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Forces Outside the Kitchen Caused Le Cirque, New York City’s Ritziest Restaurant, to Close

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Why New York City's Le Cirque Went Under
Terry Lundgren (Honoree) and Donald Trump attend The Whitney’s 15th Annual ‘American Art Award’ at One Beacon Court & Le Cirque on May 16, 2006 in New York City. (Billy Farrell/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)


One of the swankiest restaurants in New York, where the city’s upper echelon used to come to be seen and to be fed, has shut its doors.

And according to Bloomberg, the closure didn’t have anything to do with what the chefs at Le Cirque were plating.

Le Cirque was once a spot that boasted regulars among the likes of Paris Hilton, now-president Donald Trump, and other members of the rich and famous. But it suffered a series of shortfalls throughout its tumultuous existence that led to its filing for bankruptcy last week.

For one, The New York Times gave it just a one-star review in 2012 based on poor plating (“The kitchen gave the impression that it had stopped reaching for excellence and possibly no longer remembered what that might mean,” wrote Times restaurant critic Pete Wells). To change tack, the restaurant even went after the early birds. But it couldn’t stay afloat.

As Bloomberg notes, one of its true death blows was levied by an intangible: the NYC real estate market. When high-wealth residents on the Upper East Side started flocking downtown to purchase luxury lofts—a tectonic shift in the market—Le Cirque lost its prominence as a go-to place for the rich and famous in the neighborhood.

Watch a video about Le Cirque from Saveur below.