Openings & Closings: Kung Fu Tea, An American Craftsman Returns, and Pizza Replaced by Check-Cashing

Kung Fu Tea, a bubble tea chain started by three friends, is opening at 2851 Broadway near 111th Street, according to RJ, who took the photo above. The spot was once a shoe repair shop. Kung Fu Tea sells all sorts of drinks, including slushies and espresso.

An American Craftsman, which closed its location on Columbus and 74th Street last year, is reopening at 2007 Broadway between 68th and 69th Streets, according to a sign on the door. That spot used to hold clothing store Montmartre. Thanks to Hyman Rosen for the photo.

And the old Caesar’s Pizza spot at 493 Amsterdam Avenue (83rd-84th) that was around for 36 years is being replaced by David’s Check-Cashing. Thanks to Rachel for the photo.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 37 comments | permalink
    1. Kenneth says:

      What is the business model for a check cashing store. Who uses one? What service do they provide? Honest question – I really don’t know.

      • Jay says:

        Not everyone has a bank account. They cash checks for high fees and take advantage of people without a lot of options.

      • mr_bigtime says:

        Kenneth – typically the business charges a flat fee + a % of check value (~1%).

        fees on fees on fees!
        Who are the customers is the next question…
        People who don’t have a bank account or need quick access to CA$H

        • Hyman Rosen says:

          People without a lot of money also incur fees on top of fees from banks unless they’re very careful. There are charges for having too small a balance and for accidental overdrafts. Sometimes it’s less risky to just got to one of these places, or they wouldn’t exist.

          • TL says:

            Not to mention that people who do not have a certain minimum balance in a bank often incur not just the monthly fees and overdraft penalties you mentioned but also fees per transaction over a certain monthly allowance. Banks are not much better than check cashing places when it comes to gauging and taking advantage of the poor.

      • UWSDrew says:

        I used the check and cash place at 82nd and Amsterdam when I first moved into my apartment. CitiHabitats only accepted certified checks for the deposit. This is the only time in my entire life I have ever used one.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          CitiHabitats represents some horrible apartments that seem great but end up being nightmares. I’m talking from personal experience.

      • VariousArtist says:

        Check Cashing places also provide Western Union services, including wire transfers and money orders, as well as expedited utility payments. Not just for check cashing. Used them a lot when I was in college.

        • MariaD says:

          I used to do research work for overseas clients and the only way they could pay me safely was through Western Union, which I got access to at David’s check cashing. The sender paid the fee. It was a good service as far as it went; I did not want to give my wire transfer (bank) info to persons overseas.

          • B.B. says:

            Once you are sure whom you’re dealing with bank wire transfers are safe, well safe as you’re going to get these days.

            There are separate codes for incoming and outgoing transfers. Yes, they will need your account number so there is that to consider.

            Know many persons who work for “over seas” businesses or other employers who are paid via wire transfer directly into their bank. Have been doing so for years and thus far nothing bad has happened. One woman makes a rather tidy living providing maid/house cleaning to foreign nationals who own NYC property.

        • B.B. says:

          Many Walgreens, Duane Reade, CVS, Rite Aid and other such places also offer Western Union services. Ditto for some supermarkets.

          • VariousArtist says:

            Some drug stores and supermarkets do offer Western Union, however they often only offer those services at limited times, and I have found that they don’t always have someone in store that knows how to do Western Union. Check Cashing places are more reliable in that regard.

      • EricaC says:

        They are notorious for gouging poor people.

        • B.B. says:

          Maybe, then again maybe not. Some places have very reasonable fees for the exposure to liability they are taking on.

          One thing to remember is that once a check cashing place accepts and pays out on an instrument they mostly assume all liability should the instrument prove invalid.

          The person who gives a check cashing place an instrument that bounces, is stopped, fraudulent, etc.. has already gotten their money. It check cashing place now is left holding the bag in terms of getting their money. Depending upon circumstances they only have two options; go after the person/place who issued check, or try to find the person who presented it. Third option of course is to just eat the loss (not going to happen easily).

        • Robert says:

          Have you been to the cashier place? Do not look dumb with your comment.I seen old white people and a lot of hard working people at that spot.

      • Jjc says:

        Paychecks are cashed for those who don’t have a bank account

      • B.B. says:

        There are various reasons for people to be not have a bank account, and thus need some place to cash pay and other checks.

        Truth to tell many really shouldn’t have a bank account anyway. They treat checking accounts like check cashing places; money goes in on Friday (payday), and is largely gone by Wednesday or Friday of following week. By “gone” mean balance is about < $50 or so.

        Then there are various fees and other issues caused by poor account management (over drawn, returned items for insufficient funds).

        Finally some people have "ahem" issues and want to keep creditors, courts, government or whoever from getting money. Liens, garnishments, owed child support, etc…

        In past many such persons could get paid in cash (on or off the books), but many employers have moved away from doing that. It only takes one NYS or IRS audit to put fear of God into them.

    2. Randy Klein says:

      Caesar’s Pizza is dearly missed. The landlord of this building was sinful not to renew a lease with the long established UWS establishment.

      • Sue L says:

        Absolutely right about Caesar’s, whose old-fashioned, just-greasy-enough slices (or whole pies) are still sorely missed. And even more so for their former landlord, whose greed—like that of many others on the UWS—can only contribute further to the decline of the nabe we love.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          Gotta tell you, a greasy, just enough cheese slice that is really good is at the 96th street location of the chain Famous Famiglia Pizza. The place that opened last year, Made In New York Pizza on 80th is very impressive, not greasy at all, a beautiful slice. Then, there is Mama’s Too!, which for me, is simply incredible.

      • Sherman says:

        Yes, the landlord is evil. The nerve of him, trying to maximize the profit on his investment.

        • Bob Lamm says:

          What would life be without Sherman sticking up for landlords? How would we get through the day? Come on, Sherman, stop hiding. Tell us your full name.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            Helmsley? Milken? Trump!

          • Sherman says:

            I have a one word name – like Madonna and Cher.

            I’m Sherman.

            • An X-Spurt (Drip of an unknown substance) says:

              Re: “I have a one word name – like Madonna and Cher.”

              That makes you, according to Wikipedia, “Mononymous”, as are Indonesians who, constantly sayeth The New York Times (cue ethereal music here), use only one name.

              Check Good ol’ Wikipedia for ‘List of legally mononymous people’

            • Bob Lamm says:

              No, Sherman. You’re someone who likes to rant and rant but doesn’t have the integrity to use your full name and genuinely stand behind your words.

    3. Joe says:

      What’s the story with Francesco Pizza on Columbus and 68th being closed?

    4. Jan says:

      Another long time pizza spot appears to be a goner.
      Not for sure, but the notice on the door of Francisco’s
      Pizza. Columbus Avenue and 69th has been closed for
      one month.
      What next! It is unbelievable.

    5. Wijmlet says:

      Caesar’s pizza was awful.

    6. Juan says:

      Anyone who thinks that this neighborhood is too gentrified must explain why there are now two check cashing stores a block from each other. Not what I was hoping for though I guess better than nothing.

      I was not a huge fan of Caesars pizza but I went occasionally and was sad when they left. They also were a very good partner to ps9.

      • Mike O says:

        There aren’t two check cashing places. The David’s Check Cashing that’s opening at the old Caesar’s Pizza spot used to be on the other side of Amsterdam between 82nd and 83rd, but just recently closed.

    7. Deborah says:

      Does this place have a coin-counting machine? If so, how much does it charge?

    8. Pay Me My Money says:

      Even though I’ve always had a bank account, sometimes I used check cashing stores to cash paychecks when I needed cash immediately because it doesn’t always clear immediately in the bank.

    9. Robert says:

      It’s sad seeing all these negative comments about the cashier place. The cashier is not new. It used to be at 83st and Amsterdam right next to Fred Restaurant if you go Google maps it’s still there. They just moved up. At the old spot it had a machine to exchange coin to bills and they sold lottery tickets also. You can pay your cable and phones also there. Also there was sign for weeks saying there moving g up to 84st.

    10. Mary says:

      Bubble tea seems to be the new nail salon business model in this part of town. There are several others in the immediate vicinity. Would be great to have a bit more diversity.

    11. Tom D. says:

      “The spot was once a shoe repair shop.”? Geez, how quickly people forget. The location had been a shoe repair shop for at least 25 years.

    12. Joanne says:

      I really liked Monmartre. Does anyone know why they closed and if/when/where they will reopen?