Rupert Noffs and Matty Bennett of the Lucky Bee. Photo from the restaurant’s Instagram.
After only a year-and-a-half in business, The Lucky Bee is closing.
Co-owner Rupert Noffs tells us that he and partner Matty Bennett made the decision to shutter their Southeast Asian restaurant at 252 Broome St. because, “We simply can’t afford the rent.” Noffs said they plan to operate for as “long as possible,” adding, “I guess this is our Closing Down Sale!”
He said the search has begun for another location. “We have some strong interest and people who really believe in us and what we do,” said Noffs. “All we ever wanted to do was give New Yorkers delicious, seasonal Southeast Food and incredible cocktails in a fun setting and we will continue with that vision.”
Bennett, formerly of the Fat Radish, won praise for his farm-to-table version of Thai Street food, and the restaurant’s hot pink decor and festive atmosphere attracted early attention to the 50 seat restaurant.
It was a tumultuous, if short, run on the Lower East Side. The Lucky Bee opened in January 2016 in the former home of Jin Sushi, a longtime neighborhood restaurant. During the first three months, Bennett served a limited menu because Con Ed and the Fire Department had not cleared the business to use cooking gas.
Then in June of this year, Noffs and Bennett were evicted for non-payment of rent and the restaurant was closed down for several days. Property owners Michael Forrest and Samy Mahfar allowed them to reopen while tenant and landlords worked out a payment plan. In an interview yesterday, Forrest said, “While we were trying to work out a rent reduction, it became apparent that the restaurant could not pay even the minimum amount that (the owners) said they could handle.” The lease signed by Noffs and Bennett required them to pay $21,000/month, which included property taxes. “We were willing to negotiate,” said Forrest. “We wanted to see them succeed.”
The Lucky Bee will be charging happy hour prices on all drinks until they close. A closing date has not been determined.
UPDATED 12:40 p.m. After this story was published, Rupert Noffs emailed us, reacting to Forrest’s comments regarding the Broome Street lease situation. According to Noffs, the property owners were unwilling to negotiate, refused to budge on the rent and demanded another $60,000 in additional security. Noffs said, “We simply could not run our business, think of creative new ideas, recipes and train new staff with these guys on our backs sending eviction notices – without a sealed envelope – once a month.”
This story will be updated if Forrest has any more to add on the topic.