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Manhattan's Fiat Cafe to Open Second Location in Former Cubana Cafe Space 

Well, that answers that: A month ago I asked if Cubana Cafe, on the corner of Sixth and St. Marks, was closed for good after being shuttered for several months. Over the weekend, window signage went up indicating that the space's next tenant will be a casual Italian restaurant called Fiat Cafe, which has a location on Mott Street between Spring and Kenmare in Nolita.

The restaurant has a fairly extensive menu of traditional breakfast and brunch dishes, and the lunch and dinner menu includes antipasti, salads, panini, pasta, and a handful of entrees. Coffee and espresso also seem to be specialties. It's very reasonably priced; panini average $8 and pasta dishes $9.50, and it has four Yelp stars with more than 300 reviews.

Cubana Cafe was decent but decidedly nothing special, and an inexpensive and relaxed Italian restaurant seems like a perfectly acceptable addition to the area.


Closed for Business: Fresh Bite, 168 5th Avenue

Eight months after opening on the Fifth Avenue and Degraw Street, the corner deli Fresh Bite has closed.

The shop was clean and had a decent selection of baked goods and sandwiches, but never attracted much of a clientele. Whereas other nearby bodegas, like 5th Ave Market on Berkeley, for example, sell as many items as can possibly be packed into the space, Fresh Bite stocked a relatively small number of healthy and gourmet items, and I imagine it was awfully tough to sell enough Boar's Head sandwiches and steam table hot foods to make rent.

With no shortage of corner delis in the immediate area, we can officially say that adding another one into the mix wasn't a good idea.


Barber Shop Coming to 242 5th Avenue

The two storefronts that were previously home to ill-fated sandwich shop Ollie & Ry (and before that Bageltique) on Fifth Avenue between Carroll and President both have new tenants lined up. A healthy cafe called Seed should be opening in the southern storefront any day now, and signage has gone up at the northern one, for a barber shop.

Called Imperial Barber Shop, it looks like it'll offer $16 haircuts. Not too exciting, but it'll provide some competition for Benny's (between St. Johns and Lincoln) and George's (between Warren and St. Marks) among guys looking for an inexpensive haircut on this stretch of the avenue.


Apartment Buildings, Pedestrian "Piazza" with Shops and Restaurants in the Works for Fifth Avenue Key Food Site

The Key Food on Fifth Avenue and Sterling place is a city anomaly: A top of the line, full-scale, 36,000 square-foot supermarket, complete with a huge parking lot, right in the middle of a thriving neighborhood. It's a valuable and affordable resource not just for Park Slopers but for all Brooklynites, but it appears as if it was simply too good to last: plans are in place to tear the structure down and replace it with shops and apartment buildings, and Wednesday night the community was able to have its say during a public meeting with developer Avery Hall Investments.

The current plans to replace the Key Food (which was constructed in the mid-1980s after an extensive campaign for a full supermarket in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood) involve two residential buildings: a six-story tall building to the north and a five-story building to the south, with a pedestrian-only Butler Street being re-built between them. Along this pedestrian walkway will be shops and restaurants, and it will open up into a large piazza.

Incongruity with the neighborhood aside, the fact that initial plans only call for a food market about one-fifth the size of the existing one was one of the major issues discussed last night, according to Curbed. While "the developer assured residents that he was willing to consider more [square feet]," according to the site, the odds are very high that whatever replaces Key Food will be much gloser to a small grocery store than the increasingly suburban-style supermarket that's there today.

While there's still a ways to go before the plan is put into motion, it might happen sooner rather than later: It was revealed Wednesday night that the developer has already entered into contract with the supermarket, which owns the property, and construction can begin as soon as next year.


Bark Hot Dogs to Close on Sunday

Some sad news for all lovers of gourmet hot dogs: Bark, which opened on the quaint stretch Bergen Street between Fifth and Flatbush Avenues in 2009, will be closing after service on Sunday night. Here's the notice that owner Josh Sharkey posted to the front door (click to enlarge):

Bark opened to much acclaim in 2009, serving custom-made hot dogs from an upstate German sausage maker and toppings made from locally-sourced and high-end ingredients. It seemed to be a perfect fit for the "real food" movement that's still going strong, by elevating an inexpensive fast food to gourmet heights. Other menu items included wings, fast food-style burgers, shakes, and onion rings, and the source of every ingredient was listed on their website.

But high-quality ingredients are expensive, as is average rent, and something went wrong somewhere along the way. While there always seemed to be plenty of people inside (they also did a brisk delivery business), a second location that opened last year on Bleecker Street closed after just six months and must have cost the company a fortune. Sharkey told Eater that "there are many reasons" for the closure.

Some may argue that the hot dogs there were too expensive, others that they're too unhealthy, but the fact remains that Bark happened to serve some of the best hot dogs in the country, and it's going to be missed.

If you drop by before Sunday night, you'll be able to buy condiments and hot dogs (per pound) for five dollars.