept, plain to see any time you walk by: it's solid and it's diverse and you know what it is. Think diner, but more upscale. Westville does this extremely well, too. Maybe the other concepts resist similar attempts to bring them into modern times. Come to think of it, when I think of pizza, it's either Joe's or a hike to Bleecker for John's. Martina's was fine, sure — I liked it. But it never made it into rotation.

Is it time to revert back to what we know works? Slices and traditional Japanese food?

Anonymous said...

Yep. Wagamama really blows. Pan-Asian Houlihan's

Anonymous said...

Couldn’t stand that place. When a server has to tell you they do things differently and food doesn’t come out in any set order. You know it’s poorly organized. The fuck... both times there waited for everything and took so long for anything to come out. No wonder they closed, they had zero idea about service. Perhaps it’s an English thing, I don’t know, but hoped out of that place like the rest of the city.

Gojira said...

And for this we lost M2M. Priceless.

Anonymous said...

I sat with no menu for 10 minutes, the only customer in the place, while one server put place settings on every table and two others were in deep conversation. I walked out.
The problem isn’t the food concepts in either Wagamama or Martina’s, it’s the fact that diners have enough other Japanese and pizza choices in the neighborhood to not put up with corporate run restaurants with disinterested staff.

Anonymous said...

Had high hopes for this place as the ones in the EU are pretty good. However the staff and food was just not that good...

cmarrtyy said...

Bad food? Bad service? Bad management? No Boxy-Moxy crowd. High rent. Demographics for pricer restaurants aren't there. Too many young people.And too many locals being squeezed by rents. .. And if we think business is bad now... wait till next year when congestion pricing hits.

Giovanni said...

Gee, who could have predicted this would happen when there is an endless selection of authentic Japanese spots located just blocks away? If you read their Yelp reviews of other locations it’s obvious thay have some unresolved service and operational problems in their US locations.

That said, an authentic Asian food market thrived in the exact same place for many years, while this chain outlet that nobody in these parts asked for is gone in a minute. I still miss the humidifier next to the newspaper racks as you walked into M2M, the fresh produce and endless selection of kitchen nicnacks and Asian foods.

And no, there is no shortage of asian food or pizza in this neighborhood, if that’s what yoy call the warm cheese crackers that Martinas called pizza. But there is a shortage of new restaurants that understand the East Village.

Anonymous said...

Got takeout from there exactly ONCE; it was overpriced & I had to wait for 20 minutes at the bar, perched unhappily on one of their insanely high and uncomfortable stools.

Would NEVER have eaten-in at this place; prices are too high and seating at the booths also looked uncomfortable.

The entire vibe I got was: "we don't want you to be comfortable or to linger here; just drop your money with us and go away."

The PRICES are too high, and they were very late to get delivery service going after they opened, almost as if it was beneath them to deliver.

Bring back M2M - I've always missed them, their food, and their friendly employees.

Anonymous said...

@8:02am: "Pan-Asian Houlihan's" - you nailed it!


The food was great but the waiters disappeared for hours at a time, making the spine mangling wooden benches even more excruciating.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the next restaurant that goes in here will hire a designer who understands what customers want (in addition to good food at reasonable prices):

- SANE SOUND LEVELS! Create an environment with reasonable sound levels that are conducive to pleasant conversation - why is that so impossible for trendy designers to comprehend? This also means no Muzak.

- comfortable seating, plus tables that are large enough

- chairs that move, as opposed to booths

- attentive, but not intrusive, service

Those damned uncomfortable booths are so bad that Wagamama must have gone out of their way to get them. And maybe they're one reason that people have not gone there; I know I wouldn't subject myself to dinner in one of those booths b/c they look PAINFUL.

Bonus tip: If you want me to spend my money at your place, make it welcoming to REGULAR people of all ages; don't just aim at the young-and-loud, nor only at the bro's.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance. The food was actually delicious. The service however was atrocious. I dined here on multiple occasions. There was never a flow of ease or a good interaction with staff. They mostly seemed quite young, indifferent and inexperienced. Oh well. Another vacant space in the EV. What else is new?

Anonymous said...

I love the Wagamama I have eaten at in London, but this place wasn't the same. I found the seating uncomfortable, and it was trying a little too hard to be more upscale than they needed to be.

Anonymous said...

They were filthy neighbors, there was constantly spilled garbage/food on the sidewalk on 11th and they were lazy to clean it up in a timely manner or thoroughly (M2M were also pretty lazy). I went in to complain to the manager and they didn’t even feign to improve their standards. We figured they were not long for this world, it was never at full capacity. Hopefully it doesn’t sit vacant too long and the next tenant comes in and is a good neighbor. Martina will be missed, though. That one felt more like an independent restaurant (even though they had funding), and the head chef/partner Nick was always their busting his ass and being personable.