Brown packing paper now lines the glass windows of the wagamama across from Third Avenue North Residence Hall, officially marking the end of its East Village presence. The location on 55 Third Ave. opened in October 2017 and closed only a year and a half later, like so many other restaurants in New York City.
In a press release, the Asian food spot said the April 12 departure was due to “location issues and a lack of a liquor license.”
Tisch sophomore Chris Lin said that he passed by the restaurant a lot during his first year living in Third North but only dined there once.
“I wouldn’t revisit it,” Lin said. “It was a nice quality restaurant, the environment was nice […] the food wasn’t great, but it was OK.” He said that the ramen he had there was underwhelming compared to the traditional noodles back home in Taiwan.
Stern first-year Isabela Carvajal and Third North resident said that she went to the restaurant once towards the beginning of the year and that she was fairly surprised by its sudden closing. Every time she walked back to her dorm, there seemed to be swarms of people gathered inside.
“There were quite a lot of people,” Carvajal said. “It was pretty good service. Except we got a piece of plastic in our food, but then they gave us the meal for free.”
Since coming to New York City from Spain, Carvajal began to take notice of this trend where restaurants disappear without notice.
The area around Third Avenue has become a ghost town of vacant buildings as more establishments succumb to high brick-and-mortar rents. Gotham Pizza, Martina Pizzeria and Shiina, all located within one block of Third North, have shut their doors in recent months.
However, the majority of students took no notice of the empty corner.
“I thought it was still open,” Tisch sophomore Olivia Kwarm said of wagamama. “I didn’t know that it closed.”
The first time Kwarm went to wagamama was for her friend’s birthday party. The second time she went because it “was across the street.” She also lived in Third North her first year at NYU, and although she said the food and the service were good, it wasn’t worth a third trip.
Many students have only been to wagamama once or twice. It has failed to establish itself as a staple among students, largely due to the wide array of alternative eateries. In addition, restaurants are constantly opening and closing — wagamama is just one of the many that have come and gone.
“New York is such a fast-paced city,” Lin said. “A lot of things […] like a restaurant closing, another restaurant opening up, [people] don’t know notice that.”
Perhaps wagamama’s closing was a result of poor reviews. Or perhaps it was the opening of new locations — on Feb. 6, the British restaurant chain opened its third New York City location in Murray Hill, and the company is opening another spot in Midtown later this year. One thing’s for sure, however: the future of the empty space remains a mystery for now.
This story was updated on April 15 to include a statement from wagamama.
Email Arin Garland at [email protected]