28 UPPER WEST SIDE BUSINESSES WE LOST IN 2015

sing and sing2
The vacant storefront that once housed grocery store Sing & Sing at 95th and Columbus. Photo by Rebecca Frey.

Raise one final glass to three bars, two supermarkets, several beloved mom and pop shops, a dazzling clothing store, and every Radio Shack in the neighborhood. It was another tough year for local businesses. With rents spiking even high-end restaurants like Ocean Grill, Ouest and Picholine had to throw in the chef’s towel.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but includes most of the major closings this year.

Soldier McGee Tavern at 480 Amsterdam Avenue (83rd) closed in February.

It ‘s not the only bar where you can no longer wet your whistle. Brother Jimmy’s on Amsterdam between 80th and 81st met its demise in July, making way for Crave Fishbar.

coffee sasha'sMagically cute coffee shop Sasha’s Coffee at 711 Amsterdam Avenue between 94th and 95th streets closed in the spring.

Breadsoul Cafe on Broadway between 62nd and 63rd street shuttered around the same time.

Mamajuana Cafe at 88th and Amsterdam was seized by a city marshal in March.

Candle Bar at 309 Amsterdam (74th-75th), the oldest gay bar in the city, closed in June.

Himalayan Crafts at 2007 Broadway between 68th and 69th closed after 40 years.

Beloved grocery store Sing & Sing closed at 96th and Columbus, “merging” with Columbus Natural Food one block South.

Reliable pizza spot City Pie served its last pie at 72nd and Broadway.

Fusha closed at 311 Amsterdam Avenue (75th) to make way for sweetgreen.

The American Apparel stores on 73rd and 109th both closed.

Ocean Grill on Columbus between 78th and 79th closed and sued its landlord this month.

Josie’s, the organic-focused American restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue and 74th street, closed after more than 20 years.

Picholine, the high-end French-Mediterranean restaurant at 35 West 64th street, shuttered after 22 years because of a rent increase.

Citrus, just next door, also closed, to make way for Playa Betty’s.

ouest3Ouest, the local-friendly restaurant on Broadway between 83rd and 84th street, closed its doors after 14 years. Jacob’s Pickles is opening a spinoff restaurant in its place.

South African wine bar Tolani on Amsterdam between 79th and 80th streets closed after a five-year run.

Key Fresh & Natural supermarket on 90th and Amsterdam closed after just a few months.

Food Emporium on 90th and Broadway followed in November after its parent company went bankrupt.

Dr. Stuart Blankman closed his optometry shop at 2472 Broadway between 91st and 92nd street after 48 years. His license had been suspended.

Cafe Ronda on Columbus between 71st and 72nd closed in January after 12 years, later reopening as Ella.

off bway7Off Broadway, the colorful clothing store on 72nd street between Broadway and Columbus, closed after 50 years following the death of owner Lynn Dell Cohen.

Urban Outfitters closed after 16 years on the corner of 72nd and Broadway, making way for the new Bloomingdale’s Outlet.

Pizza by La Grolla closed on Amsterdam between 79th and 80th street, but was replaced by another pizza shop.

All four local Radio Shacks closed after that company went bankrupt.

danskinBarbara Gee Danskin lingerie and workout-wear store closed after 40 years on Broadway between 82nd and 83rd streets.

Valley Thrift Shop at 949 Amsterdam Avenue (107th) closed after 17 years because it couldn’t keep up with the rent and overhead.

Wine & Roses shuttered at 74th and Columbus after a turbulent decade.

For all the news about Upper West Side openings and closings, click here.

    1. UWSHebrew says:

      You forgot Sura, the Thai restaurant on 101st and Broadway.

    2. dannyboy says:

      Whole Frauds knocked off Sing & Sing. Who says crime does not pay?

      • J says:

        Not true — they had to merge with Natural Foods Market, because of high rental increase and that landlord wanted a more “commercial” business to take its place in addition to adjoining space that has been vacant for years now.

        • dannyboy says:

          J, you seem certain that making a lot more money wouldn’t help Sing & Sing. So, let’s both think that increased competition from Whole Foods is just “Not true”. Better?

          • Sing and Sing Customer says:

            Whole Foods was/is not competition for Sing and Sing, but it is competition for the natural market. Sing and Sing was forced out because the landlord raised the rent to a price they could not possibly pay, because they want a tenant that will be more “upscale.” This is according to the owner. Op

            • dannyboy says:

              I was already willing to go along with you that “that increased competition from Whole Foods is just ‘Not true’.”

              But you’re just not making that easy are you.

              So, what now? You prefer me to disagree with you?

              O.K., I disagree.

              Better?

    3. lynn says:

      Does anyone know what’s going in the spot where American Apparel was (73 & B’way)?

    4. John says:

      It seems only tourist trap restaurants left in the Lincoln center area, all the good places have closed over the past several years. Not to mention the lack of grocery stores in this area also.

      • Kate says:

        Hear, hear. I miss the huge Food Emporium at 68th and Broadway (which closed in 2013) on a daily basis. It was the only big standard supermarket in the area.

      • UWS Dad says:

        Even with the loss of Picholine, Lincoln Center dining is better than it has ever been. The Smith, Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Epicerie Boulud, Atlantic Grill, Lincoln and Telepan are all excellent and certainly not tourist traps.

        • zeus says:

          May not be tourist traps – but sure
          are money traps.

          • RK says:

            Picholine wasn’t exactly cheap

          • John says:

            Too expensive for the quality of food at The Smith, Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, Epicerie Boulud, Atlantic Grill, Lincoln and Telepan We dine in the 80’s and 90’s now because of the inflated prices in the Lincoln center area.

            • Cato says:

              No, no, no — you’re missing the point entirely.

              These are places where you get to pay very large sums of money for a meal, thus demonstrating to all around that you are sufficiently affluent to afford them.

              You want *quality*, too? Why? What’s that got to do with anything??

    5. Donna s.. says:

      Not to you only have the raising of rents .. You just have so much more Amazon prime deliveries it takes away from the local stores …

    6. Rachel says:

      I think both Eve & Nico and Spices & Tease closed this year.

    7. Nelson says:

      Don’t you mean “Businesses we lost in 2015?” Time flies!

    8. Marsha says:

      The beloved liquor store next to Oest went out of business and in its place is the hugely expanded and expensive hardware store where u can now get no service at all.

      • Nathan says:

        I think the liquor store closed because the landlord wanted to install a second elevator? I seem to recall a story here on WSR about it.

        I’ve had the opposite experience at the hardware store. If I know what I’m looking for I find the help annoying, but they’re just trying to do their jobs. And they let me return something against their policy once, so I’ll keep going back.

      • kippervasser says:

        Actually, the employees are very helpful, especially in the downstairs, well-stocked hardware portion of the store. If you need a specific light bulb, replacement mop sponge, faucet head, etc., they will find it for you.

    9. UWSgoogler says:

      Really? Business we lost? Dr. Stuart Blankman put his hand up a woman’s dress and all you say is his license was uspended? Why is he on this list? He is a creep and a criminal.

    10. Norah says:

      You forgot to mention Willow – the wonderful women’s clothing store on Amsterdam between 76th and 77th Streets! A real neighborhood loss.

    11. Henri Rosen says:

      16 of the 27 places listed were greedy, overpriced, and poor quality businesses, and it is hoped that better stores/restaurants will replace them.

    12. Claire says:

      The Valley thrift store was incredible and I’m horrified it’s gone. The colonizing of Amsterdam ave. uptown by monied elite is unsettling and the loss of Spanish businesses and culture is something to mourn. Enjoy your latte

    13. Chuck D says:

      Brooklyn Industries on Broadway and 99th closed for good today.

    14. George says:

      The pioneering Candle Bar on Amsterdam Ave behind the Beacon theater. One of NY’s oldest LGBT bars. It had roots back to the 1940s.

    15. Gretchen says:

      Organic Ave. on Amsterdam & 82nd St. also closed this year, just a few months back. They closed all their roughly 10 stores in NYC, with the whole chain filing for bankrupcy. However, rumor has it they may rise from the dead and reopen their stores, due to new funding sources. Good news for juice heads.

      • Young Sally says:

        I’d be happy to see them back….when they got to the second or third VC firm…it was getting like Fairway…over-ambitious and watered down.

        • Cato says:

          What’s a “VC firm”? I’d date myself by guessing “Viet Cong”, but I don’t think they’d be supporting a ritzy juice bar in any event.

          “Very Charitable”, perhaps?

          Wait, I know — “Vegetables [and] Carrots”!

          Am I right?

    16. Ozzie says:

      And let us not forget the few “mom and pop” establishments that remain. One such – Suba Drugstore on 104 & Broadway. A neighborhood staple for decades now having to expand their over the counter work due to diminishing prescription profits (as are many other drug stores). Competing against CVS and Duane Reade is a losing battle. Would hate to see Mr. Suba leave.

    17. no patience says:

      Oh that Bloomies outlet is so bad!!! Looks like rejects and cheap clothes made for outLet consumption. What were they thinkinG??
      I hope they vacate the space soon….but they probably can afford (or mAy even WANT) the loss.

    18. Allison says:

      I, for one, am not very sad about half of these. Urban Outfitters closed? Good riddance. McGee Tavern? Brother Jimmy’s? American Apparel? You will not be missed. Next we need to shut down Jake’s Dilemma.

      Come on. It’d be sad if a used bookstore or Book Culture closed. Not these places.

    19. DAC says:

      While kvetching about closed businesses and the “colonizing moneyed elite” is a favorite UWS pastime, how about a related article about the businesses we have GAINED in the neighborhood?

    20. Margaret says:

      I’ll miss Breadsoul, Tolani, Josie’s, Pizza by La Grolla, the Danskin store, and Brother Jimmys. Even though Crave is amazing! Thanks to all of these for good memories.

    21. Lorri Cramer, says:

      I believe you need to add Sing, Sing, the grocery and bake goods store was forced out of their store on the corner of 96th St. and Columbus Ave by huge rent increase. They had been there for 25 years.

      The good news is that they were absorbed by the Health Food Store on the east side of Columbus between 95th & 96th St. Such wonderful, hard working people and now the store is empty as is the corner store across the street on the North side of Columbus and 96th. Same landlord.

    22. Young Sally says:

      What about hat store La Di Da…..on Bway…or was that 2014?

    23. Liz says:

      I think you forgot the Candle Bar on Amsterdam between 74th and 75th Streets. The building was sold right before Pride week. The new owners of the building did not want a bar on that space.

      I believe some type of upscale take out gourmet store is opening in this space.

    24. Karen says:

      So sad to see Ocean Grill go, we went there for the first time after securing reservations for thanksgiving eve, great food, great cocktails, great service, we were hoping to make it a tradition! 🙁

    25. Anna says:

      Not to mention a dozen or so Frozen Yogurt places…

    26. Bruce Bernstein says:

      we need commercial rent regulation! hasn’t that become obvious?

      • Sean says:

        No we don’t. What is obvious is that the UWS is in the late stages of gentrification. Also, the way the younger demographic here purchases has to be taken in to account. I would bet the ranch that ecommerce as in online purchases is way way up.

      • Cato says:

        We certainly need to do something, though I still think that “vacancy” regulation would accomplish more and be much more palatable to the new crowd.

        Discourage landlords from raising rents in the hope of drawing a big payer and willing to keep a vacancy endlessly until the big payer shows up. The longer the store remains vacant, of course, the more the landlord needs to bring in a bank or drug chain (to make up for the landlord’s losses during the vacancy) and the less likely the landlord will give in to the marketplace and accept a new “mom and pop”.

        Impose an “extended vacancy tax” on any commercial property owner whose property remains vacant for six months, so that it costs the landlord to gamble. Suddenly a mom-and-pop this month will be worth a lot more than hoping Duane Reade or Bank Bank will lease up next month or the month after that.

    27. Sean says:

      Maybe this is the year that will bring Panda Express to the UWS? IKEA would be so cool too.

    28. Michael Milken says:

      I know it wasn’t this year but we still have an empty building where Food City used to be.

    29. Jessica says:

      What happened to Ozu??? Are they returning?

    30. Malcolm Wise says:

      As an upper west side resident here for 35 years now I would to see photos of zenith electronics Television shop that used to be between West 82nd & 83rd Street & Broadway back in the 1990’s.