In New York, bars and restaurants come to be responsible for both maintaining and showcasing the soul of the city. There’s something magical about a city that can cherish equally CBGB and the Campbell Apartment, dollar pizza and the Plaza, Coney Island and the Hamptons.
Historic New York venues close all the time; this is a sad but unavoidable truth. The July closing of the original and legendary Four Seasons broke a lot of hearts, with “anyone who was anyone” lamenting power lunches of yore. Still, it’s hard to reconcile with the fact that establishments like the Campbell Apartment are just a rent hike and $972 worth of bottle service away from vanishing into the proverbial (or literal) rubble.
Landlords and leaseholders that bear the real power over these old New York shrines are not always thinking of, or capable of thinking of, these more human considerations. As Grossich astutely notes, “It’s a classic example of when bureaucracy runs the world.” Continuing to describe the situation with the MTA, he says, “We actually offered the highest bid in terms of when this whole thing went down. They never even responded to it, but I said that we would pay whatever the high bid is plus two-and-a-half percent. They're also very hierarchically organized, so no one wants to get their boss in trouble or vice versa. It's really a shame when you consider all of the money that's been wasted and what they could've done with it.” The MTA, for their part, told me their process is “transparent [and] competitive.” When I reached out for comment on specifics, they’d only note that the Gerber Group’s proposal "had a net present value to the MTA of $9.95 million. For comparison, Mr. Grossich’s proposal for a renewal on his space had a net present value of $6.24 million."