Summer is generally a quieter time for openings and closings, but this month was surprisingly busy. A heat wave in July meant that not as many people were eating outdoors. Italian and Asian restaurants continue to dominate the openings.
787 Puerto Rico’s Finest Coffee Co.—310 West 14th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues and 204 West 10th Street between West 4th and Bleecker Streets
Not one, but two branches of this coffee shop have opened in the Village, one in the former location of a Gasoline Alley Coffee, and the other where flower shop VSF had been since 1983. The two founders, Brandon Peña and Sam Sepulveda had spent time in Puerto Rico and realized that while in the past, Puerto Rico produced a lot of coffee, more recently many of the farms were no longer in operation. In 2014, they purchased an abandoned coffee farm in Maricao, Puerto Rico and hired local residents to restore and farm it. The first NYC location opened in 2018 in the East Village and now they have three locations in Puerto Rico, and over a dozen in New York City with plans for further expansion.
Steam—470 6th Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets
After a long wait, Steam suddenly opened its doors and revealed its mostly Shanghainese menu. There are soup dumplings, dim sum, and fried rice and noodle dishes as well as other main courses. The steamed shrimp and snow pea leaf dumplings were very delicate, the aromatic beef wrapped in scallion pancake was delicious and unusual, and the rice cakes in the Shanghai style fried rice cake resembled Tteokgukyong-tteok, the chewy Korean oval, thinly sliced rice cake disks which are a great foil for sauce. The restaurant offers lunch specials for $15, but during their Grand Opening, some of the items are available for $11.99.
Chote Miya (Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets) is an Indian Street food spot from the owners of GupShop. This is the restaurant’s second location (the first is in the Time Out Market in Brooklyn). The menu has chaat, Bombay Frankies (a kind of Indian taco made with a paratha instead of a tortilla), curries, biryanis and more. The store’s logo promises (somewhat strangely) “No fighting, no gambling, no tears.” Marron Pastry (270 Bleecker Street at Morton Street) is a French bakery with some gluten free and lactose free options. Most of the desserts are French, but I also spotted some puff pastry Khachapuri/Cheese Pie which confused me until I found out that the owners are Georgian. The original store is on Coney Island Avenue in Brighton Beach. The owners of a winery in Tuscany opened the first Felice on the UES in 2007. There are now nine restaurants in the city, with the latest opening at 615 Hudson Street (between West 12th and Jane Streets). The space most recently housed La Ventura, and before that Tavo which closed after a fire. Felice is part of the SA Hospitality Group which also runs the Sant Ambroeus restaurants. Ferdi (15 Seventh Avenue South at Leroy Street), an Italian restaurant, has taken over the space where Grand Sichuan used to be for many years. The owners, siblings Fernando and Aida Scarpati are third generation Italian restaurant owners. Ferdi is named after their paternal grandfather, Fernando (aka Ferdi) who was from Ponza, an island off the coast of Italy about halfway between Naples and Rome (where I spent a wonderful vacation about 15 years ago). Ferdi came to New York in the 1950’s and opened an eponymous restaurant on the Grand Concourse. His son, Guiseppe, was also a chef and restaurateur, and now his children are carrying on the family tradition. Red Feather (82 West 3rd Street at Thompson Street) is an Asian restaurant from chef Pia Gervacio, whose background is described on the restaurant’s website: “Growing up in the Philippines and having years of experience in NYC Michelin Restaurants such as Public SoHo and Rogue(sic) Tomate Chelsea, Pia has combined her culinary education in classic French cooking techniques with her Southeast Asian heritage.” Popeye’s opened a location at 305 6th Avenue (between Bleecker and West 3rd Streets) in a long-empty space which used to house GNC. Ject (11 Christopher Street between Greenwich Avenue and Waverly Place) specializes in “medical grade” beauty treatments. These include wrinkle reducers, micro-needling, and skin tightening with radio frequency. Blue & Cream has opened at 409 Bleecker Street (between West 11th and Bank Streets) replacing short-lived Fireplace409. It continues the recent trend of Hampton-based stores opening a location on Bleecker Street. The brand has two other New York City locations in addition to their East Hampton flagship.
Bantam Bagels (283 Bleecker Street near Jones Street), the flagship store for the tiny filled bagels has closed. A sign on the door thanks the store’s loyal customers who patronized it during their 10-year tenure on Bleecker Street. Bantam Bagels got their start on Shark Tank, and the bagels are still available for purchase by mail order and in some supermarkets. Crab du Jour (319 6th Avenue between Bleecker and West 3rd Street) was closed for renovations but never re-opened. There are 85 other branches across the United States. Salon Ziba (485 6th Avenue) is the latest store to close on the west side of 6th Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets. In the past few months that block also lost a shoe repair store, Kikkerland, and a nail salon (which was replaced with a different nail salon). The large space at the corner of 13th which used to house a Rite Aid has been closed for a while. The midtown location of Salon Ziba is still open, and the salon plans to find another downtown space by the end of the year.
JustFoodForDogs is coming to 45 Christopher Street (between 7th Avenue South and Greenwich Avenue) where Moon Child NYC used to be. The foods, which are also available at Petco and Chewy come as DIY dog food kits, fresh dog food, fresh cat food, and food that is personalized to address pets’ health issues. Club Pilates West Village will open at 389 6th Avenue (between West 8th Street and Waverly Place) where Petland Discounts used to be. Women’s clothing store ASTR The Label is slated to arrive at 345 Bleecker Street between Christopher and West 10th Streets.
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