On First Avenue Near 12th, Hookah Lounge and Vegetarian Spot Face Closures

saharaDaniel Maurer

Two restaurants on First Avenue near 12th Street (where at least one news truck was still parked earlier today) are in trouble. As mentioned earlier, EV Grieve noticed that Sahara East, which has for years lured a young set to its back garden, has been seized by authorities for nonpayment of taxes. A spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance now reveals that the hookah spot owes $393,773.41 in “open tax warrants” (unpaid taxes). The Local hasn’t yet been able to contact the restaurant’s owners to find out whether they will try to reopen.

One block north, a reader told Grieve that Quantum Leap, a vegetarian restaurant, might close this week. A hostess at the restaurant, Elizabeth Perez, told The Local that indeed it would close tomorrow in the wake of a recent rent increase.

Ms. Perez said the lease expired this October and two weeks ago, the landlord informed the owner of Quantum Leap that the rent would increase by about $3,000. Yesterday, employees were told the doors would close later in the week.

quantumDaniel Maurer

“Business hasn’t been so great and the owner couldn’t keep up with the rent,” said Ms. Perez, 30. “The landlord said, ‘If you can’t pay this much, get out.’”

Andre Soto, the property manager of the building, denied the claims that the rent increased but said a new owner was slated to take over.

“Whether or not the new person wants to operate Quantum Leap or change entirely is up to them,” said Mr. Soto, who works at Salon Realty.

Ms. Perez said Quantum Leap has been open for about five years. The restaurant claims hummus, roasted vegetable dumplings and soy nuggets as some of its most popular items. It has another location in the West Village.