By Scott Etkin and Lisa Kava
Picky Barista, the family-owned café and espresso bar, has opened its third location on the Upper West Side at West 72nd Street between Broadway and West End Avenue. Formerly known as “Peaky Barista” – in homage to the TV series Peaky Blinders – the new name will be rolled out to the other locations over the next few months. “We are rebranding into our own unique identity that is not associated with anything else. We still continue to be inspired by the prohibition and 1920s era, so the [Scally] hats will continue to stay as an element to our image!” wrote the café’s owner Dragan Bulić, who emigrated from Serbia in 2008, in a message to WSR. The menu has a Balkan influence and its pastries – including burek and baklava – are made “on premises and are inspired by the recipes of Mama Bulic, who also helps out in the kitchen,” according to the company’s website. The space used to be Sherry Herring, a sandwich shop. (Thanks to Jeff and Eddy for the tips.)
Vivi Bubble Tea is “coming soon” to 146 W. 72nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus. Founded in 2007, the Taiwanese bubble-tea chain has more than 80 branches. Vivi’s menu features a wide variety of fruit and dessert-flavored teas, milk teas, and slush drinks. (There are also non-dairy options.) The space used to be The Lite Choice, a frozen yogurt shop.
Parla, a cafe, pizzeria, and bar, has signage up at 320 Columbus Avenue on the corner of West 75th Street. In September 2022, WSR wrote that this new Italian restaurant is backed by Jeffrey Lefcourt, the CEO and founder of Corner Table Restaurants, who also runs The Smith, a casual American brasserie with several locations, including one near Lincoln Center. In Italian, “Parla” is a form of the verb “to speak.” The space has been vacant for several years, but was formerly Saffron, an Indian restaurant that closed in 2017, and prior to that the home of Mughlai, another Indian restaurant that closed that location in 2015 and has since opened one higher up on Columbus at 83rd Street.
Variazioni, the discount women’s clothing store with several locations on the UWS, is closing the store at West 84th Street and Broadway at the end of October, a store clerk told West Side Rag. “The rent is too high here. We have other locations,” the clerk said. In addition to stores downtown, Variazioni’s UWS shops include: 72nd Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam), 226 Columbus (between 70th and 71st Streets), 310 Columbus (between 74th and 75th Streets), and 532 Amsterdam (86th Street). The space used to be the shoe store Aldo. (Thanks to Mia for the tip.)
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