Monday, August 27, 2012

Weichsel & Hector's

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."

Hector's burger

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
Hector's Cafe
Atlas Meats Gone


JAZ said...

"But he'll keep buying burger meat from his neighbors, as long as the city honors that co-op lease"

That sentence scares the hell out of me. I don't have any faith in the city honoring any obligation that might stand in the way of their luxury mall for the wealthy vision of Manhattan.

Marty Wombacher said...

I need to stop in there and get a meal while they're still open.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

$105K rent for a salon?! W.T.F. When is this ridiculous nonsense going to end? It's got to bottom out at some point. Right?

onemorefoldedsunset said...

Yes, these rents are surreal. Are we just living in a satirical novel or something?
Hector's is such a comforting place. I like sitting at the counter & listening to the banter.

laura said...

hair salon rental: this is why women pay $200 or $300 for a haircut & more. cant imagine what a one process touch up would be. most i paid for a cut was $60. (every 3 or 4 months). that was 12 years ago, next to the ritz carlton in bpston. when he raised it to $100 & opened his own place, i said "no thanks- i will go to your assisitant". its amazing to me what some people will pay to have "an experience". now i have an easier haircut, any good barber who does ladies hair will do.

laura said...

to add to my comment about rents: around 2007 or so i saw that nolita was going commericial & had the spill over from broadway. there were some weirdly expensive stores, but not even high end brand names. no quality @ all. what they DID do was buy clothes in bulk, from china etc, the kind you see in "forever 21", sewed their own label inside. the prices were about 200% markup. these places were packed, w/really tacky people. i think the label they put in the clothes said "soho" something. this was for middle class tourists. or new $$$ who just shops till they drop. they do the high end vuitton (the tackier stuff made especially for "them"), AND they shop the cheesy stuff. they do what they are told. meanwhile back @ the upper east side ranch (or fairfield county, or mainland china), women who want "in" will wait months to get a hair appt w/someone who does the models for vogue. (as they will wait months for a resevation @ a resturant). new york & LA always had this mentality. but now its exploded, & the city is a parady of its former self. dont get me wrong, i love some expensive things if i could afford them. but so much of this is b.s. tell me, if god loves $$$ so much. why does he give it to the people he does? & why do people w/integrity get screwed? good hamburgers are hard to find.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to belive that my great grandparents and my grandmother grew up in a tiny broken down flat on Gansevoort street. It was one of the most undesireable places to live because of the meat packing thus the rents were so cheap. My grandmother used to tell me tales of the horrible stench in the summertime and how every day on her way to and from school she would see row after row of cows hanging from hooks and men covered in bloody aprons. Most of the workers were quite kind to her and would give her meat to take home. There also were quite a few perverts. Some things never change. She nor my great grandmother would ever believe that today it is one of the most expensive and chic pieces of real estate.

glamma said...

I'm a vegetarian, and this made me want a burger from Hectors.