it's more about "FOOD" now..than a "scene" (ex. Le Cirque)
Is the food good at those places you mentioned? sure...but it can be had better at other places.
Look at the Momofuku "empire" , opening up new places in a recession, heck, a dinky bakery at that, and still has a line around the block. but, ****, his pork buns are good, and english muffins even better.
All restaurants like The Colony, Rainbow Room, Le Cirque, etc. have a "cycle"....look at the others before them that have closed as well.
BTW - Boulud, was executive chef at le cirque.
if you get a chance, check out the documentary "Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven" (it was on HBO just last week)
celebrity chefs restaurants have that going for them, but look at Rocco.
And, your tavern on the green comment made me cringe.....I'd sooner go to TGI fridays for food before the tourist trap that place has turned into....again a scene...the food...is...bad.
Lots of restaurants staying in business that arent famous chefs....I was at 11 madison last week and you couldnt move the place was so packed. the food....top notch.
Look at the places who have been rated highly for the food quality, if you can give me a list of the top say.....20 places in NYC that have the best "food", regardless of name, price, etc. I'll bet you a sawbuck they wont be going out of business by way of recession unless they were poorly, poorly, managed.