Chain Is Closing East Coast Locations That Were Struggling Pre-Pandemic
By Tina Traster
The Shops at Nanuet could be looking at another black hole: Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar, a franchise restaurant owned by the Briad Group in Livingston New Jersey, is planning to close its doors except its Clifton, New Jersey location.
The pandemic has been the last straw for many big box stores and franchises.
Last week, Simon, which owns the Shops at Nanuet, sued Gap Inc. owner of Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and Athleta, for unpaid rent and other expenses. In the filing, Simon said The Gap owes three months of rent and other lease charges amounting to $65.9 million. Simon also is seeking reimbursement for attorney fees and court costs.
There are Gap stores at both the Shops at Nanuet, which is owned by Simon, and the Palisades Center. Banana Republic is located at the Shops of Nanuet. Old Navy has a location at the Palisades Center.
In more unsettling news for Simon Property Group, Inc., the company on Wednesday said it terminated its Feb. 9 agreement to merge with rival mall developer Taubman Centers Inc. The deal for Simon to acquire an 80% ownership interest in The Taubman Realty Group Limited Partnership, including all of Taubman common stock, for about $3.6 billion, was originally expected to close this spring.
Instead, Simon has filed a lawsuit in a Michigan Circuit Court arguing Taubman breached covenants regarding the operation of its business, specifically that “Taubman has failed to take steps to mitigate the impact of the pandemic as others in the industry have, including by not making essential cuts in operating expenses and capital expenditures.”
Their agreement also “specifically gave Simon the right to terminate the transaction in the event that a pandemic disproportionately hurt Taubman,” according to Simon’s press release.
The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown seems to have been the nail in the coffin for Zinburger, an upscale burger joint that pairs wine with its artisan fare, according to several sources. Seventeen of the brand’s eighteen east coast locations have closed permanently. Eight of Zinburger’s eighteen locations are situated in Simon Property Group-owned developments
There was no phone recording message at the restaurant at The Shops at Nanuet today. The Shops at Nanuet, along with another Zinburger in Huntington, Long Island, are the only two New York locations.
Sources close to the group say the chain had been “in trouble for several months” leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Briad purchased the east coast development rights to the Zinburger concept from founder Sam Fox of Fox Restaurant Concepts in 2010. The first east coast Zinburger opened at Brad’s The Promenade Shops at Clifton in December 2010. (The six Zinburger restaurants in Fox’s home market of Arizona remain open.)
The Braid Group did not return emails seeking comment.
In addition to Zinburger, Briad owns more than 100 Wendy’s restaurants and several Hilton and Marriott flagged hotels.
In 2017, the boutique burger brand was named by Full Service Restaurant Magazine’s one of “The Top 50 Emerging Restaurant Chains,” which features the top 50 high potential, performance-proven full-service brands with fewer than 50 locations.