By Scott Etkin and Lisa Kava
Rocket Club, a STEM career-discovery after-school program, is opening a pop-up on Columbus between 80th and 81st street from December 5th to 22nd. The program “helps kids answer the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’” said founder Alex Hodara. It does so by introducing 7 to 14 year olds to cutting-edge fields like rocket science, artificial intelligence and biotechnology. At the pop-up, children can join a lesson or take a 45-minute interactive tour, involving building and coding robotics, educational trivia, and virtual reality. Pop-up experiences are by appointment only, which parents can book through this link. Alex, who got his start in entrepreneurship as a child selling merchandise online, opened the first Rocket Club in 2019. The UWS pop-up replaces a Rituals cosmetics shop. (Thanks to Gary for the tip.)
Essential by Christophe, a French fine-dining restaurant, is opening on 77th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam. Christophe Bellanca formerly served as executive chef at some of NYC’s top French restaurants, including Le Cirque and Atelier Joel Robchon. “Finally after 18 years in the USA, I will be opening my restaurant in NYC,” he wrote on Instagram. Essential had a booth at the recent Taste of the Upper West Side festival, where Christophe served Comté cheese soufflés. The space used to house Dovetail, an upscale restaurant. (Thanks to Matt for the tip.)
Zabar’s is opening a pop-up gift shop this December for the holidays on the corner of 82nd Street and Broadway, in the former home of Laytner’s Linens. The gifts include Zabar’s branded gear like totes and mugs, the book “Zabar’s: A Family Story, With Recipes,” about the market’s history, and themed food boxes such as the Hanukkah Gift Basket, Broadway Bakery Basket and Zabar’s Morning Basics. (Thanks to Nancy for the tip.)
72nd Eatery is coming to 261 Columbus Avenue (between 72nd and 73rd Streets), in the space that was formerly occupied by Columbus Gourmet Foods, which was shut down by the Dept. of Health and Hygiene in September. 72nd Eatery will be under the same ownership as Columbus Gourmet Foods. WSR stopped by and spoke to Singh, the owner, who opened Columbus Gourmet Foods in 1995. He told us that since September he has completely renovated the space, adding all new kitchen equipment, ductwork, and AC. “Everything is brand new from A to Z,” Singh said. 72nd Eatery will serve soups, sandwiches, and salads, and will feature a new rotisserie chicken menu. Singh is hoping to officially open by December 5th. A website is in the works. (Thanks to Peter for the tip.)
Make My Cake at 775 Columbus Avenue, across from Whole Foods (at 99th Street), has closed. The bakery sold a variety of cakes (including lemon butter, chocolate, cheesecake, carrot cake, red velvet cake), pies, pastries, cupcakes, and cookies. They also sold customized wedding cakes. Make My Cake has another store at 409 West 125th between Morningside and Amsterdam, and a store in Harlem called Ma Smith’s Dessert Cafe (same ownership) on Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (at 139th Street). The original Make My Cake bakery opened in Harlem 25 years ago on 116th and St. Nicholas Avenue. That location closed in January 2018 and was replaced by the Columbus Avenue store.
Emmy Squared Pizza will open its new UWS location at 200 West 60th Street on Thursday, December 1st. The space was formerly the home of the Olympic Flame Diner. Emmy Squared Pizza, founded in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2016, combines New-York-style grandma pies with Detroit-style pizza made with “fluffy focaccia-like sourdough, edged with a caramelized, crispy cheese known as frico crust.” The company has 18 locations nationwide, including eight in NYC. Emmy Squared has an ongoing promotion of $5 off your first purchase of $25 or more when using the Emmy Squared app and the code EMMY5. Hours during the opening weekend will be: Thursday 5PM to 10PM, Friday 5PM to 11PM, Saturday 12PM to 11PM, and Sunday 12PM to 10PM.
The Citibank branch at 2560 Broadway (on 96th Street) posted a sign and informed clients that it is moving across the street into the new building at 2553 Broadway on the west side of the avenue. The existing branch is scheduled to close on December 2nd and the new one to open on December 7th. (Thanks to Pat and Robert for the tips.)