Small Business

Donald Trump Takes Over Cafe Hurt by OWS

The Huffington Post
Demonstrators with 'Occupy Wall Street' continue their protest at Zuccotti Park in New York on November 4, 2011.
Photo: Timothy A Clary | AFP | Getty Images

A local New York restaurant that saw business drop off as Occupy Wall Street protests erupted nearby has finally shut its doors — and will be taken over by the ultimate 1 percenter, Donald Trump.

The real-estate magnate, who owns the building at 40 Wall Street, where Milk Street Cafe was located, has retained the restaurant hall for "pennies on the dollar," according to a source close to the deal, and will turn the all-kosher cafe into a Trump Street Bar & Grille.

In early November, Marc Epstein, owner of Milk Street, which had moved into the space in June, claimed that metal barricades police had erected in response to the nearby Occupy Wall Street protests were impeding access to his cafe's front door. Amid slumping sales, Epstein was forced to lay off 21 of the restaurant's 120 workers. Though police ultimately removed the barricades in front of the cafe, the barricades on the street remained, creating a "siege mentality" that continued to hurt foot traffic, Epstein said.

"In the end we could not continue to lose money while foot traffic had dwindled down to that level," Epstein recalled. "The barricades, which I'm told are still there, not directly in front of the space, but to the left and right down Broad Street, cut the legs out from underneath us," he added. "Everyday that they're still there reaffirms that I made the right decision to close."

Steve Lafiosca, Trump's director of commercial properties, told the Tribeca Trib, a local news site, that operators of Trump Street Bar & Grille will try to retain as many of the employees as possible. Lafiosca didn't mention the barricades on Broad Street, but told reporters that he suspects Milk Street Cafe's all-kosher theme, which Trump will do away with, played a role in the restaurant's downfall.

Epstein, for his part, is now refocusing efforts on Milk Street Cafe's 30-year old Boston location where he said business is fine. "I have no plans to expand beyond Boston any time soon," he added.