Retail may be struggling, but some brands have decided that the way forward is to improve customer experience, and one approach is to add food and drinks to the mix. Another trendlet we continue to observe is the proliferation of Asian restaurant openings in the Village. The item that received the most press this month was the possible closing of Café Loup.
Chelsea Market and Gansevoort Market Update
In Chelsea Market, The Green Table, one of the original tenants has closed, but the team has now moved to the old Rana space with a new restaurant called Cleaver Counter. It is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and serves wine and beer as well as their signature pot pie and grass-fed burgers. Very Fresh Noodles moved from a small stand in the back of the market to an adjacent larger space. In Gansevoort Market, La Nueva Colombia just opened, serving traditional Colombian food like Arroz con Pollo and Salchipapas. Gansevoort Steakhouse appears to have closed, and Ms. Bubble, a bubble tea spot is revamping their menu.
Berber Street Food: 35 Carmine Street between Bedford and Bleecker Streets. This “Afro-fusion” restaurant is run by Chef Diana Tandia who is from Mauritania. She moved to New York in 2001 for college, and then attended culinary school. Before opening her own restaurant she worked at some high-end restaurants such as Daniel and Gramercy Tavern. The food is from many countries in Africa such as Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria, and at least one dish hails from France (the Colonial Quiche Lorraine). The house specialties include Djolof Fried Rice and the Berber Feast, a lamb dish served with couscous and vegetables. Like many fast-casual restaurants, there is a “bowl” option where a diner chooses a base (rice, grain or greens), two vegetables, and a protein such as Backyard Jerk Chicken or Berber Grilled Meat.
Shake Shack Innovation Kitchen: 225 Varick Street at Clarkson Street. I am not a big fan of Shake Shack, but I was intrigued by the concept of the Innovation Kitchen. The company has moved their corporate offices and their test kitchen into this building, and the restaurant on the first floor will feature new products that the chain is testing. Currently, three offerings that are only available here are Chick’n Bites, (really chicken nuggets), Hot Chick’n and a Black Sesame Shake. Apparently there will soon be a way for diners to vote on the new items and depending on the results, they will either be offered or not at the other Shake Shack locations. All ordering is done via computer monitors, and the store texts you an alert when your food is ready to be picked up.
RH (Restoration Hardware) 9 9th Avenue at 13th Street: Pastis closed in 2014, and soon after construction started at this site. Now, over four years later, RH has opened a new 6-storey flagship here. The store is quite opulent, with a glass elevator in the center and comfortable and stylish furniture on every floor. Hanging from the ceiling is an art installation of 120 hand-blown crystal pendants meant to look like raindrops. There is a coffee and wine bar on the third floor as well as a restaurant on the roof, run by Brendan Sodikoff, the famous Chicago chef who also owns 4 Charles Prime Rib. There is also a lovely outdoor terrace on the roof with comfortable outdoor furniture and wonderful city views. The Flatiron location of RH, which was renovated a few years ago, has closed.
Slightly Alabama (350 Bleecker Street at West 10th Street), a leather goods brand, is the second of the stores to open in the properties that Brookfield purchased on Bleecker Street. Brookfield has envisioned using the spaces for more than retail, and to that end, the owner, Dana Glaeser, will hold classes on leather, soap, candle and journal-making in the back of the store. There will also be a lounge and bar there. In addition to leather goods, the store will carry sneakers and clothing from other brands. Umami Burger and Umami Shoppu closed, but now we have Umami Sushi (50 Greenwich Avenue between Charles and Perry Streets) where Lumpia Shack Snackbar used to be. The diminutive spot offers not only sushi (from a Blue Ribbon Sushi Izakaya alum) but also the obligatory Poke Bowl, Kushi Yaki (skewers), Tempura, Hibachi Teriyaki and more. Vitsoe (17 West 8th Street between MacDougal Street and 5th Avenue), a British furniture company that is based on the idea of good design has as its main offering the 606 Universal Shelving System. The attractive, spare space makes for a nice contrast to the many derelict storefronts on the street. There are subscription services for everything now, so why not mani-pedis? Glosslab (1 Jane Street at Greenwich Avenue) offers a membership for $89/month which entitles you to unlimited manicures, pedicures, polish changes and touch-ups (and includes regular polish, gel and gel removal). Toriko NY (76 Carmine St., between Varick and Bedford Streets) is the first New York City location for this yakitori (chicken skewer) restaurant from Japan. Usually in Japan, yakitori is bar food, but here it is somewhat fancier, with a 10-course omakase available. With the opening of Toriko, Llamita next door and Shake Shack Innovation Kitchen across Varick, this area is becoming more lively. I had been following the pre-opening construction at LROOM Café (41 West 14th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues) for a while, but I had no idea that it would feature the most unusual-looking desserts I had seen in a while. Items that look exactly like lemons, peaches and flowers are in fact elaborate cakes. The space is very pink with lots of flowers, and seems somewhat out of place on this utilitarian stretch of 14th Street. But perhaps change is coming—a few stores west, teazzi Tea Shop (47 West 14th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues) has also opened. It is a Taiwanese tea franchise and this is their first location in the US. They feature standard tea, as well as bubble and fruit tea.
Café Loup (105 West 13th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues) has a sign in the window from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance explaining that the property has been seized for non-payment of New York State taxes. This has been widely reported in many news outlets (the New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine) because it was a hangout of sorts for literary folks. In June, I received an email from a friend of mine who presciently asked: “I have had several meals lately at Cafe Loup on West 13th Street. (I’m old enough to remember when it was located on East 13th Street, between Fifth and University, but I doubt anyone who works there today was affiliated with the place back then.) The food was good and was reasonably priced, the service was friendly, and a duo plays live jazz on certain nights of the week. But the place rarely seems busy enough to support the level of rent that such a space would normally command. Thoughts?” Our co-op board always went there for dinner after our annual meetings, and I was impressed by the cocktails that were so large they were served in two parts. No one knows if it will re-open, but given that the tax bill is just under $200,000, it would seem unlikely at this juncture. Ms. Mi’s Hot Pot (6 West 14th Street near 5th Avenue) has suddenly shuttered, and the Papyrus (678 Hudson Street between 13th and 14th Street) location in the Meatpacking District is also gone. Eve Salon, a waxing and nail spot that had started as Dyanna Spa on Bleecker Street in the early 1980’s, but moved to West 8th Street 30 years ago when the Bleecker Street rents started rising is now leaving 8th Street. A sign in the window explains “With the ending of our lease and rising rents, we are forced to close this location.” An’s TaeKwonDo (162 7th Avenue South, near Perry Street) has closed after almost exactly a year in business. When it opened, the owner’s son explained to me that children would only be admitted after they had been evaluated and deemed respectful and attentive. Perhaps the West Village did not have enough of those children? In any case, I will miss the gigantic and amusing inflatable tai kwon do figure that sometimes appeared on the sidewalk in front of the store. Toosh, a shoe store at 263 Bleecker Street is closing. Star Struck Vintage Clothing (47 Greenwich Avenue between Charles and Perry Streets) closed after 38 years. According the The Villager, the owners are looking forward to retirement. This little stretch of Greenwich Avenue is looking sad, with the recently shuttered Utility Canvas next door.
Daily Provisions, Danny Meyer’s casual café and take-out spot is opening a second location at 29 Bedford Street (near Downing Street) in the former Ditch Plains Space. The original location is next door to the recently re-opened Union Square Café. I have particularly enjoyed their crullers and look forward to trying them in the new venue. An entity called 7 Cornelia Hospitality is applying for a liquor license at 7 Cornelia Street, the old Chomp Chomp space. According to the SLA application, the restaurant will offer pan Asian fare, and “informal Australian style dining” as well as cocktails and single origin teas. Hemp Garden (257 Bleecker Street at Cornelia Street), a CBD café will open in the old Sugar and Plumm Space. CBD is marijuana’s legal, non-psychoactive chemical compound and has been used increasingly for pain relief and for its alleged anti-anxiety properties.
Hair Repair Bar by Giojé has signage up at 265 Bleecker Street (between Cornelia and Morton Streets), a location that used to house a costume jewelry store called So Good Jewelry. The new business is a hair salon with the tagline “Repair First, Style Second.” Maison de Makoto (74 7th Avenue South at Barrow Street) closed in record time, and now, a Mediterranean restaurant called Fava Bistro Moderne will open in the space. One of the owners and general manager Jabber Bawa showed me around. The former earth tone interior is more cheerful with lots of blue everywhere. There is also an upstairs space that can be rented for private events.
Chef Ainat Admony has been busy: she recently opened couscous restaurant Kish Kash on Hudson Street near Barrow Street, and has now reopened Balaboosta, her Nolita restaurant which she closed in May in her Bar Bolonat space (611 Hudson Street at 12th Street). I had always preferred Bar Bolonat to Balaboosta, so I am not necessarily happy about the switch, but according to the Jewish monthly magazine The Forward, Admony said “I’m closer to Balaboosta. My book is Balaboosta.” (She has a cookbook called Balaboosta). She also said: “I like the West Village location much better than Nolita, and I’m happy to be back in the neighborhood where I started with Taïm (her mini-chain of falafel stands).” According to the New York Times, La Cave (99 Bank Street at Greenwich Street), a lounge serving wine, small plates and desserts will open under Harold Moore’s restaurant Bistro Pierre Lapin. Human’s Best Friend (15 Seventh Avenue at 12th Street) is a pop-up that has opened in the long-empty retail in the Rudin’s Greenwich Lane development (formerly St. Vincent’s Hospital). It is, according to the literature, “an immersive experience.” Dog owners can bring their dogs, and 12 dog rescue agencies rotate through with adoptable dogs. A portion of the ticket price will benefit the participating rescue organizations. The pop-up will run through November 12th, and is open Wednesdays through Fridays. Lumos Kitchen (38 Carmine Street, east of Varick Street), a French-Chinese spot which had opened in July of this year, now has pieces of paper taped to the windows, and the phone has been disconnected. Shoegasm, a shoe store at 71 8th Avenue (between 13th and 14th Streets) had been threatening to close for over a year. Now, they have finally shuttered that location and moved to 333 7th Avenue near 29th Street.
It’s hard to keep up with all the activity in the neighborhood, so if you notice anything, please let us know at email@example.com Photos by Darielle Smolian