A Blow to Roosevelt Island Retail

"We had nine good years..." Jonathan Hoo, Closing Riverwalk Bar & Grill

Updated 36 weeks ago David Stone
"We had nine good years..." Riverwalk Bar & Grill Owner, Jonathan Hoo
"We had nine good years..." Riverwalk Bar & Grill Owner, Jonathan Hoo
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Yesterday afternoon, terminated employees wearing Riverwalk Bar & Grill T-shirts could be seen carrying bags filled with belongs in a last trip home from the restaurant. Today, it's official. With no hard feelings or recriminations, Jonathan Hoo, who managed the place from the start, was on hand to say goodbye to friends as others cleared out and cleaned up.

"We made a lot of friends... Lots of memories..."

The Daily caught up with Jonathan Hoo as he was shaking hands with passersby wishing him well.

"What's next for you?"

"I think we'll take a couple of months off," he said. 

Restaurants are seven day a week responsibilities, and Hoo has worked hard, innovating with new menus and finding ways to attract customers.

Roosevelt Island demographics, as we've argued, are not conducive to the number and variety of eating options available here or as Hudson, developers of Main Street Retail, proposes without a large draw of visitors from elsewhere.

The final straw for Riverwalk Bar & Grill came when RIOC abruptly shut down Octagon Field. (The shut down became necessary after RIOC's failure to maintain its artificial surface made it unusable and hazardous after less than 8 years, voiding the manufacturer's warranty.)

"I lost 600 customers," Hoo said.

Athletes playing in leagues on Roosevelt Island fields were the difference that made his business viable. Without them, it was a money pit.

The now empty space is likely to stay that way for months or years. Hoo has shown it to a couple of interested parties, but as Hudson Partner David Kramer told the Roosevelt Islander, no one has yet committed.

It's been two years since Hudson announced lease signings for Onda, a Mexican restaurant, and a wine bar on Main Street in the canyon. Neither has opened.

"We had nine good years..." Jonathan Hoo, Closing Riverwalk Bar & Grill

Any newcomer will go through a rigorous and bureaucratically encumbered process to get approved for a liquor license and building permits - like those that kept Trellis, now Nisi, shut down for three years.


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