Two Kosher Restaurants Close

Among the most recent restaurant closings on the Upper West Side are two Kosher spots.

Grill 212, which services Yemenite and Middle Eastern food at 212 West 80th Street, is closing because of the pressures of Covid-19. “To all our valued customers, we would like to thank you for the support in the past eight years, we absolutely loved serving the community… unfortunately due to the situation Grill 212 had to close permanently,” owner Rivka Ben wrote on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

And Ali Baba, a small Yemeni-Israeli restaurant at 515 Amsterdam Avenue at 85th Street, has also closed. They lost their lease, according to Great Kosher Restaurant Foodies. They are looking for a new location, the restaurant said.

Thanks to David Brotsky for the tips.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 23 comments | permalink
    1. Leon says:

      I am not normally in the camp that blames landlords for forcing out tenants, even though I often question their logic for doing so. In the case of Ali Baba, this sounds like it is a really dumb idea by the landlord. Unless the Pickle empire is going to take over the space to fill out the block, I find it very hard to believe that they will be able to easily find a new tenant – there are empty storefronts everywhere.

      • Jaded says:

        Of course they’ll take it over. If they could figure out a way to get rid of e’s Bar. I’m sure they would do that too.

      • Helen Graves says:

        Ali Baba had such great food! I’m so sad.

      • A WestSider says:

        Some landlords think the tax benefit of keeping store fronts are more lucrative than reasonable rent. So they intentionally ask for outrageous rent, store stays empty, they take that amount as “Loss of income” against some other gain in another business, or location. The extra amount above reasonable rent is profit they wouldn’t have realized if they rented.

        This is why we have so many empty stores. The issue needs to be taken up with elected officials, but as you know, they donate more than you and I.

    2. SJM says:

      Exactly, I don’t understand WHY landlords would rather have a place stand EMPTY (like the restaurant in the bottom of my building that used to be Hanan Balcony years ago) instead of negotiating a less expensive lease, just to have some money coming in and one LESS empty storefront, with perhaps a provision to negotiate if business starts looking up again in say 3 or 5 years. Or is that naive? This building is bleeding from all the tenants who’ve broken leases and left town.

    3. West 90th Street Jeff says:

      An insider pol explained to me that the city does not tax the landlord for the unoccupied spaces in their buildings. So their tax burden decreases. That disincentivizes The landlord to even try to find a tenant.

      • Jay says:

        Whomever told you that, was not telling the truth.

      • Boris says:

        Your insider pol doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Their tax burden decreases because they have no income. It’s like losing your job – there’s no income to tax. You’re still left with less money than before when you had a job and paid taxes.

    4. Jamie says:

      In many cities, commercial building owners get tax breaks when their buildings stand empty. I have no idea why — it seems to me that practice only encourages evicting tenants for minor violations or being unwilling to renegotiate a now unplayable lease. Don’t know if that’s what’s happening here, but it is a contributing cause of urban blight.

      • Boris says:

        Do you have a reference to cite for this supposed tax break? This ‘fact’ has been said numerous times and it doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. There is no such thing as a tax break for landlords who don’t rent their property. If a landlord has no rent income, there’s obviously no income to tax. That’s not a tax break.

        • Knowitall says:

          Boris muddies the water by confusing income tax with real property tax. In this discussion, it’s the latter tax that’s at issue. The amount of real property tax is a function of the value of the property. And in determining that value the income the property can generate is only one of many factors.

          • Jay says:

            Facts still stand.

            There is no reduction in property taxes just because no business occupies it.

          • Boris says:

            If you were informed about the historical comments surrounding this supposed ‘tax break’, then you would realize that people making such claims think landlords get a reduction in INCOME tax. None of them have referenced a reduction in PROPERTY tax. Their ignorance of how after-tax income is affected by the loss of rental income is usually coupled with a distaste for landlords which fuels the disconnect on how things really work. No one invests in property just to keep it vacant and receive an imaginary tax break.

    5. Occasional Customer (Maybe "occasional" is why it couldn't hold on) says:

      Ali Baba’s felafel was the very best! Ane the proprietor was an enjoyable personality. Sorry to see it go.

    6. Neil says:

      They were good

    7. B.B. says:

      In this current unpredictable business climate many places likely are looking for rent decreases.

      Highly doubt Cuomo will allow indoor dining by High Holy Days. In fact have strong feeling Thanksgiving through Christmas holiday season may not make cut as well. What are restaurant owners supposed to do?

      • B.B. says:

        Myself and others have been saying same thing on this board for years, yet that myth continues.

        There is no special tax treatment nor benefit for vacant retail/commercial space. This applies for both federal and state.

    8. UWSHebrew says:

      Alibaba had the worst shawarma, it was inedible. Owner was extremely arrogant. I won’t miss Alibaba. Grill 212 had some terrific food, especially the Yemenite soup and the Syrian bread, which the owner hand-made at 4:30 in the morning. Nicest restaurant owners I’ve ever met, incredibly hard working, honest and so friendly. I will miss Grill 212.

    9. Sarah says:

      Landlords will let spaces stand empty rather than rent them even when it seems unlikely that another customer will come around for several reasons hard to sum up in 100 words. Their financing often requires them to maintain a certain rent roll; also, accepting a lower rent roll means reducing the market value of the building. Finally, while “lost rent” can’t be written off, expenses that mean losses can be and expenses in an unoccupied space are quite manipulable.

    10. Cheryl Rosenberg says:

      Please add to the open restaurant list Modern Bread and Bagel, Columbus between West 82nd and West 83rd Sts. Pick-up, delivery, mail order, outside dining 10 am to 3 pm, and meal kits to bake at home. Handcrafted on site artisan grain items and churned butter! EVERYTHING IN THE STORE IS GLUTEN FREE AND DELICIOUS. Organic eggs; homemade hummus; house smoked salmon; red or green shashuka,, unique cream cheeses, etc.