A Look at the New Union Square Cafe with The New York Times

Union Square Cafe is set to open this October

Chad Batka, New York Times

We’re counting down the days for the opening of the new Union Square Cafe in October (reunite with the team early on Sep. 22 at Harvest in the Square) and thanks to this morning’s New York Times article by Michael Kimmelman, we can now fantasize about where we want to sit when it opens.

David Rockwell and the Rockwell Group have been “laboring to extract the DNA of the old Union Square Cafe and implant it into its new, very different body,” and Danny Meyer’s expert team including Union Square Cafe’s director of operations, Sam Lipp and executive chef, Carmen Quagliata offered their expertise down to the finest details. For example, a dissertation on the turning radius a barista needs behind the coffee station, and the effects of citrus on different types of wood.

Rendering, Rockwell Group

The entrance will be on 19th Street. The restaurant will seat 138 people (only 8 more than 16th Street). Choosing a location a six-minute hand-truck ride (not seven or eight minutes-six) from the Union Square Greenmarket was imperative. Meyer was looking for “Union Square Cafe, only different.”

“Union Square Cafe had to go on,” Meyer said. “For our company, it’s the mother yeast of every loaf we’ve ever baked.” (What an appropriate analogy, as Meyer plans to open bakery/cafe Daily Provisions next door, with a focus on artisanal breads. In 2017, Daily Provisions will transform into private dining experience in the evenings.)

Three decades ago, Union Square was a derelict magnet for drug dealers and crime, and the newly opened cafe was a pioneer, Kimmelman notes. Meyer and the Union Square Hospitality Group continue to support and invest in Union Square through their ongoing commitment to our organization, the Union Square Partnership, as board members and advocates for the district.

Kimmelman shares that the design manages to bring a lofty space with immense windows down to human scale by breaking it up.


Tidbits to impress your friends upon the opening: The main bar is the exact length as the old bar (27 feet 1 inch), and the brass light fixtures over the bar will hang at the same height as they did at 16th Street.

Read the full story and see additional photos here. Reunite with the Union Square Cafe team prior to opening at the 21st Annual Harvest in the Square.