Popover Cafe, the neighborhood mainstay on 87th street and Amsterdam Avenue, is closing its doors on January 5th after losing its lease, the restaurant announced in a poster on the window.

Popover has been open since 1981. The closing is part of a depressing wave this year on the Upper West Side — Big Nick’s also closed, and the Emerald Inn shuttered, although it reopened a couple of blocks away.

Popover was famous for its namesake crusty-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside breakfast treats, smeared with butter and jam. As Zagat reviewers put it:

“Always the same and always delicious”, the “huge”, “piping-hot” popovers at this “quaint” UWS American have been a “reason to get out of bed” for 30-plus years; decor is a tad “dusty” and service merely “ok”, but with a “diner-style menu” providing “something for everyone”, it’s popular for families – just “expect a wait on weekends.”

Thanks to Rebecca Frey for the photo, and Judd and Cynthia for the tips.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 30 comments | permalink
    1. Drew says:

      WHAT??? How? This place is PACKED on weekends? Why are they closing? This neighborhood is really NOTHING at this point. I honestly am getting to the point that I don’t know why I live here anymore. I think it’s time to move to a better area of the city.

      Overflowing omeless people, empty storefronts, banks, pharmacies, chain fast food places, cell phone stores and one or two neighborhood holdovers. Oh wait, I forgot there’s a jumbo Party City on the way! What a great neighborhood.

      So what’s it going to be? I bank? Chipotle? Starbucks?

      • DLKD says:

        Couldn’t agree with you more, Drew. Over-gentrification has ruined the Upper West Side.

        • Kaz says:

          Don’t fool yourself . It is greed the landlords greed that has ruined the UWS. People did not move here to drink Starbucks

      • Ken says:

        Here’s why:

        Many think that just because one owns a business you make tons of money. The reality of legacy small business, especially in Manhattan, is that many squeak by week over week – praying a payment will come in so you can make the payroll or pay the rent without borrowing – and if you are lucky – pay yourself once in a while. When a landlord decides they want $35,000 a month instead of the $20,000 you were paying – what do you do – raise the price of a turkey sandwich from $9 to $18? – No. You close your doors and the landlord rents to a corporate location that can afford to loose money on the first 5 years of a 10 year lease. It is just that simple.

    2. Anina says:

      I went there as a teenager with my family when it first opened. Over the years, I’ve taken friends and loved ones there. Now, my husband and I take our son and he loves it too!
      Every time someone visits the city, we always take them to Popover and they ask to go back when they visit again.
      I understand the co-op/condo board wants as much as they can get for their retail spaces but in exchange, they are losing one of the very things that made their original purchase appealing – a non-suburban strip mall feel of the neighborhood.
      I wish Carol and her employees/staff the best of luck on their future endeavors. She already knows the lives her place has touched over the years, but I want to say THANK YOU CAROL! Thank you for opening a wonderful place – and expanding it! – in an area that many wouldn’t consider back then. YOU are truly a pioneer and will be missed.

    3. Jeremy says:

      Folks, nostalgia aside, let’s keep in mind that Popover Cafe had average food and forgettable service.

      I fondly recall the last time I was there when I accidentally ordered a bun-less burger, and no amount of pleading or cajoling could convince the waiter to give me the bun I so desperately wanted.

      Adios old friend. Your longevity was impressive given your mediocrity. (But not unexpected given the lack of other options in the neighborhood for so long.)

    4. UWSer says:

      Can we just discuss the elephant in the room here?
      Sure, Popover’s was great and a neighborhood establishment. However, they failed to acclimate to the times. There were many nights when we wanted to order from them, but they weren’t on SeamlessWeb, Delivery.com, etc. They also didn’t provide proper delivery.
      The signs in front screaming “no reservations!” was a huge turn-off.
      Yeah, maybe you’re all correct: This was a true UWS establishment–just like every bubbe (mine included) in the neighborhood who yells at people, hasn’t caught on with the times, and carries an air of superiority…all undeserved, of course.
      Sorry, Popover’s. You didn’t lose your lease. You lost your possibility for an expanding customer base.

    5. Lee Honickman says:

      I am a relatively new resident of the UWS, but have found a wonderful place in the Popover Cafe and love the memories it brings to me from when I was a child and went to Patricia Murphy’s for popovers. These are even better. A great loss to the neighborhood! So sad.

    6. Catherine says:

      I’m starting to feel ” dated “. I was living here when it opened and have enjoyed many brunch and lunch meals – nothing as heavenly as their popovers and strawberry butter. Let’s hope they reopen nearby like Good Enough To Eat did. 🙂

    7. Daniel says:

      We will all miss this institution.
      This makes me sad.

    8. Gladys Watson says:

      Sorry to see the Popover Cafe go. I sincerely hope they will fine a new place. But I certainly will get there for breakfast to get what may possibly my last popover (unless I make some myself) before the January closing.

    9. Jean says:

      Another one bites the dust. I loved this place. Greed is usually the reason behind such closing a. Not all can afford Manhattan lease prices. I hope they reopen elsewhere.

    10. max k says:

      The UWS is kaput!
      The great stores are all closed. All that is left are banks, pharmacies, and dare I say it, check cashing stores.
      The property values are way over inflated and the neighborhood has lost all of its character.
      I am so happy I moved to Washington Heights where I bought a huge 2 bedroom for half the price. Our neighborhood has river views, uncrowded parks, charming shops, locally owned pharmacies, supermarkets, local theater/music and restaurants, and OK — a couple of banks :).
      Check it out if you are looking for value in the city with convenience. Best move I ever made.

      • Cyrus says:

        Um yeah, but you still read this newsletter so there’s something about our horrible neighborhood you still miss

    11. Jodie says:

      What’s next to close–Barney Greengrass?

    12. katherine says:

      I’d like to know what diner the Zagat reviewer eats at. Popover was nothing like a diner in menu or in appearance. It was a nice quiet lunch spot in a neighborhood where everything else is deafeningly loud even when not crowded.
      A big loss to the neighborhood. With Popover gone the block is going to seem pretty bleak.

    13. CHRIS CURRY says:

      GREED trumps quality of life and family memories once again. Not sure where you can move to hide from that.
      This news makes me and all of my family sad. We’ll miss
      the lovely food, great service, popovers and of course, the bears.

    14. sonny says:

      Popover closing sucks it was a great place to take family to hang.out with friends

    15. Lois Jacobs says:

      Hope you relocate

    16. vynnyq says:

      wherever they move to, I’ll be there!

    17. Jan says:

      I will always remember the little redheaded waitress who had the best smile in NYC. She made every meal a treat. I would love to know where she lands!!!!!

    18. sandra serebin says:

      SO sad such wonderful popovers and strawberry butter and the grilled vegetable sandwich is the best anywhere.
      Is there a chance you will reopen?
      It is my favorite place for lunch.
      Sameness is coming to the westside and that is not what we who have lived here for ages want.
      Mr landlord you should be ashamed.

    19. Edward Williams says:

      Sorry to see Popover’s close. I hope they will relocate. Our family will follow them even to New Jersey or the Bronx.

    20. Margie says:

      Carol and I are friends from Camp. I knew her Pop forever and he was a great cook. Carol carried on in his tradition. Popovers had the world’s best soups and the popovers are
      beyond compare. I currently live upstate and no trip to NYC
      is complete without my Tuesday at Popovers. The loss for the neighborhood is awful.

    21. Lois says:

      I am crying! I love Popover.

    22. lindy says:

      Has Popover recipe for borscht ever been published, approximated?

    23. Jo Ann Greenwald says:

      One of my favorite places. I am so very sad. Try to find another location.

      Jo Ann Greenwald 516-482-8044

    24. Meredith Stone says:

      I’ve been a regular since Popover’s opening in 1981. I’d often stop after my weekly voice lesson, and later brought friends and family visitors. It was a cozy, charming, welcoming place, the popovers were addictive and the beef borscht was a satisfying symphony of flavors. Salads were imaginative and prices always reasonable. If Popover relocates, I shall certainly return!

    25. Ruth says:

      I had plans to go with friends later this month. I had no idea it had closed. I will miss it terribly. There aren’t too many places you can go with a group where everyone can find something they like to eat and the prices were quite reasonable. Very sad.