While a number of places re-opened, and some new shops appeared, this month saw more closings than I have ever observed. Outdoor dining continued, with restaurants adding tents and canopies, just in time for the mayor’s announcement that outdoor dining would now continue year-round. And in early September the governor announced that indoor dining could begin again on September 30th at 25% capacity. Some gyms have also re-opened with reduced capacity.
Bleecker Street Openings
While we have written extensively about the difficult retail scene on Bleecker Street, I was pleasantly surprised that many of the stores there had re-opened, and that three new stores had joined the ranks. Rothy’s (407 Bleecker Street between West 11th and Bank Streets) actually opened on Monday, March 9th, but closed three days later, and did not re-open until September. The company sells washable shoes and handbags (and now masks), made from marine plastic (found within 30 miles of coastline and marine environments) and single-use plastic water bottles. They use an innovative technique to make the fabric: the plastic is crushed into chips which are then made into pellets, and the pellets are combined to make a string which is woven into fabric. Unlike most shoe manufacturing, where fabric is cut into patterns, Rothy’s uses sustainable 3D printing to make its shoes and handbags, so there is no wasted excess material. Everything is made in a factory owned and operated by Rothy’s in Douggan, China, and the factory workers are Rothy’s employees. The business is based in San Francisco, and like many stores on Bleecker Street, was mostly online. Because of this, they have not suffered as much as some other businesses in the last 6 months, although the staff and store hours have been curtailed. Rothy’s chose Bleecker Street because “We were charmed by Bleecker Street’s iconic townhouses, cozy restaurants, and diverse retail scene. In the heart of West Village, Bleecker Street has evolved into a premier shopping destination for customers interested in discovering new brands.” Something Navy, which was previously a style blog, morphed in 2020 into an independent fashion line. This fall they opened their first flagship at 379 Bleecker Street (near Perry Street). Over at 376 Bleecker Street (between Perry and Charles Streets) Stoney Clover Lane, a store that sells customizable travel accessories has opened. The color palate is pastel, and can lead passers-bye to the erroneous conclusion that the store sells candy and cakes.
Biryani Kitchen (48 Greenwich Avenue between Charles and Perry Streets), a new restaurant specializing in biryanis has opened in the space that was most recently vegan comfort food spot Rip’s Malt Shop. There are a number of delicious-sounding biryani options, each from a different region of India. This is the second biryani-focused restaurant on that stretch of Greenwich Avenue: Rahi also offers biryanis for delivery and pick-up via its partner biryanibol.com website. Planted (361 6th Avenue at Washington Place) is now in the space where Seabird used to be. While the name makes it sounds like it is a vegan restaurant, there are also ovo-lacto vegetarian and fish dishes on the menu. Over at 7th Avenue South (22 Perry Street), Hudson Wellness has finally opened. They offer holistic integrated care, including things like chiropraxy, massage therapy and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections.
The big re-opening news this month is the White Horse Tavern (567 Hudson Street at West 11th Street). The bar/restaurant was closed by the SLA back in July for social distancing violations. To re-open, the owner, Eytan Sugarman was forced to pay a $50,000 fine. Prior to re-opening, the island seating on Hudson Street was removed, and replaced with a more sober, but attractive terrace abutting the restaurant, complete with White Horse logos. Mr. Sugarman had taken over the restaurant in March 2019, and at the time there were protests by neighbors who feared that he would alter the historic interior, something that did not happen. (This stretch of Hudson is home to a well-organized NIMBY group who are quick to call 311 on restaurants and bars in the area, and religiously attend Community Board meetings to oppose the granting of liquor licenses.) The White Horse will offer indoor dining when it resumes at the end of September, and with the 25% occupancy limits, this translates to an additional 37 seats inside. When I spoke to Mr. Sugarman he sounded tired, alluded to how his restaurant along with most other city restaurants were at their most vulnerable point, and said “we may or may not survive”. The pandemic has been particularly hard on bars: as we reported earlier, another historic West Village bar, Chumley’s, appears to have closed for good. Two restaurants with large outdoor spaces had not re-opened previously for outdoor dining, but recently they did: American Bar (33 Greenwich Avenue between Charles and West 10th Streets) and Morandi (211 Waverly Place at 7th Avenue South). I was delighted to see that McNulty’s (109 Christopher Street between Bedford and Bleecker Streets) was open for in-person shopping. In March, the store closed, but was still fulfilling orders. Before the pandemic hit, many of the city’s Le Pain Quotidien locations had closed, including the three in the West Village. The Belgian company declared bankruptcy for its US locations, and they were purchased by Aurify, a company that operates Five Guys and Melt shop locations in New York City. Since the acquisition, some of the Pain Quotidien stores have been re-opening, including the location at West 8th Street (10 5th Avenue). Aurify also purchased all the shuttered and bankrupt Maison Kayser locations, and I am hoping that some of those return as well.
Gabriel Stulman, whose Happy Cooking group owns a number of popular spots in the Village, recently announced the closure of two of his restaurants, Bar Sardine and Fedora. Bar Sardine had re-opened as a take-away seafood counter called “The Corner at Bar Sardine” in May, but failed lease negotiations caused it to close in August. According to Mr. Stuhlman, Fedora, which provided an experience marked by conviviality, was not able to take advantage of outdoor dining given its narrow frontage, and moreover, “Delivery and Take Out have never matched the experience that made Fedora compelling and the already competitive marketplace and onerous fees made it a losing proposition.” I spoke with Matthew Kebbekus, COO/Managing Partner at Happy Cooking who explained that while outdoor dining is a lifeline, and indoor dining at 25% will generate some revenue, for most restaurants that won’t even come close to a break even scenario. He went on to echo Gabriel Stulman’s points in his letter to the city council that things are further complicated by a lack of a clear plan from the city or state or material assistance on the federal or state levels. Happily, the remaining Happy Cooking restaurants in the Village, Joseph Leonard, Fairfax and Jeffrey’s Grocery are open for business with lovely outdoor set-ups. I am sad that innovative cocktail bar Existing Conditions (35 West 8th Street between 6th Avenue and MacDougal Street) has closed. The bar used molecular gastronomy to produce highly unusual and delicious drinks, but according to the owner, Greg Boehm, “the mandated shutdown has taken many options off the table and the bar is not sustainable financially.” Good Stuff Diner (109 West 14th Street near 6th Avenue), a neighborhood favorite, has also closed. According to a sign in the window, one of the reasons was that the landlord did not give any breaks on the rent. A quirky store that sold only salt, chocolate and bitters called The Meadow (523 Hudson Street between West 10th and Charles Streets) is gone. The store embodied the small, unique, independents shops that the Village used to be known for. Another Village classic that has been around for 40 years, Nusraty Afghan Imports (85 Christopher Street and previously at a number of other locations in the Village) is calling it quits. According to one of our readers, Abdul, the owner said he would take a six-month break and then decide what to do. Also closed are the following: Sammy’s Noodle Shop & Grill (453 6th Avenue between West 11th and West 10th Streets (according to a tipster, a store owner on the block told him that the landlord wanted $34,000 a month in rent), Hu Kitchen (78 5th Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets), although their chocolate bars are still available for purchase, Azeleas, (125 Greenwich Avenue between Jane and West 12th Streets) a lingerie and swimwear spot, Blo Blow Dry Bar (113 W 10th Street between 6th and Greenwich Avenues), The Meatball Shop (64 Greenwich Avenue between 7th Avenue and West 11th Street), newish Champagne bar The Riddler (51 Bank Street at West 4th Street), Hudson Barber Shop (543 Hudson between Charles and Perry Streets), UK shoe maker Fly London (375 Bleecker Street between Charles and Perry Streets), Anthony Thomas Melilio (405 Bleecker Street between West 11th and Bank Streets), Fiaschetteria “Pistoia” 7th Avenue (167 7th Avenue South near Perry Street) however the Christopher Street location remains open, French homegoods spot L’Objet (370 Bleecker Street between Charles and Perry Streets), children’s clothing store Yoya (605 Hudson Street between Bethune and West 12th Streets), wine bar Vin sur Vingt (201 West 11th Street west of 7th Avenue), The Pho 3 (154 7th Avenue South between Perry and Charles Streets), Otto’s Tacos (131 7th Avenue South between Charles and West 10th Streets), and the short-lived kids’ activity and craft shop Wishberry (35 7th Avenue between West 12th and West 13th Streets).
Yamada Japanese Supermarket (450 6th Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets) is coming to the old Jefferson Market space that was supposed to become a Shakespeare & Co. A worker let me peek in the door and it looks larger and airier than Dainobu, a couple of blocks north. Arcteryx is coming to one of the Brookfield Property-owned storefronts at 367 Bleecker Street at the corner of Charles Street.
In front of High Street on Hudson (637 Hudson Street between Horatio and Gansevoort Streets), a pop up seafood and cocktail bar called SANDBAR on Hudson has materialized. It is a collaboration between High Street on Hudson and Pizzeria Brunetti across the street. The well-known Philadelphia sister restaurant to High Street on Hudson, High Street on Market, has closed. Parcelle Patio (632 Hudson Street between Jane and Horatio Streets), a pop-up wine bar operated by the wine store Parcelle will be open Wednesdays-Saturdays through the end of October. Wine will be available by the glass or bottle, and small plates can be ordered to accompany the wine. Before the pandemic, the space was rented out mostly for weddings.
Elite Shoe Repair
105 West 10th Street between 6th and Greenwich Avenues
In May 2019, Village Preservation chose Elite Shoe Repair as their business of the month. I had been looking for a good shoe repair with reasonable prices so I figured I would give them a try. The owner, Richard An is lovely and does great work. Recently I saw a discussion of the store on Nextdoor Greenwich Village, and lots of neighbors chimed in to say how much they liked the store. Like many businesses, Elite Shoe Repair has been having a tough time, so I would encourage anyone who has shoes or even bags that need some work to visit Richard.
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