On November 30th, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the threshold on the Commercial Rent Tax (CRT) would be raised from $250,000 to $500,000 starting in July 2018. The CRT is a 3.9% tax on rents in Manhattan below 96th Street that exceed the threshold. This is the first change to the CRT since 2001. Initially, the change had been opposed by the Mayor because of the impact on revenue, but the sad state of retail in the City finally forced the City Council and the Mayor to act.
There are signs of a new trend on Bleecker Street: Businesses are opening their first physical locations here. Some examples include: Zuri, Grayers, Sunni Spencer, The Daily Edited, and this month, Hill House Home. Another trend we’ve observed is faster openings. Some restaurants and shops are doing less build-out than in the past and are using much of what was there before. (Photos by Darielle Smolian and Maggie Berkvist.)
Le Cocu (26 Carmine Street, near Bleecker Street): If you don’t like chicken, don’t bother coming to this oddly named spot (cocu means ‘cuckhold’). A large rotisserie dominates the small, fast, casual spot, which is run by two Frenchmen. The chicken is quite nice, juicy, and flavorful, and can be ordered by the quarter, half, or whole, with a choice of sauce (chicken jus, beurre blanc, and mustard). The sides are more ambitious than you might expect, with oven-roasted carrots and green beans containing confit shallots, as well some potato options. A few soups, salads, and sandwiches (including croque monsieurs/madames) round out the menu. Homemade Mousse au Chocolat and chocolate chip cookies are available for dessert.
St Tropez Wine Bar (304 West 4th Street, near Bank Street): Imagine a cold, grey, damp night on West 4th Street. Suddenly, as you pass Bank Street, in the space that used to house Café Minerva, there are lights and movement and clinking glasses. You feel like you’ve been transported to Paris. Once inside, the food, wine, and French waiters do nothing to dispel that impression. The chef/partner Gérald Barthélémy earned a Michelin star at a Paris restaurant and here cooks traditional southern French dishes (including a delicious beef stew called daube—just the thing for a cold night). Partner/general manager Yohann Pecheux, who is a native of the Saint-Tropez area, has put together a wine list of 45 common and unusual French wines, which are available by the glass or bottle.
Voula (9 Jones Street, near West 4th Street): This Greek restaurant quietly opened on Jones Street in the space that used to be Perilla; it was empty for quite a while. The menu features very well prepared traditional Greek dishes. The zucchini and eggplant chips are paper-thin and greaseless, the octopus is very tender, and the moussaka is a fine example of the now widely available dish. Like most Greek restaurants, there is a large selection of mezedes (‘appetizers’), but don’t miss the Grilled Loukaniko, a traditional Greek sausage.
La Contenta Oeste (78 West 11th Street, at 6th Avenue): This all-day Mexican spot opened quickly in the old French Roast space. Like French Roast, it is open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on weekdays and until 4:00 a.m. on weekends. The original La Contenta opened on the Lower East Side three years ago in a much smaller space. The chef, Luis Arce Mota, immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico in the early 1990s. He worked as a dishwasher at French Roast, and later as a chef at a number of high-end New York City restaurants. Mota received his formal culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu and The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. The food is traditional Mexican with some French accents and techniques. The happy hour is a great deal, and includes $10 drinks and $9 dishes. The tacos and guacamole were very well done, and the drinks were quite enjoyable.
Bar Veloce (796 Greenwich Street, at West 12th Street): This is the fourth location for this mini-chain of Italian wine bars. The wine selection is almost exclusively Italian. Bruschetta, panini, and other small bites are available to accompany the wine. The Prosecco happy hour is a good deal with $7 glasses of excellent Prosecco.
Hill House Home (395 Bleecker Street, near West 11th Street): The bedding here was previously available only online. The shop projects a tranquil vibe with puffy comforters and pillows scattered around. The owner, Nell Diamond, told the New York Observer that she is “looking to bring back a bit of the retail glamour to the West Village, which seems a little lacking lately.”
Bill’s Bar and Burger (22 9th Avenue, at West 13th Street): This spot, which is part of BR Guest Hospitality’s dozen-plus restaurants in New York (including Dos Caminos), has closed. Two other Bill’s locations remain open. I really enjoyed Ramen by Mew, a small ramen and izakaya spot at 7 Cornelia Street (near West 4th Street). However, a few months after opening, it renamed itself MEW MEN and slashed its menu dramatically. I also felt that the quality of the food declined at that point. Now it has closed, and a sign on the door indicates that the team will be opening a yakitori restaurant called nonono on Madison in the 30s. SUSHISAMBA at 87 7th Avenue South (at Barrow Street) was the second location of what has now become a global empire (the first location was in Gramercy Park and closed in 2014). However, with the loss of their lease, they will be closing at the end of the year after 17 years and three “Sex In the City” appearances. Umami Burger (432 6th Avenue, near West 10th Street) opened to great fanfare in July 2013. At the beginning, there were multi-hour waits for tables. In the intervening years, though, its popularity waned, and in the last year, the restaurant stopped using the second-floor space for dining. Now it has closed, but two other New York City locations still operate. The Havaianas flip-flop pop-up that had opened in May 2016 at 382 Bleecker Street (at Perry Street) is gone. Eater’s Robert Sietsema included Taiwanese restaurant Village Express Asian Cuisine (33 Barrow Street, at 7th Avenue South) in his recent “23 West Village Restaurants to Try” list. Soon after, the restaurant revamped its menu and changed its name to Jacky’s (but did keep Sietsema’s favorite Pork Chop with Taiwanese Sauce). Now the restaurant is dark and the phone is disconnected.
A restaurant called burger101 will be opening at 270 Bleecker Street (at Morton Street) in the old Risotteria space. At 319 6th Avenue (between Cornelia and Carmine Streets), Wok To Walk, a Dutch fast food chain with restaurants in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. will open. Customers choose their ingredients and the food is fried to order in a wok. Hao Noodle by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen (401 6th Avenue, between Christopher Street and Waverly Place) has received positive reviews in the New York Times and other publications. The team behind the restaurant is planning a second spot at 343 West 14th Street (near 9th Avenue). The menu will differ from the original and will focus on Chinese grilled bar food. In the old Po space at 31 Cornelia Street (near Bleecker Street), an Indian restaurant called Drunken Munkey y is slated to open in March or April. The owner operated another Indian restaurant, Royal Munkey, on the Upper East Side (which is now closed) and also runs Hudson Bar and Books and Lexington Bar and Books. Toriko, an authentic Japanese restaurant will open at 76 Carmine Street (near 7th Avenue South) in the space that most recently housed the short-lived and unfortunately named GLOO (and before that Café Español). This is the owner’s first U.S. restaurant, but he has 40 restaurants in Japan and other parts of Asia.
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