Update: The Tribeca Citizen now reports that Bouley Upstairs will turn into a catering and private event space, with guest chefs cooking on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. We’ll have to see how that turns out.
Update 2: After multiple rounds of clarifications, the Times reports that the space will be called Bouley Studio, and that the special dinners ($75 prix fixe) will feature Japanese chefs and will be served only on Thursdays. Perhaps this is a tryout for the Japanese concept that will become (or was to have become) Brushstroke.
Today, Tribeca Citizen has the surprising news that Bouley Upstairs will close this Saturday.
Nobody saw this coming. In tough economic times, usually it’s the high-end restaurants that are most vulnerable. Instead, the eponymous Bouley, the chef’s three-star extravaganza, will now be his only restaurant.
Earlier this year, Eater.com reported that Bouley’s $2.5 million condo (in the same building as his restaurant) was in foreclosure.
With the closure of Bouley Upstairs, Bouley now controls three restaurant spaces that are empty, including Bouley Bakery, which closed in April, and the former Danube and Secession space, which closed a year ago.
At one point, Bouley planned to open a Japanese restaurant, Brushstroke, in the former Delphi space. But that was three years ago. He later said that it would open in the failed Secession space, but with all of his financial troubles, it is hard to see how that could happen.
As for Bouley Upstairs, we found it slightly over-rated, and certainly not worth the two stars Frank Bruni gave it. But in the current restaurant economy, you would not expect such a place to fail, if management were the least bit intelligent.
But it is perhaps notable that Bouley Upstairs had entirely disappeared from the culinary conversation. On a more recent visit, when I sampled the burger, it seemed like Bouley had turned it into a diner, with the cuisines of many genres and nations represented. That might not have been the wisest strategy.