Openings & Closings: Voila Chocolat, West Side YogaWorks, Pilates House

The Upper West Side is losing some chocolate and yoga but getting some pilates.

Voila Chocolat at 221 West 79th Street announced a few days ago it was closing, and offered 50% off of anything in the store. The store sold chocolates and held make-your-own chocolate events. “We loved being in this great neighborhood, but it’s time for us to go,” a sign on the door said. The sign said they’re looking for a new location. Thanks to Caren, Mike and Moshe for the tips.

West Side YogaWorks at 37 West 65th Street is closing after 14 years, according to an email sent to customers. “We have loved being a part of the amazing Westside community, but unfortunately our building has posed tremendous challenges that have made it impossible for us to continue in this location. We have looked for alternate locations in the Upper Westside but nothing is available that meets our requirements.” Thanks to Dorothy and others for the tips.

Pilates House opened in September at 102 West 75th St. near Columbus Avenue. It is a “holistic movement studio offering private and small group instruction,” owner Annette Fletcher tells us. “Offerings include Pilates, Gyrokinesis, Yamuna® Body Rolling and more. Appointments can be made by emailing info@pilateshouse.net or calling 646-838-5322. Or reserve for small group classes online at www.pilateshousenyc.com.”

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 35 comments | permalink
    1. patty says:

      What is happening to the UWS? It seems landlords are becoming incredibly greedy. It’s beginning to lose its neighborhood charm.

      • Alex says:

        The “greedy landlord” narrative is a very easy one go with, but they aren’t winning this game either.

        Taxes are the missing variable in this equation that nobody wants to talk about.

      • David says:

        Patty, where have you been?

      • MQue says:

        Rather than blame landlords why dont you call out the state for raising property taxes

      • Charles says:

        “becoming”?!

      • Mike says:

        Insider info: the landlord for the chocolate place was not greedy. Castagnello Realty charged pretty low rent for that location. They’ve always had local, mom n pop type tenants there. The last one was Estihana kosher restaurant, for 17 years.

        The chocolate tenant was chronically unprofitable and fell behind months in rent. After a certain point, a landlord can’t have a delinquent tenant staying for free, while paying huge NYC real estate taxes. Choosing not to lose money is not greedy.

        But, yes, some landlords do hold out for big national chains paying sky-high rents.

        (And no I’m not secretly the landlord. I’m a neighbor who knows the real story)

        • B.B. says:

          Thank your for your detailed post that sorts things out. But sadly you’re swimming against the tide. Far as most are concerned on this forum (and seems city in general), anytime a business closes it must be due to an “evil” and “greedy” landlord.

        • Kindly Dr Dave says:

          Thanks for a good feedback

    2. Charles says:

      More evidence of the boring dystopia this city has become.

    3. namaste says:

      Hard to believe that with so many empty storefronts on UWS, there is not an affordable space somewhere for a place so communal and beloved as Yogaworks. Really sad.

      • Zanarkand says:

        Exactly. I don’t get it. Landlord has a successful business leasing the space. Lease renewal time comes up and they raise the rent so high that these businesses move out. The landlord then has no rent income coming in while vacant. These store fronts go vacant for sometimes years. Where is the logic there? Broadway and parts of Amsterdam are starting to look like a ghost town.

        • dannyboy says:

          These are large investment vehicles (Private Equity) as landlords with large portfolios of property. Despite having significant vacancies, they can’t drop prices significantly without having a ripple effect on the rest of their portfolio. They can, however, take the loss from the vacant properties and shelter other income.

          Other explanations are false, so you know.

          • Jay says:

            Dan, as always, you take your opinion and purport it as fact. Your lack of knowledge on these matters is staggering and it’s laughable that you continue to try to convince anyone with your opinion.

            • dannyboy says:

              Jay,

              What have you been doing while I work for 30 years on Wall Street with an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School? You are the real expert here. HAH!

              After you reply I will also link sources if you can understand them.

    4. LuluT says:

      Can anyone recommend anothernice yoga place in that area?

    5. UWS-er says:

      Loved Voila. Had our son’s bday party there a few months ago. Hope they find another spot and can make it work.

    6. Jason says:

      Cue the “landlords are evil” posts. Apparently they are the only business people who aren’t allowed to charge market rate for their product. Citterella charges $30 lb. for some cheese.

    7. Marci says:

      We’re paying big bucks to live in what’s rapidly becoming a stale and inconvenient area. I’m sad about the change in the vibe of the UWS.

    8. leticia says:

      Voila chocolate had some of the unfriendliest people. We try to support local businesses but expect good service. If you can’t even acknowledge customers they’ll probably look for alternatives.

    9. Jeff says:

      Good grief chill out people. The UWS still has more places offering yoga and sweets than almost anywhere on earth, we’ll survive.

    10. B.B. says:

      For all those moaning about evil and greedy landlords causing this or that retail to close, may I direct you to gaze at shuttered front windows. Many times you will find a marshal’s notice meaning place was evicted for non-payment of rent.

      As with residential housing court, commercial non-payment and other actions can be accessed. There you will find plenty of places recently sued for not paying rent.

      Some string the LL along, others simply wait for the axe to fall, meanwhile operating their business as if nothing is wrong.

      Myself and others keep telling some of you, but it’s like talking to bricks. There are two sides to every landlord/tenant story. Just because a place closes it does *NOT* automatically mean the LL was/is to blame.

      Economically for retail times are not exactly so great for all out there. The internet is a large part of it, but rising costs of doing business (labor, taxes, etc…) are another.

      Twenty percent of small businesses fail in their first year. Thirty percent of small business fail in their second year, and fifty percent fail after five years in business. By ten years some thirty percent of small businesses fail.

      Such numbers have been pretty much true for decades, and are *NOT* results of greedy or whatever landlords.

      Rather many small businesses fail because their owners simply under estimated just how difficult things would be. Everything from capital/financing to making sales.

      People open a business plowing their savings, borrowing from credit cards and or family members, maybe taking out loans; but then what? After a year or a few unless money is coming in they are deep in debt and incurring more as each month passes.

      At some point you either have to fish or cut bait. That is if the place isn’t bringing in enough revenue to survive, then it’s time to shut it down before digging a deeper hole.

      • dannyboy says:

        “By ten years some thirty percent of small businesses fail.

        Such numbers have been pretty much true for decades, and are *NOT* results of greedy or whatever landlords.” – B.B.

        B.B. Your small business failure rate is valid. What is false and deceptive is your conclusion that therefore there are so many vacancies. BUT, as you say, there was always this steady rate of small business closures, but what HAS changed is the enormous number of vacancies. That is caused by rent exploitation due to real estate monopolies.

        Stop the propaganda.

        • B.B. says:

          Well if you would stop and think, and or do a bit of research yes, the two are intertwined.

          There is another factor relating to this so called “crisis” of retail vacancy; demand.

          Despite what yourself and others believe not everyone wants or even needs these days retail space.

          As have pointed out previously retail is no different than residential leasing. When you sign on dotted line for “X” amount years, that is what you are contractually bound to pay. If your so called business fails the LL can (and is well within rights) to demand your performance for balance of lease. Meaning if your place packs up after four years on a ten year lease, contractually you are sill on the hook for remaining seven years of rent payments.

          Sometimes a LL will release, sometimes not.

          In any event those starting a small business (at least smart ones anyway), are rethinking their need for physical retail space.

          Look around; most if not all what you see opening are food/booze, gyms/exercise, nail/beauty and so forth. Things that really do need a physical retail space. Even then people are hoping that an area will buy what they are selling at prices they can pay bills and make some sort of profit.

          • dannyboy says:

            “Well if you would stop and think, and or do a bit of research yes, the two are intertwined.

            There is another factor relating to this so called “crisis” of retail vacancy; demand.”

            B.B I stopped and thought and did a bit of research and, guess what! I found the source of your Propaganda RIGHT HERE on the WSR!

            “John Banks, president of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), was more emphatic. “We are vehemently opposed to this legislation,” he said, “which will do nothing to solve the underlying issues behind storefront vacancies and instead would have a catastrophic impact on our local economy…Failure rates have been consistent for decades — the average retail business survives less than 14 years— because there is always a new challenge. This decade the big disruptor is e-commerce, with a 50% increase in the online share of the retail sales market since 2013.”

            You and the REBNY President spew the EXACT SAME PROPAGANDA!

    11. Suzanne Hoglund says:

      I have been working with Annette for many years. She is a terrific Pilates teacher and has helped me in many ways. Plus, she has brought together some wonderful teachers who are offering excellent classes! I love the space and the atmosphere, so calming !

    12. chris woo says:

      sadly it seemed just a matter of time for voila. i’ve walked by so many times and seen it empty. i just dont think there was a huge demand where people pay $50+ a kid for a really short session (like one hour?) of lollipop making (at least that’s what it was when I checked back when my daughter was still doing bd parties

      • B.B. says:

        Voila actually has one of the better Yelp pages one has seen in a while. Entry after entry of solid high star ratings….

        That being said while admires their concept, you have to sell a whole lot of chocolate and or parties to afford even the cheapest UWS retail rent and associated CODB in NYC.

        • T.R. says:

          Owner’s friends mostly left those 5 star Yelp ratings. They had a lot of friends but not a lot of customer service.

          Tried it once. Kind of fun, chocolate was good. But they charged $60 EACH to give us tools and instructions. That’s it. After an hour they harassed us to get out! Said they had to make room for next people when the place was EMPTY! They’d never survive long no matter the rent.

          We were so annoyed by that surly manager acting as if we were some kind of terrible people for taking too long (Asian lady, kind of plump) we never went back. Not hoping small businesses fail, but, sometimes they should.

    13. RobRoy says:

      For those lamenting the “changing” UWS…

      I have lived on the UWS since 1974. It has always been changing and, I can guarantee, will continue to change for the foreseeable future. The economics of this city are inscrutable and often unfair but I would take today over the late ’70s any time.

      • Tom D. says:

        Hell, I’d take today over the early 1990s.

        I haven’t had to worry about getting accidentally shot by the neighborhood crack gang, or which was the “good side” vs “bad side” of Broadway when walking home from the movies, or etc in, well, 20 years.

        I am a bit POed that the corner storefront below my apartment building has been empty going on 5 years. But at least my safety isn’t threatened by it.

    14. Bruce E. Bernstein says:

      an example of a wonderful place closing (Drama Book Shop, 250 W. 40th) because of a huge rent increase: 50%. this was a successful and beloved business.

      this has nothing to do with tax increases, which are passed along. Purely rent. this is a common story.

      is it the ONLY reason businesses close? of course not. But it it the reason why we have such a high vacancy rate in Manhattan, and why we now have nearly empty blocks of storefronts in some locations.

      https://www.crainsnewyork.com/real-estate/popular-broadway-bookstore-close-after-rent-hike?utm_source=real-estate-wednesday&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20181024&utm_content=hero-headline