Prominent restaurateur and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer announced he will be closing two New York City restaurants located in a hotel which has been repurposed as a shelter for the city’s growing migrant population.
The Redbury Hotel in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood began housing migrants earlier this month in a partnership with the city. Roughly 100,000 migrants have entered the city since last spring, and the crisis has cost the city nearly $3.6 billion this fiscal year according to Mayor Eric Adams.
“Never before in our city’s history have we seen such a concentrated influx of asylum seekers,” Deputy Mayor of Communications Fabien Levy said in a news conference Wednesday.
Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group said in a statement they “admire and respect Redbury’s decision,” and that Meyer has previously advocated for expedited work permits for asylum-seekers.
However, USHG said its restaurants located in the hotel, Marta, a pizzeria, and the recently relocated Maialino (vicino), a high-end Italian restaurant and wine bar, will have their last night of service August 25.
USHG did not specifically tie the closures to the migrant influx, and declined CNN requests for comment on that matter. The group’s statement said “While we admire and respect The Redbury’s decision, the viability of our business relies significantly on hotel-related food and beverage operations, including event venues and the lobby bar, spaces that are now unavailable for our use.”
USHG, founded by Meyer, who serves as executive chairman, owns 12 New York restaurants, some with multiple branches. The nationally known ones include Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe.
Over decades of business in the city, it had been relatively rare for Meyer to close eateries, but the restaurant industry has struggled since the pandemic.
In March 2020, Meyer closed all of his 19 restaurants in New York. A handful, such as Untitled, never reopened or have closed since, in developments unrelated to the migrant influx.
In midtown, the Roosevelt Hotel, the city’s intake center, has been overwhelmed by dozens of desperate asylum seekers waiting to be processed.
According to Mayor Adams, on an average night, there are more than 57,300 migrants in the city’s care, amounting to $9.8 million in costs a day. The city has set up approximately 200 emergency shelters, including more than a dozen large-scale humanitarian emergency relief and response centers.
Meyer’s decision to close his eateries in the Redbury is perhaps surprising given his high profile during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. In the days following the event, his eateries delivered thousands of meals to triage centers, the Red Cross, police and firemen and grief counseling centers downtown.
Now, Meyer is probably best-known for burger-and-fries joint Shake Shack, which has about 400 locations around the world. Shares of the company, publicly traded on the NYSE, fell 3.32% Wednesday and another 5% in late trading Thursday, to about $69.69.
Currently, the Union Square Hospitality Group said the two restaurants it is closing are looking for a new location and for job placements for employees affected by the closures.
Statements on the restaurants’ websites say “We’ll be seeing you again soon.”