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Sbarro in Times Square with the Let Me Tell You Badge
Photograph: Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out

Let me tell you—it’s time to fill the giant, empty Sbarro in Times Square. We have ideas.

It's been empty for nearly five years. We deserve something new.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

"Let Me Tell You" is a series of columns from our expert editors about NYC living, including the best things to do, where to eat and drink, and what to see at the theater. They publish each Tuesday so you’re hearing from us each week. Last time, Things to Do Editor Rossilynne Skena Culgan suggested five things New Yorkers should actually give up for lent.

On my daily commute, I often pass the massive, empty Times Square Sbarro with its pitiful papered-over windows and weather-worn, red-white-and-green signs. For many years, it was a Sistine Chapel to carbs, a temple to New York-style pizza that you either adored (if you were a tourist from Scranton) or viewed as simply a spot with an excellent public restroom (if you were a genuine New Yorker).

Regardless of your opinion on the Sbarro itself, this fallen landmark occupies a significant footprint in the busiest place in America—and it’s a shame that a new business hasn’t replaced the restaurant since it closed in 2019 because of landlord issues. That's why we at Time Out New York brainstormed some ideas of how to rectify this incredible incrustice. Some of our ideas are, we admit, a bit cheesy, and we leaned heavily into chain restaurant ideas given the site’s history, but anything’s better than the sad shell that exists at Broadway and 49th now. 

A pizza museum 

First up, let’s keep the history of this building alive. Pizza powerhouse Sbarro reigned here for 23 years, so let’s pay homage to that—and to the history of pizza more broadly. We imagine the museum cafe would be operated by a variety of pizza vendors, including many on our best pizza list.


How about a bar with a Sbarro theme? We’re calling it ‘S-bar-oh! Get it? It’s a bar—oh! Think pizza cocktails with pepperoni garnish, stromboli on the appetizer menu, and ice-cold fountain sodas. 

Burger with browned bun, caramelized onion, melted cheese and eggslut on gray wooden table. Delicious fast food, eggs and whisk in the background.
Photograph: By Yuriy Golub / Shutterstock | We deserve this.


Considering that Eggslut has locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, the U.K., Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong, it’s a travesty that its sole NYC location closed years ago. We’d like to see a bigger and better version of this popular breakfast chain in Times Square to join its fellow chain restaurants. Imagine grabbing a donut from Krispy Kreme and a coffee from Starbucks to enjoy in line while you wait for your Eggslut sandwich! Can’t get any more American than that, folks.

Cracker Barrel 

Perhaps my Appalachian roots are showing, but God what I wouldn’t give for a hashbrown casserole, some handmade biscuits, and some cornbread. 

A spa for locals

Times Square is one of the loudest places in the city, if not the world. It's also a place that locals tend to avoid. We suggest adding something to change both of those long-held truths: A quiet spa oasis for locals where you need to show your proof of residency to visit. We'd love to see some ASMR spa treatments, traditional spa services, and even a silence retreat. 

Close up of Tim Hortons sign on the building is shown. Tim Hortons is a Canadian multinational coffeehouse and restaurant chain.
Photograph: By JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock | How cute would this be in Times Square?

Tim Horton's 

There are a few Tim Horton's locations in Brooklyn and Queens but none in Manhattan. Let's change that. Timbits for all! 


New Yorkers like to think we have it all here. And for the most part, we do. But one thing we don't have: In-N-Out Burger. We'd love to see a "walk-through" instead of a drive-through with picnic tables where we could nosh on double-doubles and fries. 

Skaters practice tricks at an indoor skate park.
Photograph: By J.A. Dunbar / Shutterstock | Could be even cooler than Washington Square Park.

An indoor skate park

Skateboarding has a long history in New York City, and skating in Washington Square Park is cool and all. But how cool would it be to add half-pipes, ramps, and ledges to replace the pizza counter and tables inside the vacant restaurant? The skaters who love showing off in Washington Square Park and undoubtedly going to love doing tricks in front of the building's huge windows.

Waffle House

Ah, Waffle House, the bastion of waffles and grits attracting Southern families for brunch and buzzed club-goers for late-night sustenance. Given Waffle House's 24-hour schedule, it would be the perfect addition to Times Square. 

The empty Times Square Sbarro.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out | The new Flatiron.

A replica of the Flatiron

Considering that the actual Flatiron has been under scaffolding since 2019, perhaps it’s time we start paying tribute to a new building with a triangular shape. Sure, the vacant Sbarro building may not be as beautiful as the actual gorgeous Flatiron, but we’ve practically forgotten its beauty since we haven’t seen it for five years. Abandoned pizza pagoda, it’s your moment to shine.

Bonus: Our actual bet

If we were betting people, there's one thing we fear the site may actually turn into. It's the one business that seems to be growing in NYC like, well, a weed. We'd hate to see it, but ... an illegal smoke shop! So, please, Tim Hortons or Eggslut, get there first and mark your territory. And if you could bring back Sbarro's famous $11.49 all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, we'd be most grateful.

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