Ever-rising rents in New York City regularly force businesses to close or move to cheaper premises, sometimes helping to make older districts newly fashionable. New York’s retail rents are the second most expensive in the world after Hong Kong, while average domestic rental rates in NYC are around three times the U.S. national average.
New York – Been There

New York: closing shop after 51 years - “That’s so sad, man!”

Photo by Meyerbroeker

New York – Been There New York: closing shop after 51 years - “That’s so sad, man!”

Some say you're not a real New Yorker until something that used to exist – a favorite diner, an independent bookstore – is more real to you than the thing existing in that place now.

Brian Patrick Eha
Brian Patrick Eha Journalist

It was when Big Nick’s Burger and Pizza Joint closed down that I learned what it means to be from New York. A beloved restaurant on the Upper West Side, Big Nick’s had remained in operation for half a century, even as the neighborhood gradually lost its grit, rents rose and ATM vestibules of national banks replaced family businesses on street corners. In addition to burgers, the lengthy menu advertised a farraginous assortment of food – everything from pizza to veal, ostrich burgers to baklava.

On Thanksgiving, you could order a whole holiday dinner: roast turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce. All locals knew the 1,000-square-foot space, though a tight squeeze, was a great spot for a meal after midnight.

But tonight, walking along Broadway on the Upper West Side, I find the storefront dark and the door locked. There is a sign in the window that reads, “After 51 years, we have lost our lease after two years of difficult and torturous negotiation.” The building owner has raised the rent from $42,000 a month to more than $60,000.

Alyson Cambridge, a tall elegant opera singer, lives just around the corner. Tonight she shows up with a girlfriend, both slightly inebriated and dressed casually in sweats, planning to satisfy some late-night hunger pangs. When they hear the bad news, Alyson and her friend join in the general lament. It is close to midnight and I am in the midst of an impromptu wake.

Two young men and a girl of college age approach our little group. “That’s so sad, man,” says one of the men after reading the sign. “Fifty-one years.” His male friend gestures incredulously at a magazine shop next door. “How does this place stay open?”

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Broadway, a name more familiar to outsiders for its theater, is a popular shopping district for locals in the Upper West Side – as this new store opening will no doubt hope to discover. Broadway was originally an Indian trail following the ridge-line of the Manhattan island and was later called Broad Wagon Way – the origin of its present name. Photo by Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Spencer Platt

Spencer Platt

FinePix X100

Agency
Getty Images
Aperture
ƒ/5.6
Exposure
1/1000
ISO
200
Focal
23 mm

Broadway, a name more familiar to outsiders for its theater, is a popular shopping district for locals in the Upper West Side – as this new store opening will no doubt hope to discover. Broadway was originally an Indian trail following the ridge-line of the Manhattan island and was later called Broad Wagon Way – the origin of its present name.

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