Grand Central Oyster Bar, the iconic restaurant inside of Grand Central Terminal, is giving up on indoor dining less than two weeks after reopening. The restaurant, which first opened in 1913, cited a “lack of traffic and business caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” in a Facebook post on Saturday.
The gorgeous subterranean space has no windows or outdoor space, meaning it was unable to offer outdoor dining at all during the pandemic. Restaurants across New York City were allowed to reopen for indoor dining, at 25% capacity, on September 30th, and Grand Central Oyster Bar was among those that reopened.
The restaurant excitedly wrote on Facebook five days ahead of reopening, “We are a New York landmark with Guastavino tiled vaulted ceilings located on the lower level of the magnificent Grand Central Terminal. We are eager to serve you again! The oyster bar, lounge, bar, and counter seating will remain closed until further notice.” They opened two dining rooms with room for 75 patrons to kick things off.
The Wall Street Journal reported on one loyal customer who dined there with two of his law firm partners, saying, “We need to reclaim what’s New York.”
However, with companies continuing to work from home (or offering limited in-person office work) and tourism all but non-existent, the financial reality set in. The restaurant explained over the weekend that they would be closing once again, noting it “has been seven challenging months.” They did, however, end things on an optimistic note: “We will come back stronger and with an even bigger desire to serve you.”
Executive Chef Sandy Ingber told the NY Post that opening day was good, but after that, “We were only doing 3 percent of the revenues we ordinarily do at this time.” They also decided against offering take out because there wouldn’t be enough business to support it.
Other food establishments at Grand Central have permanently closed, including the Great Northern Food Hall and Agern. Janno Lieber, the MTA’s chief development officer, told the Journal that the authority is working on a plan to offer rent relief to most commercial tenants, and expects the MTA board to consider the proposal this month.