Salt Bae Burger, once deemed New York City's 'worst restaurant', shuts down

The closure marks yet another controversy in Nusret Gokce's contentious stardom

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 23: Salt Bae attends the screening of "The Traitor" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Laurent KOFFEL/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
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The New York City outpost of Nusret Gokce's Salt Bae Burger has shut down.

The burger branch opened in 2020, just before the pandemic gripped the world, and was a follow-up to the Turkish restaurateur's Nusr-Et Steakhouse that has more than 20 locations worldwide.

Salt Bae Burger's first outpost opened in Dubai in 2019 and there is also a branch in Gokce's home country Turkey.

A sign on the door of the New York City restaurant, at 220 Park Avenue South, claims it will move to a new address, which also belongs to one of the Nusr-Et Steakhouses in the city. Its burger menu will continue to be served there.

When it first opened, the burger spot, which rides on the back of Salt Bae's social media stardom, was criticised for its “absurd menu”, which features a $99 milkshake. The location was described as having “all the charm of an aircraft hangar”, according to Eater food critic Robert Sietsema.

Gothamist described it as the “worst restaurant” in New York City.

Controversial restaurateur

The flamboyant Turkish butcher, who is known for his aviator sunglasses and salt-sprinkling style, is not new to controversies.

Multiple lawsuits and complaints have been lodged against Gokce and his chain of steakhouses, from wage theft to sexual harassment, as well as health code violations.

His London outpost caused outrage when a receipt went viral showing overpriced Red Bulls and Diet Cokes. The hefty prices have been a point of contention in Salt Bae steakhouses across the world.

Personally, too, Gokce invites a lot of criticism and ridicule, such as when he shared a video of himself embracing his mother after a two-year separation in 2021, prompting Instagram users to ask why she still lives so modestly despite his incredible wealth.

In 2021, Salt Bae faced a $5 million copyright lawsuit from an American artist who alleged Gokce used his artwork without permission.

Last year, the celebrity chef came under fire for “undue access” to the pitch after the World Cup final where he enthusiastically posed for photos with surprised Argentina players, including a bemused Lionel Messi.

Updated: June 13, 2023, 12:15 PM