Spring has always been a time when new places start to open, but this month we have heard of an usually large number of anticipated openings. Some restaurants that had closed have reached an agreement with their landlords, allowing them to re-open. Others have taken advantage of lower rents to quickly take over business that had recently shuttered.
Lucky Louie’s – 535 Hudson Street at Charles Street
Two readers alerted us to the fact that a fried chicken restaurant called Lucky Louie’s opened where Sweet Sunshine Bakery used to be. The menu features fried chicken sandwiches, fried chicken tenders, chicken wings, mac and cheese and salads. Early reviews are uniformly positive.
NY 99¢ Fresh Pizza – 167 7th Avenue South between Perry Street and Waverly Place
A 99¢ pizza joint has opened in the space recently vacated by Fiaschetteria Pistoia (the Christopher Street and East Village locations are still in business). Robert Sietsema of Eater recently wrote a piece entitled “Two New West Village Pizzerias and an Old Favorite Vie for Cheese Slice Supremacy” where he compared neighborhood mainstay Rivoli Pizza to its two recent pizza neighbors. Surprisingly, he concluded that NY 99¢ had the best slice, but to be fair, at Zazzy’s he had a plant-based pizza with fake cheese which just can’t be good. (Zazzy’s also carries regular pizzas with real cheese.)
BOBO (181 West 10th at 7th Avenue South), which is part of the same restaurant group that operates Rosemary’s, Roey’s and Claudette, is planning to re-open soon. The other restaurants have corner locations with lots of room for outdoor seating, while Bobo is semi-subterranean with a very narrow storefront, making outdoor dining impossible. The Cubby Hole (281 West 12th Street at West 4th Street) re-opened in early April, after shutting down in December. It is currently the only open lesbian bar in New York City. For more on this story, see Karen Rempel’s article in next month’s Pride issue of WestView News.
Planted (361 6th Avenue at Washington Place), which served many vegetarian dishes, but also some fish offerings has closed. The location of Xi’an Famous Foods at 313 6th Avenue (between West 4th and Carmine Streets) is no more, although their webpage floats the idea that they may re-open. While Xi’an Famous Foods is a popular mini-chainlet, best known for their hand-pulled lamb noodles, that outpost always seemed undersubscribed. Unfortunately, the Sullivan Street Bakery Pop-up (249 Bleecker Street between Cornelia and Carmine Streets) is closing at the end of April. The staff told me that not enough people seemed to know about it. The company has opened pop-ups in the East Village and on Sullivan Street, and they may try a West Village location again in the future. The Rite Aid location at 501 6th Avenue (13th Street) closed at the end of April. For a while we would only see pharmacy openings, but in the last few years some locations have closed. Still, there are plenty of pharmacies remaining in the neighborhood so that you’re never more than a few blocks from one.
Otto’s (1 Fifth Avenue at West 8th Street) closed in November, and now the space is being taken over by well-known restaurateur Marc Forgione who will be opening a full service Italian restaurant there. Venetian cicchetti (Italian tapas-like appetizers) will be on offer, along with pizzas, and entrees priced between $24 and $42. The owners anticipate a fall opening. Nat’s on Bank will be opening at 51 Bank Street (at West 4th Street) where the short-live champagne bar The Riddler used to be. Nat is Natalie Freihon, who was a co-owner of the Fat Radish, a British vegetable-forward restaurant on the Lower East Side which closed in August due to the pandemic. In a Facebook post, Freihon says of the new restaurant: “Think Art Deco raw bar but also low key. You know, your neighborhood joint. So pumped!” Southwestern restaurant The Banty Rooster (24 Greenwich Avenue between West 10th and Charles Streets) closed a few months ago, and in its place a restaurant serving French inspired American food will be opening. The owner and chef, Christian Rowan, has worked at Bouley, Le Bernardin, Eleven Madison Park, as well as at a number of Michelin starred restaurants in France. Ninano Restaurant & Bar will open at 61 Grove Street (at 7th Avenue South) where Hakata Tonton used to be. The restaurant will serve Asian fusion tapas. The owner runs hair salons in midtown, and his best friend is a chef who has studied in Hong Kong and Japan in the past few years and will bring his cooking expertise to the new restaurant. Signage is up for Beer Garage at 117 Christopher Street (between Bleecker and Hudson Streets). A Beer Garage (with the same logo) opened in Park Slope, Brooklyn last year. The concept there is a bar modeled after a vintage garage, with locally sourced beer and bar food. Hungry Ghost Coffee, another Brooklyn outfit, is opening at 315 Bleecker Street (at Grove Street) where Caudalie, the French spa which uses wine-based products, used to be. A Northern Italian restaurant called Osteria Carlina (455 Hudson Street between Barrow and Morton Streets) is opening where Einat Admony’s couscous restaurant Kish Kash used to be. The Bar Sardine location (183 West 10th Street at West 4th Street) will turn into St. Jardim which, according to a sign on the door, should appeal to those who like “cafes, coffee, newspapers, all-day menus, wine, beer, design, fun snacks, adventures, fruits, music, people, this neighborhood, us, freshness, funky, the world, etc.” An as-of-yet unnamed restaurant will open in The Black Derby location at 310 West 4th Street (between Bank and West 12th Streets). It will be a farm to table restaurant, with a menu focused on sustainable produce. The same owners run a fast casual farm to table vegan restaurant in Nolita called October. A sandwich shop will take over the space that was previously the Hudson Café at 638 Hudson Street (between Jane and Horatio Streets).
Café Clover at 10 Downing Street (at the corner of 6th Avenue) closed in October of last year when their lease ran out. Since then, their landlord has become more realistic, so the owners are hoping to open a restaurant there again. One issue is that they need to re-apply for a liquor license, since once a liquor license has been surrendered there is no way to get it back except to apply again. This is an issue that is likely to come up more often as these situations occur. They are also taking over the Jack’s Coffee space next door and will turn it into a private dining room and expand their sidewalk café. When the restaurant re-opens, it won’t be Café Clover, but rather, a new concept. Grey Dog, which has had a store at 49 Carmine Street (between Bedford and Bleecker Streets) since 2015 was planning to move to MacDougal Street (where the Mermaid Inn used to be), but instead they were able to negotiate with their current landlord, and so will remain there but change their name to Moose Goose, and morph into more of a restaurant than a coffee spot, with (they hope) a full liquor license. I wondered if Amos on Bleecker (340 Bleecker between Christopher and West 10th Streets) was still planning to open in the old Manatus space since over a year had gone by with no word on when it might debut. But the project is still very much alive, and in fact that owners presented their case to CB2 to add French doors to the façade. The rationale was that with COVID, restaurants would be better off if they were able to open windows. Neighbors, worried about excessive noise, were predictably opposed to the plan. When the restaurant does open, it will also occupy the adjacent storefront. Upright Brew House (547 Hudson Street between Charles and Perry Streets) has transformed into Leitao, a Portuguese restaurant with wine, beer and craft cocktails, modeled on the cervejarias of Porto.