“High Real Estate Costs” Force Butterfunk Kitchen & Sumner’s Luncheonette To Close

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WINDSOR TERRACE – Two southern food favorites—Butterfunk Kitchen and Sumner’s Luncheonette—shuttered at the end of 2018 as a result of rising rents.

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#Repost @sumnersluncheonette (@get_repost) ・・・ Like the laws of nature, things change. The seasons come and go, leaves fall and return, the tides ebb and flow. That is simply the way things are. Were officially announcing that at the end of business on December 31st, we’ll be closing our doors for good for both Sumners and Butterfunk. Join us here at Sumners on Sunday, December 30th at 3pm for cake and coffee as we’d like to thank everyone who’s loved us supported us, gave us a chance, and watched us grow. The next day at Butterfunk well have regular service followed by one last party. Hoping to see you here. . . #aLONGrun #eightyears #thenextchapter #closingupshop #lasthurrah #thanksforthememories #comesaygoodbye #blessed #inspired #love #windsorterrace

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Owners Christopher Scott and Eugenie Woo first opened the community-focused café Brooklyn Commune at 601 Greenwood Avenue (at Prospect Ave.) in 2010 and were awarded a Shona Community Leader Award by CAMBA in 2013. The husband-and-wife team debuted “soul food restaurant & juke joint,” Butterfunk Kitchen, next door at 1295 Prospect Avenue in April 2016. The couple closed Brooklyn Commune in Spring 2018 and replaced it with Sumner’s Luncheonette, serving old-school southern brunch and lunch classics with an “Amish Soul Food twist.”

butterfunk kitchen
Butterfunk Kitchen (Photo: Bklyner)

Chef Scott, a contestant on Top Chef season 15, grew up in Philadelphia, near Amish country. He described Butterfunk Kitchen’s menu as “soul food meets Pennsylvania Dutch,” noting that generations-old family recipes served as his inspiration.

Scott and Woo hosted final celebrations at the two eateries—serving cake and coffee at Sumner’s on the afternoon of Sunday, December 30 and throwing a New Year’s Eve farewell reception at Butterfunk Kitchen on Monday, December 31 “from 8:00pm until all the grub and drinks are gone!”

The couple will open a new restaurant in Bridgeport, Connecticut called Birdman, Eater reports, as well as host pop-ups across the country.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I’m calling bs. This is not about high rents. Otherwise, they would move to somewhere else in the five boroughs – they are fleeing to the suburbs.

  2. I don’t quite understand the “high real estate costs” claim. Did their rent actually go up or is their income on the restaurants not what they expected? Commercial leases are not usually nine years so perhaps there was a big rent increase in the lease they signed before they opened in 2010. I can’t imagine that the rent for the new lease would go up that much given all the vacancies along Prospect Avenue. Over half the stores have been converted to apartments, and there are multiple vacancies. I agree with Bob that they are using it as an excuse.

  3. Bob and Marc,

    Whilst none of us know what the financials of this restaurant are it generally takes around 6 months to a year to open a full service restaurant so many restauranteurs sign 10 year leases and are only open for 9. I’d wager that they found out they’re rent was increased a decent amount and even small increases in rent, labor, and food can have large impacts on notoriously thin restaurant margins. And Bob i know you like to cook but you’ve obviously not opened a restaurant. It takes a lot of money and relocating is not as easy as moving apartments especially when you’ve built up a local client base and invested heavily in a location.

    I ate here before and it was good. Not my favorite place but sad to see them go. If they had closed after a year then most likely the rent increase story would be BS but after 9 it makes sense. Not sure why the “writer” would put high real estate costs in “quotation marks” as if suggesting it’s not believable or credible. This is happening everywhere in our city that landlords are pushing out good tenants to try to get chains or unreasonably high rents and turning our city into either a ghost town as Liz mentioned, or a suburb of corporate chains that we cannot flee.

  4. I’m not a business person, and I’m a vegetarian so I haven’t eaten at either of these restaurants, though I loved Bklyn Commune. But judging from the way my co-op in Kensington has skyrocketed in value over the past 5-10 years, I have no doubt the reason is anything other than high rents. If they can’t afford Windsor Terrace, where else in the five boros can they afford?

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