This month, it seemed like everyone was talking about the crisis in retail. The New York Times wrote an editorial on November 19th entitled “Why Is New York Full of Empty Stores?” New York State Senator Brad Hoylman hosted a Town Hall on November 9th on the ‘Small Business Crisis.’ Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who coined the term ‘high-rent blight,’ was one of the panelists, as was Jeremiah Moss, the author of the recently-released book “Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost its Soul.” Bleecker Street, the poster child for high-rent blight, saw two more store closures this month, but also two openings and a ‘Coming Soon’ announcement. A November 20th article in Crain’s New York Business, “Desperate for tenants, retail landlords are letting leases get shorter and shorter,” explains another trend on Bleecker Street—the arrival of pop-ups that stay on for longer if lease terms are favorable and the businesses do well. Faherty (351 Bleecker Street, near West 10th Street) and Sunni Spencer (371 Bleecker Street, near Charles Street) are two examples.
Chelsea Market (75 9th Avenue, between West 15th and West 16th Streets) and Gansevoort Market (353 West 14th Street, near 9th Avenue)
Two new shops, Pearl River Mart and Blackbarn, have opened in Chelsea Market. Pearl River Mart was located for many years on Broadway in SoHo, but at the end of 2015, a five-fold rent increase forced them out. They later reopened in a small space in TriBeCa, and have now added this second location. There are significantly fewer items than in the original, and the food section is minimal, but it is still a fun place to poke around for Asian tchotchkes. At the front of the store, there are some more high-end and expensive items, like a $70 leather credit card holder in the likeness of a cat. Blackbarn, a home décor/kitchen supply store, has opened across from Pearl River Mart. The store is filled with attractive and expensive furniture and bibelots. A cozy bar/café with couches will soon open at the back of the store. The Israeli restaurant Miznon (with branches in Tel Aviv, Paris, and Melbourne) is scheduled to open in the space that formerly housed Buon’Italia. The specialty is pita, and the pita fillings reflect the foods of the host country. It is disorienting to visit Gansevoort Market. Food stalls are constantly opening, closing, and moving, and the space itself has been reconfigured a number of times. In November, Sushi by Bou closed, as did Big Gay Ice Cream. Now open are Simply Hooked Fish & Chips, which serves lobster rolls and crab cakes in addition to unusual preparations of fish and chips, and Belly, which features various fried pork preparations, including dumplings and katsu.
Shuraku (47 8th Avenue, at West 4th Street): This new Japanese restaurant has both an eight-course tasting menu for $110 and a la carte offerings. The restaurant showcases food prepared on a binchotan grill. The seating is at a counter in front of the grill station. Early Yelp reviews have been extremely positive.
Grayers (304 Bleecker Street, between Grove and Barrow Streets): Peter Georgiou, the founder of Grayers, worked at Ralph Lauren for 10 years before starting his own menswear company four years ago. He is based in Hong Kong, and this is the first physical store for the company. The tagline is ‘Rewriting the Classics,’ and the style is outdoorsy, with lots of sweaters, flannel shirts, and jackets on display.
LAC Early Childhood Center (2 5th Avenue, between West 8th Street and Washington Square North): A new preschool/day care center has opened in the neighborhood. It accepts children from three months to five years old, with full-time, part-time, and half-day options. They are holding open houses daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. the week of December 4th. They are also hosting a holiday camp from December 26th to the 29th for children two to six years old.
Pasta Flyer (510 6th Avenue, between West 13th and West 14th Streets): The big opening news this month was Pasta Flyer. It was featured on all sorts of trendiest restaurant lists, which is amusing because it is really just a fast food pasta spot. It was scheduled to open a while ago, but during their ‘Friends and Family’ period, they received feedback that people wanted to see the food being prepared. That necessitated a redesign of the kitchen area, which took over six months. The pastas are prepared in minutes, and the prices are between $7 and $8. The fusilli with pesto was fine, if not inspired, but a bit too garlicky for my taste. The baked eggplant parmigiano side was lovely and a real bargain at $2.50. The reason this restaurant has gotten so much attention is that the owner, Mark Ladner, used to be the chef at Del Posto where he invented the famous 100-layer lasagna.
Kusharista (106 MacDougal Street, between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets): This Egyptian spot serves updated versions of kushari, which according to Mohammed, the owner, is Egypt’s favorite street food. The history of kushari is displayed on the wall: Its ancestor was an Indian dish of rice and mung beans called ‘kishri.’ From there, it travelled in colonial times to the U.K. where it became ‘kedgeree,’ a breakfast dish. The next stop was Egypt where Italians who were living there added pasta and tomato sauce, while the Egyptians added fried onions and ‘daqqa,’ a special sauce with vinegar, garlic, and a secret spice mix. Kusharista has taken things one step further and added Asian, Mexican, and Mediterranean ingredients for different variations on the dish. You also have the option of building your own kushari by selecting grains, pulses, and pasta, then sauce, protein, vegetables, and other toppings like nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. All kushari are finished with fried onions.
We were alerted by one of our contributors that Burberry Brit’s double-front store at 367-369 Bleecker Street (between Charles and Perry Streets) was emptied out in the dead of night on November 10th. The store had opened in early 2011. ENFÖLD, the Japanese clothing store at 411 Bleecker Street (between Bank and West 11th Streets), which resembled a more expensive Uniqlo, has closed. It had opened barely a year ago. The Beasty Feast Hudson Street location (630 Hudson Street, between Jane and Horatio Streets) has closed, but the other two Village outposts, at 327 West 14th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues) and 680 Washington Street (near Charles Street), are still open.
Mekki NYC, a Moroccan Fusion restaurant is displaying signage at 15 West 8th Street (where Cho Cho San used to be, near 5th Avenue) and apparently the team, including a famous chef from Morocco, are in Marrakesh working on the menu. The international juice, smoothie, coffee, and sandwich chain Joe & The Juice is coming to the old Citi Habitats space at 540 Hudson Street (between Perry and Charles Streets). Hill House Home, a brand of luxury bedding which was previously only available online, is now opening an actual store in the long-empty space that used to house August, a bistro at 395 Bleecker Street (between Perry and West 11th Streets).
After six months, the southern-inspired 33 Greenwich (33 Greenwich Avenue, between West 10th and Charles Streets) has morphed into Greenwich Grille with a new chef and a new menu, although the space looks the same. The chef is Harold Moore who also runs Harold’s Meat + Three in Hudson Square (2 Renwick Street, near Canal Street) and used to be the chef at Commerce. The menu features American comfort food. The Cynthia Rowley store that used to be at 376 Bleecker Street has moved one block north to 394 Bleecker Street (between Perry and West 11th Streets). Cynthia Rowley bought that property about a year ago for $8.9 million. Lulu Guinness previously had a store at that location. According to Eater, Nisi Estiatorio at 302 Bleecker Street (between Grove and Barrow Streets) will be expanding with three more New York City locations as well as restaurants in Los Angeles and Miami.
We received more tips than ever from you this month! Please continue to help out. Email us at email@example.com with any updates you have.
All photos by Darielle Smolian.