As we say goodbye to the 2010s, we look wistfully back on businesses that were once important gathering places for generations of Upper West Siders. Here are three that give us particular pangs.
1. Maxilla and Mandible
For 27 years, this small shop on Columbus Avenue and 81st sold a hodgepodge of curios, from dinosaur teeth to fossils to fully taxidermied animals. It was a must-stop for city kids, many of whom had just been to the Museum of Natural History. But it was forced to close in 2011 as rents rose, owner Henry Galiano told us.
2. Big Nick’s Burger & Pizza Joint
Big Nick’s on Broadway between 76th and 77th closed in 2013 after 51 years as a neighborhood mainstay. The greasy spoon was unpretentious and the food was good and filling. The Hotel Belleclaire raised the rent as property taxes rose and decided to redesign its Broadway-facing facade. Owner Nick Imirziades, who owned other spots in the neighborhood too, died this year.
3. Lincoln Plaza Cinemas
Throughout the 20th century, the Upper West Side was known for its many movie houses, which thrived because they were supported by a neighborhood full of art-lovers and intellectuals (and pseudo-intellectuals too). Most of them closed decades ago, but Lincoln Plaza Cinemas at 62nd and Broadway soldiered on, supported by its beloved operators Dan and Toby Talbot. In 2017, landlord Milstein Properties said they had to close after 37 years to allow for renovations; the doors shut for good in January 2018. The question now is whether a new theater will one day open there. Until then, the theater’s fans have started a group called New Plaza Cinema that still screens special films.
So hold onto those memories, and share more in the comments. And Support Local Businesses!