The former owner of Isabella’s posted a note on the outside of the restaurant on 77th and Columbus late Monday after its sudden closure.

Stephen Hanson was the longtime owner of the restaurant and is the founder of BR Guest Hospitality, which also runs several other establishments including Atlantic Grill and Dos Caminos. Last year, it was reported that BR Guest was being sold.

While a spokesperson for the current owners told us that the landlord “chose not to renew” the lease, a representative for building owners Grunberg Realty wrote in a comment on West Side Rag that the restaurant “was left to languish by two successive corporate owners.” The restaurant also had to deal with an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit, Michael Grunberg wrote. “We as owners would have gladly renewed Isabella’s as we have for 30 yrs but unfortunately the economics and litigious world we live in ruined such a classic staple in our neighborhood.”

Grunberg added that “Maybe Stephen Hanson might be coaxed out of a well deserved retirement to open up another.”

Thanks to Anonymous and Ghostwriter for the photos and tips.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 14 comments | permalink
    1. CT says:

      Heartfelt words from a class act. Will miss Isabella’s and the fun times had there, and looking forward to checking out Steve’s new project, the Life Hotel in NoMad (which will undoubtedly have an amazing restaurant). Once Starwood Capital and then (Bubba Gump’s owner) Landry’s bought BR Guest, it was all downhill. RIP Isabella’s.

    2. AC says:

      Stephan was on top of the world back in the day. The end began when Park Avalon, perhaps the best BR Guest Restaurant they ever had, shuttered. Then Blue Water Grill revamping their Menu a few years back didn’t help. Good luck to the new owners and if I were Stephen, I’d sit back and enjoy my retirement 🙂

      thanks for the memories!

    3. Spence says:

      I walked by there earlier today and noticed that the adjacent storefront in the same building is also for rent.

    4. Pedestrian says:

      The building owners admitted that they decided to kick Isabella out. Sorry but their complaint about the law suit doesn’t wash. Typical greedy landlords blaming every one else for their behavior.

    5. Steve, please come back! We all miss you terribly. Barbara, Columbus Avenue BID

    6. Chuck D says:

      I don’t know what happened with this lawsuit, but it sounds like this guy is a typical conservative blaming the government for making him update his building to code. I sincerely hope the space sits unrented for 20 years.

    7. UWSSurfer says:

      Steve’s restaurants in our neighborhood (Isabella’s and Ocean Grill) were so

      I remember eating at Isabella’s during a visit to NYC before I moved here. It was the quientessential Manhattan dining experience for me.

      The hand rolls at Ocean Grill were delicious.

      It sounds like Steve got pushed out – Ocean Grill by the permanent scaffolding and now Isabella’s by the landlords.

      He and his wife are nice people who created great restaurants.

    8. EGF says:

      So disappointing. I am now waiting for Atlantic Grill to fail since they too are part of this restaurant group. These huge corporations may know how to turn a profit for a period of time, but they turn every restaurant they touch into a theme rather than maintain their original identity. In my experience it’s only a matter of time before quality and service decline to a point that a once beloved restaurant becomes something unrecognizable all in the name of the corporate umbrella it blends into.

    9. Michael Wolf says:

      I didn’t believe the baloney peddled to the public when Ocean Grill closed, and I don’t believe them now.

    10. Ohadd Matibag says:

      I remember first going here almost 20 years ago…My first NYC restaurant job was on the UWS at La Fenice down on 69st. The UWS was my playground. So much has changed over the years with closures etc. I worked at Arte Pasta for years which is around the corner and Isabella’s was always a place we would go to……Its the end of an Era. Thank you for your service and hospitality!

    11. Dan says:

      Stephen is class act. All his restaurants were classy places, and his employees were the best.

    12. Nancy says:

      WTF? Tragic. Best wishes to you!!!!

    13. Sara says:

      Really tired of greedy landlords. We need to have more regulations that consider the long-term, big picture need for our community. Unfettered capitalism without regard to the bigger picture is ridiculous. PERIOD.