The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board next week will consider a proposal for a 16,000-square-foot food hall, restaurant and take-out venue in Grand Central Terminal to be operated by Claus Meyer, the world-renowned restaurateur who, with a young Rene Redzepi as headchef and partner, created Noma, in Copenhagen, ranked “Best Restaurant in the World” in annual surveys by Restaurant magazine in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
most prominent component of the venture would be a market-style array of casual food pavilions in the western half of Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall, the Terminal’s majestic former main waiting room, at 42nd Street and Park Avenue. All structures associated with the pavilions would be temporary, movable installations so as to avoid impacting the nationally landmarked space.
There would also be a Nordic brasserie sit-down restaurant for up to 100 people in an adjoining rear interior space that is presently closed to the public, and an interconnecting to-go counter in Grand Central’s Shuttle Passage, currently occupied by Hot & Crusty bakery. Details about the food pavilions, restaurant, and to-go counter, including their names, interior design and menu offerings, will be released ahead of their opening, projected for early 2016.
The value of the real estate in Grand Central has soared four-fold since the iconic building’s major renovations were completed 17 years ago as the MTA has activated previously unused retail space. In the past few years, well-known tenants have moved in, including the Apple Store, Shake Shack, Café Grumpy and Jacques Torres Chocolate.
The Meyer group’s proposal also offered the highest bid. The MTA will receive nearly $1.8 million in rent for the space in the first year. The compensation escalates each year with pre-determined rent increases and collection of a percentage of the businesses sales. Minimum rent will rise to $2.06 million in the second year and $2.82 million after 10 years. It would rise to $3.27 million after 15 years if both parties agree after 10 years to exercise an optional five-year contract renewal.
Meyer is a world-renowned restaurateur and cookbook author. Besides co-founding Noma, which holds two Michelin stars, he has published 14 cookbooks in his native Denmark and hosted the series “Meyer’s Kitchen” and “New Scandinavian Cooking” on Danish television from 1991 to 1998. Among his other business ventures, Meyer owns several restaurants, bakeries and catering, fruit and chocolate supply companies, an orchard, a vinegar factory, a salmon smoker, a coffee roastery and runs a cooking school. He is also an associate professor in the Department of Food Science at the University of Copenhagen.
Grand Central Terminal is home to 100 shops and restaurants. The new venture would be the Terminal’s second largest food-related enterprise, after the Oyster Bar, which fills 25,000 square feet.
The eastern half of Vanderbilt Hall will continue to be used for special events, including the popular annual Holiday Fair.
The proposed venture goes before the MTA Board’s Metro-North and Finance Committees on Monday, June 23. The MTA Board meeting in full will give it final consideration on Wednesday, June 25.
In addition to being editor of Massapequa Observer and Hicksville News, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).