The Mermaid Inn, the seafood restaurant that closed its popular Upper West Side location on Amsterdam Avenue last year, is returning to the neighborhood with a new space at 335 Columbus Ave. (76th Street). “Our goal is to recreate what we had for 15 years on 88th Street,” said owner Danny Abrams in a call with the Rag. The restaurant will be slightly larger than the previous UWS iteration, but Abrams said they will achieve a similar feel by using the same materials and breaking up the space, which used to be a Chase bank, into different areas. A room in the back will be quieter, while the main dining room and section by the bar will be more active. There will also be outdoor seating. The renovation is a “big job,” but he expects it to be finished in the fall.
Mermaid Inn has locations in Chelsea, Greenwich Village, and Times Square, but Abrams said it’s important to have a restaurant on the UWS because of his history in the neighborhood: He first bought an apartment on 72nd Street in 1984 and has had businesses here since 1991. “It’s home to me,” he said. (Thanks to Howard for the tip.)
Wild Raisin Pastry, a small coffee shop, has opened on Columbus between 106th and 107th Streets. The owner makes the pastries herself, including cinnamon rolls, feta bourekas and croissants. The cafe is a “to-go concept” and has only two seats indoors. It replaces Calaveras Cafe. (Thanks to Aaron for the tip.)
Rainbow Donuts, a build-your-own donut bar, has opened in the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop at 516 Columbus Avenue (on the corner of 85th Street). The two businesses have different handles but are under the same ownership and there is not a division in the store. Rainbow topping options include pretzels, Lucky Charms, Kit Kats, whipped cream, fig, cream cheese, cheesecake bites and many others. “Most of the ice cream toppings can also be used for donuts,” Rashad Carter, the store manager told WSR. “It seemed like a natural connection that ice cream and donuts go well together. Plus serving donuts in the winter helps us when it is cold for ice cream.”
Afternoon, a cafe serving sandwiches from EggLab and coffee from Brooklyn Roasting Company, is in its soft opening at 2785 Broadway between 107th and 108th Streets. EggLab is a Korean breakfast sandwich brand that serves scrambled eggs on buttered toast with a choice of add-ins (avocado, cheese, bacon and ham). Afternoon has a few locations already in Queens, Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan. Hours are 9am to 7pm from Monday to Saturday. It replaces Kim’s Cleaners. (Thanks to Paul for the tip.)
PingPod, a table-tennis facility, will have a soft opening in May at 243 West 99th Street just off of Broadway, a representative said. The space will be open 24/7 and offer classes, coaching and opportunities to reserve tables, join a league or throw a party. PingPod automates the booking process, “using technology for an easy, seamless and affordable customer experience,” according to the website. Interested players will be able to join PingPod as members, but those without a membership can also play there by registering online with a credit card to reserve a table. Each table will have a full basket of balls and free paddles. PingPod currently has locations throughout New York City as well as in Philadelphia and New Jersey. “The PingPod business model is unique,” the rep told West Side Rag. “It is a network of the world’s first tech-enabled autonomous table tennis pods with no on-site employees.”
Rocket Club Math, a tutoring program for ages 5 to 12, has opened a pop-up at 469 Amsterdam (82nd Street), to host free one-on-one diagnostics until the end of April. Rocket Club Math, which has a permanent location a few blocks away, builds a custom curriculum for each member. The pop-up experience includes a diagnostic tailored to the student’s grade level and interests (such as sports, baking or animals), and builds a custom curriculum based on their results. The system aims to “gamify” the learning process – space is “half math center and half arcade,” said founder Alex Hodara. Sign-ups for diagnostic sessions are available at the link.
Drybar, the hair-styling and blowout salon, will permanently close its location at 69 West 71st Street on April 5th. An email sent to customers said: “We strive to keep our facilities beautiful, warm, and inviting to clients. Now and then, issues arise in shops that are simply out of our control.” The letter apologized to customers for any inconvenience and assured that scheduled appointments after April 5th will be canceled at no charge. Other NYC locations are on the Upper East Side, Greenwich Village, Midtown, Tribeca, and Brookfield Place. (Thanks to Chris for the tip.)