Openings & Closings: Zen Taco, Zai Lai, Lush, Panda Express, Serafina, Saffron

New Chinese, Asian-Latin and Taiwanese restaurants are opening on the Upper West Side, as an Indian spot appears to have closed.

Zen Taco is opening at 522 Columbus Avenue (85th), the former home of Firehouse Tavern, which had been there for 28 years. “The cuisine is a mix of Asian and Latin influences, with customization at the heart of the concept,” according to a Craigslist jobs posting. “The atmosphere is bright and fun, as well as very family friendly. The restaurant features full service in house as well as take out and delivery.” Thanks to Michelle, Jonathan, Peter, MEreps and “nameless” for the tips.

Taiwanese restaurant Zai Lai is opening in the Turnstyle underground mall and food court in the Columbus Circle subway station in late November.

Beauty store Lush is opening in the corner space on 77th Street and Broadway in the Hotel Belleclaire building. The hotel restored the building to look more like it did in the early 20th century. Thanks to Theo for the photo and Michael for the tip.

Mille-Feuille bakery also recently reopened in the same building with a new facade. “The café is newly, beautifully refurbished and its pastries and breads are truly sans pareil!” wrote Amy, who sent the photo above. It’s still not clear if Westside Market will be sticking around.

Chinese food chain Panda Express looks like it’s about to open on Broadway between 110th and 111th streets. They even got to hoist a sign saying “Panda” above the T-Mobile sign on the corner. Thanks to Flash for the photo.

A new Serafina Italian restaurant is set to open at 2737 Broadway (105th) on Thursday (today!). Thanks to Elizabeth Martorella for the photo.

The new Sephora is open on 73rd and Broadway.

Saffron, the Indian restaurant on 75th and Columbus that was once Mughlai, appears to be closed. They’re not answering the phone and the interior has been mostly cleared out. Thanks to Tom, Aimee, Timothy and Keith for the tips.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 22 comments | permalink
    1. Gayle Gorman says:

      Will “Shun Lee Restaurant” reopen after it cleans up its act?

      • Jean says:

        Ate at Shun Lee last Fri night and ended up at Mt. Sinai West ER! Chills, violent tremors and antifilatic (sp?) Shock. I do not have any food allergies. Almost died.Been there before, never a problem. Never again even if they reopen!

    2. BillyNYC says:

      I never been in that restaurant but I had a friend said he got so sick from it and how dirty and filthy always look from outside So happy they closed.
      Cheap restaurants are such a risky business in New York City the lifespan is less than a year I don’t know where they get these investors from what a loss of these type of restaurants like this one the closed. People on the Upper West Sideers are very smart and very picky what they like to. eat and these owners don’t to research and put a restaurant and that we would like than they should not even bother to come into our neighborhood here on the most educated area of New York city on the fashionable and exclusive Upper West Side!

      • Tostonesfix says:

        C’Mon. Is this a joke? The UWS is (mostly) a restaurant wasteland because the residents are cheap and they prefer to stay at home. “Picky” UWS residents and escalating rents are to blame for the lack of a vibrant restaurant scene.

        • Jason says:

          I disagree, Red Farm, Han Dynasty, The Ribbon, Jacob’s Pickles, and more are destination restaurants and all on the UWS. We’re hardly the west village but also hardly the upper east side.

        • uwsdiner says:

          Maybe in your neck of the woods, but my neighborhood could hardly be referred to as a restaurant wasteland. There are at least 20 quality places within walking distance to choose from and they range from ultra casual to fine dining.

        • Sean says:

          It’s true for the W70s. The mantra is I prefer to spend my money elsewhere. It’s been like this for at least 20 years. There’s no nightlife or street activity after 10pm. Basically it’s a bedroom community.

          • uwsdiner says:

            That is exactly where I live and I vehemently disagree. Not sure of your age or what kind of nightlife you are looking for but I have a lot of fun around here!

        • Inaya says:

          I love it how people trash us, acting like staying home is some sort of evil.

          If you don’t like the UWS, guess what? You don’t have to come up here. Stay in your own “wasteland.”

        • Kat French says:

          Are you kidding? There are literally hundreds of restaurants on the UWS. No, they aren’t getting written up in the Times, but they are small, owner-operated, friendly, varied, and affordable.

      • Andrew J says:

        I have and it was amazing. Ordered from saffron plenty of times too. Brought my coworker that actually immigrated from India who loved it as well. You’re just dead wrong on everything you said. Never got sick. They were also reasonably priced. I walked there for lunch the other day and it was closed. I tried to order from there the other night and it was closed. My fear has come true. Had to order from Sapphire. It was good but more expensive.

      • Erica says:

        ShunLee is not cheap, by any stretch. Gross? Yes. Cheap? No. So long.

    3. Jason says:

      Love Panda Express!! Welcome to the neighborhood.

    4. wombatNYC says:

      Mughlai was delicious . too bad

    5. Sallyl Martell says:

      I was told by the cashiers that West Side Market is definitely closing on November 30.

    6. Jonathan says:

      Late last Saturday night (Nov. 4), I was shopping at Westside Market, and the employees there told me that the store would definitely be closing on November 30, and that the people working there would still be there for another month clearing the place out. I was also told that there is no guarantee that the people who work there now will be taken on in any of their other locations – they all have to re-apply for jobs, as if they had never worked there before.
      I still hope the last word hasn’t been spoken on all of this, but it sounded pretty definitive to me.

    7. Mark Piazza says:

      Did they mean NYLO for Lush? It’s at the corner of 77th.

    8. Karen H. says:

      Oh nooooo! I just had lunch at Saffron on Saturday. The lunch buffet was always excellent and a great deal at $12.95. To the Saffron team: Thanks for everything. You will be missed.

    9. Paris Wyome says:

      I agree the West 70s has increasingly become a bedroom community. That is obvious to me in several ways. I have lived in the West 70s since the early 1970s. Lot of great cheers bars that remained crowded way past midnight back then, and drinks and food were much, much cheaper.