This month saw a strong French presence arriving in our area. A beloved pharmacy closed, but many new businesses are planning a spring opening. I made it to two new eateries on the day they opened, and at one of them, my companion and I were the first customers, arriving, I’m embarrassed to say, about 5 minutes before the official opening.
El Condor – 95 Greenwich Avenue between Bank and 12th Streets
There are many coffee spots in the Village, and a number of them are quite lovely. So what sets El Condor apart from the others? For one thing, Nicolas Simon, one of the owners, has a fine dining pedigree. He is French, and worked at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants, including Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athénée in Paris. From there he was sent to New York to work at Mr. Ducasse’s restaurant here. Eventually, he and his partner, Mucjon Demiraj, founded Wilcuma, a real estate and restaurant consulting business. When they decided to open their own restaurant, they started a WeFunder campaign where they raised $299,900. They had been looking at the Greenwich Avenue space for a client, but ended up choosing it as the location of their first café. The space had housed Nourish Kitchen + Table, and when that closed, a Colombian street food restaurant SoFresco was supposed to open, but it never did (apparently after a long period of renovations the partners in that venture fell out and the restaurant plans ended.) The current space has been decorated very elegantly, with lots of attention to detail. There are lounge tables and high tops, and plugs are available at every seat. For now, the gas has yet to be turned on, so the full menu is not available, but what we tried was delicious. The buckwheat cacio e pepe scone tasted like an amped up, flaky cheese biscuit, the salad featured warm farro, and the congee was declared to be wonderful by my dining companion. When I asked Nicolas why he had chosen the name El Condor, he said that it was from the song El Condor Pasa that Simon and Garfunkel covered in 1970. His father was a big Simon and Garfunkel fan, and so Nicolas heard it frequently growing up. The original song is Peruvian, which plays well with the South American/Central American coffee provenance (the drip mix is Brazilian and Guatamalan). And speaking of the coffee, the beans are roasted in the basement. I was surprised to hear this as I thought that coffee roasting was not allowed in Manhattan. However, the roaster, made by Bellwether, is electric, has zero emissions and is fully automated. It is about the size and shape of a large refrigerator. The partners have plans to replicate the El Condor concept, but the cafés will have different vibes, food, décor, coffee, etc. based on location. The next location may be in a hotel lobby.
Made in New York Pizza – 561 Hudson Street between Perry and West 11th Streets
The Village has another slice spot—it opened in the space that was most recently occupied by Golden Rabbit, a much-missed casualty of the pandemic. It seemed like I was getting daily updates from readers about the anticipated opening—everyone was eager for pizza, apparently. On February 17th I was walking by and noticed that it had quietly opened. I tried the margherita slice which had tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil. It was lovely. The upper west side location is known for its spicy pepperoni slice (aka “roni cups” because of the curly shape of the pepperoni), and the one here did not disappoint. The cheerful red neon logo beckons you in, and a wall on the left is covered by a collage tribute to all things New York City. The owner, Eytan Sugarman, also runs The White Horse Tavern next door. Sugarman opened the first Made in New York Pizza on the Upper West Side in 2019, and at the beginning of the pandemic that location pivoted for a while to providing pizzas to first responders at hospitals across the five boroughs.
New York Chemists (77 Christopher Street between West 4th and Bleecker Streets) has closed. I received many emails from readers and staff at WestView alerting me to the closing, with some saying they were devastated. New York Chemists had always advertised in WestView, so it will seem strange that they are not there anymore. According to a thread on NextDoor, customers were told that the landlord had raised the rent so much “that they just couldn’t do it.” Another long-time small business, Andrade Shoes Repair (487 6th Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets) is also gone. A sign on the door explains: “After 42 years in business, we are sad to inform you that we are closing due to pandemic hardship”. They encourage customers to patronize Cesar’s Shoe Repair at 180 7th Avenue between 20th and 21st which is owned by the same family. If you don’t want to go that far, another excellent choice for shoe repair is Elite Shoe Repair at 105 West 10th Street between 6th and Greenwich Avenues. The owner, Richard An, had also been struggling during the shutdown, but told me that business has improved recently. Emin Gourmet Marketplace (519 6th Ave between 13th and 14th Streets), a Turkish deli of sorts, has closed. They are connected to LaPeri Bakery at 104 West 14th Street (just west of 6th Avenue) which may be closed as well: their phone is disconnected and they are not accepting delivery and take-out orders. Grayers (304 Bleecker Street, between Grove and Barrow Streets) has closed after 5 years on Bleecker. Peter Georgiou, the founder, worked at Ralph Lauren for 10 years before starting his own menswear company with an outdoorsy motif. This was the brand’s first and only brick and mortar store. The clothing is still available online.
Mino Brasserie will open at 225 West 12th Street (Greenwich Avenue) where Village Den (in both its incarnations) used to be. Yohann Pecheux is behind the new venture. He is a native of St. Tropez, and after working in restaurants in France, moved to the US in 2012 and opened St. Tropez Wine Bar on West 4th Street in 2017 (and later another branch in Soho). The word “mino” means child in Provencal, and was chosen as the name of the restaurant since the owner and his partners all recently had kids. The restaurant should be opening in early March. Natalie Friehon, owner of Nat’s on Bank will follow up that successful American seafood restaurant with Nat’s on 8th (33 West 8th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues). Her liquor license application describes the project as follows: “We are a neighborhood restaurant specializing in classic American dishes in a whimsical environment.” Yucatan Kitchen operated in that space, and before that, The Burger Joint. Also on 8th Street, a new arepas spot is opening: Classic Arepas (31 West 8th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), which will also serve burgers and salads. Over on Christopher Street, Yara is coming to the space vacated by Boots & Saddle in 2014. (Boots & Saddle was a gay bar which lasted 40 years on Christopher Street before being priced out of its locale.) Yara (76 Christopher Street between 7th Avenue S and Bleecker Streets) is a beauty salon “focused on making recharging a part of your routine.” Hudson Grace (405 Bleecker Street near West 11th Street), an expensive home goods shops headquartered in California, will be opening in March. Barachou, a French cream puff bakery which will also feature tarts, cakes and other desserts has signage up at 15 8th Avenue (between West 12th and Jane Streets). Their other location is on the upper west side. Arthur & Sons, an “Old School New York Italian” restaurant should be opening in April at 38 8th Avenue (between West 12th Street and Jane Street). The owner, Joe Isidori, trained at the Culinary Institute, and is the owner of Black Tap Burger (and the author of the book Craft Burgers and Crazy Shakes from Black Tap). The previous tenant was the Italian Wine Company store.
St. Theo’s has opened a secret bar behind a velvet curtain in their dining room. Venice Bar, as it’s called, is serving Venetian food and drink. The food is in the form of cicchetti, a Venetian appetizer/small plate that usually accompanies drinks. In real Venice, people wander from one cicchetti bar to another, sampling different offerings at each stop.
We heard from many of you this month—but don’t stop now! As always, we love to hear from you at email@example.com