TELEPAN CLOSES SUDDENLY, LEAVING 10 YEARS OF HAPPY MEMORIES

telepan

Telepan, the beloved Michelin-starred restaurant at 72 West 69th street run by local fixture Bill Telepan, suddenly closed its doors on Sunday. The restaurant was under financial pressure, Bill Telepan wrote in an email to West Side Rag.

Bill Telepan 4Like most restaurants, we operate with very small margins. As our costs go up each year and our revenue has not kept pace, we have been operating at a loss and cannot sustain the business.

We will miss being part of the neighborhood, and we are so grateful to our loyal customers, many of whom have become our friends.

It has been a wonderful run. We are proud of everything our team has achieved and grateful for the talent, hard work, and spirit of our staff. I am thrilled that recently we were able to celebrate our 10th anniversary, that we’ve earned a Michelin star in each of the last three years, and that we have celebrated so many occasions with our customers over the years.

Since we have such talented staff, other restaurants are eager to hire them. As for me, I am exploring opportunities, as well as continuing my work to provide healthier food options for children in our public schools.

Telepan had just celebrated its 10th anniversary with a special menu bringing back some old favorites.

Bill Telepan, whom we interviewed here, is a community fixture, serving as the executive chef of the Wellness in the Schools program, which helps bring healthier food into public schools.

Below, see the note he sent to customers:

Note to Our Customers

Dear Friends,

We wanted to let you know that as of May 15th, we are closing Telepan Restaurant.

We are so proud of everything our team has achieved over these last 10 years and will miss being part of this incredible community that has been so wonderful to us. We are enormously grateful to all of our loyal customers. We are happy that we’ve been able to celebrate so many occasions with you over the years and that so many of you have become our friends.

We know you’ll join us in thanking our amazing staff, many of whom have been here since the very beginning. Words cannot express our gratitude for their tremendous efforts over the years and our appreciation of their talent and spirit.

It has been a terrific run and we can’t thank you enough for supporting Telepan. We will remember all the good times we’ve had together, and look forward to staying in touch.

Very best,

Bill

NEWS | 57 comments | permalink
    1. Nelson says:

      This is really sad news. For me, having a drink or meal at the Telepan bar has always been a perk of living in the neighborhood. Bill is not only a talented restauranteur but a consummate gentleman. Telepan will be sorely missed and I hope he returns soon with a new UWS establishment which we can all enthusiastically support.

    2. Kevin says:

      Very sad, it was honestly one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. I hope Bill opens something else in the neighborhood. Telepan was a bit above my budget so I wasn’t able to go often, but the few times I did it was very memorable.

    3. Sid says:

      10 years is a good run. I hope nyc doesn’t lose its talent and creative nature of entrepreneurship due to rising costs of capitalism.

    4. Paul RL says:

      Awful news, Telepan was a classy yet very approachable establishment that really upped the game for restaurants on the Upper West Side. Nothing lasts forever I guess, but sadly these great gems are getting harder to replace

    5. Cyrus says:

      Sad news indeed. Easily the best restaurant on the UWS. Telepan will be missed.

    6. Big Earl says:

      I really hate to see what our neighborhood is turning into. Everyday more and more established stores/restaurants are disappearing. No where is this more evident than walking down Columbus past all the empty store fronts. Depressing. But somehow rents keeping going higher. Kind of feels like the housing bubble. Got to burst at some point as Duane Reade and Chase can’t take over every empty store front. Or can they?

      • Margaret says:

        my sentiments exactly; I’ve been saying this for the past couple of years now.

      • Lyri Clark says:

        Landlord greed….or how to ruin a neighborhood. The UWS is becoming home to junky stores (Marshall’s, Bloomingdale’s OUTLET etc) and deteriorating food stores like poor Fairway. A high quality take out place with good food like Albertina’s is gone in a few months….why? What’s going on here? And yet, the book vendors remain -no overhead to pay, no rules to follow-and THAT one vendor who screams and talks to himself – of course he remains.

        • Sherman says:

          How do you know Telepan went out of business because of “landlord greed”?

          I’ve eaten at Telepan and I’m sorry it’s gone but it was very expensive. Not too many people can afford to pay north of $100 for dinner per person.

          Besides, there’s no such thing as “landlord greed”. The owner of a property leases the property to whoever is willing to pay the highest rent. If someone can pay a higher rent than Telepan then Telepan will have to match this rent or move out.

          That’s life. It’s not rational to not maximize your profits.

          • Lyri Clark says:

            Sherman:don’t be naive…that’s why Duane Reade has taken over every small business …because they can. Landlord greed…no interest in quality or neighborhood -just how much money they can charge and who can afford to pay.

            • Sherman says:

              I have a great idea!

              You should buy some commercial property and lease it to the business willing to pay you the least rent.

            • David Collins says:

              You should stop blaming landlords who have a right – and a duty in a way – to ask for as much money as they can get for their properties on the failure of businesses. To blame them is a cop-out.

              If landlords are asking for too much money then the market will correct itself. Always has and always will. Be it Telepan or Chase, or Starbucks or Joe’s Coffee, no one is going to pay rent that makes their business unprofitable. No one is in the business of loosing money, be it companies like Chase and Starbucks and CVS or mom and pop businesses. All these businesses must be making money and that means people like you and I must be shopping there.

              So they are making money and we are shopping there then it can’t be that bad for the neighborhood. It’s not like the UWS is tourist heaven – the vast majority of folks walking into a store on the UWS are likely from the UWS themselves.

          • Cato says:

            All of this talk about landlords simply trying to get the highest rent possible overlooks the stark fact that, in many instances, a business closes because it cannot pay the rent — and the storefront then remains vacant for a long time.

            It is just not the case that other potential tenants are lined up waiting to pay the landlord more rent. That would be a true marketplace. Rather, the landlords are gambling — they bleed the existing business to death, hoping that someone will come along, eventually, willing to pay more and more money, even where the business climate suggests there just aren’t those new richer tenants out there. The landlords are willing to wait, many times obviously in vain (just look around you), for the prospect of a bigger buck. It’s not just *more* money that they want, from someone who might be willing to pay it, but *lots and lots* more, even if there is no one who can.

            If that’s not greed, what is?

            • Jay says:

              What you said just doesn’t make any sense.

              Landlords, like any other business, care about obtaining the highest price for their product. Willfully letting their property sit empty and not providing income would be cutting off their nose to spite their face. It could also be illegal if a publicly traded company owned the property.

              I think many times businesses that fail blame the rent because its a simple concept to understand. When, in fact, a business fails there are a lot of factors in its demise.

            • Cato says:

              Jay — Doesn’t make any sense? How else do you explain all of the *many* empty storefronts across the entire Upper West Side?

              If each landlord was willing to accept what the market was willing to pay, those stores would be occupied and business would be booming. Look around you: That’s just not the way it is. The landlords want more money than the market is willing to pay.

              Noseless faces a’plenty, I’d say. Unfortunately, there’s nothing “illegal” about it — immoral, perhaps, yes, but “illegal”? Nope.

            • Steve says:

              Landlords take a tax write-off on the vacant storefronts. So their behavior is actually being subsidized by the city and state.

            • ctp says:

              Jay, I think you are unaware of how commercial leases are made, they are not year to year, they are usually 7-20 year leases, if a landlord waits two years to fill a space with higher rent tenant s/he can make significantly more money, and leaving the space vacant for two years is nothing when it comes to 20K a month rent for 15 years. A chain store or a bank will pay that rent religiously. But even a higher rent tenant who defaults a year or two into the new lease can be more profitable than an old tenant at a lower rent who renews for another 10 years (I suspect Telepan reached the end of their 10 year lease and could not negotiate the same rent they had back when they opened). This is how it works, it is not a nice business and it is not nice for the people who live here, but, as I know too well, many of the landlords are our neighbors and friends too.

      • CTP says:

        Just remember, it is likely old time upper west siders like ourselves who own these buildings and charge these astronomical rents. They don’t care about the character of the neighborhood, they just care about the money. I know that in my neighborhood, where there are many empty storefronts, the owners are people like you and me and all they want is for a big chain or a bank to sign a 20 year lease so they can have constant income, or, to sell to a developer. When you mourn the neighborhood, don’t automatically blame the newest residents for the yuppification.

        • Independent says:

          “don’t automatically blame the newest residents for the yuppification.”

          Yet again, I ask: What is wrong with Young Urban Professionals?

      • Ground Control says:

        Totally agree. But have no doubt-it’s a failure of government-plain and simple. The talents of New York are being pushed out for no good reason. Greed rules. There must be regulation of commercial rents, or significant limits on the size of stores allowed on streets other than Broadway. It’s not ridiculous and it can be done! Cities have their own ecosystem that make them work, and thrive. This one is so entirely out of balance that the future of New York is at stake. All the building for the billionaire class is going into rapid slow down while more buildings are just coming out of the ground. What happens when they sit vacant? And all the neighborhood businesses have been pushed out?? It does take a political revolution. Write to your City Council, and your Congresspeople.

    7. bob says:

      very sad to read this one. the atmosphere there was a little too ‘high brow’ for me to be a regular but I loved their burger and reputation for being a top eatery in a part of NYC that doesn’t have a lot of great options, at all. big loss for the uWs. Sad to see it go.

    8. Giulia Pines says:

      Noooooooo. Whenever people talked about how bad UWS food was, I’d always counter with Telepan. What do I do now??

      • David Collins says:

        There are plenty of great restaurants on the UWS.

        Places like Lincoln, Boulud Sud, Shun Lee, Sushi of Gari, Cafe Luxembourg, Bustan, Dovetail, Cafe Storico and others are all great.

        While they may not get as much social media buzz or visibility on tourist guides, they would be among the best places to eat in any part of the city.

        But the UWS does indeed need more restaurants and if done right I think they would make a lot of money. More mid priced places like The Smith, AG Kitchen, Cafe Frida. And more places like Chop’t and Sweetgreen and Joe’s Coffee.

        • UWS-er says:

          Other great UWS places, to add to the ones David Collins mentioned: RedFarm, Kefi, Mermaid Inn, Fishtag, Sushi Yasaka, Swagat, Saiguette, Salumeria Rosi…there are many more.

          I agree with everyone, Telepan was a wonderful place, but its closing doesn’t represent the death of UWS restaurants.

    9. Allan Diamond says:

      Sad indeed. Telepan was always a great option for all of us on the UWS not only for fine dining but a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere. It will be sorely missed but hopefully Bill opens up with another creative restaurant for us on the UWS or inspires others to do so.

    10. Sean says:

      Yes there is a very slim margin of profit in the restaurant business and ten years is a good run. You won’t find many neighborhood places that last for decades unless you are in a working class neighborhood. Then it helps to own the building. Real estate is a business and this is Manhattan, the center of the universe. You ask for what the market will bear. Columbus Avenue is a strip mall.

    11. Ethan says:

      Sad and shocked. Glad I went last week, and that I said hi and thanks to Bill T at the bar, on my way out w/my 2 friends. I’d been going most weeks, lately.

    12. Barbara Benson says:

      Went there as often as possible. Will miss everything about Telepan. Hope to see Bill Telepan back in the neighborhood soon.

    13. Gloria says:

      Nelson said it. This is sad news.

      My one consolation is that Bill’s restaurant wasn’t just a fabulous place to eat, but was also a home to fresh, farm-to-table ingredients, which will continue through Bill’s contribution to the Wellness in the Schools program.

      I do hold out hope that I will get to enjoy Bill’s cooking again in NYC — without having to pick up a tray in my local grammar school cafeteria.

    14. K says:

      This is a really big loss. I have been going ever since they opened, and I’m not sure there’s another place that has that same neighborhood yet upscale mix (Ouest did at the bar, but that’s gone too). Teleran was a great fixture with great staff and I’m sad to see it go — I hope Bill Telepan opens something new on the UWS because he’s an asset to the neighborhood.

      • John Stine says:

        Totally agree. We just started going there and we’re looking forward to many more visits to this gem of a restaurant: we feel like something wonderful has been snatched away from us.

    15. Feelin' Berned says:

      We need a $50 minimum wage! Why stop at $15. No harm there. Hey, where did all the small businesses and mom & pop stores and restaurants go?

    16. Brad says:

      Terrible news! Another fixture disappears. Please, please come back with something else for us!

    17. Norma MT & Carl W Braun says:

      Most distressing that quality again loses due to financial pressures. Telepan will be SORELY MISSED!!!!!

    18. Tom says:

      We’ve lost Quest last year. Now, Telepan. Hope Dovetail will continue to run.

    19. robert says:

      So sad. My wife and I celebrated our engagement there. Good memories

    20. Bill S says:

      Good Luck on future endeavor! You’re a class act. Hope to see you soon

    21. Rose says:

      This is a devasting loss for all of Telepan’s clientele and a complete shock. We have been having dinners here since Chef Bill opened the place and have marveled at the consistently superb food, service and oh so warm and welcoming. A real bummer that such a talented chef and his staff cannot operate at a profit. We came down from Wedtchester to frequent his establishment so perhaps he can find a venue up here and add to his already stellar reputation. Looking forward to your relocation Bill. Thanks for a good, long and delicious run.

    22. David Collins says:

      Telepan used to be great. We first went the first week it opened and went back at least a dozen times over the following couple of years. My wife is a vegetarian and there were always a few things for her on the menu. Then they decided to go the way of prix fixe menus and raise their prices. Not sure if the Michelin star got to their head or what happened but we have not been back once in over three years.

      I am afraid the same fate will hit Dovetail. W went at least a half dozen times when it first opened and had some great meals. But we have not been back in the past 1-2 years since they went instituted a prix fixe menu.

      One has to wonder what is going on here – if these folks are not thinking things through when it comes to opening restaurants that have a chance of being profitable.

      Like the steak place next to Cafe Luxembourg – Lincoln Square. I am surprised it is still open even though it has barely been a year. Cafe Luxembourg has people walking in for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many days (Thur-Sun) it is packed or fairly full for all three meals. Yet these guys have no breakfast business, no lunch business and are barely 1/4 full for dinner two or three nights a week.

      • Bruce Tilley says:

        Telepan was great until last night. Offering a prix fixe menu was an option…. always severed any dish you’d like. I can tell David hasn’t been in three years. Bill is a master chef and his farm fresh full menu was a perfect example of his creativity, passion and his food combining was exquisite for every dish. The prices reflected the quality, service and a true example of fine dining without being stuffy or overdone. Perfection and we’ll be sad to lose Telepan, but happy we could be there last night… We’ll be waiting for Bill’s next chapter.

        • David Collins says:

          For me, Telepan lost its way a long time ago, be it due to pricing or the menu, and the fact that they closed would only seem to back that up.

          You can argue it all you want and I am sure Bill is a nice man, but the fact remains that it closed and it did not close because it was doing well. When a restaurant does not do well it usually because of the food – what it serves or what it charges.

          His second restaurant, Telepan Local, also failed, in about year I believe.

      • adam says:

        While the prices did rise over the years (as at every other restaurant), Telepan had the pre fixe on offer since Day 1.

    23. Kelly says:

      This was our go-to special occasion restaurant! I will really miss it!

    24. Jenn says:

      Very sad. Telepan was a special neighborhood place for my husband and I. We will miss it tremendously.

    25. Priscilla says:

      No!
      Just. No.

    26. Duckwise says:

      Just devastated. We celebrated everything there–from birthdays to Tuesdays. I wish there had been some notice. This really sucks.

    27. Mary Ann says:

      Dear Bill and the whole Telepan staff,
      Thank you for all you’ve done to the neighborhood! Thank you for the all the Halloweens! Thank you for not only great food but all your healthy considerations making it! We will all miss you here on 69th street. Good luck in all your future endeavors!
      Best,
      Mary Ann

    28. Katie says:

      So sad about this. My fav on the uws. Wish we had know he was closing so we could have had a goodbye dinner there.

    29. Margaret says:

      I have an unused gift certificate. Any word on if, or how this can be refunded?

    30. Nancy Fedder says:

      Is just awful and for those who don’t want to call it landlord greed, Ok, let’s just cal it turning the area into a strip mall. How gross in my area to see that Sandaler (whatever) bank, near Boltons, Sleepys, and Claires. Throw up and even Duane Reade could not afford the rent on Broadway btw 83/83 so its going on 3 years and all we ge is Spirit of Halloween every October. The guy at Oren’s told me that the rent was higher than at their Times Square location. Just a disgrace. LANDLORD FREAKIN GREED.

      • dannyboy says:

        It is the “Let the Market rule over the People” that are destroying any neighborhood left on the UWS.

        I am happy that I lived a good life here before money ruled over the common good.

      • Tony Kelder says:

        So lets elect Donald Trump as president!!!!!!!!

    31. noreslm says:

      To Bill and your wonderful staff, So sad that you have closed. We will miss our dinners at Telepan- a true gem.
      Looking forward to being a steady customer at your next restaurant. All the best to you and everyone that made Telepan so special!

    32. Peter Gittlin says:

      What many people do not realize is that the city increases the Real Estate taxes every year for landlords. I own a small building with a commercial tenant and the tax increases since the Bloomberg administration have been severe. I am unable to pass on the tax increases to my tenant as he would go out of business. I am sure there are greedy landlords but its also a case of the city abusing landlords and tenants alike with these continual real estate tax increases. And most tenants have to pay a large share of the tax increase and thats why food costs continue to skyrocket in the city at restaurants etc.

    33. Biga says:

      Stop the rants and focus a little on what this is about. Its a requiem for a wonderful local establishment that had a wonderful run but it came to an end. Its about a wonderful man who brought his passion to the upper west side and delighted folks for 10 years. Its about a man who also cared enough that he donated heavily of his time and resources to the community and beyond, be it Wellness in the Schools cooking programs, or donating to local school auctions to help raise money. Telepan, both the man and the restaurant elevated the UWS and will be missed.

      Name whatever other UWS place you want, maybe they’re good but how many earned a Michelin star? Not in Telepan’s league.

      Fortunately, while the restaurant may be gone, the man continues, and Bill’s creativity, passion and amazing culinary skills will not be suppressed for long – we will see him again, I’d bet on it. Hopefully on the UWS, but if not so be it and I will go to him elsewhere in NYC. And it’ll be the same old Bill Telepan, creating culinary delights with a warm smile and a welcoming attitude that makes you feel good and happy to be there.

      Until then, I want to thank you Chef! Thank you for caring about our kids, for caring about your staff and customers, and for contributing so much to our community, and for making the UWS a little better place to be.

      As for all the side commentary about greed and the like, – save your gripes for the elections and coffee chats. Frankly none of us know exactly what caused this – I suspect it was a combo of a lot of cost increases across the board and not enough traffic to cover it all. But again, irrelevant for here and now. What is relevant is the guy who cared a lot, and through his restaurant and big heart made our neighborhood better.

    34. Leslie Rupert says:

      Very, Very Sad. It was such a good restaurant. It is our loss.