Just months after the beloved Chelsea restaurant Red Cat announced a planned closure, another longtime resident of that Manhattan neighborhood, the Half King, said it will shut down at the end of January 2019.
“We have had 18 wonderful years in this neighborhood but times have changed and we can no longer avoid financial reality,” a letter on the Half King’s website reads. “Please visit us in our final weeks—either Scott or Sebastian or Nanette will be here most evenings in January. It is with very heavy hearts that we bid you all goodbye.”
The Half King, located on West 23rd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, has been in operation for 18 years (longer than most galleries have called the neighborhood home), and is co-owned by journalists Scott Anderson and Sebastian Junger and film director Nanette Burstein.
In a neighborhood where luxury condos have been sprouting like weeds of late, and which is home to one of the largest income gaps in the city, the Half King was a rare redoubt of relatively affordable standard bar fare: hearty burgers, buffalo chicken poppers, hot wings, and a happy hour with $5 draft beers.
The Half King’s demise is the latest in a string of restaurant losses in the gallery district in recent years that has also included Co., Moran’s, and La Luncheonette. Galleries have been departing the neighborhood, too, with dealers like Postmasters, Bortolami, Alexander & Bonin, and many more setting sail for Tribeca.
Mercifully, certain standbys are holding strong, like Bottino (where I plan to eat my final meal before dying: a number-two on focaccia) and the dependable Billymark’s. And a few charming restos have opened as of late, like Danny Meyer’s Porchlight, which welcomes all-comers seven nights a week with his trademark gracious hospitality plus the promise of a stiff cocktail and its heavenly Double Trouble Bison Burger.