UPDATED: Grill 21, Rose closing, Ess-A-Bagel moving

Grill 21 restaurant

Grill 21 restaurant

By Sabina Mollot

Three restaurants that are located at the corner of East 21st Street and First Avenue, Ess-A-Bagel, Grill 21 and Rose Restaurant, won’t be getting their leases renewed, T&V has learned.

Henry Beck, a Stuyvesant Town resident who owns Grill 21 with wife Marissa, said their business will likely close at the end of the month. He’s not sure if they’ll move it elsewhere. According to Beck, both his business and Ess-A-Bagel have been denied lease renewals and new businesses are already lined up to move in.

Those businesses are Bank of America and Tal Bagels.

David Wilpon, the owner of Ess-A-Bagel said the longtime bagel joint may be moving somewhere close by but it’s nowhere near a done deal. “There’s a lot that’s up in the air,” he said, adding that he’s still holding out some hope of staying put. He’s also requesting a holdover and is in the midst of negotiations. Meanwhile, the company also has a second location on Third Avenue in midtown.

Wilpon said the trouble with his lease started when his aunt, Florence Wilpon, who’d founded the businesses in 1976, died. This was in September, 2013 during the midst of negotiations for a renewal. After that, while the family was dealing with the will and related issues, “They claimed we weren’t getting back to them in a timely fashion.”

He said he heard that both the bank and the bagel restaurant will be moving into the Ess-A-Bagel space, which is technically two spaces that were divided prior to his restaurant’s opening.

Wilpon chalked up the impending closure as part of the pattern of the city’s landlords preferring to oust mom-and-pops in the hopes of getting a corporation that can pay more.

“It’s endemic of the city; they’re pushing out independent businesses,” he said.

Beck said the owner of the building is L&M Development Partners, and that the owner has already taken away Grill 21’s storage space. Grill 21, a Filipino restaurant, opened in 2005.

A principal at L&M, Ron Moelis, didn’t return a request for comment on the owner’s plans for the property or at least the storefronts. The company develops properties, including affordable housing, and also handles commercial leasing.

(UPDATE: See response from a rep for the owner, an LLC called East 21 Retail, below the article.)

Another restaurant that will be closing is Rose Restaurant, which an employee said will be happening “as soon as possible. The landlord wanted too much money.”
The owners may reopen a restaurant in the Bronx “but not yet and not Manhattan,” he said.

Ess-A-Bagel and Grill 21 expect to have their last days at the end of the month.

A shoe repair shop in the same property is also expected to be given the boot soon.

The owner of Frank’s Shoe Repair said he was unsure of what was happening with his business, as he’s been hearing different stories from neighbors and customers. However, before hanging up his phone, he added that he didn’t see the point of discussing it, anyway.

“It’s nothing to do with you,” he said. “You can’t help us. It’s called business. The big fish eats the small fish.”

Meanwhile, another nearby restaurant/bakery owned by the Becks on East 21st Street and Second Avenue, Pan de Sal, has also closed. The closure of the eatery happened about a month ago due to business being terrible, Beck said. The fact that the storefront was partially obscured by scaffolding since it opened in 2011 “didn’t help.

“The owner told me it was coming down in July; he didn’t say which year. It was a beautiful thing and we had a lot of fun times there,” added Beck, who’s also an associate broker with the Corcoran Group, “but of course you have to make a decision.”

UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the owner contacted us and said L&M is not the owner of the building; East 21 Retail LLC is.

When informed of this, T&V spoke with Beck and Wilpon who said they’d believed they were dealing with L&M and affiliated partners.

Beck said, “The people we talk to are still the same. Christina Warner (of L&M) is a part owner. My feeling is they’re still part owners.”

When called for comment, Warner said due to company policy any comment would have to come from East 21’s spokesperson who contacted us.

Wilpon told T&V, “I always thought they (L&M) were (the owner) and we paid to their partnerships.”

We then asked the East 21 Retail LLC spokesperson who owned the LLC, and she admitted that there was some overlap between the two entities, with Ron Moelis, CEO at L&M, being a part owner.

As far as Ess-A-Bagel’s moving out is concerned, the owner issued the following statement:

“When we purchased the property, our main priority was to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. Ess-A-Bagel is a tradition in this city and we had no desire to see them leave. In the three years since, we’ve bent over backwards to come to a mutually fair agreement with Ess-A-Bagel’s owners. Our offer would have allowed Ess-A-Bagel to remain — and even gave them the option to expand — in the space they are in currently. Unfortunately, it takes two sides to make a deal, and Ess-A-Bagel’s owners repeatedly refused to meet us between their below-market rent and current market value. We regret that Ess-A-Bagel chose to misrepresent our intentions in the press. We take our responsibility as landlords very seriously and worked diligently to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. At a meeting in September, Ess-A-Bagel confirmed they were actively negotiating a lease at a new location. We wish them the best of luck in all their future endeavors.”

Regarding the neighboring restaurants, the spokesperson said Grill 21 was on a month-to-month lease and made a decision to close, while Rose Restaurant was seven months behind in rent.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified Tal Bagels as Tower.

36 thoughts on “UPDATED: Grill 21, Rose closing, Ess-A-Bagel moving

  1. ESS-A-BAGEL . . .

    …is without a doubt the greatest bagel emporium I have ever come across in this or any other city. On Sunday mornings, the line begins way before 6 AM. The venue is small and not attractive to look at. But, the bagels are another story. It seems the monster fish (the real estate industry) has the enormous power to consumer the smaller fish: the belly lox with scallion cream cheese. I have going for 35 years.

    It’s a good thin that “the Donald” wasn’t around when Holmstead used land to create Central Park for Trump would have trumped the park and put up more buildings.

    The “1%” may have enormous wealth and the need for more and more… But, how about aesthetics and four decade old establishments that a community loves?

    • Trumps SIL’s family bought up a lot of the EV and is waiting for leases to run out, you can see the change right now on E 9th.

  2. Wish there were something local residents could do to stop this….but maybe it’s for the best for ESS-A, since this landlord sounds like an a**
    Just hope they move close by…though we know it will never be the same as the classic, old spot.

    • There is somewhere you can go to stop this. The city council. See the post below by Anonymous | January 16, 2015, 11:28 am

    • Local residents should write a letter to the head of HPD, start a petition and bombard Ron Moelis. TV Media, news coverage showcasing that the head of Moelis Institute at NYU is one of the worst landlords.

  3. Now Ess-A-Bagel too?!

    How many more stories like these will we have to read before the City Council suspends its obeisance to the real estate industry and passes the the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (says that if agreement between landlord and small biz on new lease can’t be reached, it goes to mediation. If that fails, arbitration. No tax dollars required). The bill was originally introduced by Councilmember Ruth Messinger in 1986, and the real estate industry has managed to keep successive versions of it bottled up in committees for almost 30 years. Enough’s enough. Bloomberg and Quinn are gone. What’s the excuse now?

  4. Check out Ron Moelis here: http://lmdevpartners.com/about/executive-team/ron-moelis/. He must think he’s one of the good guys because his profile says in part: “He is a founding member of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing and is an advisory board member of the New York City Housing Partnership. He sits on the Board of Governors of the Real Estate Board of NY and is a member of several non-profit organizations including the Citizens Housing & Planning Council, Civic Builders and New Yorkers 4 Parks.”

    The subtitle on on this article in Crain’s says he wants to do good. http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20131208/REAL_ESTATE/312089968/odd-developer-l-m-on-hot-streak.

    For displacing Ess-A-Bagel, my candidate for the best thing in the neighborhood, I ring down on his head every Jewish curse. Maybe the appropriate one is he should grow like an onion, with his head in the ground and his feet in the air.

    The best thing the community can do is not patronize the businesses that replace Ess-A-Bagel and the others. That’s our power of the pocketbook.

    • New York City is becoming as ugly and soulless as its landlords and politicians themselves. I’ll put an Irish curse on them: May they go out with the tide and the bad weather and never return.

  5. How many year will it take it take for people to realize that they would not to continue to take this over reach by others who want to own the whole world? First, ST and PCV. And now . . . A modest beloved local owner who actually works for a living . . .

    My friends, the answer is blowing in the wind . . .

  6. Pingback: Ess-a-Bagel will close this month | News5 Live

  7. Heartbroken, Ess-a-Bagel, Donna’s Deli, Christinas, Theresas, DeRobertis, etc, etc, the list goes on and on ….. these miserable landlords and real estate industry are a cartel destroying this city with their lust for money. They are the scum of the earth and a plaque on our society.

  8. Let’s make a point of not patronizing any of these establishments that are destroying the fabric of NYC.

  9. This link is found at the STR blog. This article says it all.


    “8:13 p.m.: Mr. Spinola says real estate is the “engine that powers the Big Apple.” “We love Wall Street, but New York is a real estate town,” he says before telling the crowd to “shhhh!”

  10. Christina Warner is one of nasty rep for Ron Moelis. L&M don’t really give a crap about small business at all and you look at the other buildings they manage its all chain stores. Christina Warner, Director of Commercial Real Estate’s phone number is – 917-647-1966. I personally had to search her out because L&M is one of the worst landlords in the city, the retail space in our coop she manages or as we all like to say doesn’t manage. Neighbors, Sanitation complain about the chain stores upkeep, she does nothing. She is a disservice to commercial real estate in NY.

  11. What to do?

    • We can complain online. But it won’t accomplish much.

    • Customers can organize protests with signs. Enough people need to show up to get the attention of local local tv news. Embarrass L&M into who knows what.

    • Call the mayor’s office. Call Dan Garodnick’s office. The city is allowing stories like this to happen all over town.

  12. The city will eventually consist of CVS,. DUANE READE, WALGREEN’S, and STARBUCKS and endless banks for the landlords can put their assets into. Gone will be the professional family owned pharmacies which give you real service and know you and small restaurants which have made this neighborhood a genuine family friendly place to live.

    As the demographics have sharply risen in terms of income with ST/PCV evolving into faux luxury suites and new upscale edifices have been built, the real estate industry can ask for higher lease renewals thus, there goes Ess-A-Bagel and countless other treasured small stores.

    Yes, we are paying more money for a neighborhood which is quickly loosing it uniqueness and soul.

    • Maybe you should be thinking of your own self-interest: no one’s bagels are better than Ess-A-Bagel’s.

      • You got that right TOBP. There are bagels and there are bagels. You want a real, bona fide Jewish bagel? Ess-A-Bagel is/was your go to place. I am so sick of the way New York City is being stripped naked of all of its beautiful ethnic charm and cuisine. We are getting to the point where it could be any sh**ty Sunrise Highway chain enterprise. What have these “developers” given us? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Why should people from out-of-town, out of the country want to even come to New York City anymore? What made it unique and interesting is being killed-off. NYC is becoming as bland and boring as any Dairy Queen, Mr. Frosty blah blah blah clone chain that can be found anywhere in any big city in the world.

        The New York that was so unique, interesting and diverse is being killed off by these rapaciously greedy developers and, you know what? When you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. They are murdering New York City with terminal mediocrity. Terminal Mediocrity is the hallmark of today’s developers and city planners. Can’t believe these people actually get paid for their lack-luster “work.”

      • I love Ess-A-Bagel and I am not even Jewish. I’m so sad that this once diverse and fascinating city is being turned into a strip mall on Sunrise Highway. A zillion curses on the rapaciously greedy crud that is bringing this situation into being.

    • You know what’s cheap? The price Ess-A-Bagel charges for the size of bagel they’re selling. Go over to Pick-a-Bagel on Third Avenue–their prices are higher. You know who’s hard to deal with? Landlords. Ask any ST/PCV resident dealing with the jacked-up rent on the lease renewal. Ask the people who owned Vercesi Hardware on 23rd Street. They couldn’t find another space in the neighborhood they could afford. Ask Kanter Stationers that used to be on 23rd Street. They had to close down the retail part of their business. The building was replaced several years ago by an 11-story apartment building with retail on the ground floor–and no tenants to be seen.

    • We all know that, Mr. Chowes, but what can we do about it? Next time I go to the voting station I think I would rather vote for a monkey’s a** than any of the probable candidates. As far as I can see, they are all totally corrupt. I don’t trust any of them and now I see that Cuomo has taken that Quinn creature on board. Excuse me while I barf.

      • Ms. Clarke, Physics tells us that “for every action, there is another reaction.” The Gilded Age led to TR and others to restrain the excess greed of a very few. I believe that the now, in many ways, the materialism and greed are threatening our democratic republic — the present topic (the real estate vultures) which is a mere microcosm of the new manifestation… Eventually the very behaviors which we have come to despise will become apparent to most Americans… And, they will no longer take it any more.

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  14. Pingback: Ess-a-Bagel to close on Mar. 23, new location still undetermined (UPDATED) | Town & Village Blog

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  16. Real estate industry is a force you can’t cope with by yourself! When they join forces with landlords and politicians there is nothing one can do .. United we must stand! All the best, Man With Van Roehampton Ltd.

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  18. Pingback: Ess-a-Bagel will reopen in Stuy Town | Town & Village Blog

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