Here is a partial and sad list of businesses gone, but not forgotten in 2019.
Some were lost because of greedy landlords and gentrifying neighborhoods, some because of mismanagement or taking on too much debt, and some because the owner wore out and decided to retire.
We raise a glass and say RIP to these beloved NYC institutions. Yes, we remember you well.
In alphabetical order, because that’s the only fair way.
But let’s start with two businesses already gone in the first days of 2020, and one that may shut down soon.
The cafeteria-style steakhouse closed its last New York City location, which opened at 761 Seventh Ave. in 1960, on Jan. 5, due to financial troubles that include rising rents and competition from national chains taking over the Times Square area, like Applebee’s nearby.
Tad’s has been known for its affordable meat-and-potato dinners on red trays. Meals that cost little more than $1 each when the first one opened in 1957. A steak lunch today can be had for as little as $9.
At its height, Tad’s had eight locations in NYC and another 20 around the country.
The popular FREE newspaper has shut down.
It was purchased recently by the new owners of the city’s other free newspaper, AM New York, who apparently decided to absorb, or eliminate, the competition for advertising and delivery costs.
Newspaper mergers are nothing new. A generation ago, the old New York Herald and New York Tribune merged to become the Herald-Tribune.
Only those of us older than a New York Minute remember the World Journal Tribune, or WJT, which was the result of the merger between William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, The New York Herald, founded by Horace Greeley, and the Tribune.
Or the other merger to save the New York Herald, when it merged with the New York Tribune to become the Herald-Tribune.
The new owners of Metro NY, Schneps Media, is a family-owned weekly newspaper company founded by Chairwoman Victoria Schneps Yunis.
Her son Joshua is also active in running the business, which also owns the Gay City News, Downtown Express, The Villager, the Park Slope Courier and the Brooklyn Paper.
The beloved grocery that has been serving the Upper West Side for more than a century, is preparing for bankruptcy for the second time in a decade. But this time it may be a liquidation and shut-down instead of a re-organization.
Fairway has suffered crushing financial problems since trying to grow from a local grocery with several outposts around town into a national chain with 300 locations.
Even its expansion in hometown New York City suffered with the growth of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, including within a block or two of a Fairway – such as a Trader Joe’s at 72nd and Broadway, just two blocks from Fairway’s flagship store at 74th and Broadway.
RIP in 2019 to these NYC stores
The famous fashion retailer declared bankruptcy in 2019, shutting down after more than 90 years as a Manhattan icon.
It’s been sold off to a company that may license its name. Or not. In the meantime, there’s been a liquidation sale of top designer merchandise including Prada.
These vegan twins, one on the Upper East Side, the other on the Upper West Side, pulled up roots and shuttered, despite the growing popularity of plant-based eating and non-meat burgers.
Real estate development was blamed for the UES closing, pipe work for the UWS.
The shop at 3 W. 18th St. was the beloved home of the $2 homemade hot chocolate marshmallow, an annual Hot Chocolate Festival, and what many New Yorkers consider the best cup cocoa in the five boroughs and great cupcakes, closed its doors after 29 years
But it has made bad financial decisions recently which are biting into its bottom line. Owners informed followers via Instagram of that “painful truth”.
The popular jazz spot and restaurant on Broadway, between 92nd and 93rd Streets on the Upper West Side closed after 30 years. The owner blamed a combination of high rent, business taxes and new higher minimum wage requirements. It was one of the last affordable spots with live music every night of the week.
One of New York City’s first gourmet food shops, and one of its best.
You could even say its flagship Soho location, which opened in 1977, helped transform the neighborhood from gritty warehouses into stylish – and over-priced.
The company has been suffering financial problems since 2014, when the local owners sold out to a Thai company, which took on massive debt to make D&D a chain, which caused vendors to stop supplying locations with sun dried tomatoes, exotic cheeses and such. The same thing is happening to Fairway, a similar iconic local lfood store and pioneer (see above).
Juno’s parent company, Gett, killed off the NYC service with just six hours notice, while also announcing that Gett was signing over its business in NYC to Lyft to provide future service in NYC.
Also, airport van service SuperShuttle went out of business on December 31, stranding thousands of franchise owners and drivers in NYC, the rest of the USA and the international cities and airports it served.
Lord & Taylor
The retailer closed its flagship Fifth Avenue store in January 2019, after selling the building to WeWork. which since has had financial problems of its own.
The store was famous for many things, but possibly most famous for its enchanting holiday windows.
This Upper East Side institution closed after more than 50 years, dispersing its massive, vintage and historic collection of buttons to who knows where.
Here’s where you could find political campaign buttons alongside military-style buttons. Needed to match a lost button from an old winter coat or favorite cardigan? You could find it here.
There are still button shops in the Garment District in Midtown, but they offer only modern buttons. Nothing from the turn of the last century or an old presidential campaign button.
See also this NY Eater article for more NYC restaurants closed in 2019.
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Evelyn Kanter also is the author of several NYC and Hudson Valley guidebooks, including my latest, 100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die.