Even celebrity-run restaurants are not impervious to the financial pressures of the pandemic. David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi opened only in 2016, but it is already closing, the team announced via Instagram. The Momofuku team declined to comment further but sent us this public statement made to the staff.
Chang’s Midtown eatery, Má Pêche closed back in 2018, but this is Chang’s first shuttering tied to the current pandemic. There are other major shifts taking place in the Momofuku empire right now: Ssäm Bar is reportedly moving out of the East Village, the heart of where Momofuku started and instead will take the place of Chang’s recently-debuted Bar Wayō, which opened last year in the South Street Seaport. Elsewhere, a D.C. Momofuku location is also shuttered.
“We are so grateful to everyone that made CCDC and Nishi what they were. CCDC was Dave’s hometown restaurant, and at Nishi, we learned how to face extremely difficult challenges together. The lessons and memories from these restaurants will always be a part of Momofuku. These teams will continue to be supported by the Momofuku blue tape fund through this crisis, and Momofuku is committed to paying the costs of Cobra medical insurance coverage,” the team shared on the Momofuku Instagram.
Momofuku Nishi’s closing may not come as a surprise to those who read New York Times critic Pete Wells’ one- star review of the spot, which focused on pasta. Wells commented on several things he did not like about the restaurant, but was mainly taken with it’s problematic acoustics, writing, “At Nishi, highly sensitive microphones seem to be placed directly above all the loudest people, picking up and amplifying their every screech,” and called some dishes “muddled” and “muted.”
Despite the uneven reviews of Nishi, the closure provides a warning sign for the future of small businesses, who do not have the same privilege of a massive, globally-recognized fan base and TV shows as Chang does.
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