Wednesday, March 21, 2018

El Quijote's Raw Deal

Last week we learned that El Quijote, the 87-year-old restaurant in the Chelsea Hotel, is closing at the end of March, thanks to its new owners. Now Page Six reports that the employees are getting a raw deal.

“The staff is being disrespected,” said a tipster to the Post. “They are being given two weeks’ severance pay...from a person who just started working last month to the executive chef who’s been working there over 30 years. They’re all being treated the same.”

I first reported on the coming closure of El Quijote here in 2014. Since then, the restaurant and the hotel changed hands (again and again).

The hotel is currently owned by "BD Hotels’ Richard Born and Ira Drukier, and Jane Hotel honcho Sean MacPherson." Born told the Post, "The real severance obligation is from the original owner...We have only been here a little over a year.”

El Quijote has been a thorn in the owners' side for awhile now. Back in 2010, The Real Deal reported:

When BD NY Hotels took over operations of the legendary West 23rd Street lodge in 2007, the Richard Born and Ira Drukier-led management team tried to rent the empty retail spaces to a number of other restaurateurs, including the prolific Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

“The problem,” according to court papers filed in 2008 concerning a dispute between BD NY and the building’s owners, “has been that the existing lease with El Quixote [sic] negotiated by the prior management contains a covenant prohibiting any other restaurant in the building.”

In 2014, the hotel's then owner, Ed Scheetz, bought El Quijote and the troublesome lease ended, making it possible to close the restaurant, upgrade it, and/or put more restaurants in the hotel.

Some claim that the restaurant will reopen, likely gutted and glossed for an upscale clientele, aka "Vongerichtified." But an employee that I recently spoke to told me, "They'll probably just sell it."

El Quijote still does a brisk business and is loved by many New Yorkers just as it is. Historically, it was frequented by Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, William Burroughs, and many other cultural luminaries.


Mod Betty / said...

Ugh, another NYC treasure gone. Will try to get up there before it closes, but, NYC NYC you aint what you used to be!

Lokate said...

Heartbreaking. Sometimes I just want to put my head in the sand and pretend it's not happening. Hoping they have the foresight to do what Wilson at Nom Wah Tea House did when he shop down, renovated and re- opened.