High Rent Causes Zen Burger To Close


I have to say I’m a little shocked by this one… walked by Zen Burger today (on Lexington btw. 45+46th) to discover that this past Friday was their last day open for business.  This one year old vegetarian fast food chain from the owners of Zen Palate (which has also been plagued by money issues over the years) was disliked by many meat lovers, but I was kind of into their whole premise: fast food that is almost identical to McDonald’s, but without using any meat. 

The letter blamed “extremely high rent” for the closing, and said to watch out for news about “future locations”.  No word on how this will effect their West Hollywood, CA location supposedly opening at the beginning of 2009.

The full letter is after the jump.



  • what! oh the vegetarians in my office are going to be PISSED!!!!

  • That’s a shame. Sounded like a decent operation, although I would never eat there myself *loves his meat*

    This is my first time commenting, so I just wanted to say awesome blog! You’ve put a couple of places like El Rincon Del Sabor and Menchanko-Tei on top of my list!

  • I am deeply saddened by this news. I think I can speak on behalf of all the Haters here, when I say Zen Burger produced some of finest comments ever on this site. You will be missed.

  • I never had zen burger, but i did have zen palate about 8 yrs ago. Oh god!!! Wheat Gluton!!! NASTY!!!!! SOOOO NASTY!!!!! I vomitted after one bite—i kid you not!!!! I can only imagine how zen burger was….

  • McDonald’s without meat… isn’t that redunant? There is no way a Big Mac has any cow in it.

  • Who cares it was Shake Shack o’clock today!

  • this is the kind of news that makes me come out of midtown lunch retirement.

  • I never got to give them a try….the food did look good.

  • James Tu… what goes around comes around : )

  • think i called that this place wouldn’t last more than a year the first time i walked by it on lex.

  • I loved this place and was there all the time. Lately it’s been totally dead. I don’t think the rent would have seemed so high had they had enough customers.

    It was totally the wrong location, though. I think it would do way better in the Union Square area or even the Upper West Side. I hope they move to greener pastures.

  • The food was the WORST.
    A frosted-over Boca Burger out of my own freezer was better.

  • That was the EXACT (and I mean, to the letter) same notice that was up in Zen Palate Union Square’s final days. I guess the rent really is out of control in this city. Either that or the owners just aren’t very good businesspeople.
    Regardless, I really did enjoy going to the ZP in Union Square, especially when the weather was warm and they’d open up the sidewalk tables. That’s life in the Big Apple….

  • BUMMER!!! So glad I got to get one last meal in there last week, with no idea that it was doomed. It was packed, and it seemed that everyone was loving it. :,( BOO HOO!!!

  • shoulda called the place a$$burger, P.U. they stank.

  • I don’t see how they can blame the rent. They knew how much it was before they opened. Even if it has gone up recently, it would have been in the original agreement. Other stores in the area pay similar rent and are still open. This is just saying they don’t have a viable business model. Anyone without enough customers can blame high rent. Business is all about making enough profit to cover rent and all other costs. If rents were too high, ALL shops in the area would be closed. Or perhaps they just didn’t negotiate properly.

  • Anyway, this is still junk food, it just doesn’t have the meat. I’m not sure why anyone would want to go there. There are much better veggie places in NYC.

  • I’m vegetarian, and the food wasn’t terrible. The only thing was, it was NOT one bit healthier than McDonald’s. The average Zen Burger had like 900 calories and 20 grams of fat. I don’t know what the hell they were putting in that food, but I did not want it in my body. I was also dismayed that their buns were cheap-tasting and not whole grain… And no sweet potato fries instead of regular fries? Come on. I think they could have survived if it had been a little bit healthier (and it IS possible to make healthy food taste good).

  • And a little-known fact… Part of an episode of Law & Order SVU was filmed in there, and Zen Burger (called Happy Burger or something in the episode) was the location of a sex crime. The episode had Robin Williams in it, but it was pretty awful plot-wise. Evidently the location fee wasn’t enough to sustain them till the end of the year.

  • The (literal) insanity of those who do not eat meat is quite a contentious subject in the world of academic literature.

    I would attempt to explain some of the premises, but I fear no one here would comprehend it.

    Least of all, McBeagle.

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