OPENINGS & CLOSINGS: TOLANI, SURROUNDINGS FLOWERS, BASICS PLUS, MORE

tolani closed

A wine bar closes as new flower shop prepares to open. Check out news about some recent Upper West Side openings and closings below.

South African wine bar Tolani on Amsterdam between 79th and 80th streets closed its doors last week, after the owner initially said he was planning to open a new restaurant in the space. A sign inside read “Goodbye Tolani, We Love You. 2010-2015.” Thanks to several tipsters for letting us know.

In & Out Nails shut the doors of its shop on 102nd street and Broadway recently. Thanks to Anya for the tip.

Basics Plus opened its expanded store on Broadway between 83rd and 84th street last week, taking over the space of a liquor store that was once there. It looked like they were still stocking up on inventory, Jeff tells us.

A new flower shop called Surroundings Flowers is opening on 102nd and Broadway, perhaps filling the void that Academy Floral left when it closed on 100th street two years ago. Thanks to Celeste for the tip.

surroundings

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 44 comments | permalink
    1. D.R. says:

      … and Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re going to get a — guess what? Yes, another nail salon. This one on Broadway between 70th and 71st (where the copy center used to be). I could not believe it until I confirmed it four times over and I still have trouble believing it.

      • Sean says:

        The UWS is all about nails and Brazilians baby.

        • geoff says:

          nail salons (in many other american cities) are all about—once established—opening up a massage service in the back. as in ‘happy ending’. nothing wrong with that, i suppose. who doesn’t want a happy ending? for everything? ready for that, upper west siders?

        • D.R. says:

          I don’t understand “Brazilians baby”. What does that mean?

      • ctp says:

        Nail salons are very cheap to open and they are largely cash businesses, it has been on my mind for years that these are probably money laundering operations at their heart. I’d bet money on it, if I could find a bookie.

        • bravo says:

          I suspect that everyone knows it’s money laundering in its purest form. The interesting thing is why nobody goes after them. Most likely some PC aspect is in the way.

          • D.R. says:

            I pursued “why nobody goes after them,” Bravo. And this may be the answer:

            “U.S. law enforcement agencies tend to focus their scrutiny on organizations that launder money in the $800 billion to $2 trillion range each year while overlooking small to medium-sized operations.”

        • bill says:

          all the bookies are gone along with the religious botanicas that dotted Amsterdam Ave along the 80’s & 90’s,they also doubled as number holes.

        • ScooterStan says:

          Re: “…if I could find a bookie.”

          Have you tried looking for one at a local nail salon?

          🙂

        • Christina says:

          Wow! Now we are thinking nail salons are in the money laundering business??? I guess, nothing is sacred anymore! Huh! Besides, there are a number of businesses that are cash only businesses and laundering never figured into it!

      • D.R. says:

        *ctp* and *bravo*, you might be interested in goggling “money-laundering+nail salons”. You’ll find that the undertaking is even worse than you thought: It includes extortion and human trafficking.

        Right in our backyards? Oh, please tell me that I got it all wrong!

        • ctp says:

          Thanks for doing the research D.R. I figured as much. I must admit, I like to have someone do my nails once or twice a year, but the human trafficking and the extortion and the money laundering might be too much of a negative given the fear of toenail fungus and MRSA I was already servicing, this might be the final blow.

          • D.R. says:

            It started out as a joke — the idea of yet another nail salon. And, if it weren’t for you and bravo, ctp, it would never have occurred to me that they could be money-laundering operations. So thank you.

            We should all read the NYT article that Lynn includes in her Comment #8 below. And we should have a lot on our consciences, given the harm that the young women suffer through, among other factors, toxic fumes, human-trafficking and extortion.

    2. DMH says:

      So sad about Tolani – I really liked that spot.

    3. Wea says:

      Surroundings is headquartered around 125th and Amsterdam and used to be in the Apthorp. Excited to see they’re reopening a storefront.

    4. lisa says:

      The Upper West Side which used to be full of bookstores…now full of nail and wax salons.

      Says quite a lot about our priorities…

      • 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

        Yeah, what’s with all the nail salons around here? Sometimes multiple nail salons on a single block. Growing up I remember my mom used to do her own nails, and it was no big deal.

      • Jeremy says:

        Um, the Internet. No video or record stores either.

      • D.R. says:

        Is it our priorities that we should question, Lisa, or do the nail salon multiply for the reasons that ctp (9:21 pm) and bravo (11:00 pm) identify above?

      • YoungSally says:

        iPhones don’t do nails…..yet. : )

        That said, we have a Pinky’s in my building ….20 years in the n’hood and I still haven’t gone…..

        My hands seem fine without polish.

    5. DP says:

      Tolani was a huge blow for me. It’s the first place my husband and I wandered into when we first moved up here, just checking out the neighborhood. We were lucky enough to be there on the last night, totally by coincidence, bc it was our go-to place. We shed some tears, drank some great wine and had one last meatball. This one’s gonna hurt for a while. 🙁

    6. Tom says:

      Tolani sufferd from stupid happy hour policies. “The best happy hour in NYC” was at the bar only, with maybe a dozen seats it made no sense to me why they wouldn’t extend it to the rest of the tables. Plenty of times my girlfriend and I would walk in see that there were no seats at the bar and then go somewhere else.

      • DP says:

        Unfortunately that’s the policy in lots of places — no happy hour at tables. I agree businesses could do better for themselves if they rethink it.

        • Tom says:

          Its one reason why E’s bar is doing so well. Drinks at a table without food, what a concept.

    7. Mary Jones says:

      Surroundings was on the west side of Broadway a little north of Zabars for years, I bought flowers there for an event in 1985. They then moved to 79th st between Amsterdam and Broadway, I remember going there to buy flowers for another event in 1980. They were still there in 1991 when they did the flowers for my wedding. Then at some point they moved to the Apthorp.

    8. Raymond Marble says:

      For what it’s worth, a good friend’s wedding flowers were done by Surroundings, and they did a wonderful job. Very much the couple’s tastes. It looked expensive, I have no idea if it was or wasn’t.

    9. JP says:

      A Mexican style restaurant supposedly is going to take over the space Tolani was in. Fwiw.

    10. Anne says:

      In and Out Nails has been gone for at least a couple of years. A shade and blind store was supposed to open but never happened. Surroundings is going in that spot.

    11. Amy H says:

      My husband has been sending me flowers from Surroundings, albeit infrequently, for years. When he calls them, they invariably ask him: What happened this time? It always gets a laugh. I think they do gorgeous arrangements with great color sense. Glad they are still around.

    12. Cj berk says:

      I liked that copy center on bway. They did the job nicely. I also liked and needed Radio Shack and urban Outfitters. These nail salons are dubious-do they check demographics? Why do we have 3 on one block? Something is wrong here—dont know what tho.

      • Ann March says:

        the copy center is now around the corner on 71st street

      • D.R. says:

        If you want to know about the demographics of nail salons and why there are so many, j Berk, please read the articles attached under Comment 8 above; also the comments of ctp and bravo within Comment 1 above.

      • Christina says:

        Why question the nail salons existence and the suggestion of dubious nature? Why don’t we or haven’t we said that about the Korean markets/delis? At one time there were just about 2 on every block! They popped up like weeds. No one thought there was anything dubious about them!

        • D.R. says:

          I know nothing about the Korean markets/delis that you mention, Christina. I was hoping that someone who does would reply, but this story seems to have run its course (as most do after the second day), so I’ll give you my best answer about nail salons. Hopefully, I’ll get corrected if I’m wrong.

          The reason why they are suspect is that (1) there are *way, way* too many of them for the market’s demands, and (2) they are ideal for laundering because they are (a) cash businesses and (b) very inexpensive to set up.

          (Incidentally, the estimate is that, internationally, US$800 billion to $2 trillion is laundered each year.)

          • D.R. says:

            I should have added that delis require inventories, dealing with perishable foods, adhering to health codes, pest controls, many suppliers, fresh deliveries, etc.

            They don’t have the relative simplicity of nail salons and nail polish, where a “launderer” doesn’t even need a customer to ever enter before starting to clean the dirty money.

            And let’s not forget, before we set foot into one, about the extortion and human trafficking part.

        • Nj says:

          That’s because the Korean deli was a 24/7 great service to the neighborhoods offering groceries where the big grocery stores were far away. I truly miss the two that were close on 80th street Broadway and in Amsterdam

          Nail Solon only for grooming not for food