Unfortunately for many New Yorkers, soup is now off the menu. Hale&Hearty, a popular lunch staple that catered to busy office workers with a rotating lineup of fresh soups, wraps, salads, and more, has quietly closed the doors at all 16 of its locations after 20 years.
The shutdowns across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island came seemingly without warning. As of July 1, the café posted signs reading that all stores have been "temporarily" closed, with no indication of when or whether they would be reopened.
For many regulars, the closures come as a surprise; some locations even appeared to be hiring in the weeks leading up to the shutdown, according to the New York Post. However, Hale&Hearty's contact page on their website is unavailable and its social media pages haven't been updated since February.
Last winter, the landlord of the condominium which housed Hale&Hearty's Financial District location filed a lawsuit against the soup purveyor for nearly $400,000 in unpaid rent over the last two years, according to Commercial Observer. The landlord also claimed the restaurant refused to vacate the premises after they tried to take the storefront back.
Opening in desirable, high-rent locations has been a recurring issue for Hale&Hearty, which also closed three locations in 2016 after it apparently struggled to pay pricy Manhattan leases.
At its peak in 2015, the soup and sandwich spot had grown to 34 stores and was hailed as the "next Panera Bread," but office closures and the shift toward remote work during the pandemic saw lunchtime traffic take a major hit, and the number of stores was halved in recent years.
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Whether the pandemic has definitively claimed another victim or whether Hale&Hearty will make a comeback remains to be seen. One thing is clear—New Yorkers will miss H&H menu staples like cream of tomato with chicken and orzo until the chain (hopefully) returns. And if doesn't, lunch hour in Midtown will never be the same.