The original Union Square Cafe (USC) opened in 1985 on 21 East 16th Street, and it was the gourmet-casual gem in Danny Meyer’s crown. His empire extended to restaurants including Gramercy Tavern, the Modern, Blue Smoke, North End Grill, Untitled, Shake Shack, and, for a time, Eleven Madison Park. Union Square Cafe was a little Italian, a little new American, and known for its humble and friendly service. The flagship eatery closed in 2015 after a rent hike made the space financially unsustainable.
But in December 2016, USC was able to make a major comeback in a new space.
“We’ve so missed being able to welcome guests and longtime friends to Union Square Cafe over this past year, and I can’t overstate how soul-satisfying it will be to open our doors and bring Union Square Cafe back into our lives,” said Meyer in a statement.
With two stories that include a main dining room with 95 seats and a 15-seat bar, there’s now more room and new twists on old favorite dishes. At 101 East 19th Street, USC (the old City Crab space) was designed by David Rockwell and his team, who wanted to keep the familiar warmth with more versatility. The 2.0 version has two bars, a cocktail lounge, and two dining rooms (one semi-private and one private), all designed for a much larger audience. It’s a very comfortable, yet upscale setting that is not overly stuffy or formal. The restaurant is still close to the Union Square Greenmarket, so it retains its fresh, seasonal, and farm-to-table ethos, an idea it pioneered decades ago.
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