Each morning around 4:00, before opening his business, Dionisios Manesis goes next door to Weichsel Beef's outlet in the Gansevoort Market to buy fresh meat for making burgers at his Hector's Cafe and Diner under the High Line.
Weichsel's large, main plant is a few blocks away--it's the last free-standing meatpacking plant in the neighborhood and they've occupied it for the past 45 years. But now they're about to lose it, reports The Real Deal.
I wrote about the Weichsel plant back in November, looking at the luxury flood that was encroaching all around it. Weichsel is located on the extreme margin of MePa, out of sight and out of mind. But the High Line brought the Whitney Museum to Weichsel's doorstep, and there's no way Weichsel and its swinging sides of beef would be allowed to stay.
Weichsel will be shuffled out of its home and moved completely into the city-run Gansevoort Market Co-Op, where the endangered lease was extended to 2031 in exchange for giving a piece of itself to the Whitney. So all is not lost. Still, it is a loss of ground, and the end of an era. And what's moving in to Weichsel's space? "8,340 square feet of high-end retail."
Mr. Manesis will still be able to get his beef--and it makes for good burgers. I talked with him while writing my High Line Op-Ed for the Times.
When I asked Mr. Manesis "How was business before the High Line opened?" he told me, "It was much better. Now there are no people around. The High Line brings people, but only on some days. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday there are people, but only during the day. At night they go to the clubs. It’s not like before. Nothing’s coming back."
The rents in the area, he said, just keep getting higher. "Maybe 10, 15 years ago, the landlords were giving it away, rent was almost free. $300 or $400 a month. Now there’s nothing less than $25,000 a month."
He pointed out the window at the boutique across the street, "$55,000 a month." Then he pointed to another, "$75,000 a month." Finally, he pointed to a salon down the block, "$105,000 a month."
The city owns Hector’s building, so he’s okay--for now. Still, it's not like the bustling days before the High Line, before MePa went glam. He used to have 22 employees, but has had to cut down to 14. He used to stay open 24 hours, now it's much less. But he'll keep buying burger meat from his neighbors, as long as the city honors that co-op lease.
Still, fewer people are opting for Hector's big, fresh burgers. As Mr. Manesis said, "Now, around here, people spend $30 on a little hamburger, frozen."
Meat on Hooks
Atlas Meats Gone