Friday, January 20, 2023

Report: Junoon owner bringing a new Indian restaurant to the former Momofuku Ssäm Bar

Junoon owner Rajesh Bhardwaj has reportedly signed a lease for a new Indian restaurant at 207 Second Ave. at 13th Street — the former Momofuku Ssäm Bar. 

According to the Commerical Observer, Bhardwaj signed a 10-year deal for 5,500 square feet for his new concept, Jazba.

Per the CO
Jazba will have a bar at the front of the restaurant, equipped with a craft cocktail menu, and two dining rooms serving recipes Bhardwaj picked up while visiting popular roadside eateries in India. 
In May 2020, David Chang announced that he was moving the nearly 15-year-old Ssäm Bar from Second Avenue to the South Street Seaport. Milk Bar had retail space on the 13th Street side before moving across the street in May 2011. The cocktail bar Booker & Dax was then here until October 2016 before Ssäm Bar expanded.

This prime space had been waiting for a new tenant ever since Momofuku move on.

Photo from 2021 by Steven

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Thursday's parting tweet

Hope you enjoyed the January thunder and lightning...

Report: The Regal Union Square multiplex to close after bankruptcy filing

Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, the second-largest chain of movie theaters in the United States, is closing 39 locations, including the Regal Union Square Stadium 17 on 13th Street and Broadway, according to published reports. (H/T Doug.)

Per Business Insider, who first reported on the closures: 
Cineworld filed for bankruptcy at a time when the larger theatrical industry is struggling to fully rebound from the pandemic. The North American box office hit $7.4 billion in 2022, according to Comscore, down from over $11 billion in 2019 and 2018. 
And... 
Cineworld detailed the plan to reject the leases starting February 15 in a new bankruptcy filing on Tuesday. Regal is the second-largest cinema chain in the US, behind AMC, with over 500 theaters. The company's plan to close locations during its bankruptcy is fairly routine. The Chapter 11 process makes it easier for companies to walk away from leases without incurring major penalties and to press landlords for better terms. 
Regal's multiplex at Essex Crossing on Delancey and Essex was not listed among the 39 set for closure.

Regal Union Square, with 17 screens, underwent a multi-million-dollar refurbishment in early 2020. 

The theater debuted in November 1998... (image via Cinema Treasures) ...

Current Coffee debuts in The Bowery Market

Current Coffee opened this week at The Bowery Market... the open-air market on the Bowery at Great Jones. 

We understand that this is the first shop for a longtime barista. CC is serving coffee via Share Coffee Roasters and a variety of pastries, including vegan options. 

Blank Street Coffee, now with multiple locations in the East Village, had the space previously

Scott Marano, founder of The Bowery Market, told us that Blank Street had a short-term agreement here.

"They were a very good vendor," he said via an email. "They have grown tremendously and it seems their strategy has shifted to a more conventional brick-and-mortar arrangement while we like to be a home for unique concepts looking to grow."

Superiority Burger, now with coming-soon signage on Avenue A

Superiority Burger appears to be closer to an opening in its new home at 119 Avenue A between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place... "coming soon" letters are now on the marquee here outside the former Odessa Restaurant. (The under-wraps signage arrived on Dec. 2.)

As previously reported by Grub Street, owner Brooks Headley, who called the Odessa his "dream space," will start with a dinner service and then open for lunch and breakfast inside the dining room that has retained much of its diner-ish vibes.

The SB Instagram account has highlighted some new dishes and desserts in recent weeks... such as!

No word on an official opening date (please don't ask!). Per a December-time IG post: "Not open yet. But one day it will just *poof* erupt when you least expect it." 

The popular all-vegetarian quick-serve spot opened in the East Village on Ninth Street in June 2015

Odessa Restaurant opened in this space in April 1995 before a July 2020 closure. The original Odessa, the longtime favorite that dated to the mid-1960s, closed next door in August 2013.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Wednesday's parting shot

A recent shot outside Little Poland, 200 Second Ave. between 12th Street and 13th Street... since 1985.

There won't be a last-minute reprieve for Commodities

Late last week, the landlord took legal possession of 165 First Ave. just north of 10th Street — which has been home to Commodities for 30 years. 

There was a legal notice from a city Marshal on the front door. Here's how that works:
A City Marshal may conduct an eviction or legal possession only after a court has ruled on the landlord's petition for removal and issued a Warrant of Eviction to the marshal.
We've seen tenants and landlords broker a new deal a few times in the past, and several fans of the market were hoping for a last-minute reprieve here as well.

Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be happening.

EVG reader Allan Yashin shared the photo from yesterday afternoon when he saw the lights on and the gate open. He saw this as a good sign, and hoped that there was a resolution ... "only to walk in and find a team of men dismantling the fixtures... After all these years, the store beloved by many, including me for over 25 years, has come to an end."

New owners took over the business in January 2019 and changed the name to Commodities Health Foods from Commodities Natural Market.

Michael Hughes opened Commodities here in 1993. Hughes and his wife Audra opened an outpost in Vermont in 2015.

Previously on EVG:

Sealing up the former Charas/P.S. 64 on 9th Street

On Dec. 20, a crew arrived with pallets full of construction materials for emergency work at the long-vacant former P.S. 64/Charas/El Bohio Community Center., 605 E. Ninth St. between Avenue B and Avenue C. 

Since then, readers and residents have noted a lot of activity on the property. 

EVG contributor Stacie Joy took these top three photos on Jan. 5, when workers said they were "sealing this place up."
As of Monday, the windows and entrances on the Ninth Street side have been covered...
... and similar work looks nearly complete on the 10th Street side...
Afterward, the property will likely sit in limbo for a little longer.

At the end of 2022, news broke that Gregg Singer's nearly 23-year tenure as building owner had come to an end. 

On Dec. 23, New York State Justice Melissa Crane ordered the foreclosure and sale of the building with a default, including penalties and interest totaling approximately $90 million. (You can read Crane's 20-page decision and order here.)

The order could send the property back to auction within 90 days, according to members of Save Our Community Center CHARAS/former P.S. 64 (SOCCC-64).

The property that Singer purchased from the city in 1998 for $3.15 million fell into foreclosure last year and is reportedly back in the hands of lender Madison Realty Capital. As The Village Voice reported: "Madison Realty Capital declined to comment on the foreclosure or what plans it has for the building."

The five-floor structure is currently being offered for use as medical space or educational-related purposes. You can find the listing at Corcoran here. (Aside from the efforts to seal up the building to ward off intruders, thrillseekers, and the elements, the long-standing Stop Work Order and Full Vacate are still on file with the department of buildings.)

It's important to note that the 135,000-square-foot building is zoned for "community facility use." Any conversion to a condoplex or residential housing would require a time-consuming zoning variance.

Meanwhile, some residents want to see the space used again as a community center, as it was during its time as Charas/El Bohio Community Center. Singer evicted the group on Dec. 27, 2001. 

Through the years, Singer wanted to turn the building into a dorm (more here), though those plans never materialized. (At one point, the Joffrey Ballet and Cooper Union were attached to the project.)

In October 2017, then-Mayor de Blasio's statement at a Town Hall put forth the idea that the city would take steps to reacquire the building. According to published reports, the Mayor said he'd work to "right the wrongs of the past." 

SOCCC-64 members hope that Mayor Adams considers this request. Per the group's press release after the judge's decision: "We are excited to finally have the opportunity to return the building to full community use, and are ready to work with Mayor Adams to restore this once vibrant community hub," said Chino Garcia, co-founder of Charas.

As The Village Voice pointed out, "exactly how a CHARAS-like community center might be restored to P.S. 64 is hard to say, given the tremendous debt that Singer leveraged on the building, and the cost to renovate a building left to rot for two decades."  

That's all for Tony's Famous Pizza on 1st Avenue

After nearly 18 months of slinging slices, the Tony's Famous Pizza has closed at 231 First Ave. between 13th Street and 14th Street. A for-rent sign now hangs from the storefront. (Thanks to Pinch for the photo!)

The pizzeria, a sibling to the Tony's at 128 Second Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place, arrived in the summer of 2021. 

Tony's took over the storefront from Vinny Vincenz, which quietly closed in April 2021 after 18 years of service.

Greenwich Marketplace closes on 4th Avenue

A for-rent sign now hangs in the front window at at 120 Fourth Ave. at 12th Street ... bringing an end to Greenwich Marketplace's time here on the NW corner. (Thanks to EVG reader Doug for the photo.)

The market, with a larger-than-average deli counter serving geographically friendly items such as the NYU Wrap, opened in March 2021

The previous tenant, the PokéSpot, closed in the summer of 2020 after four years. Before that, we had a Subway (sandwich shop) here along a well-traveled corridor. 

Bait & Hook has not been open lately

Pinch brings us word that Bait & Hook has been closed of late on the NW corner of 14th Street and Second Avenue... paper covers the front windows...
No posted signs about any kind of closure — temporary or permanent. And no messages about it on the bar-restaurant's website or Instagram account. It seems like an odd time for a football bar to close with the start of the NFL playoffs starting this past weekend. 

This isn't the first time the place has shuttered. In January 2020, a "closed for renovation" sign arrived a week before a for lease sign. Then the place reopened. 

Bait & Hook debuted in 2012.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A message for the 'graffiti guys'

Photos by Stacie Joy 

A message to the "graffiti guys" on Avenue B near Second Street... large photos and a warning that the police have been notified...

On the CB3-SLA docket tonight: fresh bread, vinyl records and the members-only FlyFish Club

Here's a look at some of the applicants who will appear before Community Board 3's SLA committee this evening. (See below for info on watching online.) It's a light agenda this month, with just a handful of applications for new liquor licenses. 

Heaven's Cookies LLC, 47 2nd Ave (wb)

The team behind Sauced, a wine bar that plays vinyl records on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, is planning a like-minded concept for a currently vacant and under-renovation storefront on Second Avenue between Second Street and Third Street (pictured above).

Sauced Grocery is a combo deli-bakery-cafe that will serve deli sandwiches and baked bread during the day with a wine bar in the evenings. There will also be "a vinyl records listening room." Proposed hours are from noon to midnight, with a 2 a.m. close Thursday through Saturday.

You can find more details on the Sauced questionnaire here.

Francis Kite (Francis Kite LLC), 40 Ave C (op) 

The Francis Kite Club is being billed as "a collectively built space created for sociality, leisure, collaboration, debate, conversation, and play" for the storefront at 40 Avenue C between Third Street and Fourth Street.

The space, which will operate a cafe, plans to host "art events such as lectures, exhibitions and performances" several times a month.

No. 40 has been used as a pop-up theater space this past year... the address was previously the cocktail lounge Bedlam.

Find the Francis Kite questionnaire here

FlyFish Club (D&C Social Club Inc), 141 E Houston St (op)

As reported in November, the city's first NFT restaurant signed on at the new 9-story office building at 141 E. Houston St. between Eldridge and Forsyth. 

According to the Post, the Flyfish Club is leasing three levels, 11,000 square feet total, for the members-only club that will feature a "bustling" cocktail lounge, an upstairs restaurant and outdoor space — the enclosed walkway between the building and Yonah Schimmel next door.

The 84-page questionnaire provides a lot of background, including a sound study and sample menu. Find the PDF here.

NGE NYC LLC, 308 E 6th St (op) 

The management behind the Tim Burton-inspired bar-restaurant Beetle House on Sixth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue is behind Bread & Stone. This pizzeria will also offer a variety of baked bread.

They plan on operating a "small-batch bread shop" during the day and a restaurant in the evenings, featuring a menu of Italian classics. You can find a sample menu and more details about the proposed business here.

 ---------- 

The CB3 SLA agenda also includes this item of interest: "Develop guidance regarding Open Restaurants hours."

Tonight's meeting starts at 6:30. Find the Zoom invite at this link.

Report: Incoming legal cannabis dispensary drawing opposition on 3rd Street

Photo by Steven

One of the city's next legal cannabis dispensaries is opening in April at 3 E. Third St., just east of the Bowery.

According to published reports, the dispensary coming to the ground-floor retail of this newish condoplex is Gotham, whose license holder is the nonprofit Strive, which "provides job training and other services to the formerly incarcerated." The organization was founded in East Harlem in 1984. (Strive is one of eight nonprofits in the state to receive marijuana licenses this past November.) 

The location has reportedly drawn opposition from management at Project Renewal, which operates a men's shelter and an in-patient substance abuse treatment on the block. 

Per NY1:
"Our clients come and go from this program on a daily basis," said Gabriel Woodhouse, program director with Project Renewal. "It's literally within sight line. I mean, it's right across the street from the front door of our program."
Technically, the restaurant Gemma and the Bowery Hotel is directly across the street from 3 E. Third St.

In addition, Community Board 3 passed a resolution stating that it would only approve the license at a different location. (This CB3 decision is only advisory.)

In any event, Gotham's management team wasn't having any of this. Joanne Wilson, manager of the project, told NY1 that they are moving forward with plans to open this spring.

As NY1 points out, the dispensary is subject to strict state regulations with limited signage (unlike the garish illegal operations), and cannabis products won't be visible outside the store.
"There will not be smoke that's being pumped out on the street. There won't be music that's being pumped out in the street," Wilson said. "Yes, there will be people, and there will be people shopping. But it's not anything but just a store."
The Housing Works Cannabis Co. store — New York's first legal recreational marijuana market — opened to great fanfare and long lines on Dec. 29 on Broadway at Eighth Street in a former Gap retail space. 

Döner Haus bringing 'real German kebabs' to 14th Street

Photo by Stacie Joy 

Signage went up yesterday for Döner Haus, a new quick-serve restaurant at 240 E. 14th St. between Second Avenue and Third Avenue.

Per the restaurant's website (thanks Pinch for the link!): "We do one thing, and do it right: Döner." 

Here's more about their "real German kebabs" ... : 
Price for a Döner is 9.99 USD! That's it! In Manhattan of all places! 

You can pick your choice of protein, such as Chicken, Beef or Vegan. 

It usually comes in a bread pocket with fresh red onions, red cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and two different sauces (garlic and cocktail). Of course, you can select what you like — no onions? No problem. 
No word yet on an opening date

Part of this retail space previously belonged to Eddie Huang's Baohaus, which closed in 2020.

Signage alert: Sushi Fan on St. Mark's Place

Photos by Steven

Signage is up now for a new omakase spot at 120 St. Mark's Place called Sushi Fan...
You can find the new Sushi Fan Instagram account here. (Not much info there yet.)

The business takes over for the craft beer bar Proletariat, which moved to a larger space at 21 E. Seventh St. last June.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Monday's parting shot

A beach day on Seventh Street... photo by Derek Berg...

EVG Etc.: an East Village population increase; an interview with EV artist Anton van Dalen

Recent headlines of possible interest include (with a photo from Fourth Street between Second Avenue and the Bowery) ...

 • "So what Manhattan neighborhoods are the hottest in our new, post-pandemic normal? At the top of the list is the Upper West Side, which saw a 30% increase in residents between November 2019 and October 2022. Next up are the East Village/Gramercy and the area around City Hall, all hovering around 25% during that same span of time." (The Post

• On Jan. 25, homeless outreach workers will fan out across the city and into the subway system to count the number of New Yorkers who call the streets and subways home (Gothamist

• Remembering Patrick Briggs, frontman for Psychotica, who died on Dec. 27 at age 58 (Legacy.com

• An interview with longtime East Village artist Anton van Dalen (artnet ... previously on EVG

• Personal essay about the East Village squatters' standoff of 1995, and how Dan Kois made it the center of his new novel, "Vintage Contemporaries" (Curbed

• Catching up with red-tailed hawks Christo and Amelia in Tompkins Square Park (Laura Goggin Photography

• What to know about Lunar New Year 2023 (6sqft

• Al Diaz on the evolution of NYC graffiti (huck ... previously on EVG

• About the fried mashed potato sandwich at Rowdy Rooster on First Avenue (Tasting Table

• A Fred Ward retrospective, including "Tremors," "The Right Stuff" and "Henry & June" (Anthology Film Archives

• The ashes of actor Robbie Coltrane were scattered around his favorite New York haunts — including Katz's (The Daily Mail

• Paddy Reilly's, the 36-year-old Irish saloon with live music on Second Avenue at 29th Street, is closing. The landlord won't renew their lease. (Gramercy Local

• At Cooper Union on Jan. 25: A panel exploring issues of mental health, addiction and social justice. Hip hop/theater artist Baba Israel, sound artist Fay Victor, and NY Phil Director of Media Production Mark Travis discuss the nuanced impact that the criminalization of addiction and drug use has had on music and other creative arts. (Official site)

Let's go to the Stuyvesant Casino!

Renovations continue at 131 Second Ave. at the SW corner of St. Mark's Place where an outpost of Poetica Coffee is opening early this year. (Top photo by Steven)

For decades, this storefront was home to Gem Spa (RIP May 2020). Workers have uncovered some local ephemera on the front pillars (as we noted here). 

The latest reveal ... a flyer for Stuyvesant Casino, a nightclub located in what is now the Ukrainian National Home at 140-142 Second Ave. between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street from 1910 to the 1950s... (thanks to Kevin Goodman for this shot...)
Per this NYSMusic site: "The Stuyvesant Casino offered sumptuous food, dazzling decor, and a first-class house band. High rollers and hitmen were among the clientele, particularly Big Jack Zelig, head of the Eastman Gang after the death of 'Kid Twist' Max Zwerbach, in 1908."

Sunday, January 15, 2023