No joke, the trio was there to remove a curse.
Holy water was sprinkled, the four corners received a Buddhist blessing, and a mezuzah was installed in the doorway. The new tenant, New York Burger Company, wasn’t taking any chances; the location had been named to Eater NY’s list of New York’s Cursed Restaurant Spaces.
Is there such a thing as a cursed location?
You know the one. Every other business on the block seems to be doing just fine, but there’s one restaurant site that constantly and inexplicably houses doomed restaurants. It has the same foot traffic and parking as its neighbors, no ancient burial ground underfoot, but it has a revolving door of struggling owners and concepts. When New York Burger Company took over the spot at 470 West 23d Street—an attractive corner on a fashionable block in Chelsea—it had been home to an Italian restaurant, a neighborhood bar and grill, a Latin lounge, and a French bistro, all in the span of seven years.
Of course restaurants are a notoriously risky business. Recent studies peg the first-year failure rate at 30%, with another 30% closing within three years. Most fail for obvious reasons: bad food, bad, service bad management; and if there is a lurking malign influence, it’s like cockroaches in the kitchen–no one in the industry wants to talk about it. Leasing agents will pooh-pooh the notion, and restaurant owners speak only in whispers for fear of infecting their staff with superstitions.
Customers and reviewers are another story. Familiarity with a location’s history can give new ventures guilt by association; diners will subconsciously scrutinize the new restaurant for signs of impending doom, their appraisals are more forensic, they sniff the air for the whiff of failure.
New York Burger Company seemed to be beating the odds. Business was booming. AOL Cityguide had named it the city’s best burger, GQ Magazine talked about its onion rings in an article on The Twenty Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die. Last December, one of the partners of New York Burger Company was confident enough to proclaim the jinx to be ‘officially dead’.
Despite the good press and multi-denominational blessings, New York Burger Company currently awaits the court appointment of a custodian to manage its troubled finances while the two co-owners sue and counter-sue each other. One partner has been evicted from her home office, the other has been charged with financial mismanagement, staff has been dismissed, locks have been changed.
Cursed? Who knows. But you’d be crazy to try another restaurant in that location.
A psychic-medium took a tour of the cursed spaces from NY Eater’s list. Check out her readings of the spaces on Metromix.