Mara’s Homemade is Enjoying Life in Suburbia

Mara's HomemadeElizabeth Vulaj The old East Village location

Back in April, Mara Levi touched off quite a bit of commenter chatter when she claimed that a lack of parking (caused by a newly installed bike lane) contributed to the closure of her East Sixth Street restaurant, Mara’s Homemade. In May, Ms. Levi opened a new location of the restaurant in Syosset, Long Island. So how’s life with a parking lot? Quite good, Ms. Levi said yesterday. In fact, she said she would probably not return to the East Village.

“You can’t do lunch, and it’s very expensive,” she explained. “I was paying Madison Avenue prices and not having the accessibility of that many people.” She said she had been offered a “much better location where I could do lunch” on the Upper East Side, at one third of the rent of her small East Village storefront. (Ms. Levi said she was not opposed to returning to the city: “If an opportunity comes along, we would consider it.”)

Meanwhile, the Nassau County resident is enjoying the perks of suburbia.

“We’re three times bigger,” she said. “We have a full bar with ten seats, where in the city our bar could only accommodate three people.” The new Mara’s Homemade boasts a 12-foot raw bar and a bigger kitchen that fits a second barbecue smoker and allows for new menu items such as speckled trout and Gulf red snapper. (The rest of the menu is “exactly the same” as the East Village location, said Ms. Levi.)

Even in August, business has been swift. “We’re new out here and we’re doing better than what we would do in the city.”

Ms. Levi thinks she knows why: “Our customers are so happy we’re here to offer a change of taste. They’re grateful we’re here, whereas in the East Village, you’re fighting for business. It’s a different mentality.”

She said her regulars (a third of which she said came from Long Island, Queens, or Brooklyn even when she was on East Sixth Street) are grateful for parking. “Now instead of every four to six weeks, they’re coming once a week.”