OPENINGS & CLOSINGS: GINA LA FORNARINA, DAN JAPANESE, SZECHUAN GARDEN, NEW ITALIAN SPOT

gina

Several restaurants and stores on the Upper West Side have closed in recent days.

Gina la Fornarina, the restaurant on the corner of 73rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue is closed, but the owner tells us they’re planning to open again in a new location at 69th and Broadway. He did not explain why they were closing. He said the new location would likely be open in a month or so, but did not have the exact address. Photo by Michael. Thanks to other tipsters also for writing in.

Dan Japanese Restaurant at 69th and Broadway has closed. They served “home style Japanese cooking like my Mom cooks,” Joanne wrote. It’s still not clear what happened. Thanks to Diana also for the tip.

Trevi Nails, which is right next door next to Dan, has also been emptied out and closed, according to Diana.

Joe & The Juice opened at 247 Columbus Avenue between 71st and 72nd a few days ago.

Maille mustard shop on 68th and Columbus has officially closed with a sign on the door saying they’ve moved to their Flatiron location. We reported the anticipated closing last week. Thanks to Ghostwriter for the tip.

szechuan garden

Szechuan Garden at 98th and Broadway is closed, Naomi writes. “The sign on the door says to leave mail next door, but the woman at the cleaners there didn’t want to say anything about it. This was the third restaurant in this space sine the demise of the Hunan Balcony – the sign is still up from the last “Grand Opening” in March. I think they were all run by the same folks. I just ate here shortly before they closed — the food was good and the joint was jumping, so who knows?”

columbia cottage

An Italian restaurant is set to replace Columbia Cottage at 111th and Amsterdam Avenue, according to Dave Cook of Eating in Translation, who snapped the photo above.

melbas

Melbas Restaurant, a Southern spot at 300 West 114th Street, was seized for nonpayment of taxes, according to a notice on the door. Thanks to our tipster for the photo.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 62 comments | permalink
    1. Jerry says:

      Could Gina la Fornarina be moving into the Dan Japanese Restaurant space?

    2. Margaret says:

      Oh wow – what a triple punch of closures, with Gina, Dan, and Trevi Nails. These were three wonderful neighborhood places. They’ll be missed.

      One happy reopening – Pretto at 80th and Amsterdam is back open after ConEd gas issues shut the building’s four restaurants for a couple weeks.

      • Upper Westsider says:

        Pretto is open but the gas issue remains, so the menu is extremely limited.

        Hard to understand why the gas leak has shut these businesses down for so long.

        • Kenneth says:

          Once ConEd shuts down a gas line, the process for re-certifying the gas line for operation is onerous. It has to be repaired and then tested at many times normal operating pressure The connections and valves usually fail at that pressure requiring, sometimes, that all new gas lines and valves be installed. Can take months.

          • B.B. says:

            After paying out tens of millions for the Harlem explosion and still facing huge claims from the East Village blast, yes, ConEd now takes a *very* long time before reconnecting gas after a problem has been identified.

            Remember how long Carnegie Deli was without gas?

            • the_the says:

              Well Carnegie Deli was stealing gas.
              This means that they had some third rate unlicensed plumbing hack come into the building and mess around with the gas lines.

              Once you get into a situation like that, ALL of the lines in the building need to become suspect.

    3. Bronx Boy says:

      I liked Dan, hadn’t been there recently, but they always had good food, reasonably priced, and a lively, student-y crowd.

      Here’s a hint of what’s going on there:

      n a unique transaction on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a local investor has sold a partial interest in the 72-year leasehold interest in the retail and medical suites at 2012-2018 Broadway – on the corner of West 69th Street – to long time investor Isaac Shalom of Madison Realty at a transaction valued at over $17 million.

      http://rew-online.com/2013/10/02/selling-points-bizzi-closes-on-setai-hampshire-sniffs-out-a-good-deal/

    4. Mike says:

      Put together points 1, 2 and 3 and you can figure out what’s what.

    5. Judy Katz says:

      OH NO! I am in shock. I just learned, right now, here, from you guys, that Dan,my favorite local Japanese restaurant, has closed. I was there last week and was planning to take some friends there tomorrow night. After the loss, some years back, of Peter’s, another wonderful local bistro, this is the next biggest blow.

      What is going on? Dan was always pretty much filled. The food was great and reasonably priced. You could sit as long as you liked, in a serene environment. I am truly at a loss. Anyone else feeling the pain?

    6. UWSHebrew says:

      Szechuan Garden, in all it’s openings and closings of the last three years, was awful. I once ordered a dish and it was filled with cooked celery. No other vegetables. Sloppily prepared chicken. Good riddance.

    7. Sam says:

      It will be interesting to see how the Italian place opening at 111th and Amsterdam fares with beloved neighborhood standby V&T’s just a few doors down. They’ve been under construction for over a year. Meanwhile, the neighborhood is still mourning the loss of Columbia Cottage Chinese.

      • Mary says:

        According to the folks at Hungarian Pastry Shop, next door, the preparations for the Italian place at 111th have been going on for years and they are no closer to occupying the space.

        • Ron says:

          Not only do we have V&T down the block but Mezzogiorno, Macchina and Piccola Cucina are all close by. We hardly need a fifth Italian option. And not one Chinese restaurant in Morningside Heights.

          • There are actually several good Chinese restaurants in Morningside Heights! There is Legend on 109th and Szechuan Garden on 105th Street. Xian Famous Foods on 102nd is another. Plus there are several authentic Chinese food carts outside of Columbia University on 116th and Broadway. And we also have an Asian Minimart (M2M), and there is a Chinese hot pot restaurant opening on 108th and Broadway.

            • Sarah Leung says:

              Szchuan Garden on 105th is owned by the same man, David Chan….who is also the owner of Hunan Balcony, and all the “other” restaurants that followed in the same spot. My relative worked in there.

    8. Patricio A Suarez says:

      Didn’t the mustard shop just get renovated a few months ago? They were closed and doing construction during the summer I think. Something didn’t go right with those plans.

      • sam says:

        I think the problem with the mustard shop was that it was a double or triple storefront space with an astronomical rent selling nothing but fancy mustard.

        Don’t get me wrong – I like fancy mustard, but it’s just not something most people need to buy on a weekly basis.

    9. Barbara J. Klein says:

      Tempura Dan’s was increased by 200%.

    10. Debbi says:

      So sad to hear about Melba’s. Good crowd, great food, reasonably priced,one of the first uptown in the neighborhood. Will be missed.

    11. Ethan says:

      Dan was among the oldest Japanese restaurants on the upper west side. Once upon a time it was called Tempura Dan. I remember it in the 1970s.

    12. R. Herlands says:

      Rain on Columbus and 74 st just closed!!

    13. tim says:

      The hunan balcony space could use a fresh, new look, a menu that doesn’t seem stale and a signal by the owner that it will commit. The turnover and constant ‘grand openings’ is a turn off.

      • lynn says:

        Could I ask which Hunan Balcony you’re referring to? I used to order takeout from a HB on the UWS 4 years ago and everything was fantastic, then approx 2 years ago I rec’d a flier stating that they were renovating and making changes. When I reached them again the food and service was really terrible so I stopped ordering.

    14. wombatNYC says:

      The Szechuan Garden space would be a great spot for WESTVILLE. I dream of this happening

    15. B.B. says:

      Gina la Fornarina closed their place on Second Avenue between 81st and 82nd on UES several months ago. Space has sat vacant ever since.

    16. Jen says:

      Feel sad about Dan Tempura House, go there a few times a week and nothing seemed out of ordinary.
      There’s almost nothing left from the neighborhood I moved into in 2000. Very generic, banks and drug stores. We are now living ina huge tasteless suburban mall. The excerpt from the link referring to a great new partnership is great for only 2-3 pockets. There’s nothing for the community. I believe that there must be some regulation by now regarding commercial rent. And air rights on semi-related note. A few individuals are selling air rights to the comminuty’s air, somebody else’s air rights. A few individual are lining their pockets by destroying neighborhoods.

      Sherman? I know you can’t wait to comment. Please do, and if you can refrain fromcriticizing the spelling, language, education, etc. that would be appreciated.

      • B.B. says:

        Commercial rent regulation is not coming back to New York state nor city likely ever.

        It is a case of “been there and done that”, with horrible results.

        NYS enacted commercial rent control back in the early 1940’s as it did with residential rent control in response to the “emergency” caused by WWII.

        Owners of commercial property universally despised the new laws and hauled the state into countless and what seemed never ending court challenges. When the law expired in 1965 (IIRC) the state threw in the towel and didn’t bother attempting to extend or even create a compromise as it did with rent stabilization for residential.

        If you think commercial landlords fought nearly 50 years ago against rent control, think of what they would do today.

        Reason why NYC has not moved on its own in enacting some type of commercial rent control is that opinion varies of how legal such laws would be. Again previously NYS enacted commercial rent control, and as we all know Albany still controls the authority by which residential rent control laws still exist.

        A good portion of those in city government both elected and appointed (such as legal counsel) are divided and thus cautious about the city doing something that not only could end up in the courts; but the effects of an unfavorable ruling would have.

        Air rights:

        Yes, the air that we all breathe is “free” and belongs to “everyone”. But the air above property that represents undeveloped space belongs to the owner. Just as if you own land absent any law or agreement otherwise you have possession of anything that is underneath (mineral rights and so forth).

        • Jen says:

          The gist of your response is – there will be court battles over a new law. So let’s not introduce any new laws or regulations at all because of possible litigation?

          About the air right – I think we all know what it means. My concern was totally about something else completely and not about the definition of air rights.

          • B.B. says:

            In this particular case, yes.

            There is a difference and you know what I meant.

            It is one thing to create a law with good intentions and have it be later struck down. OTOH when something from the start rests on perhaps very dicey legal ground wise persons consider all options.

            Economists on both sides of the political fence for years all have said the same thing; rent control laws are bad news for the overall local economy. Indeed anytime a government mandates price controls/interferes in a market it creates distortions and problems.

            New York’s residential rent control/stabilization laws are part of the reason the rental housing market here is in horrible shape. So you want to take that failed experiment and apply it to the remaining healthy real estate market, commercial real estate?

            • Jen says:

              You call this situation healthy?
              How is monopoly of banks and pharmacies is healthy?
              Apparently the regulation is not going to be simple and anti-monopoly laws in addition to other means should come to play. But please don’t call the current situation healthy along with your other very lame and righteous arguments. Unless you are one of these landlords which I suspect you are.

            • UWS_lifer says:

              Always love your intelligent comments!

              You should have a daily newsletter or something.

    17. lynn says:

      Does anyone know what’s going into the nail salon on 72 btwn B’way and WEA?

    18. MQ says:

      Wow my family has been going to Dans since I was a child. Sad to see it go

    19. Always sad to see some beloved local business shut down due to rent increases. I guess that’ll just open up space for more chain stores and big banks. The UWS is quickly losing it’s neighborhood charm and becoming more and more like midtown Manhattan.

    20. Ulrika says:

      What has happened to Spiga Restaurant on 84th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave?

    21. Ellie says:

      Szechuan Garden on 105 right off Broadway is still open and really good.

    22. B.B. says:

      Interesting, didn’t know Amaranth on East 62nd is owned by the same person who launched both now closed Gino La Fornarina

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/dining/18off.html

    23. seyo says:

      Daaaaaaaaaan, no! So sad. It’s the first restaurant I remember eating in, ever. I was 5, it was my first trip to NYC, and I had my first sushi.

      Dan will be greatly missed.

    24. JESSICA says:

      DAN I WILL MISS YOU YOU WERE MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT SO MANY GREAT MEMORIES

    25. Kate says:

      I’ve lived across the street from Dan Japanese Restaurant for six years. I kept putting off going there. Just this past week I told myself I’d go soon.

      Oops.

      Moral of the story: Don’t put things off.

    26. Ted says:

      Wow!!! Knock me over with a feather. If a giant store selling only mustard can’t make it times are harder than I thought. Where will we go for mustard now that we are limited to the 20-30 varieties available at Fairway, Zabar’s and Westside Market. I’m not sure I’ll make it through the winter without a fresh supply of Myer Lemon Clover Honey Black Truffle Garlic Chipotle Infused Cardamom Mustard.

    27. francis says:

      The UWS needs replacements for Penang and Saigon Grill.

      • Jen says:

        Couldn’t agree more. But apparently drugstore chains and banks is what is “healthy” economics for this neighborhood according to B.B.

        Looks like our listful musings about what we would like to have are going to stay what they are – musings.

        Something needs to change drastically in terms of commercial rent and monopoly laws before we can live in well-balanced healthy neighborhood.

        • tailfins says:

          @Jen – what are you talking about with “monopoly” laws? There isn’t a single landowner / landlord who has market power in the Upper West Side (leaving aside the notion of whether the UWS is it’s own market).

          If the UWS is now only drugstores and banks, please explain Maison Kayser, Mermaid Inn, Pizzeria Sirinetta, 5 Napkin, Jacob’s Pickles, Jin Ramen and more.

          Rents on the UWS are now more expensive. That’s because there’s more opportunity. It means that the economics of the businesses here need to change. I’m not saying Dan or others “deserved” to go away, but low volume, low revenue places that survived on low rent will not survive. You can help these businesses by making them high volume, or by spending more when you do go.

          Btw – to the person who wants Penang back. Try Malaysia Grill at 104 and Broadway.

          • tailfins says:

            Edit: “its” not “it’s”

          • Jen says:

            By “monopoly ” I meant oversaturation of the same companies within limited distance, I.e. 15 Duane Reade stores and 20 Chase banks with only 2-3 of mom-n-pops in the same area. The lame examples of your hero and mentor B.B. who is most definitely a commercial landlord in the area and who is apparently does everything to defend a right to make a buck at the expense of the community doesn’t change the picture. The anti-monopoly laws could come on different flavors and there’s a reason they exist. Are you going to argue that they are counterproductive as well?

            Semi-related to the response – I’m sure the same B.b. is trolling under many other monikers.

            We really need a new legislation to find a balance for the community that has been offset commercial greed.

        • B.B. says:

          Read and learn: http://www.nycbar.org/pdf/report/uploads/20071977-ReportonCommercialRentControlLegislation.pdf

          Two, don’t know what “monopoly” you are speaking of. Not one person or even a few own all commercial retail space in Manhattan, much less NYC. In fact a good amount of space is ground floor or other space owned by condos or co-ops. As such the “owners” are local residents (shareholders or owners of apartments), so you might want to start targeting them if you want to address what you see as an issue.

          Unless you are some sort of charity the purpose of owning anything is to make money. Again we all know how well RS has worked for New York City residential, so why would anyone owing commercial/retail space willingly allow expansion into the only healthy functioning real estate market that remains?

          Yes, healthy in that property owners have every right to name the price (rent) they wish. They will either get it, or not. Just as it is the right of a business to pay or not requested rent.

          If you want someone to get hot with direct your attention down to City Hall. Current and previous administration like others in the past treat commercial real estate as a cash cow.

          Commercial real estate taxes can be raised at anytime (and have) nor are they subject to the same mollycoddling treatment for single and two family residential. That is increases in commercial RE taxes are not phased in over several years nor limited each year to a percentage increase/decrease.

          Commercial properties pay the *largest* share of RE taxes in NYC. Condos/co-ops are next with single and two family homes the least.

          NYC has raised water and sewer rates several times over the past decade and those increased keep coming every year.

          Why bring all this up? Because standard practice is that commercial tenants pay their LL’s property taxes (in whole or part), along with various other rates and surcharges as part of their rent.

          The other simple fact is that property values for land in NYC have increased dramatically over the past two decades. This is important because even if the tax rates aren’t increased the rise in assessed value means both commercial and residential rates rise regardless.

          New York City and State are in the top five for highest property taxes for entire USA. They also have a byzantine and archaic system of property tax laws that picks winners (single and two family properties) over losers (commercial and multifamily). That is one of if not the largest reason behind the increases in asking rents for commercial properties.

          Sorry to be so long winded but is simply must be said. You want commercial property owners to lower their rents, then lower their taxes. But NYC won’t do this nor would many residents like it because then were would they find the funds for the vast and deep system of social welfare spending this city gives away.

          Here is another thing; NYC/NYS taxes multifamily rental housing as commercial, this includes RS and RC properties. So if a building has regulated rents the only place owners have free control is ground floor retail, if any.

          Finally as posted in another thread, the lack of diversity you are seeing in retail is NOT just due to commercial rents. But rather the explosive growth of online sales has had a huge impact. As such many retail or services of old simply cannot charge prices high enough to cover rents due to completion from Internet only places.

    28. Boopsie says:

      Oh, well. Too bad about Gina. I was crushed by the closing of the place that preceded it – the B & G Bar, which had been there since the 1940s.

      • geoff says:

        the P & G, actually. it’s a killer when a (historically important) favourite closes, and it’s replacement doesn’t survive.

    29. Nathan says:

      Gina is closing because they were routinely delinquent in paying their rent.

    30. UWS says:

      Doesn’t it make you wonder what the heck these so-called Business Improvement District’s are doing? Columbus Ave & Amsterdam???? Oh, and it’s time to give rid of the Lincoln Center BID ED. She’s a bit too full of herself, and what promotion does she do to help the business community?

    31. David says:

      I heard that the Starbucks across from ABC Studios on Columbus closed because the landlord wanted something like upwards of $120,000 a month rent. For those defending rent increases… How is this not highly greedy at best, or highly suspicious at worst?

    32. Mercer Elveland says:

      Another good neighborhood start up shuts down. Fat Monk, a great new gastropub on Columbus between 106 and 107 went dark. There is a handwritten sign on the door stating packages and deliveries can be left at neighboring businesses. Sorry to see such a short run. Our first couple visits were very enjoyable.

      Mercer.