Downtown dining is looking up!
What once was a neighborhood devoid of diverse menu options, or places open late into the night, has now become a top destination for high-end restaurants and casual eateries alike.
According to a report released this month by the Alliance for Downtown New York, 80 new restaurants opened south of Murray Street in TriBeCa, the Financial District and the South Street Seaport in 2016, headlined by new joints such as Mario Batali’s Eataly, Wolfgang Puck’s CUT and Keith McNally’s Augustine.
The surge is driven by the 39,000 new residents who have moved into the area since 2001 plus new attractions such as the World Trade Center and the Oculus.
“It feels to me like once you have that momentum going, it only builds on itself,” said Schnippers co-founder Andrew Schnipper, who opened a location on Church Street last year. “I feel like the Financial District is the new frontier.”
Now, unlike a decade ago, more than 80% of eateries are open after 7 p.m., said Jessica Lappin, the downtown alliance’s president.
“You have people who want to go out and eat brunch or eat after work,” she said.
BMCC student Kristina Babayeva, 21, of Rego Park said she has had more reasons to spend her free time in the neighborhood.
“The service has been better and the options have more variety,” she said.
Even established names in the NYC restaurant scene are discovering the hungry market below City Hall Park.
Blue Ribbon Restaurants is slated to open Federal Grill on William Street next month on the ground floor of the residential hotel AKA Wall Street, which will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes.
“I think from a chef’s point of view, it’s very exciting to be able to cook for this type of community,” said Blue Ribbon co-founder Bruce Bromberg.
The neighborhood’s rising clout includes Nobu. Drew Nieporent, a founding partner of the famed modern Japanese restaurant, said his team saw huge benefits to signing a 15-year lease at 195 Broadway, aside from the lower rents.
“It’s right in the heart of everything that’s happening right now in lower Manhattan — right near the Oculus and World Trade Center. It was almost too good to pass up,” Nieporent said.
Despite the progress, Lapin said some residents and visitors still have some hesitation from exploring their food options. Chris Ferreira, 31, of DUMBO, who works near Chambers Street, admitted that he’d rather spend time dining in Brooklyn with his familiar spots.
“I don’t spend too much time dwelling and seeing what’s new [downtown],” he said.
Lapin said that good word of mouth will change that perception and her group works to spread the news through a dining list guide to offices and residents, which highlights mom and pops and high-end eateries alike.
“The restaurants are already making a name for themselves,” she said.