CHELSEA — The popular restaurant Merchants NY is being forced to close its doors after a quarter-century as the property owners prepare to redevelop the building, a staffer said.
The well-known spot at 112 Seventh Ave., near West 17th Street, will close on Feb. 28 after 25 years in the neighborhood, said Andrea Emmet, an employee of 15 years whose father co-owns the restaurant.
Developer A&H Acquisitions — which reportedly bought a controlling interest in the restaurant's building and the one next to it, at 116 Seventh Ave. — plans to convert the two buildings into a single, three-story retail building, a Department of Buildings spokesman said.
Merchants NY wasn't given the opportunity to renew its lease, Emmet noted.
“It’s very heartbreaking, because we really love Chelsea, and the community has been really great to us,” she said.
The restaurant’s owners got a letter from Extell Development last year saying it had taken over ownership of the building, she said.
Extell purchased the two properties for $11 million back in 2015, and A&H bought its controlling interest last year, The Real Deal reported.
When the restaurant's owners met with representatives for the building about their lease, they were told their building and the one next to it would eventually be torn down, Emmet explained.
She wasn’t sure whether the representatives were from Extell or A&H.
“As far as [co-owner Abraham Merchant] knows, we’re dealing with Extell — that’s who we pay the rent check to currently,” Emmet said.
A&H, however, filed the permit application with the DOB on Feb. 9, records show. The department disapproved the application four days later because it was missing “required documents,” the DOB spokesman said.
A&H will have to reschedule a plan exam and submit a complete application if it wants the department to review it, he added.
After Extell took over, the last remaining residents living above the restaurant moved out, Emmet said.
The deli on the corner closed soon after, and the Muscle Maker Grill between the two moved down the block, to 70 Seventh Ave. near West 15th Street.
“We were sort of the last man standing,” Emmet said.
Extell didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday, and the A&H representative who filed the permit application declined to comment.
Muscle Maker Grill’s manager couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Since Merchants NY started telling longtime customers it would be closing, patrons have been “coming in crying,” Emmet said.
The restaurant has been looking for a new space, but its plans are up in the air.
“Every day we have to keep going. We owe it to the neighbors and the community — they’ve been great to us,” she said.
“Abraham [Merchant] is saying, ‘Well, it’s a celebration, because we’ve had 25 good years.' Which is really no small feat in Manhattan.”