We had some good news this month: a beloved chocolate shop did not close, a new jazz club opened, and Bleecker Street continues its metamorphosis with a couple of new shops. We also noted two spots that are either owned by women or feature products made by women.
Café Bohemia—15 Barrow Street between West 4th and Bleecker Streets
We expect to read about jazz clubs closing in the Village, but it’s big news when one opens, particularly when it is a venerable one that is returning to its original space. According to the new owner, Christine Santelli, Charlie Parker used to drink Brandy Alexanders across the street from 15 Barrow, and when he couldn’t pay his tab, he offered to play instead. The owner of the bar decided that he should build a stage across the street, but unfortunately Charlie Parker died before it was completed. The new music venue was called Café Bohemia, and Miles Davis was the first to play there. Between 1955 and 1960, many famous jazz musicians and bands such as John Coltrane, Art Blakey and the jazz messengers, and Charles Mingus played there and several albums were recorded. Later, many restaurants occupied the ground floor space at 15 Barrow, including Tupelo Honey in the 1980’s, a restaurant I frequented often as I was living on the second floor of the building for a couple of years. Now the ground floor houses the Barrow Ale House. In February of 2019, Christine Santelli decided to open a jazz club in the underground space. It turns out that it also previously housed a jazz club called The Pied Piper. The new Café Bohemia will feature Jazz, Blues and Folk, 3 or 4 days a week initially, on the newly outfitted stage. Christine also mentioned that noted double bassist Jymie Merritt had played at the original Café Bohemia, and now the second generation of Merritts will also play there: Jymie’s son, Mike Merritt, who is the bassist for Conan O’Brien will be joined there by his musician brother as well as the drummer from Saturday Night Live. Specialty drinks, beer, and wine are served along with small plates and selected entrees.
The Riddler—51 Bank Street at West 4th Street
The second branch of a San Francisco champagne bar has opened in the space that most recently housed an old-fashioned soda fountain. There are over 100 bottles of champagne on offer and about a dozen champagnes by the glass, most of them made by women winemakers. Many of the champagnes are from smaller producers that are not well-known. There are also a few sparkling wines available by the glass and bottle including Pet-Nats (sparkling wines made using a different and older method than the methode champenoise), which are cheaper than the champagne. There is a full kitchen, unlike in the San Francisco incarnation, and the food spans the gamut from oysters and caviar to hamburgers and icebox cake. The spot is owned by Jen Pelka, and the other investors are also women.
When the Two Boots location at the corner of West 11th Street and 7th Avenue closed, I thought that was it for Cajun-Italian pizza in the Village. But true to their promise, Two Boots Pizza West Village (101 7th Avenue South at the corner of Grove Street) has opened near Sheridan Square in the space where baked donut concept Holey Donuts briefly existed. The new shop is longer and narrower than the old one, but it looks much the same, just brighter, since in the old store the wall and tabletop decorations had faded with age. They’ve added a pizza called The Duchess as a tribute to the lesbian bar by the same name that occupied the space in the 1970’s. The pizza has concentric circles of pestos, creating a rainbow effect. The rest of the menu is pretty much the same. The Neta space (61 West 8th Street between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street) did not remain empty for long. The same management has quickly opened Bumu, which they describe as an izakaya-style spot. The chef, Joaquin Baca, briefly operated Teo in Bushwick. Before that he had been a chef in the David Chang empire. The restaurant is cheaper than Neta, and the owners hope it will become a neighborhood hang-out rather than a special occasion spot. Bleecker continues to evolve with a slew of unique shops—a big change from the days when many upscale national brands had an outpost there. Keentu (345 Bleecker Street between West 10th and Christopher Streets) carries jewelry, accessories, clothing and home décor from more than 40 women-owned businesses in Africa. According to their website, all the items are ethically and sustainably made. Thakoon (397 Bleecker Street), a clothing store by Thai-American designer Thakoon Panichgul explains their concept as follows: “the idea is to create a modern, accessible wardrobe that women can wear and curate over time.” Banter (635 Hudson Street between Jane and Horatio Streets) has taken over the space that used to be the dessert spot Sherri B. It is an Australian coffee bar, the second location in the Village (the first location is at 169 Sullivan Street near Houston Street). Like all Australian coffee spots, it offers nicely crafted coffees and avocado toast, as well as smoothie bowls and many egg dishes.
I never would have believed that instead of opening, Duane Reades would be closing, but the location at 33 7th Avenue (between 12th and 13th Streets) abruptly shut its doors towards the end of October. Also gone is the mall shoe store Famous Footwear (50 West 14th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue). I was excited when Kopi2 opened at 6 West 14th Street near 5th Avenue as I had been eager to try the Indonesian food available at the original Kopi Kopi at 68 West 3rd Street but hadn’t quite managed, and this one was closer. But the new branch served only coffee and pastries, and now both are closed. I was always prejudiced against Horchata (470 6th Avenue between 11th and 12th Streets) as it had replaced BLT Burger, a favorite of mine. Both were part of the ESQUARED Hospitality Group, and now Horchata, like BLT Burger, appears to have closed. The space looks deserted, and the restaurant is no longer listed on the ESQUARED Hospitality Group webpage. A reader points out that cosmetics and perfume shop Jo Malone London (330 Bleecker Street at Christopher Street) has closed. According to the reader, who spoke with an employee there, it had been at that location for ten years. There are three other Jo Malone locations in the city.
Two new mostly on-line shoe stores are coming to Bleecker Street, joining Margaux. Inkerman (353 Bleecker Street between West 10th and Charles Streets) boasts that they make high-quality, handmade shoes which would normally cost over $400 for under $200. The shoes are made in Mexico, and are mostly sold on-line. They have a flagship on Mott Street in NoLita, and also locations in L.A. and Nantucket. Rothys (407 Bleecker Street between West 11th and Bank Streets) makes comfortable, washable women’s flats out of recycled water bottles at a “sustainable, zero-waste” factory in China. They have recently started offering merino wool shoes as well. They also have a store in San Francisco. A reader reminds us that Jimmy Choo Shoes once occupied the space. Goodlife (400 Bleecker Street between Perry and West 11th Streets) is a men’s essentials clothing brand. The store is small, and will carry its signature t-shirts and sweats, as well as some other items, but many of its offerings will be displayed in the store, but shipped directly to consumers when purchased. Goodlife will also debut some women’s items, and will collaborate with SeaVees for men’s and women’s shoes. This is the first bricks-and-mortar location for the brand. Gentile Gelatieri will open at 41 8th Avenue (between Jane and West 4th Streets), next door to French meringue and brioche spot (and, according to Eater, home of a delicious chocolate ganache sandwich) Les Merveilleux de Fred, making that a very sweet block. The business started as a kiosk in Bari, Italy, in 1880, and there is also a store in Brooklyn.
Li-Lac Chocolates moved their flagship from 8th Avenue to Greenwich Avenue (see article on page 13). Last month we reported that Baby Brasa (173 Seventh Avenue South at the corner of Perry Street) had been closed by the City Department of Consumer Affairs, but recently we noticed that it had reopened. Vada Spa is moving across the street and south a block to 364 6th Avenue (between Waverly Place and Washington Place) leaving three empty storefronts on the west side of 6th Avenue north of Waverly Place (Petland Discounts and Onegin were adjacent and also closed recently). Gran Gelato (335 Bleecker Street), which opened in June, has paper on the windows and a sign that says they are closed for renovation. No one answered the phone and voicemail was not activated. Frankies 570 Sputino was the Manhattan outpost of Frankies Sputino on Court Street in Brooklyn, but now it has closed and will re-open as a different restaurant called Anton’s. The exciting news is that the chef at the new restaurant will be Nick Anderer who was, until recently, the executive chef at Danny Meyer’s excellent Maialino. The description of the food sounds like what used to be called “Continental Cuisine.” An eagle-eyed reader noticed the following sign at 621 Hudson Street (at Jane Street): “FINAL NOTICE, Empire Merchants LLC vs Frisolino inc d/b/a/ Picolo Angolo. Due Immediately $5,412.83. You must contact my office immediately to make payment on this judgment. Failure to do so will result in seizure of assets and possible auction of contents of business.”
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Photos by Darielle Smolian.