New Restaurants: One Neighborhood Favorite Makes its Return, Another Gets its Replacement

By Alex Israel

During a recent meeting of Community Board 7’s Business & Consumer Issues Committee, a number of new restaurants received the liquor license and sidewalk café approvals they need to ramp up for the spring and summer seasons. Liquor license applications will also need to be reviewed by the State Liquor Authority for final approval.

A local favorite that closed its UWS location in 2015 is making its way back to the neighborhood, replacing the empty spot left behind by the Meatball Shop at 447 Amsterdam Avenue between 81st and 82nd Streets. Backed by an excited committee, Gazala’s was approved for a liquor license unanimously. Chef and owner Gazala Halabi hopes the scaffolding is down by the time she plans to open, sometime in the next 8-10 weeks. 

An unnamed French bistro opening at 491 Columbus Avenue (84th) with lunch and dinner service was also approved for a liquor license. It will replace Gastronomie 491, which closed earlier this year.

Restaurant Services I, a vendor operating within Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center, received unanimous approval for a liquor license, which will be used in service of guests attending regular seasonal events like Midsummer Night Swing. 

Huseyin Ozer, an owner of both Bodrum Mediterranean and Bella Luna, was looking to receive approval on a liquor license for a new ”family oriented, casual fine dining restaurant” with a pizza oven at 104 West 74th Street off of Columbus Avenue. But to his surprise, members of the community showed up to voice their concern about the backyard space he intended to occupy, which is overlooked by at least three residential buildings. After more than an hour of testimony and deliberation, the committee unanimously disapproved his application, suggesting he rethink his plans for service in the rear courtyard. 

A number of renewals and new applications for sidewalk cafés passed unanimously, including: 

Joe & The Juice’s new application for a sidewalk cafe at 343 Amsterdam Avenue was not approved, as there was no representative present to appear before the committee.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 38 comments | permalink
    1. Coffee lover says:

      Does anyone know the status of the Jack’s Coffee opening on the UWS? This was announced by the West Side Rag a few months ago but no updates or opening since.

    2. debn says:

      Joe and the Juice already have set up tables and chairs outside at 343 Amsterdam

      • Ethan says:

        Joe and/or The Juice need to be told: no application approval, no tables & chairs outside.

    3. dannyboy says:

      I enjoy Bodrum Mediterranean, including their pizza. But I can see why residents wouldn’t want the noise emanating from a restaurant in their backyard.

      The neighborhood is WAY NOISIER than ever.

      • Sid says:

        I rarely have a problem with restaurant noise, but have a lot of problems with trucks and cars barreling down Amsterdam at all hours of the day and honking their horns, which is actually illegal in most circumstances and rarely enforced.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        Well, I guess that is life in the big city. No?

        I hear those noise cancelling headphones work really well.:)

        • Sid says:

          No, not really. There are laws that aren’t being enforced.

        • dannyboy says:

          Because it does not disturb you, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t disturb others.

          Thus the objections from the neighbors and the unanimously disapproved of Mr. Ozer’s application by Community Board 7.

        • Leon says:

          I wish there was something similar for message boards so that I could avoid the constant posting by certain people whose non-stop nonsense devalues otherwise interesting conversations.

    4. Hmmm... says:

      “Joe & The Juice’s new application for a sidewalk cafe at 343 Amsterdam Avenue was not approved, as there was no representative present to appear before the committee.”

      This doesn’t seem like a valid reason to not approve something…was there some concern about the cafe that the committee couldn’t get answered? Was the committee just looking for the company to genuflect? Seems like the neighborhood looses because the committee wants attention.

      • dannyboy says:

        Did you really read this?

        • EricaC says:

          I think he asked a fair question – why does someone have to appear in person for a routine application? If they said it was because there were questions that needed to be answered and there was no one to answer them, that would be different – but the story seems to say that they didn’t consider the application because there was no representative. So what?

          • dannyboy says:

            This from :
            Business & Consumer Issues Committee

            The major tasks for the Business and Consumer Issues Committee are the review of State Liquor Authority (SLA) applications for bars, restaurants and hotels, review and approval of new enclosed and unenclosed café applications and their renewals, and street fair permit renewals. We also mediate quality of life issues between the community and the various business interests…
            BCI takes a particular interest in being a proactive committee, engaging all committee members and develops strategic partnerships between national corporate businesses and the small businesses in our community which is crucial to a lively and thriving residential West Side community.”

            I know you and Hmmm are really craving The Juice, but there’s a neighborhood here.

    5. BillyNYC says:

      I love all the NEW action on Amsterdam Avenue!!! Yeah! it’s the hot spot of the UWS.

    6. There is a plethora of sidewalk cafes. Take a look at the Falafel Guys on 95th and Amsterdam. They drag their garbage to the corner, leaving unsightly grease stains on the sidewalk. It will be worse when diners drop food all over the street. Right next door is Buceo 95 — their tables leave rust stains on the pavement and their garbage gets dragged to the street for pickup. Enough already with the sidewalk cafes.

      • Tom says:

        Amsterdam sidewalks could use a good power washing. It’s time.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        EXCUSE ME: not “Falafel Guys” on 95th and Amsterdam. “The Halal Guys” is the name of the business. Halal = meat butchered according to Islamic law.

    7. dannyboy says:

      Dani says:
      April 14, 2018 at 8:40 am
      Which one is that? Never heard about it.

      Earth Cafe

    8. j says:

      Curious why fast food places like Sweetgreen qualify for outdoor cafes?
      There is no waiter service. Food comes in containers which are sometimes left on tables and end up as garbage on the street.
      BTW there are a few Dunkin Donuts that have outdoor “cafes”,
      I guess McDonald’s should start doing outdoor cafes as well.

    9. Helen says:

      Love sidewalk cafes… except when there are trees and scaffolding that make passing them a nightmare. Add crowds lining up for tables and doors from permanent structures that open to the outside, and there’s no chance to get through. A bit better planning (or: any planning at all) would go a long way here. If sidewalk cafes could only operate if there’s no scaffolding then pressure from cafes/restaurants would lead to projects finishing much quicker.

    10. Rachel G says:

      AMAZING news about Gazala’s coming back. The food there was always exceptionally good and fresh, fairly priced and healthy. I was a huge fan and was really sad they closed. It was hard shlepping down to 49th street. Hmmmmm – already salivating for her amazing hummus and garlicky roast fish….. yum!

      • dannyboy says:

        Sounds like you are in good company:

        “A local FAVORITE that closed its UWS location in 2015 is making its way back to the neighborhood…Backed by an EXCITED committee, Gazala’s was approved for a liquor license UNANIMOUSLY.”