The warm days of spring are upon us, when just about every café that can claim significant street frontage in certain neighborhoods acquires a permit and spills tables onto the sidewalk. In areas famous for their sidewalk cafes, hordes of tourists visit specifically for the purpose of copping a sunny table. The West Village is one of those prime areas. Yet in the heart of this historic neighborhood, in a 24-block area bounded by Jane Street on the north and Barrow Street on the south, a large inventory of restaurant properties yawn empty just as the high season approaches.
Certainly, two or three of these places may be currently undergoing a build-out, while the deterioration of other locations seems to suggest the landlords have given up on leasing entirely. But most of these properties are on the market, and offering terms can often be discovered with a quick web search. Could it be that the rents are too high for restaurateurs to make a decent profit? Or that the restaurant scene in the neighborhood is too competitive? Whatever the cause of the large vacancy volume, it is an ironic feature of a neighborhood where hot restaurants always seem to flourish — mainstays like Spotted Pig, Red Farm, Takashi, Rosemary's, and Joseph Leonard. Want to open a restaurant in the West Village? You might find some possibilities here, running approximately from south to north.
74 7th Ave S/37 Barrow St: 1930 sq ft on three levels on a unique corner with a wedge-shaped lot. Formerly Italian wine bar Centro Vinoteca, made famous by Top Cheftestant Leah Cohen, vacant 13 months.
84 7th Ave A: 1200 sf with significant avenue frontage. Formerly Leyla, a restaurant with ambitious food that included foie gras with clams and perch with Champagne risotto, vacant 14 months.
302 Bleecker St: 2900 sq ft total, including 1700 sq ft ground floor, 1200 sq ft basement, plus 600 sq ft rear courtyard. Formerly Surya, an Indian bistro once famous for its backyard dining space and South Indian menu, vacant 16 months.
501 Hudson St/131 Christopher St: 2775 sq ft in two stores, featuring 100 ft frontage on two thoroughfares at this corner location. Formerly Dolce Vizio, a café specializing in tiramisu, and a bodega. Sign for pizza parlor in window, but no construction progress apparent, vacant six months.
51 Grove St: Square footage unknown, est. 1100 sq ft with 40 ft frontage. Formerly Betel, upscale Southeast Asian restaurant, vacant seven months. Rumored to be in the process of becoming a new restaurant from West Village chefs Rita Sodi and Jody Williams.
679 Greenwich St/139 Christopher St: 1982 sq ft, including 1182 sq ft ground floor plus 800 sq ft basement. Formerly Charlemagne, a French brasserie that followed a porn bookstore into the space. It remained open for eight months, has been vacant for three months.
396 West St.: Est. 2500 sq ft storefront facing the West Side Highway and the Hudson River. Formerly Antica Venezia Italian restaurant, closed by Hurricane Sandy 1½ years ago, never reopened.
340 Bleecker Street: 2370 sf, 1828 sf ground floor, 542 sf basement, 40 ft frontage on Bleecker St. Formerly Manatus, a Greek diner, vacant two weeks.
516 Hudson St: An est. 700 sq ft. Formerly Hudson Falafel, an inexpensive Middle Eastern café, vacant three months.
163 W 10th St/135½ Seventh Ave South: 1000 sf basement restaurant with entrance on two thoroughfares. Formerly Tanti Baci, Italian café, vacant at least 14 months.
131 7th Ave South: 1150 sf total, 650 sf on the ground floor, 500 sf on the lower level. Formerly Sel Et Gras, a French small plates restaurants, vacant around 4 months.
130 7th Ave South: 3500 sf single-story property occupying most of the frontage on that side of the block. Vacant 15 months, formerly Veranda, a combination restaurant and cocktail lounge. Said to be possible site for a seven-story condo tower with retail on the ground floor.
137 Seventh Ave South: 3900 sf on three levels, including a mezzanine and 1000 sf basement, with 65 ft street frontage. Formerly Landbrot, a German bakery and café, vacant four months.
33 Greenwich Ave: 2000 sq ft on one level with lots of street frontage. Formerly Maracas, a margarita mill serving Tex-Mex food that packed them in every night, vacant 20 months.
557-559 Hudson St: 2400 sq ft in two storefronts, 1500 sf ground floor, 900 sf basement. South storefront formerly Caliu, a Spanish tapas bar, vacant nine months.
615 Hudson St: 1350 sq ft, including 800 sf ground floor and 550 sq ft basement. Formerly Sung Chu Mei, neighborhood Chinese restaurant, vacant 5½ years.
615 Hudson St: Approx. 1350 sq ft, including 800 sf ground floor and 550 sq ft basement. Formerly Sakura Hana, Japanese sushi bar, vacant five months.
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