Monday, March 20, 2017



photo by Brian

Brian writes in about the closure of Merchants, a popular Chelsea restaurant that had been at 17th Street and 7th Avenue for 25 years:

"The owner was papering up the place because they closed on the 28th. I knew that the day was coming because a developer bought the corner of that block and shuttered the health food grill and the bodega last year. In fact, the bodega owner I’d known for 16 years was so upset that he went home and died of a heart attack. They had just put money into remodeling, a brand new awning, and repainting. Now it’s a graffiti magnet."

I reported on the bodega's closure in July. It is, indeed, still sitting empty, more high-rent blight, collecting graffiti and garbage. The new awning has been carved up, the name of the store removed.

Brian continues:

"I spoke with the owner of Merchants and he told me landlords in the area are using the new Barney’s as a benchmark for their rents, meaning they’re not going to be affordable to the average non-corporate lessee. You need Walgreens or Red Lobster dollars to afford to open. He’s been looking to stay in Chelsea but says the prices are so high he’d have to do something beyond selling food and drink to actually make money."

And, as with many closures, there's a goodbye sign on the door. This one encircled with a glitter heart.


Scout said...

Are you really mourning the loss of a soulless chain yuppie watering hole like Merchants? It had no specific NYC character and was (relatively) a new addition to the city, cropping up with the rest of its family in the late 80s-early 90s when the Jay McInerney-types wanted nice shiny generic places to go after their office slave jobs, get drunk, and pick up an easy lay. Good riddance, I think many will say.

It's also quite disingenuous of them to blame Barneys for the rent hikes, as Barney's was there right across the street when Merchants opened. The return of Barneys is a symptom, not a cause.

Joe Mamma said...

Clearly you have no concept of urban culture. Thanks to such support and corrupt politicians in bed with "developers" NYC will soon be inhabited by rats and roaches only.

rongee said...

I think Barney's is a perfect analogy of what's happened to NYC. It used to be reasonable for the average working guy (like me) to buy my suites in the Madison Room, two or three at a time. Then they lost their mind....last time I went in to look around, I laughed at the prices. Adios !

JM said...

Is this the location of the late Chelsea Commons? That was a nice place in the mid-80s, one worth mourning. Merchants...well, I suppose it's how old you are and what has become "New York" to you.

Sam said...

@John M - Chelsea Commons was on 24th St. and 10th Ave, opposite London Terrace.