The Wall Street area’s beloved French bistro Augustine, forced to close by the pandemic last year, will rise again — with a new name and a powerhouse new owner.
Daniel Boulud will launch a new French bistro next spring on the Beekman Street site of what was Keith McNally’s farthest-downtown eatery, The Post has learned.
It’s big news not only for Boulud’s fans but for the whole FiDi/World Trade Center dining scene, which has badly missed Augustine since the Covid-19 crisis forced McNally to close it in July of 2020.
When Augustine opened at the Beekman Hotel in late 2016, it became the No. 1 gathering spot for the Wall Street area’s movers, shakers and scenemakers. Anna Wintour made it a regular hangout for her Conde Nast army working at the nearby World Trade Center.
Boulud made no announcement of his new place but spoke to The Post after we spotted a liquor license application in the window with the name of his company, Dinex.
“We were talking to the landlord for a long time and we came to a nice agreement,” Boulud said Wednesday.
It was too early to have a name or a chef. But Boulud said, “The concept is a French bistro.”
“I think the location is good,” he added.
Augustine regulars recall walls and columns of glazed tiles painted with birds, burgundy banquettes and downtown’s most mellow restaurant lighting from floral-accented ceiling fixtures.
Boulud said much of the 80-seat dining room’s widely-praised, Paris-redolent interior would remain as it was, although McNally was permitted to remove certain items such as distressed mirrors.
Boulud’s on a big-time roll. He launched instant-hit Le Pavillon last spring and just reopened his flagship Restaurant Daniel after a redesign. He also reopened Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud and is searching for a new location for his shuttered Cafe Boulud.
McNally, meanwhile, is hardly out of the restaurant business — his Balthazar, Pastis, Minetta Tavern and Morandi survived last year’s lockdowns and are thriving. But Augustine’s fate was sealed by its location in a neighborhood that saw Manhattan’s largest exodus of residents and workers after the pandemic struck.
Boulud wouldn’t discuss terms. Augustine’s initial rent was $500,000 a year, Grub Street reported. Conditions have changed so much since then that speculating on Boulud’s deal would be foolish.
The new place won’t come at a better time for the district south of Chambers Street as residents and office workers return. The area has strong waterfront dining options with Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s The Fulton and Andrew Carmellini’s Carne Mare at Pier 17 on the East River and the eye-popping Liberty Bistro at Brookfield Place on the Hudson.
But fine-dining pickings beyond steakhouses are slim in the blocks in between. Nobu Downtown, Tom Colicchio’s Temple Court (also in the Beekman Hotel) and Felice on Gold Street are sure to welcome the culinary company.