BREAKING COOKIE NEWS! LEVAIN WILL MOVE INTO NEW LARGER SPACE

levain line2
This was the line at Levain after the marathon last year. Photo by Emily Baer.

Levain Bakery, the tiny aromatic pleasure-palace at 167 West 74th street, is moving to a new location on Amsterdam Avenue that might even be large enough to accommodate the store’s massive crowds, according to the Post.

The bakery will move to 351 Amsterdam Avenue, between 76th and 77th street next to Tessa restaurant. The new space is 3,000 square feet, compared to 400 at its current location, where Levain has been serving its addictive cookies and breads since 1995. The lines can be so long on the weekends that 20 or more people have to wait outside.

Update: Gothamist reports that the store will be keeping its 74th street location too.

We wrote about the store and its origins here.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 63 comments | permalink
    1. Bob says:

      ouch…. always something to be said about original location… why not open 2nd spot?

      • Westender says:

        You can’t fault them for expanding, but what would be great is if the current location stayed open as an actual bakery, making it easy for the locals to get their bread and staples, while the Amsterdam location became a big cookie hub with seating for out-of-towners.

    2. tcp says:

      I knew it! I saw a woman in a Levain T shirt unlocking the door to that space last week and I thought Levain is moving. I almost contacted the West Side Rag. This is great news, but not for my waistline. .

    3. zeus says:

      That’s over 4 times the SF.
      Must be 400-500% more in rent.
      I hope they don’t regret the move.
      Keep up the quality and you’ll keep
      up the crowds.
      Good luck. We’ll see you there.

      • Filatura says:

        Cue the Amsterdam Avenue Bakery Wars!
        The new Levain location is a block or two south of the new Orwasher’s branch that scheduled to open in June, and not much farther from the new Kirch bakery between 86th and 87th (lovely seeded sourdough bread). It’s been nearly 30 years since Louis Lichtman closed his iconic bakery at 86th and Amsterdam,leaving West Siders bereft of his glorious babkas and strudels. Have carbs suddenly become chic?

    4. Nathan says:

      I wish the line were only 20 people long. Try 100.

      • dannyboy says:

        No line in Wainscot.

        • anon says:

          It might be faster to drive to Wainscot than to stand in the line.

          • Tom says:

            Yeah, that line is regularly 80-100 people long over the past couple years. The picture shown at the top is standard, not a marathon day irregularity. I’m not sure why it expanded so much. Good press, I guess.

        • anon says:

          I’m a New Yorker, I don’t waste fossil fuel driving around for dessert thanks.

          • dannyboy says:

            Is this the same anon who, this morning, wrote the cleaver Comment just above?

    5. Sam says:

      Great. The idiots that stand in line for overpriced cookies will be on someone else’s block soon.

      I’m getting grumpy in my old age!

    6. lisa says:

      Levain has been transformed from nice neighborhood bakery to a tourist/visitor “destination”
      This happened to Amy’s on 9th Avenue and of course Magnolia years ago and other places.
      Similarly huge tourist/visitor lines at Sarabeth’s and Good Enough To Eat for weekend brunch – but both places are relatively empty at dinner.

      Glad for the owners that the business has been successful but Levain no longer feels like a neighborhood place. The transformation of the UWS into a mall and tourist foodie destination…Sad IMO ๐Ÿ™

      A Modest Proposal – How about an express line at Levain for people who actually live here?
      ๐Ÿ™‚

      PS – To WSR readers-You may not agree with my comments bur please, no insults or nasty comments. Thanks.

      • dannyboy says:

        Please provide your Guidlines for Replying. I would like to Comment on:

        “The transformation of the UWS into a mall and tourist foodie destinationโ€ฆSad IMO ?
        A Modest Proposal โ€“ How about an express line at Levain for people who actually live here?
        ?
        (Disclaimer: The emojis are from the quote and in no way represent my views of such quotes.)

        P.S. Isn’t the entire Comment insulting and nasty remarks about our visitors.

        I await your response. No censorship necessary. Go on, be nice.

      • CZ says:

        Lisa – how could anyone disagree, you are spot on! It is a tourist trap, the cookies are ok but not the best cookies ever.

      • Blarvin says:

        Lisa – don’t worry about nasty comments! Nobody cares if you lament about the past or not. The UWS is most definitely not a foodie destination, nor is it known to anyone for being interesting in a culinary sense. The neighborhood is not a tourist trap either – they love CP and the AMNH and also like to explore, much like every other beautiful area of the city. Why don’t you chose to look at the positive aspects of the hood or just move to Inwood or something?

      • lisa says:

        Hi dannyboy and Blarvin,

        Levain is an excellent bakery and my comment was not meant to suggest it is a tourist trap. But with Twitter, Instagram, TripAdvisor etc it is no longer the neighborhood spot it was. No longer possible just to walk in on weekends and just pick up a loaf of bread. Similarly Sarabeth’s & Good Enough To Eat serve good food, but the crowd imbalance – tourist lines at weekend brunch and much quieter all other times – reflect the significant segmentation of the business.

        Tourism is a key part of NYC’s economy but at some point there is a tipping point when tourism overwhelms regular life/neighborhoods etc. This is an issue faced in Barcelona, Venice and many other places. Too much tourism impacts on housing, living costs, congestion etc. When I travel, I am a tourist of course but in numerous places can see the frustration of local residents.

        As for “A Modest Proposal” – that was a joke.

        A Modest Proposal is the title of Jonathan Swift’s satire. (But actually there was a recent suggestion on the blog Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY to give New Yorkers priority entrance once a week at crowded museums)

        As for Blarvin’s recommendation that I move…actually I am second generation UWS and fourth generation New Yorker ๐Ÿ™‚

        • dannyboy says:

          Thanks for the clarification. I am 3rd generation myself.

          I appreciate the satirical reference. Now feel that it is Jeremiah with whom I take exception.
          There are separate admissions in Alexandria, Egypt for that historic library. We demanded the local admission price; explaining that it was our ancestors who built the monuments. Without pay.

    7. geoff says:

      lines of far more than 20 people, seemingly mostly tourists who have read about the bakery on TripAdvisor, will not be missed one iota. clogging the sidewalk with not a care for residents carrying grocery bags home from Fairway et al., paying $5 for cookies they can easily make themselves, they are yours. take them, please.

    8. Big Earl says:

      I saw the line a few days ago and was blown away anyone would wait that long for a cookie. But I also say the same thing to those people who wait in line for a burger at Shake Shack or those who wait forever to just have the pleasure to walk inside Trader Joes. I’ve never felt the need to wait in any line just for food. This is NYC. There are a thousand different options. No food is that great to wait 20 minutes in a cattle line on the sidewalk. Moooo. PT Barnum would be proud of these suckers.

    9. Jean Joachim says:

      Yippee! Right around the corner from me. I will have to use all the self-control I have.

    10. e says:

      They need one line for cookies and one line for everything else. They make really good sandwiches but there’s no way I’ll stand in line at lunchtime anymore to buy one.

    11. Violet says:

      I’m so tired of all of the negative comments on this site.
      There is a line at Levain because the cookies are delicious and no one has been able to replicate them. There is no need to say anything other than congrats on their success and we wish them well in their new location. If you do not like living in a beautiful neighborhood in a city that people from all over the world like to visit, then you’ve got bigger issues than your palate.

      • cozmocharlie says:

        thanks Violet. you said it well and simply.
        everyone else – you just miss the point

        • dannyboy says:

          Dear Mr Cozmo,

          Thank you for supporting Violet’s: “Iโ€™m so tired of all of the negative comments on this site.” It is a beautiful sentiment, and directed at her neighbors and fellow Commentors. I mean, what loving person wouldn’t agree?

          And then adding: “everyone else โ€“ you just miss the point ” is just the epitome of loving and charm. Well said.

        • Violet says:

          Thank you cozmocharlie! Nice to know that there are still some positive people on the UWS!

      • Steen says:

        Yay, Violet! Thank you for the spot on thoughts. People seem to love to come on here and be negative. The lines are long because the food is delicious. My congrats to a LOCAL business that can expand in its original neighborhood. From the comments on here you would think it’s moving four miles away, and turning into a Bubba Gumps at the same time.

      • Leslie says:

        You’re so right, Violet. The cookies at Levain are terrific! Kudos to them for attracting a following. I look forward to visiting the new, bigger space. I’m old enough to remember when the area’s most talked about feature was Needle Park. We’ve come along way if people lining up for cookies is considered a problem. The Debbie Downers trolling this site should go buy a cookie. It might cheer them up.

        • Violet says:

          Leslie…I’m afraid the”haters” are going to remain “haters”. Let’s save the cookies for those who will appreciate them. See you in line. If I’m late, save a chocolate walnut cookie for me please. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • dannyboy says:

        “Iโ€™m so tired of all of the negative comments on this site.”

        But Ms Violet…isn’t that kinda’ a negative comment?

        …about your fellow neighbors and Commentors?

    12. Paris Wyome says:

      I live less than 2 blocks away from that place, and I have NEVER yet been motivated to buy anything there. Why: Incredibly long lines, day and evening; why is almost everybody in line so young looking? maybe due to social media sites?); not very many/ interesting looking selections; and high prices.

      Maybe I’ll try the new location if it has wider selections and if I don’t have to wait in long lines. I also avoid Trader Joes due to its almost always long lines. Time for TJ to also open a new location on the UWS or UES, or both.

      • dannyboy says:

        Because young people eat more cookies. It’s a scientific fact.

      • Elizabeth M. says:

        Hey Paris, haven’t you heard? Trader Joe’s is opening a store on Columbus & 93rd. I live in that building & we are happy to have them!

    13. JG says:

      They should leave open the old location too as an “express” location for locals who just want a coffee and brioche. Half the time when I go, I am in line behind people who have lists of the boxes they want and it takes 10 minutes to serve that one person. They are losing neighborhood customers already. Hopefully they will at least have an express line in the new place.

      • Mark says:

        Great idea!
        It would be interesting if they didn’t sell cookies at all at the old location and have a full selection at the new place.
        It’s easy to get in and out early in the morning during the week but any other time it’s too annoying to wait.
        I love their stuff!

    14. SB says:

      They have another outpost on Frederick Douglas Blvd and 117th. no line. ๐Ÿ™‚

    15. Elizabeth says:

      20? There is a line of people up the block halfway to Columbus (see your own photo)! It’s like this almost every day. They are tourists, I think. Not that it isn’t a great cookie, but really they could go to the store uptown and there is no line. Maybe it’s become part of the NY experience per those tour guides.

      • dannyboy says:

        I do must of my eating in Harlem. Did anyone see the Sunday Magazine article? Excellent!

    16. Pjrod says:

      I understand why they are doing this but I think it’s kind of sad. Lisa and Bob are spot on in my opinion. Haven’t been there in a while. Had no idea that it had become such a tourist destination. Tourists sure are a double-edged sword.

      • dannyboy says:

        Since lisa isn’t entertaining any Replies, perhaps you, as a major supporter can rationalize: “Levain has been transformed from nice neighborhood bakery to a tourist/visitor ‘destination…

        A Modest Proposal โ€“ How about an express line at Levain for people who actually live here?”

        Pjrod, are you agreeing that visitors should be shunned and segregated into separate lines?

        WTF is up on the UWS? I am more shocked by these comments every day!

    17. John says:

      I know a guy who can get you scalped cookies and breads with the customary 30% up charge, Just think no line and you know you are busy.
      ๐Ÿ™‚

    18. Tom D says:

      Just read on Eater that the old location will remain open.

    19. jknyc says:

      No lines at Harlem location

      • dannyboy says:

        jknyc is right. I ate on the LES for years and had great food reasonably. Harlem has been that way for many years. When that changes, I will be out of luck.

    20. RK says:

      How DARE people come to OUR neighborhood, especially the young ones, and wait on line to SPEND MONEY? I don’t care if the cookies are sublime and addictive, I would NEVER be inconvenienced for something no matter how much enjoyment it brings me. That’s why I sit in my overpriced UWS apartment and curse at the wall. No one’s going to pull a fast one on ME!

      I bet they all rode Citibikes here too. And went over the 30 minute limit which incurred extra fees, further funding the program for residents. HOW DARE THEY!

      Seriously, congrats to Levain, well done! We went for their cookies last night (no line BTW) and we were chatting that as long as they can keep selling the cookies as fast as they can make them, why should they pay for exorbitant real estate?

      And BTW, when I walk by Levain’s long lines (usually coming back from a great shopping experience at Fairway), I notice the people on that line SMILING, LAUGHING, and generally enjoying each other’s company, in anticipation of their cookie experience. And it occurs to me that, as a neighborhood resident, I can easily come by during off times and not wait on line.

      BAH HUMBUG!

      • Violet says:

        RK: you’re awesome! The only thing I would have added is something such as “and how dare those horrible film companies shoot movies and TV shows that people around the world can enjoy and get to know our fabulous city. I refuse to wait a minute while they shoot a scene, and simply cannot abide that I am unable to park my car in its usual spot for 2 days…hey it’s MY street!”. Did I channel you ok?

        • dannyboy says:

          Violet, I’m guessing that you would much prefer that those parking spots cost money.

          That way, instead of your neighbors sharing a Commons, money would rule.

          Nice

    21. Residentro says:

      I live in that block and have counted over 200 people who take over the sidewalk. So what has happened is that pedestrians walk in the street to avoid the line. As a result we’ve had two senior citizens hit by levain customers trying to double park by the store. Good ridence. Good cookies, bad spot.

      • Violet says:

        Residentro: i am sorry to hear that anyone was hit by a car, but one would think that crossing the street at the corner or simply saying “pardon me” or “excuse me” to pass, are options that still exist? I have never met a cookie-loving tourist or New Yorker who does not respond to such an appeal. Pedestrians are not obligated to walk in the street…they have options.

        • dannyboy says:

          Gotta appreciate a cookie-loving New Yorker who figures that her neighbors get hit by cars because they don’t know how to ask her cookie-loving tourists to accommodate them on their own block.

          I’m feeling the love and open-mindedness.

    22. yoyomama says:

      Psst… has anyone noticed that Levain barely bakes their cookies. They’re flipping raw! NASTY!

    23. Diego says:

      I live a few doors down from the location on 74th and I can tell you that the complaints aren’t about the bakery but about the tourist masses that invade the neighborhood 4 days out of the week.

      Of course we have no problem with a real local establishment finding success, but I’d like to see your reaction when there are hundreds of people lined up outside your apartment all day, clogging the sidewalk, leaving trash everywhere, and being generally inconsiderate and oblivious.

      I hope their expansion pays off and balances the crowds better.

      • Sean says:

        Yup and the bakery itself does nothing in the way of crowd control because as I am sure, they do not live here.

    24. Eddie says:

      I think the great Yogi Berra bests sums up this thread: “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

      I love Levain and by pure luck have managed to get in there a few times with short lines. I would never wait in a long line for their food. I am very happy for their success and expansion and hope they maintain their high quality as their business grows.

    25. Independent says:

      Let’s see now…tourists; “non-native” New Yorkers; Upper East Siders; suburbanites; Young Urban Professionals (“YUP(pies)”);the wealthy (or at least the “super wealthy”); unapologetic right-wingers, traditionalists and (U.S.A. or European) nationalists; fundamentalist Christians….Have I missed any? You know, of the entire categories of people not welcome in these parts (or at least deemed to be less-than “real” UWSers) by the enforcers of Upper West Side demographic purity and authenticity?

      Seems like many here would be happy to see a wall erected around the UWS to keep all the aforementioned undesirables out. Perhaps that could make the UWS great again…

      • ml says:

        On West Side Rag, also comments critical of the elderly and low-income residents.

    26. Atara says:

      There is a Harlem location! I don’t think many people know about it and it’s a pleasure never any lines ๐Ÿ™‚

    27. Clara says:

      Great news! It’s one of my favorite places in the neighborhood and I used to stop in frequently to buy cookies as gifts, etc. Lately, it’s just been so crowded and the line moves extra slowly because people are too busy instagramming and taking selfies to notice that they need to order. Hopefully this will alleviate some of the congestion because Levain really is delicious.