From museums and restaurants, to landmarks and parks, there are a slew of places that give New York its historic charm. Union Square Café was long one of them. The 31-year-old restaurant closed unexpectedly in December 2015 due to rising rent and needed repairs. Now, it has plans to reopen in November a few blocks north of the original location on 16th Street.
For many New Yorkers, the USC has served as an extension of home. It was a gathering place for executives of the publishing industry due to its Union Square locale. The first restaurant opened by acclaimed restaurateur Danny Meyer, it grew into the Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) empire, now the parent of 14 local beaneries.
To meet the anticipation of its return, USC is first hosting several pop-up events. The most recent was in collaboration with Union Square Café’s sister restaurant North End Grill, on October 27.
“It was one more way that we could continue to be in the forefront of the minds of our community and our other stakeholders as well,” said Sheryl Heefner, the General Manager of Union Square Café. Heefner has been with the company since 2009.
Union Chef Café’s Chef Carmen Quagliata showcased some of the new menu options that will be offered at the new location when Union Square Café officially moves. Though reminiscent of the old one, there will be a new menu. The restaurant also has plans to make all of its own bread in-house.
“When we did the Autumn Harvest in [Union] Square we had a bread pop-up there which was really amazing,” said Heefner. The restaurant has partnered with the local grain purveyors at the Green Market to craft their own bread.
The pop-ups included a celebration of the restaurant’s 31st anniversary, which took place at Union Square Café’s sister restaurant, Untitled, located at the Whitney Museum, on October 21.
Heefner describes these events as a way for new staff to practice and, more importantly, a teaser for the customers who ask daily about the reopening.
“We were already getting questions about it before we even closed our original location,” Heefner said. Union Square Café was originally scheduled to reopen in the spring of 2016. When that didn’t happen people started reaching out even more. The incoming communication sounds a lot like fan mail.
“It'sphone calls. It's email. A lot of our regulars and the people that we work with have a lot of our phone numbers,” said Heefner .
So when is Union Square Café now slated to reopen? According to Heefner in the next few weeks New Yorkers can expect the doors to open at USC's new residence on 19th Street.
“We are booked up for Thanksgiving. That's the only day we've opened our reservations book, so we better be open for that,” said Heefner.
The restaurant’s website will announce the date, and a blast will be sent to USHG's mailing list. For many New Yorkers, that will be a relief.
Photo by Peter Bond/Flickr