Mezze, Mexican and Kosher Casual Restaurants Coming Soon

The future site of Leyla.

By Joy Bergmann

Owners of several upcoming Upper West Side restaurants came before Community Board 7’s Business & Consumer Issues Committee last week to ask for liquor licenses.

One owner had a particularly tough time convincing neighbors, whose message was: “Not in Their Backyard.”

Thirty residents from the 100 block of West 74th and 73rd Streets showed up in force to protest the liquor license application for Leyla, an upcoming Turkish Mediterranean restaurant at 108 W. 74th.

Husseyin Ozer, current owner of Bodrum Mediterranean and a former partner in Bella Luna, had had his application for Leyla recently denied by CB7 after locals raised concerns about noise from a proposed backyard patio space as well as worries about increased odors, vermin, trash and traffic around the site, located four buildings west of Columbus Avenue.

But Ozer returned to the committee with his architect, John Ellis, and hospitality attorney Donald Bernstein and asked for reconsideration on a revised application. “We don’t want to create problems for the community,” said Bernstein. “We’re not doing something that’s unheard of. It’s zoned for commercial. And it’s not an anomaly,” citing several nearby restaurants that are also operating off the main avenues like Raku, Arte Cafe, Joanne Trattoria, Pasha and Patsy’s.

Multiple committee members agreed that Ozer had a solid track record as a conscientious restaurateur. “He’s an incredible operator. Bodrum is a quiet operation. He offers great food at good prices,” said Doug Kleiman. “This is the kind of applicant and restaurant we want in this neighborhood.”

But folks living adjacent to the property really, really wish he’d picked a spot on Columbus, Amsterdam or Broadway.

“We believe in supporting small businesses, but with so many empty restaurants on the avenues, why disrupt a residential street?” asked Colleen Farrell from 105 West 73rd, noting that any noises created in the block’s backyard spaces get amplified by the “Canyon Effect.”

“You hear every single noise in that canyon,” echoed Thomas Kelly of 102 West 74th. “There’s no need for this and it will cause a significant changes in our quality of life.”

“This is a tough decision,” said Committee Chairperson Michelle Parker, reminding everyone that CB7 is an advisory board and that the State Liquor Authority may choose to follow its recommendation or not.

The Committee decided on a compromise. To gain their recommendation, Ozer agreed not to open the backyard to any patrons whatsoever. The full-service, 48-seat restaurant inside will open at 11 a.m. and do final seatings at 10 p.m. on weekdays, 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The matter will be voted upon at the full CB7 Board meeting on June 5th.

The committee also voted on other liquor license applications.

The future site of Damiana.

Chef Julian Medina and partner Louis Skibar are looking to expand their Mexican cuisine empire (Toloache, Tacuba Cantina, Coppelia) later this summer with Damiana at 153 Amsterdam Avenue at 67th Street. Medina says Damiana’s menu will emphasize Baja-style seafood and offer 100 different tequilas and mezcals in a 65-seat restaurant serving lunch and dinner.

The committee said, however, noise concerns from upstairs neighbor Elizabeth Bejarano will need to be addressed before they can recommend approval for Damiana’s liquor license. Medina and Skibar agreed to consult with a sound engineer to ensure adequate soundproofing is in place.

The future site of New Amsterdam Burger & Bar.

New Amsterdam Burger & Bar will be filling the picket-fenced environs of the former Elizabeth’s at 680 Columbus Ave at 93rd Street. Michael Gershkovich of Mike’s Bistro is teaming up with Yosef and Renee Charlap to open a casual, kosher, family-oriented restaurant with 60 seats inside and 40 on the front patio.

The group said they expect to open in September and hope to provide a lively atmosphere, “But quiet on shabbos!” said Mrs. Charlap.

“Mazel tov,” said Committee member Linda Alexander after a unanimous vote in favor of the liquor license application.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 24 comments | permalink
    1. timnyc says:

      Glad there will an alternative for a kosher place on the UWS.

    2. Elisabeth Anderson says:

      Re: 108 W. 74th Street. That building was NEVER used as a restaurant! It was always residential space. I lived with my husband on the top floor. From 1969 on I lived in the top floor back apt., until I moved to the front. In the 1970’s, I helped form the W. 74th Street Block Association where we planted trees, bought new street lights, etc. When the new owners purchased the building in 2005, they illegally evicted me and my husband, by having me unlawfully sign away my husband’s rights. I have been disabled since 1992, and was not allowed an attorney. These greedy landlords were allowed by the City of NY to do all this, which prevented my husband’s return and untimely death. The landlords do not deserve to be rewarded any more than they already have been. Deny this or any business to be allowed into this 5 story building they horribly have screwed up!

      • Sherman says:

        If the owners “horribly have screwed up” this building it must be derelict and abandoned and nobody wants to live there or operate a restaurant there.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        amsterdam burger was awful. food was terrible and the staff was worse. i have severe doubts about this new venture.

    3. Elisabeth Anderson says:

      Author of article should contact me for full story regarding this Landmarked Building, if she wants to hear the truth, rather than the “spin” of these “entrepreneurs.”

    4. Elisabeth Anderson says:

      Arte Café has been there decades, and backs on to W.72nd Street, Commercial Operation from the get go. Not 108 W. 74th Street, which was residential EXCLUSIVELY from February 1969 until these crooks bought it in 2005. Same with Patsy’s.
      Go open your Restaurant in Europe!

    5. AJ says:

      The new burger place would be much more attractive than Amsterdam Burger on Amsterdam Avenue if they do the following:

      — Price burgers around $10 each rather than closer to $20
      — Use freshly cut potatoes rather than frozen packages or make their french fries. Paying $5 for an order of frozen french fries is ridiculous and it’s hardly difficult or expensive for a restaurant to cut and fry fresh potatoes.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        amsterdam burger was awful. food was terrible and the staff was worse. i have severe doubts about this new venture.

      • Independent says:

        Have you taken into consideration, realistically, the higher costs (both of many ingredients as well as operating) that a kosher restaurant has to deal with?

        • RK says:

          I have never had an enjoyable meal at a Kosher restaurant. Realistically their competition is other Kosher restaurants, not all restaurants, which lowers the bar. And the cost is higher, partially because it’s more expensive running a Kosher restaurant, partially because they have a captive audience, people who keep Kosher.

          This doesn’t mean that a Kosher restaurant is necessarily bad, it just means that odds are it probably is.

    6. Mark Moore says:

      Columbus and 93rd is a hot spot now with Trader Joe’s traffic everywhere. Foot traffic on my block is up probably a third since TJ opened.

    7. wombatNYC says:

      Elizabeth’s would have made a great location for Westville .

    8. carol mills says:

      we need another Elisabeth’s as we don’t have a decent restaurant in this area

    9. henry h. five says:

      Colleen and Thomas are spot on. Why does there need to be another restaurant with a liquor license on a side street? Oy, imagine all the riff raff this will bring. Please keep it to Columbus or Amsterdam!!

      • Christine E says:

        It’s a restaurant, not a bar! How much “riff raff” could there be. On another note, I don’t know why Ozer would even want to proceed without the garden. That would have brought maybe 30-50% more seating. Making the reduced size less economical. So I guess we will be having $20 burgers after all.

    10. Newyorker410 says:

      Huseyin Ozer isn’t a former partner of Bella Luna and is only a part owner of Bodrum.

      • Tim says:

        Good info. If this guy misrepresented (LIED) in the least, he should have his application denied. And his supposed concession of NOT using the outdoor area seems like hooey to me. I imagine initially they might not use it, but eventually they would, after they’re entrenched.

    11. Wijmlet says:

      Did Mexikosher close or not? I went in today and they were open! (83rd between Columbus and Amsterdam).

    12. dannyboy says:

      Joy Bergmann’s report of last week’s Community Board 7’s Business & Consumer Issues Committee is very well written.

      HOWEVER, what I find illuminating, after reading the first 13 Comments, is that the Meeting is filled with misinformation and misleading proposals. NOW I get why so many bad decisions come out of these Meetings.

      CB7 needs to get more and better input from the community if they are to represent them effectively.

      If available, I’ll bring this up to the CB7 at the June 5 meet.

    13. Independent says:

      New Amsterdam Burger & Bar will be filling the picket-fenced environs of the former Elizabeth’s at 680 Columbus Ave at 93rd Street.

      “Picket-fenced environs” appear charmingly quaint. Reminds me of the building that houses Metro Diner on Broadway and 100th St. (Esp. in former iterations.)

      “But quiet on shabbos!” said Mrs. Charlap.

      Does that mean they will close for Shabbos? This isn’t clear.

    14. Independent says:

      Also, does the kosher burger joint have any plans to offer fish or vegetarian burgers during the Nine Days*?

      *Period during which observant Jews refrain from (among other things) consumption of meat or wine in communal mourning over the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem (circa 70 C.E.) and subsequent tragedies. Culminating in the fast of the ninth of Av (falls sometime in July or August), the various restrictions begin with the commencement of the month of Av and remain in effect until solar noon on the tenth day of that month. (Which would make the total period closer to ten days, only the Sabbath is exempted). (Some restrictions actually begin on the 17th day of Tammuz, the month that precedes Av.)

    15. JS says:

      Machiavelli on 85th and Columbus closed

    16. Robert Bianco says:

      I tried ordering Indian food delivery from Manhattan Valley (Broadway/100th St) but the number is disconnected — did they close?

    17. Joe says:

      Screw the NIMBYites on 74th St. A good new restaurant is a boon to the whole neighborhood. You don’t own that plot, and you should have no say in what goes in there. I hope that this restaurant gets its license.