Blue Smoke — restaurateur Danny Meyer’s seminal Flatiron restaurant that helped lay the foundation for New York City’s barbecue renaissance — has permanently closed, the restaurateur announced in an email Wednesday.
“Over nearly two decades, we’ve had an amazing ride and I can’t begin to express how beautiful it has been to make so many lasting friendships in both the barbecue and jazz communities,” Meyer said in a statement. “Those relationships live on.”
The Flatiron outpost of Blue Smoke has remained closed since the first state-mandated, COVID-19-related shutdown in March. A spokesperson for Union Square Hospitality Group, Meyer’s restaurant company which runs Blue Smoke, among several other establishments, said the lack of revenue and failed rent negotiations contributed to the closure.
Blue Smoke opened in March 2002 with chef Kenny Callaghan at the helm. It quickly established itself as one of the essential barbecue restaurants in NYC. The menu subsequently expanded from its original pan-regional barbecue focus to include more Southern cuisine with Texas-style brisket and baby-back ribs along with Alabama white wings and turkey pastrami. The restaurant in 2002 also helped establish the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, an annual meatfest held at Madison Square Park that attracted thousands of attendees each year.
While the original Blue Smoke has closed, the Battery Park City outpost — which debuted in 2011 and is led by pitmaster Bret Lunsford — is open for pick up and delivery, along with nationwide shipping. Last month, USHG announced that it was once again shuttering on-premises dining at all of its NYC restaurants in anticipation of a second round of shutdown measures that the city’s leaders have warned is coming soon due to the rising COVID-19 cases.
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 1,000 restaurants in NYC have permanently closed due to the downturn in business caused by the pandemic. Hospitality industry experts predict many more closures will follow this winter without more federal aid, as the cold weather makes outdoor dining nearly impossible.