Ess-A-Bagel, pictured here in 2016 before they opened in Stuy Town, is still offering pick-up and delivery. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order on Tuesday limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to take-out and delivery orders only as a precaution against coronavirus, also ordering nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses and concert venues to close.
“Our lives are all changing in ways that were unimaginable just a week ago,” the mayor said. “We are taking a series of actions that we never would have taken otherwise in an effort to save the lives of loved ones and our neighbors. Now it is time to take yet another drastic step. The virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together. We have to break that cycle.”
While many non-food related businesses have temporarily closed, some restaurants have also opted to close while the city fights the pandemic.
The Union Square Hospitality Group announced on Friday that all of their restaurants would be closing temporarily. The list includes Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke, Union Square Cafe, Daily Provisions and others, although Shake Shack locations will remain open and will shift to a “to-go” only operating model. The company said on Tuesday that they would be setting up an employee relief fund to support the team members affected. Through March 24, when patrons purchase a gift card, 100% of the sales will go towards the employee relief fund. The gift card purchases can be redeemed at any of the restaurants, bars and cafes in New York or Washington DC.
A sign above the former Ess-a-Bagel shop announces that the Grill 21 space and others are available. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)
By Sabina Mollot
Back in January, Town & Village reported that three neighboring restaurants, Ess-a-Bagel, Grill 21 and Rose restaurant, had lost their leases. Then a couple of weeks ago, a sign went up over the former Ess-a-Bagel space (soon to be home to Tal Bagels) saying the spaces around the corner were also now on the market. Grill 21 is still there as is the shoe repair shop next door as is a small storefront that’s vacant and had been used for storage by Ess-a-Bagel.
The real estate firm listing the spaces is Walker Malloy and according to the exclusive broker for those listings, Eric Fisher, the owner of the building is looking for anything “neighborhood service related” to fill the space.
Additionally, while all three storefronts are being listed, Fisher said that “ideally,” the shoe repair shop can remain.
“We have allegiance to the cobbler,” he said, although the owner would be willing to relocate the shop somehow. The listing notes that parcels of the property can be combined, and the now vacant storage space could be used as traditional retail. The storefronts have actually been getting marketed “very softly” for the past few months, said Fisher, but that changed earlier this month with the sign going up. The only type of retail Fisher could think of that the landlord, an LLC owned by L&M Development CEO Ron Moelis and others, doesn’t want, is a liquor store. The listing described the space, on East 21st Street west of First Avenue, as “ideal for a wine bar or a commissary kitchen.”
Prices also have been made available with the vacant space at 380 square feet going for $4,750. The 415-square-foot shoe repair shop is listed as $5,190 a month and the 715-square-foot Grill 21 is listed as being $8,940.
STUY TOWN ‘BURGLAR’ BUSTED
Police arrested 35-year-old Megan Burke for burglary and assault inside 287 Avenue C last Monday at 7:02 p.m. Police said that one of the victims found Burke inside the other victim’s apartment after realizing that Burke had taken her keys from her purse. Burke was allegedly in possession of the victim’s jewelry and when the women confronted her, police said that Burke punched one of the victims in the stomach and slapped her in the face.
VENDOR NABBED FOR FAKE CHANEL CELL PHONE CASES
Police arrested 26-year-old Lile Ou for forgery in front of 822 Sixth Avenue last Wednesday at 1:50 p.m. Police said that Ou was trying to sell eight cell phone cases that bore a trademark counterfeit logo for Chanel.
TEEN ARRESTED FOR ‘STOLEN’ PHONE
A 16-year-old was arrested in front of 10 Union Square West last Wednesday at 3:10 p.m. for possession of stolen property. The teen, whose name is being withheld by Town & Village, was allegedly in possession of a stolen phone and police said that he was attempting to sell it on the street for $500.
TEENS BUSTED FOR ‘FAKE’ CASH
Police arrested two 19-year-olds for forgery in front of a Starbucks at 10 Union Square East last Wednesday at 3:10 p.m. Jermaine Rivera and Marcell Sullivan were allegedly counting counterfeit money inside Starbucks before leaving to buy property from a third person with the counterfeit cash. When they were searched, they were allegedly in possession of stolen property.
MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘DINE-N-DITCH’ AT IHOP
Police arrested Luis Perez, 26, inside the IHOP at 235 East 14th Street for theft last Wednesday at 11:53 p.m. Perez allegedly ate a meal inside the restaurant then refused to pay. Police said that the cost of the meal was $17.18.
MAN BUSTED FOR LAPTOP ‘THEFT’
Police arrested 29-year-old Jose Tenen for possession of stolen property inside the 13th Precinct last Thursday at 10:50 a.m. Police said that Tenen was in possession of an Apple laptop that was stolen on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 from inside 12 West 17th Street.
MEN NABBED FOR CELL PHONE ‘THEFTS’
Police arrested 28-year-old Andres Ocampo for grand larceny in front of 592 Sixth Avenue last Thursday at 11 a.m. Police said that Ocampo stole three cell phones, including a Samsung Note 3, from the location and was working with Willis Vazquez, who was also arrested. The two men allegedly left the location together. The Samsung phone was valued at $750 and the other two were valued at $1,240 together.
MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘SNATCHING’ BAG
Police arrested 53-year-old Christopher Wallace for petit larceny inside 14 East 28th Street last Thursday at 6:03 p.m. Police said that Wallace removed a bag belonging to another tenant from the back of a chair in the common room. Wallace allegedly didn’t return the bag to security when asked and when he was being place under arrest, police said that he flailed his arms, pushed officers and attempted to keep his arms tucked into his body to prevent being handcuffed. Wallace was also charged with resisting arrest.
MAN ARRESTED FOR STARBUCKS BAG ‘THEFT’
Police arrested 24-year-old Leo Edelman for allegedly swiping a customer’s bag at the Starbucks at 41 Union Square West on February 17. Edelman was arrested for burglar’s tools and petit larceny last Friday at 1:15 a.m. inside the 13th Precinct.
‘PERV’ NABBED AT UNION SQUARE
Police arrested 56-year-old George Fantaquisakis for sexual abuse inside the Union Square subway station last Friday at 9:20 a.m. Fantaquisakis allegedly grabbed a woman’s buttocks while standing behind her on a downtown 5 train.
MAN BUSTED FOR ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT ‘THEFT’
Thirty-year-old Jahad Mitchell was arrested last Friday at 12:39 p.m. for thefts that occurred inside Midtown Electric Supply at 157 West 18th Street. Mitchell allegedly entered the store and told employees that he worked for Team Electric at 20 West 36th Street and needed electrical supplies. Police said that Team Electric later told the store that those purchases were not authorized and Mitchell was not authorized to make purchases on their behalf.
The next day, Mitchell allegedly entered the store again and billed Team Electric. An employee at the store then realized that Mitchell was the same person who had acquired property the previous day under false pretenses. Police said that Mitchell attempted to acquire electrical equipment from the store under the same pretense on another day but when he was confronted by staff, he fled in a van registered to 1 Arlington Electric at 307 West 38th Street. The officer then went to the address listed on the van where Mitchell was found and arrested.
ARREST FOR FILING FALSE REPORT
Fifty-year-old Lawrence Dear was arrested for perjury and filing a false report inside the Union Square subway station last Saturday at 5:28 p.m. Dear allegedly told police that two men bumped into him from behind and stole his luggage valued at $10,340. Upon further investigation, police said that he wrote in a written statement that he lost the luggage on the street. He allegedly told police, “I didn’t walk into the subway station, I didn’t get bumped. I checked the ‘stolen’ box because I thought it looked stupid.”
BATHROOM FIGHT AT GRILL 21
Police arrested two people involved in a fight over the bathroom at 346 East 21st Street, home to Grill 21 restaurant, last Sunday at 2:46 p.m. A teenager and 37-year-old Elizabeth Brandon allegedly got into an argument over who was going to be using the bathroom. Brandon allegedly threw a lock at the teen, which hit his leg. Police said that the teen put Brandon into a headlock, causing a bruise to her forehead and redness to her neck.
Three restaurants that are located at the corner of East 21st Street and First Avenue, Ess-A-Bagel, Grill 21 and Rose Restaurant, won’t be getting their leases renewed, T&V has learned.
Henry Beck, a Stuyvesant Town resident who owns Grill 21 with wife Marissa, said their business will likely close at the end of the month. He’s not sure if they’ll move it elsewhere. According to Beck, both his business and Ess-A-Bagel have been denied lease renewals and new businesses are already lined up to move in.
Those businesses are Bank of America and Tal Bagels.
David Wilpon, the owner of Ess-A-Bagel said the longtime bagel joint may be moving somewhere close by but it’s nowhere near a done deal. “There’s a lot that’s up in the air,” he said, adding that he’s still holding out some hope of staying put. He’s also requesting a holdover and is in the midst of negotiations. Meanwhile, the company also has a second location on Third Avenue in midtown.
Wilpon said the trouble with his lease started when his aunt, Florence Wilpon, who’d founded the businesses in 1976, died. This was in September, 2013 during the midst of negotiations for a renewal. After that, while the family was dealing with the will and related issues, “They claimed we weren’t getting back to them in a timely fashion.”
He said he heard that both the bank and the bagel restaurant will be moving into the Ess-A-Bagel space, which is technically two spaces that were divided prior to his restaurant’s opening.
Wilpon chalked up the impending closure as part of the pattern of the city’s landlords preferring to oust mom-and-pops in the hopes of getting a corporation that can pay more.
“It’s endemic of the city; they’re pushing out independent businesses,” he said.
Beck said the owner of the building is L&M Development Partners, and that the owner has already taken away Grill 21’s storage space. Grill 21, a Filipino restaurant, opened in 2005.
A principal at L&M, Ron Moelis, didn’t return a request for comment on the owner’s plans for the property or at least the storefronts. The company develops properties, including affordable housing, and also handles commercial leasing.
(UPDATE: See response from a rep for the owner, an LLC called East 21 Retail, below the article.)
Another restaurant that will be closing is Rose Restaurant, which an employee said will be happening “as soon as possible. The landlord wanted too much money.”
The owners may reopen a restaurant in the Bronx “but not yet and not Manhattan,” he said.
Ess-A-Bagel and Grill 21 expect to have their last days at the end of the month.
A shoe repair shop in the same property is also expected to be given the boot soon.
The owner of Frank’s Shoe Repair said he was unsure of what was happening with his business, as he’s been hearing different stories from neighbors and customers. However, before hanging up his phone, he added that he didn’t see the point of discussing it, anyway.
“It’s nothing to do with you,” he said. “You can’t help us. It’s called business. The big fish eats the small fish.”
Meanwhile, another nearby restaurant/bakery owned by the Becks on East 21st Street and Second Avenue, Pan de Sal, has also closed. The closure of the eatery happened about a month ago due to business being terrible, Beck said. The fact that the storefront was partially obscured by scaffolding since it opened in 2011 “didn’t help.
“The owner told me it was coming down in July; he didn’t say which year. It was a beautiful thing and we had a lot of fun times there,” added Beck, who’s also an associate broker with the Corcoran Group, “but of course you have to make a decision.”
UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, a spokesperson for the owner contacted us and said L&M is not the owner of the building; East 21 Retail LLC is.
When informed of this, T&V spoke with Beck and Wilpon who said they’d believed they were dealing with L&M and affiliated partners.
Beck said, “The people we talk to are still the same. Christina Warner (of L&M) is a part owner. My feeling is they’re still part owners.”
When called for comment, Warner said due to company policy any comment would have to come from East 21’s spokesperson who contacted us.
Wilpon told T&V, “I always thought they (L&M) were (the owner) and we paid to their partnerships.”
We then asked the East 21 Retail LLC spokesperson who owned the LLC, and she admitted that there was some overlap between the two entities, with Ron Moelis, CEO at L&M, being a part owner.
As far as Ess-A-Bagel’s moving out is concerned, the owner issued the following statement:
“When we purchased the property, our main priority was to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. Ess-A-Bagel is a tradition in this city and we had no desire to see them leave. In the three years since, we’ve bent over backwards to come to a mutually fair agreement with Ess-A-Bagel’s owners. Our offer would have allowed Ess-A-Bagel to remain — and even gave them the option to expand — in the space they are in currently. Unfortunately, it takes two sides to make a deal, and Ess-A-Bagel’s owners repeatedly refused to meet us between their below-market rent and current market value. We regret that Ess-A-Bagel chose to misrepresent our intentions in the press. We take our responsibility as landlords very seriously and worked diligently to keep Ess-A-Bagel as a tenant. At a meeting in September, Ess-A-Bagel confirmed they were actively negotiating a lease at a new location. We wish them the best of luck in all their future endeavors.”
Regarding the neighboring restaurants, the spokesperson said Grill 21 was on a month-to-month lease and made a decision to close, while Rose Restaurant was seven months behind in rent.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified Tal Bagels as Tower.