First Motorino closes, now this. M. Wells, the acclaimed Long Island City diner from Sarah Obraitis and Au Pied de Cochon vet Hugue Dufour, will close at the end of August. They explained why on the Hungry Tiger blog:
We are in this precarious position because we took the ambitious and risky decision to open M. Wells without long-term stability on the property. The landlord allowed us to occupy the space for a little over a year … we hoped that we would work out an arrangement that solidified a future. Alas, we have not been able to strike an agreement with the landlord.
His proposal included astronomically high rent, a short length of lease and a strict buy-out clause. Nothing on the table offered us a favorable environment in which to continue to do business. After several months of trying to negotiate, we relented and accepted the fact that we weren’t meant to remain his tenants.
The Wall Street Journal called and confirmed that the restaurant is done for and that the owners are looking for a new space in Long Island City. For anyone who ever ate at M. Wells, this is all terrible news. Dufour’s Montreal-style, meat-centric cooking was among the most inventive in the city, resulting in a diner menu that saw things like a classic breakfast sandwich next to pickled pig tongue. At this rate, everyone in the city should make a reservation at their favorite restaurant because it might just be gone tomorrow.