A pair of high-end restaurants in Battery Park City’s north neighborhood are planning to close. As first reported on the culinary news site, Eater.com, North End Grill, which specialize in gourmet seafood, and Amada, which focuses on Spanish dishes, are both planning to shut down. Amada will close as of March 31, while North End Grill while shut its doors by the end of the year.
Amada, a creation of Philadelphia celebrity chef Jose Garces that opened in 2015, will be replaced by an new outpost of Seamore, an eco-conscious (and budget-friendly) fish restaurant that already has locations in Nolita, Chelsea, Midtown, and Brooklyn. (Seamore is a concept by Michael Chernow, who co-founded the mini-empire that is the Meatball Shop.)
There is no word yet as to what will replace North End Grill, which debuted in 2012, under the flag of star chef Danny Meyer.
Both restaurants struggled to gain traction in the increasingly crowded and competitive landscape that Lower Manhattan, formerly a fine-dining desert, has become. For North End Grill, the business model differed fundamentally from that of another Danny Meyer brand, Shake Shake, which opened its second-ever location in the same building a year earlier, and has gone on to become a nationwide chain with more than 100 locations, and a much-hyped stock offering in 2015.
North End Grille opened in 2012
By contrast, North End Grill sought to become a designation restaurant, at which diners would pay a steep premium for a unique gastronomic experience. While it gained a solid following among locals, and was highly regarded for the quality of both its food and service, North End Grill never quite achieved that exalted status. And its chances of doing so seemed to recede in 2016, when the Michelin Guide awarded a coveted star to L’Appart, a new eatery within Brookfield Place’s Le District market and restaurant complex. For diners seeking to splurge on a memorable meal in Lower Manhattan, L’Appart appeared to become the default choice.
For Amada, the end came faster. Although well received by the relatively small number of diners who stopped by, the tapas and paella menu never attracted the kind of attention (from reviewers, bloggers, or word-of-mouth food enthusiasts) that would make it a place for which customers would travel out of their way. And for locals in search of Spanish-inflected food, the Downtown offerings came to include El Vez (by competing Philadelphia restaurant luminary, Stephen Starr), a Tribeca outpost of Rosa Mexicano, the newly renovated Tajin Mexican restaurant in the Financial District, and SouthWestNY — which fled the crowded field, closing in 2017 to be reincarnated (by owner Abraham Merchant) as the Treadwell Park beer hall.
These moves come against the backdrop of other planned, high-end eateries that never opened. In 2016, Saks Fifth Avenue expanded its footprint with Brookfield Place to take over the space that was to have been L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, operated by the “chef of the century” (according to Michelin Guide-competitor Gault Millau), whose dozen plus restaurants have earned 32 Michelin stars — more than any other chef in history.
And in December, celebrity cook Anthony Bourdain cancelled plans to create a $60-million food hall over the Hudson River, on Pier 57, near 14th Street, which would have housed more than 100 stalls.
Whether this is a sign that the speculative frenzy of restaurant openings in Lower Manhattan has begun to abate, or a broader indication that a super-heated economy has begun to cool down, remains unsure.
What does seem clear is that many Downtown food buyers have been hoping for years to be offered more local choices that combined high quality with moderate prices. This desire has found expression both in a hankering for more supermarkets, such as Trader Joe’s (a call that unconfirmed reports say the owners of 28 Liberty Street are considering) and for family-friendly dining options found more typically in the suburbs, such as Boston Market and Panera Bread.