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Heart N’ Soul Closes, But Will Get CPR

photo-40Michael Herman Muff of Mama’s Bar.

Six-week-old Heart N’ Soul closed yesterday with a note on the door claiming the chef “had a nervous breakdown.”

Today, Richard Freedman, the owner of the restaurant and its building on East Third Street, said the southern spot would reopen in a week and a half. “His food was good,” Mr. Freedman said of chef David Conn. “It turns out he was just saying wacky things. He gave us so many excuses why he couldn’t get a burger over to the bar. Last night he skipped a dinner for 50 and I had to give them a big tab at the bar next door.”

The general manager of Mama’s Bar, who goes by the name of Muff, said Mr. Conn “saw things different than anyone else” and added that “he was not in reality.”

“I don’t want to do the he-said-she said,” Mr. Freedman added with a chuckle.

The Local saw Mr. Freedman, the landlord who gave Mama’s Food Shop the boot, in front of Mama’s Bar a few weeks ago appearing to show the space to the operators of a few downtown cocktail lounges. Despite this, Mr. Freedman insisted the bar was not for sale. “I’ve owned it for 10 years and the business does very well,” he said.

Update: David Conn has this to say about his departure.

Chefs and owners are like oil and water. Richard Freeman, the owner of Heart n Soul began panicking about lack of business after 3 week (exacerbated by the fact that an old noise complaint from his bar postponed his liquor license). He had not advertised, marketed, nor promoted Heart n Soul. He was greatly angered that I took it upon myself to take interviews. He began cutting my staff–my manager and sous left solid jobs to work for me. Then he told me I needed to figure how to open for breakfast and lunch. He was desperate. I left that night, seeing that he would rather compromise what we set out to do, than stay the course and develop a brand. And yes, he had a dinner party the following night, but my vision had been blinded and I was sure it was terminal. There was never a conversation that might suggest I was angry, much less in the throes of a “nervous breakdown.” If I had $1600 to throw at a lawsuit, I would have pursued libel/defamation. Our reviews were great, Yelp was great….his patience, nonexistent.

New Chinese Takeout Joint


Beijing, the Chinese takeout joint we gave you the heads-up on last month, is now open and delivering. At left is our lunch-cam shot of the $7.50 sesame-chicken lunch special, which comes with your choice of soup and, of course, a fortune cookie; you can see the menu on Seamless. Beijing, 223 East 14th Street (near Third Avenue); (212) 982-8966.

Meatballs, Mac and Cheese Coming to Song 7.2 Space

IMAG0947Samantha Balaban 117 Second Avenue

Picnic, a restaurant serving “simple American comfort food,” is replacing a Korean pub on the corner of Second Avenue and East Seventh Street.

Brianna Myers, the manager and designer of the new restaurant, said the menu would include classics such as meatballs, sandwiches, salad and macaroni and cheese, as well as beer and wine.

Interior renovations are currently turning the space into “somewhere you always feel comfortable going,” per Ms. Myers, and Picnic should open in mid to late May.

Ms. Myers wouldn’t reveal anything about the owner except to say she had managed one of his other New York City restaurants and that he had acquired the Song 7.2 space in October after many months of negotiation. “We really went for it,” she said. “We love the vibe in this neighborhood.”

After Kicking Around, Nevada Smiths Reopens in Larger, Luxurious Digs

Patrick (Paddy) McCarthyLaura Entis Patrick (Paddy) McCarthy

Shortly after 2 p.m. today, Nevada Smiths reopened a mere one block from the location that closed nearly a year and a half ago in order to make way for luxury apartments. The exile is finally over.

As you can see from our photos, the “football” mecca, now at 100 Third Avenue, has gotten pretty luxurious itself. What once was a divey neighborhood hangout where soccer fanatics across the city watched live matches has tripled in size to become a megapub spread out over four levels, complete with two full-service bars (offering over 30 beers on tap), a separate wine bar, a VIP room, a DJ booth, and two kitchens with a pizza oven (that’s right: Nevada Smiths will now serve food, including a traditional Irish brunch. You can see some menu items here.)

“I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting everything exactly right,” said owner Patrick (Paddy) McCarthy, a tall, broad man with a shock of white hair and a thick Cork accent. It cost $5,800 to get the logo inlaid in marble on the floor near the entrance, he told The Local last week. Signed jerseys from football gods like Rooney and Ronaldo line the staircases. Flat-screen televisions are ubiquitous; two screens (on the first and second floor) are so large that they cover an entire wall. “The acoustics in here are the best in town,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I built this place like a stadium.”
Read more…

On Clinton, a Sushi Traditionalist Gets Ready to Roll

DSC00477Kavitha Surana

The tiny storefront at 91 Clinton Street is starting to gain a reputation for quick turnover – in the past two and a half years it briefly housed Djerdan Burek and Xiao Qin Flower shop. Now, furious renovations are taking place as Chef John Daley aims to open his first solo venture, New York Sushi Ko, in about five weeks.

Mr. Daley, 33, is a member of the traditionalist sushi tribe. After training rigorously for almost three years at 15 East under Masato Shimizu in New York, he traveled to Tokyo to study under his master’s master, Rikio Kugo. “Outsiders of a culture usually delve deeper into aspects that people living inside the culture will take for granted, “ he said, musing about his passion for Japanese sushi philosophy and details. “I’m going to experiment with presentation at Sushi Ko, but this isn’t going to be an Asian fusion restaurant. I’m going for strictly traditional Japanese flavors.”

To recreate the quality of his experience culling fish from Tokyo’s legendary Tsukiji market, Mr. Daley plans to go to extreme lengths: “Last call at Sushi Ko will be at 3 a.m.,” he explained. “By 3:30 a.m. I’ll be in my car, driving to get my fish for the day in Queens or Brooklyn, just landed in JFK from Tokyo.” Read more…

First Sign of Ethiopian Bistro On Avenue B

UntitledDaniel Maurer

Signage for Haile Ethiopian Cuisine went up today at 182 Avenue B, between East 11th and 12th Streets. The 32-seat bistro is named after first-time operator Menasie Haile, and promises “a distinctive menu that not only showcases the foods and flavors of the Ethiopian but also celebrates the culture,” per a business plan submitted to Community Board 3. It’ll offer lunch, dinner, and takeout to “baby boomers,” “generation Xers,” and “empty nesters,” according to the marketing plan.

Is the preliminary menu below enough to lure you away from Awash or Meskel? Read more…

Ton-Up Cafe Revs Up On St. Marks Place: How It’s Looking, What It’s Cooking

Samantha Balaban

Because you can never have enough motorbike-themed Italian wine bars, a couple of Romans who admire Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando have opened Ton-Up at 127 St. Marks Place.

The design is modeled after the “café racers” who would streak between transport cafes in Europe, trying to reach 100 miles per hour between stops. If a racer succeeded, he made a “ton-up,” explained Riccardo Pieroni.

True to the theme, the salads and crostini are named after bike companies (Ducati, BSA, Bonneville) and the panini are named after classic rockers (Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash).
See the menu…

After Seven Years, Nino Returns to Reopen His Pizzeria

IMG_9260Samantha Balaban Nino’s Pizza on St. Marks and Avenue A is currently under construction

Villagers, rejoice: the old Nino’s Pizza is back. Or it will be in about a month and a half, according to Nino Camaj, the former and once again current owner of the pizzeria on the corner of St. Marks Place and Avenue A.

Mr. Camaj owned Nino’s Pizza for 18 years before selling it and moving to Florida, he said. Last week, he re-signed a 12-year lease to the storefront.

Nino’s was under non-Nino ownership for seven years while Mr. Camaj lived in Florida, where he opened two more restaurants. Then, five years ago, he sold his Florida restaurants and moved back to New York City “because of the hurricanes,” he said, and opened a Nino’s Restaurant in Bedford Hills, Queens.

Meanwhile, he noticed that his old pizzeria in the East Village wasn’t doing too great, and also selling Lebanese food. “He ruined everything,” Mr. Camaj said of the other owner. “He had no experience. A lot of people complained.” Read more…

Coming Soon: Sushi, Tacos, and… Polynesian?

UntitledDaniel Maurer

Richard Boccato, the owner of PKNY, is opening another Polynesian spot on Avenue B, in the long vacant Mercadito Cantina space at 172 Avenue B. That’s just one of a few interesting morsels that have surfaced as Community Board 3 has posted the latest batch of liquor license questionnaires to its Website, ahead of a liquor licensing committee meeting next Monday.

Unlike at Mr. Boccato’s Lower East Side tiki bar, there’ll be a food at The Asphalt Jungle, as the 32-seat spot will be called. A sample menu on the questionnaire lists a “loco moco” burger, Spam masubi, and various skewers.

Also of note: first-time operator Eric Perez is bringing El Diablito Taqueria to 60 East Third Street, where Jammyland record store closed in 2008. A sign on the window says it’ll open this spring. You can find some interior shots on the taqueria’s Website.

And at 414 East Ninth Street, another first-time operator is taking over the former home of Kajitsu (now relocated to Murray Hill) and opening Cagen, where $85 and $120 tasting menus will feature Japanese dishes such as deep-fried softshell crab, sushi, grilled Wagyu beef, and the traditional porridge-like dish, zensai.

Nevada Smiths Aiming to Open This Weekend [Update: Next Week]

UntitledDaniel Maurer

If you’ve peered into the new home of Nevada Smiths lately, you’ve likely seen soccer games playing on a television inside of the darkened space. And yet the doors are still locked, with no one in sight.

After being exiled to Webster Hall in November of 2011, the soccer bar still hasn’t reopened at its new permanent home at 100 Third Avenue, but here’s some news: according to owner Patrick McCarthy, all systems are go for a reopening this weekend. At least, that’s the gooooooooooooooooooool.

We’ll have more information after we kick it with Mr. McCarthy tomorrow.

Update | 8:30 p.m. Mr. McCarthy now says it’s looking like early next week.

‘Shockingly Different’ Papaya King Opens Next Month, Will Serve Beer

UntitledDaniel Maurer Blake Gower and Wayne A. Rosenbaum

Papaya King unveiled its St. Marks storefront today, and its proprietors (papaya-tors?) say it’ll open during the last week of April.

At 1,100 square feet, this location is about three times the size of the Upper East Side original, and the extra room will be put to use: take a look at the construction shot below and imagine vintage video games (think Pac-Man, Asteroids, Space Invaders), a proper speaker system for pumping out music, and a projector displaying vintage footage of New York City.

Come early spring or late summer (depending on the State Liquor Authority), there will also be beer. (Likely just one tap, said Wayne A. Rosenbaum, director of operations.)

“What you’re going to see in this store is going to be shockingly different from all Papaya anything that’s been done in the city,” said Blake Gower, head of development, adding that the store would be all about “embracing the old but creating the 2.0.”

Don’t worry – the food program will feature the “exact same product, exact same everything,” according to Mr. Rosenbaum. And the colorful signage festooning the Upper East Side store will also hang here. But the menu will feature a debut item (“a very interesting creation that we’ve been testing for a while” winked Mr. Rosenbaum) and the décor will likely nod to neighborhood lore.
Take a look inside…

Bei Jing Hits East 14th Street

photo(97)Daniel Maurer

Here’s something we noticed last week and are just getting around to posting: a new Chinese takeout joint is opening on 14th Street.

Bei Jing is currently under construction at 223A East 14th Street, between Second and Third Avenues. Surely the future tenants of The Jefferson, going in across the street, will appreciate the $6.29 lunch special.

Correction, April 16, 2013: This post has been revised to correct an error. The original version mistakenly reprinted a menu that did not belong to the restaurant, and referred to menu items in the text. The restaurant has now opened and you can see the correct menu here

Verizon On the Horizon? Praying For a Miracle On Seventh

pixHeather Dubin

Paging the owner of this Nissan Altima on East Seventh Street, near Avenue C.

Last week, Verizon posted “no parking” signs on the block, where installation of fiber optics for FiOS service continues this week.

Most vehicles complied with the request, except for this car with dents on its roof, plastic covering the rear window, and multiple parking tickets stuffed under its windshield wiper, dating back to Feb. 7.

Someone in the neighborhood has clearly had enough. “Dear Lord,” reads a message on the car’s window. “In case you didn’t receive the last message, we are still waiting for a miracle here on E. 7th St. (telephone and internet service after “Sandy,” preceded by removal of this abandoned car.)”

You Bring the LPs, Brindle Room Will Bring the PBRs

tumblr_mj5s2bglDI1rzeghuo1_500Jeremy Spector

So will DP Pizza return to Rockaway along with Caracas? Jeremy Spector, who also owns Brindle Room on East 10th Street, isn’t sure yet. “I wasn’t even sure if I was going to go back without the hurricane, just because it wasn’t completely my vibe,” he said. “That being said, it’s cool out there and all that.”

While he decides, the chef is focusing on a new night at Brindle Room, and it’s one you can get behind if you’re the type that frequents Academy Records. On Mondays from 9 p.m. to midnight you can bring your own vinyl and spin it on the house record player.

(Bring your own vinyl, build your own sushi — what’ll they think of next?)

This wasn’t the chef’s idea. “One of my waitstaff came up with the idea – one of the cool kids, not me,” he laughed. “I’m like the most uncool person ever. I don’t have a vinyl collection.”

Still, Mr. Spector bought a turntable at Best Buy and made a rare trek to a record store and you can now chose between James Brown, Dr. John, the “Shaft” soundtrack, Traffic, and others, or bring in your own wax (last week, customers contributed some Rolling Stones and punk). $15 gets you unlimited PBR and free hors d’oeuvres such as pizza slices or the Laos-style pork-sausage sliders that came out of the kitchen the other night.

Just don’t hog the turntable (30 minutes is just about the limit), and don’t drink too much of that bottomless beer or the record won’t be the only thing spinning.

Caracas Is Headed Back to the Beach

It’s a shore thing: Caracas Arepa Bar will return to the Rockaways this summer, as will its partners in the Rockaway Beach Club.

According to Maribel Araujo, owner of the Venezuelan spot on East Seventh Street, its oceanfront outpost took a $70,000 hit when Hurricane Sandy sent waves cascading into the concrete bunker at Beach 106th Street, destroying equipment and uprooting the boardwalk around it. But the Parks Department is currently making repairs and aims to hand over the keys on Memorial Day weekend. After that, said Ms. Araujo, she’ll sell beer and water during the two or three weeks it will take to get fully operational again.

Rippers, Rockaway Taco, and Motorboat and the Big Banana will also return to their respective stands this summer along with 20 mobile food vendors, said Ms. Araujo. Read more…

Relish This: Papaya King Hitting St. Marks Place


Hot dogPapaya King, the Upper East Side institution, is set to open on St. Marks Place.

And the mystery of the big box is solved: the storefront at 3 St. Marks Place will be the 80-year-old hotdog shop’s second Manhattan location, not including the 14th Street outpost that closed in 2009.

Workers said they had been building out the space between Second and Third Avenues for about two weeks but didn’t know when it would be completed.

The question now becomes: will Anthony Bourdain, a fan of both Japadog and Papaya King, opt for one, the other, or both?

East 12th Osteria: How It’s Looking, What It’s Cooking

Kelsey Kudak

“I think this is exactly what the East Village deserves,” said Roberto Deiaco, who opened East 12th Osterial last week. “There are all these beautiful people here, and they can be in a beautiful rustic, Italian-inspired place and eat the best quality food and wines.”

The former executive chef of Armani Ristoranate — a native of the Dolomites region of Italy who has spent the last 17 years in New York — designed that beautiful space himself, combining warm oranges with the building’s original tin ceiling and exposed brick. He added windows that will open onto outdoor seating in the summer, and imported Italian marble for the restaurant’s bar.

The food, of course, also reflects Mr. Deiaco’s heritage. He imports almost all of his ingredients — everything from unbleached flours to seafood — directly from the Mediterranean, he said.
See the menu…

You Know Who Doesn’t Mind Horse Meat? This Guy Right Here

Frank’s sidekick, Camilo.

So, horse meat sure has been in the news lately. Today, Grub Street posted a list of places where you can go tie on the proverbial feedbag, if curiosity has gotten the better of you.

None of them are anywhere near the East Village, but the neighborhood has at least one fan of cavallo, as it’s called in Italy: Frank Prisinzano, the man behind Frank, Lil’ Frankies, Supper, Sauce, and East Village Radio.

During a recent episode of his excellent Web show, Sauce’d, he visited the famous Bottega del Vino in Verona. If you want to get right to the action, skip to 3:25 where he pairs a “screamin'” wine with raw horse meat. “Do you have the coglioni to eat this?” he asks as he plops some onto his plate. “I did this on Twitter and I think I lost 50 followers as soon as I put it up.” Read more…

Mug Shot! Japadog Now Serving Beer

beerhereDaniel Maurer

The wind may have knocked out a door at The Bean, but Japadog’s inflatable beer mug is still holding on. Wait a minute: inflatable beer mug? That’s right! The Japanese hot-dog spot, which just added outdoor seats and celebrated its first anniversary (yep, there’s a lot going on at 30 St. Marks Place) just started serving beer. Pitchers are $13.27 and cups are $3.67. We’re talking Sapporo and Asahi here.

Add this to yesterday’s slew of Japanese restaurant news.

Here’s What to Feast On at Feast, Opening Tonight

A couple of weeks ago we took you inside Feast, a new restaurant from former Veritas chef Chris Meenan and Savoy Bakery owner Brian Ghaw. You know, the place with stuffed bobcat pouncing on a vintage typewriter. With the restaurant opening in less than an hour, it’s time to look at the menu.

One thing has changed since we spoke to co-owner George Chiang: the three feasts are now down to two. Other than that, check out the menu below. In addition, there are “handmade” sodas (lime basil, orange fennel, elderflower lemon, etc.) as well as sodas “by the man.” Presumably none of them are available in 44-ounce sizes. Plus, root beer (and regular beer!) on tap. Read more…