Volume 73, Number 53 | May 5 - 11, 2004

‘Iron Chef’ and Buddakan each taking a slice of Chelsea Market

By Albert Amateau

The Chelsea Market, located in the square-block complex where National Biscuit Company first produced Oreos, will have two new upscale restaurants, each with Asian accents, by the end of this year.

The Stephen Starr Restaurant Organization, which operates 10 restaurants in Philadelphia, is planning to open Morimoto, in partnership with the Japanese “Iron Chef,” Masaharu Morimoto, at 88 Tenth Ave. on the west side of the Chelsea Market complex in November.

In December, the Starr organization plans to open Buddakan New York, an Asian fusion restaurant at 75 Ninth Ave. on the east side of the complex. Each restaurant will have two bars, a capacity of 400, and will occupy two floors. Buddakan will have 17,000 sq. ft. on the ground floor and second floor of a former lumber company at the corner of 16th St. and Ninth Ave. Morimoto will occupy 12,000 sq. ft. of space on the ground floor and basement level subleased from the Food Network, which carries the “Iron Chef” television program.

Both restaurants have direct deals with the owner of Chelsea Market that would keep them in the complex at least until 2020. According to Cityfeet, a real estate Web site, Buddakan’s lease with Chelsea Market calls for annual rents beginning at more than $670,000.

Chelsea Market, redeveloped over the last 10 years by Irwin Cohen, has more than 20 wholesale and retail food and food-related companies ranged along its indoor arcade between Ninth and 10th Aves., along with the Food Network and The New York Yankees television enterprises. Design and media studios including Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen Network and New York 1 news occupy the upper floors of the complex.

Both Morimoto, with an entrance on 10th Ave., and Buddakan, with an entrance on Ninth Ave., will be New York versions of existing restaurants with the same names in Starr’s Philadelphia enterprise.

In July of 2001, the former lumber company space at 75 Ninth Ave. was being proposed for the New York version of Buddha Bar, a fashionable Parisian hangout. The Ninth Ave. Buddha Bar was intended to have a retractable roof and French doors along the 16th St. side; features that neighbors in the Robert Fulton Houses to the east feared would be noisy on summer nights. Conversion of the space began by the project was abandoned and the space has remained vacant.

Plans for Buddakan do not have those features and Community Board 4 made no objections last month to applications for liquor licenses for the two restaurants.

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