MIDTOWN EAST — Chinese restaurant Chin Chin is shuttering on Friday after nearly 30 years in Midtown East, but it will reopen as a more casual eatery with a yakitori grill on the Lower East Side, the owner said.
Jimmy Chin, who owns the restaurant at 216 E. 49th St. near Third Ave., said he decided to close because his rent has gone up 40 percent since 2009, and business has slowed because of the area's changing demographics.
“The landlord raised the rent to exorbitant rates,” said Chin, who lives in New Jersey with his family. “And our regular customers are getting older, and businesses in advertising and publishing are closing. Bernie Madoff used to be one of our biggest customers, but he’s gone too. It’s time to move on.”
The landlord, Anatoliy Gurevich, confirmed that the rent was raised when the restaurant renewed its 10-year lease in 2009, but he said it was a normal rate for the area.
Red Stixs, a Chinese restaurant from the Hamptons, will replace Chin Chin, Gurevich said. Red Stixs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As he prepares to close his longtime restaurant, Chin is negotiating a lease for a new space near Rivington and Essex streets, where he hopes to reopen Chin Chin by early spring.
The new venue will be more casual and geared toward a younger crowd, with a yakitori station and a menu of steamed buns that come with a variety of toppings. Chin will also bring along old favorites, like Chin Chin’s signature Grand Marnier shrimp, he said.
In addition, the new location will have a bar and music and will aim to stay open until 3 a.m., Chin said.
“This has been 30 years of my life — of course I’m going to miss it,” Chin said of leaving his Midtown East spot. “But I’m excited. I’m going to go downtown and revitalize.”