Thursday, February 4, 2016

Report: Northern Spy closes for good on Feb. 17

After six years on East 12th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B, Northern Spy is calling it a day.

Grub Street has this from co-owner Chris Ronis

We've had a great run and are very proud of what we accomplished in this space in the last six years, but 2015 was a tough year and we did not manage to pull the nose up to restore the flight altitude we once enjoyed. We're hanging it up while we still have the buttons on our pants. The upshot we have about two weeks left before it's lights-out for Northern Spy, with our final service being Wednesday, February 17th.

Eater has more here.

If you want to stop by for a last meal, then don't do it this evening...

Northern Spy will be closed tonight for a private event. We apologize for the inconvenience. See you tomorrow!

A photo posted by Northern Spy (@northernspyfood) on

28 comments:

Optimist said...

I am so sorry to hear this -- one of my go-to places for an excellent meal. The competition has certainly stiffened since they opened, but they seemed to busy whenever I went.

Anonymous said...

That's really a pity. I remember when after Hurricane Sandy they generously cooked and served food to the neighborhood. A bright spot in a dark time. Always enjoyed stopping in there for a friendly beer and food.

Anonymous said...

Sad, sad, sad. They certainly seemed to still be doing brisk brunch business, but perhaps nighttime was another story.

Michael Ivan said...

A shame. A dorky place like Cork and Ford exists yet we lost Northern Spy. Always lovely staff and a good sensible bite. Nouveau american cuisine can be annoying, per price and presentation, but Northern Spy, and Virginia's comes to mind, did it right. I wish I went more.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear they are closing. They were very good neighbors. I am praying another restaurant takes over this space and not a bar. We have enough trouble with Doublewide here on 12th.

Anonymous said...

Well, Cork & Fork gets their food delivered by a tractor trailer... I saw one of the cooks carrying an entire pig wrapped in plastic into the basement once! Love that place. Good food at a decent price point & authentic/kind staff. I wonder about the space a few doors east where they have their prep kitchen?

equilibrist said...

Bring back Old Devil Moon! I really miss them. They filled a niche like no other--not just another "farm to table" joint.

Jill said...

Old Devil Moon was a great addition to the block, a real restaurant with nice people running it. Will always miss that place. This one, not at all.

BagelGuy said...

Very very sad. A big loss. Sorry to see our neighbors go.

28yearsanEastVillageresident said...

It wasn't a go to place for me (went twice) but they were excellent neighbors. Not only true all-stars during Sandy but they concientiously managed the place, its refuse, the lines for Sunday brunch etc etc. Sorry to see them go and only hope that an operator goes in their can match their professionalism and awareness of the block they were on.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that about 6 months after they got their full liquor license by convincing cb 3 they were an established restaurant that just needed a bit more of revenue, they close up shop. They didn't seem to even try, but now they have a nice asset to sell and residents have a full liquor license flat in the middle of a residential block.

Anonymous said...

Its clienteles are mostly the brunch crowd -- the needy, egotistical, and manufactured self-important upper class (or poseurs), urban professionals and urban tourists to [social media] network, [where they talk to their phones instead of each other], and while having their cocktails and wine, they looked down on the locals pushing their laundry or grocery shopping carts so that they can feel above them.

Matthew has 2 T's, dumbass said...

hmmm....sounds like they are bored....they are busy enough to stay open. I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Can they sell the liquor license to the next restaurant (bar)?

Anonymous said...

Admittedly Northern Spy was not my kind of restaurant, not my crowd. The former occupants...Old Devil Moon was definitely more my speed. I miss those guys. But I will say that as a nearly 20 year resident of this block-living very close to N. Spy-I will say that they...for the most part kept their act together without creating problems for the residents. No noise, no nuisance. They did their thing...I did mine. I forgot that during Sandy they lent a hand to the neighborhood. That was a very generous thing for them to do. I can only hope that the next establishment conducts themselves in a similar manner

Anonymous said...

I think Anonymous At 10:28 PM nailed it.

Sad, but it sounds like they were doing enough business to stay open, but instead opted for a quick cash out on their recently awarded liquor license.

Hopefully CB3 will take notice of this and not get hoodwinked in the future.

Anonymous said...

It was that fuckin' carrot.

Anonymous said...

The liquor license is now there forever and now fully available to the next applicant. They were nice guys and people liked NS, but now neighbors will be shackled with a licensed establishment in the middle of a quiet residential street. That is- other than Double Wide. The block will be forever changed.

Hey19 said...

Thats very interesting about the license, this comment section has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. I liked NSFC, I was proud of them for being viable without a license, and I am sorry to see them go. This bait and switch news about their full license does taint those emotions though. I wonder what the price bump is pre/post full license? Probably pretty large right? Anyway, disappointing on a number of levels...

Kurt said...

No, liquor licenses are not transferable. That's not how it works. Unless the name of the person the the license is a partner in the new venture the new establishment will have to apply for new liquor license.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree completely. I actually was given a plenty dirty looks by the brunch kids taking up the sidewalks outside while walking by to do my laundry. It's sad when places close but I won't miss this one.

Anonymous said...

Kurt - in theory you are correct, in reality you are not. And it's what CB3 will tell you -- but it isn't true in the real world. In the most clear way to "sell" the license, the license is part of the assets of the corporation, which can be sold to the next corporation, and anything else that the corporation owns, which is usually very little except the license. The loopholes that are used to move a license from one establishment to the next are not entirely clear to me (someone else I'm sure will chime in with more clarity) but we've seen it happen over and over and over (and over). El Camion got his license because of the bar that had been there 5 years prior, before a fire gutted the building, and even then, the license was kept active all those years. If what you say is true, why keep the license active in a space that was burned down and you had reopened your bar in Brooklyn? Same thing for Double Wide -- got it from a restaurant that was approved for a license which never even opened.

GTFOOH said...

It is sad to see any small business close. Lots of hard work. Dreams smashed.
Sorry to see another vacant store front in the East Village.

Anonymous said...

They can engage in what is referred to as a bulk asset sale and sell the assets of the corporation. The license is one of those assets. While technically this will be a new license, unless the applicant has a poor track record the SLA will very likely approve the new license. This is a residential side street though so residents can make that case as well as point out how quickly the owners closed-up shop after they got the full license and attempt to stop the new applicant from getting a license. It is worth a shot, but these guys will clearly get a nice chunk of change for selling their assets and trust me the value isn't in the table and chairs, it is in the license.

Kurt said...

Anon 9:12, a liquor license is not an asset. It's a 'positive' in the sale of a business if the location never had a liquor license because it now establishes that the location is able to get a license i.e. not too close to a school, house of worship, etc.

I personally know of a bar that closed and the owner sold the assets of the bar and kept their name on the license and it opened as another bar with new owners. When the former owner got into the dispute with the new owners they left with the liquor license causing the new owners to pull out of the business because they did not have a license to sell liquor.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:12, yes you're right. But any change in ownership or operation -- change in hours, type of menu, location of bar counter, number of seats, etc -- also requires "approval" from the community board and SLA. However the CB approval is only advisory and the SLA typically approves any existing place with a license a new license or a transfer of license unless there is an overwhelming history of serving underage drinkers and other violations (underage drinking seems to be the only thing the SLA seems to really care about tho...)

Anonymous said...

Kurt the inclusion of a license in a bulk asset sale has been an ongoing point of contention that has been discussed ad nauseum. What you are talking about sounds like a change of the names on the corporation, which is also what can be done, rubber stamp. Sounds like your friends didn't manage it properly, as losing a license is next to impossible, again, as we've seen happen over and over and over and over. And over again. It's tiring as the loopholes are pretty easy to jump through. Applying for a "new" license is a technicality and approvals come based on the previous history of the location. If the application process were clear we wouldn't be having the problem we do. If the rules were followed about how many licenses were allowed to be received within 500 feet of each other we wouldn't have the problems we have. It's completely corrupt, and those in the neighborhood that attend every CB3 meeting and meet with the applicants, and go to SLA to contest bad operators know exactly how licenses move from one operation to the next with so much ease it's disgusting. And it's only getting worse, and easier to get approved, not harder, as the people involved are worn down and have been compromising every which way, starting with the Board at CB3 who are as corrupt as they come.

And, by the way, they hate this blog, and the commenters, because it reveals the truth behind the scenes of what really goes on. If more people went to the meetings and witnessed the ridiculousness of it on a regular basis, you would be much more up in arms. It's disgusting.

Anonymous said...

May the owners live adjacent to a noisy frat bar for the next 20 years. And the space sit empty 10. They should be ashamed for sweet talking the block to support them getting that full liquor license , shame , shame, shame.
Enjoy Smug Brooklyn.