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Borough Bouncers: 19 Restaurants That Have Crossed the East River



The Williamsburg pizzeria that expanded to the East Village in 2009 only to close its Brooklyn location last year is coming back to Williamsburg. According to The Times, Motorino will open at 139 Broadway, near Bedford Avenue, in January.

It’s not the first case of borough bouncing we’ve seen in recent days: last week DNAinfo reported that East Village taqueria Dos Toros plans to open in Williamsburg, and today an owner of Lobster Joint, a Greenpoint seafood shack, tells The Local that it will open its outpost at 201 East Houston Street in November or December.

Bobby Levitt said that on Monday, Community Board 3’s liquor licensing committee voted to support a liquor license at the location near Ludlow Street. The satellite will replicate the menu and look of the original, and Mr. Levitt expects it to attract a similar demographic: “We get hipsters and families with kids – all ages,” he said.

So why are restaurants that open in the East Village-Lower East Side increasingly eager to expand into the Williamsburg-Greenpoint-Bushwick area, and vice versa? Mathieu Palombino, the owner of Motorino, told The Local, “Williamsburg is to Brooklyn what the East Village is to Manhattan. What works there will work here. It’s a natural expansion from one direction or the other.” (Of course, it doesn’t always work out, hence yesterday’s story about Mama’s.)

In case you’ve lost track, here’s The Local’s rundown of restaurants with locations on either side of the bridge. Read more…

Mama’s Food Shop Owner Calls Revival ‘Bittersweet’

mama'sMelvin Felix

So what does the former owner of Mama’s Food Shop think about a new Mama coming to 200 East Third Street? Jeremiah Clancy, who bought the neighborhood institution in 2007 and closed it in July, said learning that the building’s landlord planned to take over the space was “bittersweet.”

Mr. Clancy does not own the Mama’s trademark, but wanted to distance himself from the new restaurant that his former landlord, Richard Freedman, plans to open with the possible name of Mama’s Eats and a similar menu of southern comfort food.

“This is a completely new business with a different owner,” said Mr. Clancy. “Even though he is serving similar foods, by no stretch of the imagination does that have anything to do with the Mama’s ethos, the Mama’s vibes and what was created over the past 15 years. This is something completely different.”

News that Mr. Freedman planned to give the space a significant upgrade including new bathrooms and an improved kitchen didn’t sit well with Mr. Clancy, who cited the burden of maintenance costs as a reason for the restaurant’s closing. “He’s making repairs on the space that I hemorrhaged the majority of my money on,” he said, later adding, “I loved that he sort of played a victim. He feels that property taxes are so high, but he still has the means to gut renovate a restaurant.”

Mr. Freedman, who also owns Mama’s Bar adjacent the restaurant space, said the new eatery would open in the next few months.

Mama’s Food Shop Closes After 15+ Years: ‘It’s Just Too Damn Hard’

mama'sMelvin Felix

Mama’s Food Shop, a cheap-eats joint that had been a mainstay of the ever evolving and increasingly upscale East Village dining scene, closed last night after more than 15 years in business. Its proprietor, Jeremiah Clancy, sent The Local a statement addressed to patrons, supporters, and fans that cited “increasing rents and property taxes, and the constant expenses that arise when maintaining an older building.” He wrote, “I now join the ranks of Kate’s Joint, Zaitzeff, Life Café, and Lakeside Lounge; all business that have folded in a neighborhood going through a period of flux,” and went on to complain: “We live in a city where the Health Department has far too much power, the cost of the permits, inspections, and maintenance are so high it is impossible for a Mom & Pop operation to keep up with.”

The move comes just a few months after the shuttering of the restaurant’s short-lived Williamsburg outpost. At that time, Mr. Clancy, who took over for longtime owner Michael Rosenfeld in 2007, said he was open to finding an investor for the East Village location.

In 1999, The Times’ “$25 and Under” critic Eric Asimov, in a $10-and-under roundup, wrote that “this little self-serve restaurant with just a few tables, offers homey American dishes that are the equivalent of white picket fences and shady elm trees.” The menu and the business model – which called for customers to order a meat and a side (or three) at the front counter – never changed much, and the place never did score a liquor license. Brunch was eventually added and the restaurant got a boost from an appearance on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” but it apparently wasn’t enough.

Here’s Mr. Clancy explaining his decision to call it quits. Read more…