Coming Soon: New restaurant spaces for GCT


A new restaurant in Grand Central could overlook the Terminal's busy market.

As the MTA looks to better utilize its real estate holdings, the authority announced this week plans to solicit proposals for two new restaurants in Grand Central. The two areas could add nearly 17,000 square feet of dining space in the Terminal and would open next year, in time for the building’s centennial celebration. If all goes well, the MTA could realize up to $20 million annually from these spaces.

“Grand Central will always be the greatest train station in the United States and the crown jewel of the MTA’s transportation network,” MTA Chairman Joseph J. Lhota said in a statement. “It’s a focal point for the economic and social life of the region and a superb setting for the daily business of moving people. At the same time, over the past 15 years, it’s also been transformed into one of the world’s most well-known destinations for shopping and dining. These latest additions will only heighten its reputation.”

With a new Apple Store attracting crowds and a Shake Shack on tap, Grand Central has become a major attraction in midtown. These two spaces could further cement its reputation as a foodie destination. The larger of the two consists of up to 12,300 square feet and includes the west side of Vanderbilt Hall, the former waiting area and current home of the GCT Holiday Market. The other space contains 4700 square feet above the Grand Central Market with views of Lexington Ave. According to some reports, the authority hopes to attract a farm-to-table restaurant for the smaller space.

A Crain’s New York article delved further into the MTA’s thinking behind these new space offerings:

Adding the restaurants is part of the MTA’s plan to wring more money out of its assets. The agency is also hoping to lease or sell several of its buildings. Additionally, the MTA is seeking private companies to manage Fulton Center downtown—formerly called the Fulton Street Transit Center—to make it a shopping destination. Private firms may also manage the future retail spaces in the Long Island Rail Road station being built underneath Grand Central, Crain’s reported last week.

The gross revenue from Grand Central retail leasing and special events hit $27.4 million in 2011. That’s a mere 0.22% of the MTA’s operating expenses of $12.5 billion. Still, every little bit helps at the cash-challenged agency. The MTA isn’t requesting a minimum rent for the new venues, leaving the restaurateurs to make a proposal. However, based on assumptions that the restaurants would each generate between $8 million and $10 million a year in sales, a rent of $80 a square foot to $100 a square foot seems reasonable, sources said. The agency typically takes a portion of the sales above an unspecified amount. Currently, the existing restaurants average sales of $750 a square foot.

Restaurateurs interested in the Vanderbilt Hall space will have to devise a plan for coexisting with the events held there, especially the holiday market, which takes up the entire venue. The MTA isn’t offering advice on that, but it is asking the winning bidder to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. “We want to see what kind of ideas they come up with,” said Ms. Marshall, adding she could see a spot like SoHo brasserie Balthazar working well.

According to the report, the authority will require the restaurants stay open seven days a week, and chains will be excluded. The MTA is hoping to draw in New York-based restauranteurs for a train depot that is an icon of the city. This is the type of commercial development the MTA should be encouraging in its properties.

Categories : MTA Economics

13 Responses to “Coming Soon: New restaurant spaces for GCT”

  1. R. Graham says:

    It definitely has become the place to be over the past decade more so than the prior decade. I don’t care what kind of sweetheart deal the MTA gave Apple. It was the best business decision ever because more and more people are going into GC and the more people hang there at the Apple store, the more the place becomes a draw for other businesses.

  2. Miles Bader says:

    “shake shack” is a major tourist destination?!

    • nycpat says:

      People stand on long lines for shake shack. I don’t get it. Is like Soviet Union.
      Also, while it is a unique and stunning space to walk through, I don’t like eating at GCT because the air can be quite foul at times. Humid and sooty.

      • SEAN says:

        Well, to eat his own.

        Shake shack may not be my first choice for Grand Central, but I have no doubt it will be successful. They must be doing something right in order to aford a space there.

      • Clarke says:

        For frozen Ore-Ida style french fries and overpriced burgers…a McDonald’s quality meal for $13! Gotta love it (and the people who were outraged by the Times’ 1-star review!)

  3. Chris G says:

    These two spaces are currently mostly unused. If the MTA can pull in 20m a year on them, i say go for it.

  4. Rob says:

    Now please do something with Yonkers station. It is so desolate, yet it sits along the Hudson, astride the Saw Mill River tributary. That tributary is now the site of a beautiful new riverpark (where a parking lot once stood).

    • SEAN says:

      I’m with you, however Yonkers has far greater needs in the downtown area besides the train station.

      As great as White Plains is, the train station needs a total revamp including reconfiguration & enlargement of the parking garage & associated roadways. Only part of this problem remarcably falls on the MTA. The city & county each own some responsability in this as well as both levels of government prevented a propper transit & padestrian gateway from being built downtown.

  5. Jerrold says:

    This subject reminds me of what we were talking about here the other day.
    It just shows you, when they want to do something, they do it. Restaurants don’t take all that long to put in, because they are a source of revenue.
    BUT, one lousy little entrance on East 47th St. is talking FOREVER to be completed.

    • Jerrold says:

      P.S. I of course meant “TAKING” forever.

      • SEAN says:

        I get what you are saying. Adding retail & restaurants at GCT generates immediate revenue while subway expantion requires DEBT financing despite how vital subway expantions are for both longterm revenue & passenger growth.

        That’s why when Dutchess, Rockland & Suffolk Counties raise a ruckus in regards to being part of the MTA, I say ba bye to them because they just don’t get it.


  1. […] in some of its unique spaces. Nearly 18 months after we first learned that the MTA was looking to lease out additional spaces, Crain’s New York once again reports that the restaurant planned for part of Vanderbilt Hall […]

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