Restaurant Updates: Calle Ocho Heads North, Amsterdam Ale House Expands, Tiki Chick Removes ‘Half-Naked Woman’

Calle Ocho plans to move into the former West End Hall space.

By Alex Israel

A Latin mainstay shared plans to make its way north, new restaurants with backyard patios promised to be good neighbors, and a “culturally insensitive” sign was decommissioned during the June meeting of Community Board 7’s Business & Consumer Issues Committee.

After eight years on 81st Street and more than twenty years in the neighborhood, Calle Ocho is heading north. The Latin restaurant known for its boozy brunch will move into 2756 Broadway (West 106th Street), most recently operated by West End Hall. “We just ended up in a situation where it’s time to find a new space. … The rent has gotten out of control,” explained the owner, who believes the new space—featuring an outdoor patio space in the back—will suit business better. Unlike the beer hall before it, Calle Ocho will continue to operate as primarily a restaurant in its new space.

After fielding noise concerns from a neighboring resident, the committee approved a liquor license application with the same stipulations as the last approval they gave in March 2015—that the patio does not feature music, and closes at 10 P.M. on weeknights and 11 P.M. on weekends.

The operators of Modern Bread and Bagel, which opened at the end of February at 472 Columbus Ave (West 83rd Street), received approval for a liquor license next door at 474 Columbus Avenue. They are expanding their footprint to service more customers than they can currently fit in Modern. While they are currently “still working through the creative process,” according to owner Joshua Borenstein the new restaurant “will probably make some changes [to the Modern Bread and Bagel menu] to appeal more broadly,” by the time they open at the end of July. They also hope to incorporate some of the “natural kitchen angle” of their predecessor, Spring Natural Kitchen.

The owners of Amsterdam Ale House at 340 Amsterdam Ave (76th Street) are opening a second location at 588 Amsterdam Avenue (West 88th Street). “We are not a restaurant. We are a bar that serves food,” said owner Jacob Rabinowitz—an introduction that served as fuel for some more noise-concerned neighbors. Once Rabinowitz agreed to close at 2 A.M. during the weekdays and confirmed he has no intention of using the backyard space, the committee approved his application for a liquor license. Rabinowitz said he will also eventually apply for an outdoor sidewalk café license. 

After closing Infirmary on the Upper East Side earlier this year, Dean O’Neill plans to open Pekarna at 592 Amsterdam Avenue (West 89th Street). Featuring a Slovenian-American menu, the restaurant will serve brunch, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. The new restaurant, under construction now, will combine the spaces of Papa John’s/Subway and Amsterdam 99¢ and plans to utilize a small outdoor area in the back.

Irene Christopher, president of the tenant’s association for 200 W. 89th Street and a resident of the building 33 years, summarized the concerns of several people who spoke against the application, listing the potential for “noise, traffic, obstruction, and sanitation” as the basis for her and fellow residents’ disapproval. O’Neill attempted to assuage neighbors’ concerns—and ultimately compelled the committee to approve the liquor license application—by detailing his extensive plans for sound attenuating technology inside and outside, and by agreeing to close at midnight (as opposed to 2 A.M.) from Sunday through Wednesday. But when he revealed how many seats the restaurant would hold—a whopping 330 across two floors—he received a nervous gasp from the crowd.

A number of restaurants received approvals on sidewalk cafés, including the newest addition to the Pickle Hospitality empire, Tiki Chick, at 517 Amsterdam Avenue (West 85th Street).

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First taste of Tiki Chick on the final night of Taste Of The Upper West Side. It has been an amazing weekend! This is the first event we ever did 7 years ago and 4 restaurants later. Thank you to the best team in the world for pulling it all together and to the UWS for your support after all these years!! #picklehospitality #tikichick #jacobspickles #maisonpickle #luckypickledumplingco #tuws #uws #upperwestside #community #tiki #tikibar #tikicocktails #cocktails #foodfestival

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The Tiki bar-style concept will feature food from the kitchens of sister restaurants Jacob’s Pickles and the Lucky Pickle Dumpling Co. The committee fielded several complaints from locals before granting approval—primarily about the potential for encroachment on the block due to the existing sidewalk cafés outside E’s Bar and Jacob’s Pickles, but also several about the “half-naked woman” recently on the building’s exterior. The sign—deemed “culturally insensitive” by one attendee—has been removed to avoid further controversy and will not be re-installed, according to a representative from Tiki Chick.

Additional application approvals included a new enclosed sidewalk café for Carmine’s at 2450 Broadway (West 90th – 91st Streets), an unenclosed sidewalk café for Gari Columbus at 370 Columbus Avenue (West 77th – 78th Streets), and an unenclosed sidewalk renewal for Arthouse Hotel New York City at 2178 Broadway (West 77th Street).

All committee resolutions will be up for a vote during the next full board meeting on July 2, 2019. Liquor license applications will also need to be reviewed by the SLA for final approval.

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

      I, for one, am really happy Calle Ocho is moving to 106th and Broadway (my neighb). It’s a great restaurant.

    2. Dolores Del Rio says:

      This is a great move for Calle Ocho! We loved their original space but found their hotel location stodgy. The proximity of a large pool of thirsty Columbia students should keep them in business for years to come, which is good news for the UWS. Hopefully it also will prompt them to return to a more reasonablly priced tapas menu, as of old.

    3. Melissa says:

      If modern bread will be at 474 Columbus does this mean that spring natural kitchen is closing? Has this been reported before somewhere and I missed it? This is news to me and I go there regularly! I hope modern bread will be open on Saturdays if this is true…

      • Maggie Malone says:

        Agree! Am devastated that Spring is gone! I never got Word! My friends and I loved that place! Darn it!

        • Cal N. Derr says:

          Re: “Am devastated that Spring is gone!”

          Well, cheer up! Summer starts next Friday, June 21st.

    4. Maggie Malone says:

      I adore Spring Natural Kitchen! Am devastated they’re going or gone! How can this be??? Modern Bread and Bagel weren’t even open this past weekend! Will they have better hours now that they’re expanding? Am soooo unhappy!

      • Danna says:

        Modern Bagel is kosher so not it’s not open on Saturdays. Also Sunday and Monday were a Jewish holiday so they were closed two more days.

    5. Shewrites says:

      I hope Calle Ocho invests in a very good exterminator because the rats in that garden area are relentless.

      • Mary says:

        Agreed! I have seen rats there the size of Dachshunds. I won’t be going there anytime soon.

    6. Joel says:

      Is there an updated opening date for Tiki Chick? Everything I’ve seen online is saying fall 2018, but last I was up that way it was still under construction.

    7. EricaC says:

      I’m glad the Tiki Chick sign is gone. I did not like it. It really seemed pretty retrograde.

      • ModernLady says:

        I liked the sign, classic retro. Tiki is retro.

      • ST says:

        It looked like it was advertising a topless bar to me.
        And why do you have to see it when walking West on 85th street? That’s a residential/school block. Why is that signed on a diagonal on the corner? Put it squarely facing the Avenue please.

      • Jay says:

        I agree with Erica..and really the whole “tiki” aesthetic is dubious in 2019 IMO

    8. UWSHebrew says:

      FLOTUS is from Slovenia, I wonder if Perkarna will have a photo of her on the wall? I would welcome it.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Maybe YOU would welcome it, but for many of us it would cause severe indigestion!

        The only thing worse would be a photo of her husband!

        • UWSHebrew says:

          What do you have against FLOTUS? Besides who her husband is, what about her bothers you? She is a great mother and dresses very classy. Why shouldn’t a restaurant of her ethnic background honor the woman married to POTUS?

          • Jeff Berger says:

            You’re new to this board, aren’t you?

          • Jay says:

            Melania vocally supported the “birther movement,” she’s unfortunately far from an innocent bystander to her husband’s toxicity

            • UWSHebrew says:

              That’s lame. Obama refused to produce his birth certificate for a very long time. If there were doubts of any sitting President on the country of his or her birth, it should be answered with proof immediately, not ignored.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              responding to Mark “tax returns”. You’re comparing apples to bicycles. In order to be President, you must have been born in this country (see Article II of the Constitution). Tax returns are not mentioned in the Constitution.

          • Lookin Pretty ;/ says:

            “She is a great mother and dresses very classy” [SIC]. Neither of which even comes close to equating to a contribution to the American public. The same could be said of my sister, and she’s just a regular civilian. When Melania does something to benefit the U.S., let’s talk. I am certain that conversation will never come.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              What did Michelle Obama do to “benefit the American public”? ZERO.

            • lmn says:

              Actually @UWSHebrew, Michelle Obama did a lot of programs centered on children eating well and exercising, and their general well being. She also was “a good mother and dressed classy” so by your own admission, she did something great.

            • Bye now! says:

              UWS Hebrew, re: your most recent comments: try paying attention to the matter at hand. It’s a clever little trick that most of us employ.

          • Nadine says:

            UWSHebrew, as you must know (given your frequent posts here), this is a news and discussion site about the UWS. Your moniker says as much. If your agenda is to laud the Trump administration and push anti-Muslim sentiment, there are many suitable sites for that. News of a new restaurant is not an invitation to poison this space. But…you knew that.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              I’m simply responding to attacks from my original benign post. But…you knew that.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              Where did I do any instances of “If your agenda is to laud the Trump administration and push anti-Muslim sentiment”? None to be found. But…you knew that.

            • Jen says:

              Sorry, guys, in most cases I don’t agree with UWSHebrew comments either. But I this case, he clearly expressed a completely non-offensive view of FLOTUS. And he got his share of shaming and labeling and putting things into his mouth he didn’t say at all just because his point of view is not mainstream.

              Enough with shaming and labels. Let people speak when they don’t resort to aggression and personal attacks.

            • UWSHebrew says:

              thank you Jen for being clear headed and not obsessed with attacking me.

          • Sean says:

            Be best!

    9. Mark says:

      Has anyone on Board 7’s Business & Consumer Issues Committee ever walked past Carmine’s on a busy weekend? There are more tourists than the sidewalk can currently accommodate.

      Approving an enclosed sidewalk cafe will only make the sidewalk congestion worse.

    10. Lauren says:

      I was so unhappy with the tiki chick sign whenever I walked by with my two young daughters. I tried to make light of it by asking “why did they forget to put her shirt on?! That’s so strange! Oh, and her shoes! How silly.” Thank you so much for removing it!

    11. Billy Amato says:

      After Calle Ocho move from Columbus Avenue eight years ago and opened on W. 81st St. it was never the same crowd and food. Best thing for them to do is move north and perhaps maybe then they will get their true food-soul back.They lost a big following when they moved to W. 81st St. from Columbus Avenue.

    12. Karindnyc says:

      Modern Bread is kosher and so is not open on Friday night, Saturday day or Jewish holidays (it seems). That is why they were closed last weekend (Jewish holiday).

    13. KT says:

      Complaining about noise, traffic, obstruction, sanitation? Maybe it’s time to move to the burbs. This is NYC. You’d rather have empty storefronts?

      • Mark says:

        Complaining about a democratic dialogue taking place on the UWS? Definitely time for you to move because that will NEVER change!

        • John says:

          How about you both move?

          • Mark says:

            John, you provide no content. At least KY offered a reason: “Complaining about noise, traffic, obstruction, sanitation”. And I also did: “Complaining about a democratic dialogue taking place on the UWS”.

            But you just dictate (as in Dictator). I anticipate my tenure on the UWS to be a long one.

    14. Ted says:

      So glad the Women’s Christian Temperance League and the Moral Majority have weighed in on the deeply scandalous sign for Tiki Chick. Now if we can just get rid of those naked Botero’s at the Time Warner Center and paint in some modesty on the works at the Met all would be well.

      Don’t forget to tell your kids their bodies are a shameful thing.

      • Zanarkand says:

        Well said. It was a great sign and definitely gave that retro feeling which the restaurant will have. We live in a world where kids are so overly protected and parents expect kids to be shielded from anything outside, that when they hit the real world, they haven’t got a clue.

        • Anna says:

          New York kids see plenty.

          • Jen says:

            They do not. They are shlepped from activity to activity by their parents and nannies, have supervised play dates with friends of their parents choice, not their own. They can’t pick friends they like because they don’t socialize outside of the activities their parents picked for them. They can’t play outside on their own because it is not exactly a safe city. So yes, they live in a very protective bubble. They have exposure to culture like theaters and museums which is wonderful. But to the real life including real social skills – not so much.

      • Christine E says:

        Adults also do not want to see the sign, which was retro-offensive, not retro-chic. There are plenty of ways to convey “tiki” without objectification of women. I am tired of 50% of the planet sexualizing the other 50%.

        • MJ says:

          Right on. There’s literally nothing interesting, helpful, or intelligent that sign conveys to women and girls (or men and boys for that matter…) about our bodies, morals or freedoms. If anything, it conveys the opposite. Y’all think we need MORE exposure to how the world sexualizes women’s bodies? LOL. Glad it’s gone. 2019. Let’s get with it!

    15. George says:

      I’m really curious to see what Modern Bagel does with the larger space, and if they’ll stick with the same morning/evening split between Modern Bread & Bagel and Arba.

      But with Spring and Calle Ocho leaving the Columbus/80s dining scene, we can at least be happy that Le Petit Rooster soft opens in a couple days, on the 17th. Pasta Franco seems nearly ready to begin service. And Tri Dim West, The Consulate, and Don Pedro’s are all well on their way.

      • George says:

        Revision: the restaurant opening this summer at 505 Columbus Avenue will be called Tasca, not Don Pedro’s. But still a Spanish-Caribbean restaurant.

      • UWS Drinker says:

        Not too enthused by the wine selections I see at Le Petit Rooster…boring! Was hoping for something better than Vin sur Vingt….guess I’ll have to head north of 87th for a good glass of vino.

    16. JimUWS says:

      Complaining about a half naked neon sign is ridiculous! Everyone is so sensitive. We warm welcome the new restaurant to the neighborhood.

      • JP says:

        Hey Jim, note Tiki whatever is not a restaurant, it is a straight-up bar, with bar hours ie open till 4:00 am.
        Thus the neighbor’s dismay.

    17. JP says:

      That Slovenia restaurant is huge! Family style dining.
      My first thought is it is probably more of a beer garden than anything. Acoustical engineering aside, I feel sorry for all the people whose apartments overlook the backyard eating area.

    18. ST says:

      Here’s what struck me at the meeting. One business owner made it clear that he can’t make the numbers work for his proposed restaurant/bar if he disn’t get the unenclosed sidewalk license. So in other words, landlords charge so much rent that the city of New York has to donate rent-free space thus subsidizing the business in order for the business to work.
      All over the city, the city is donating restaurant space. Something is wrong with this picture.

    19. Simone says:

      Thrilled about Calle Ocho! West End closing was really a shock(they were always so busy!) but their food was honestly mediocre. I’m looking forward to the opening!

      In more bitter news, I saw that La Toulousaine closed today. What a loss!

    20. Mark Moore says:

      I would not want to live near Jacobs Pickles. Way too much noise coming from that restaurant empire.

      Modern Bread is amazingly good.

    21. Lisa says:

      Slovenian food is amazing! I’m very excited for Pekarna. It would be nice if we could welcome another food option into the neighborhood without devolving into political spats. Slovenija is a beautiful country, and has become a very popular tourist destination. It’s one of my favorite places to visit.

    22. Hilarious that UWS residents would complain over a drawing of a nude women when we are in such close proximity to the MET (FILLED with nude art), and women in NYC can legally be topless on the sidewalk. Move to CT, prudes!

      • J says:

        The issue is objectification of women.

        If the restaurant truly needed a logo with nudity it could have used a logo with a penis….

    23. Dance says:

      Nice to know the UWS Grandma’s League is out there protecting us from sinful images, lol.