By Scott Etkin and Lisa Kava
Nitza Lerner Co., the jewelry shop on Columbus between 70th and 71st, with one-of-a-kind necklaces, has closed. Nitza has been an Upper West Sider since the 1980s – she immigrated from Israel to study at Parsons School of Design — and she feels a “deep connection” to the neighborhood. So, when she opened the store in June, 2021, she put extra seating in front to create a “neighborhood community space.” She believes that independent retail shops are vital to the UWS. “We don’t need luxury stores to create community character, we need special stores,” she said. While she wasn’t able to reach a deal for reduced rent, she believes that the city and landlords should make more accommodations for small businesses, especially during the pandemic, for the betterment of the neighborhood. Nitza describes herself as “an eternal optimist” and she has a vision to open a mixed-purpose space on the UWS that has jewelry, clothes, and art, as well as organic and kosher food. She now sells her jewelry by appointment –- she is based in the neighborhood and can be reached by text message at (917) 509-6244.
Agave, a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar, is coming to Columbus Avenue between 93rd and 94th Streets — taking the place of Gabriella’s, the Mexican restaurant that closed in 2019 after 15 years. Agave is planning to open on the UWS in July and has a “traditional Southwestern Mexican” menu, wrote Peter, Director of Operations, in an email to WSR. “We’ve always wanted to be a part of the serene family-oriented atmosphere that is the Upper West Side, and have been biding our time waiting for the perfect indoor/outdoor location.” Agave also has restaurants in Greenwich Villiage and Kips Bay. (Thanks to Helen, Chrigid and Katie for the tips.)
Friend of a Farmer, a “farm-to- table” restaurant, will open this fall at 70 West 71st Street just east of Columbus Avenue. Pasha, a Mediterranean restaurant, previously occupied the space. The Upper West Side location will be the third one in NYC for the restaurant, which opened in Gramercy in 1986. A second location opened in Brooklyn Heights in 2014. Friend of a Farmer is known for using seasonal ingredients and rustic decor which gives the feeling of being somewhere far from the city. “To provide our guests with a warm familiar feeling found only in the countryside, we’ve carefully crafted and hand built all of the wooden columns, ceilings, floors, and fireplaces,” the website says. Time Out has described the restaurant as “farmhouse chic,” serving “ sophisticated comfort foods.” The UWS location will “have the same menu and the same concept as the original Irving Place restaurant,” according to a manager at Irving Place. (Thanks to Susan for the tip.)
Blank Street Coffee has opened on Broadway between 85th and 86th Street, replacing the pharmacy Broadway Chemists. Blank Street is building a small empire on the UWS, with locations also at 2218 Broadway (79th St.) and 190 Columbus (69th St). Customers can get their first drink for free when they download the Blank Street app. (Thanks to Alex for the tip.)
The Starbucks on the corner of 75th and Broadway is planning to reopen on June 16. It has been “mostly closed for weeks since early May, then opened for one day, and closed again” due to a plumbing issue, writes tipster Gretchen.
Posies, the flower shop, has moved a few doors north on the same block to a larger space on Amsterdam between 77th and 78th Street. It replaces Dunhill Cleaners.
With all the tax dollars set aside for community initiatives Im often shocked that more isnt done to help small businesses. We are so much better off with active storefronts. Would make things like Open Streets way more interesting. The art installations are lovely but I’d prefer places to patronize especially if walking or biking is the way forward. Miles of nothing but housing……those are suburbs.
Truly sad Nitza has closed. Indeed she put out chairs & small tables, flowers too and that section of Columbus is particularly delightful with large trees providing shade and atmosphere both. I delighted in stopping and sitting there whenever passing by and had a few moments. Still a nice location with outdoor seating provided by nearby Muffin Cafe but Nitza’s closing is a loss for all of us. Thank you so much for the hospitality you did provide!
I hope Agave can make good tamales. The UWS is in dire need of good tamales.
Good luck to Agave! Will be wonderful to have that prime space filled again. But the awful scaffolding… Omg… it literally covers and hides the business. Judging by other scaffolding in the ‘hood-city, it may be up for years (the scaffolding surrounding the school on W 93 has been up for over 20 years). But good luck Agave! Will be swinging by for margaritas 🙂