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Is Cubana Cafe Closed for Good?

By all accounts, Cubana Cafe, the popular six year old Cuban restaurant on the corner of Sixth Avenue and St. Marks Place, looks like it's closed for good. The windows are covered over in black plastic, the signage has been taken down, and there hasn't been any activity inside in well over a month. But when the restaurant closed down just before the holidays, signs in the windows indicated that it was only closing for some renovations and would be re-opening soon, and the restaurant's Yelp page mentions (oddly specifically) that it'll be reopening on February 20. The website is still up and the phone like is still connected.

The restaurant's Smith Street location closed for nearly four months last year before re-opening with a new chef and brunch menu, so there's a chance that this could all still be going according to plan. An email sent to the owners hasn't been replied to and an employee at the Smith Street location didn't know if it would be reopening, so it looks like we'll just have to wait and see with this one.


Construction Underway on Union Market, SoulCycle Coming to 342 Flatbush Avenue

The promised revitalization of the stretch of Flatbush Avenue between Sterling Place and Grand Army Plaza hasn't quite been all it was cracked up to be back when Franny's opened in April 2013; whole buildings on that block have been vacant for years. But the impending addition of a Union Market and SoulCycle to the stretch was very welcome news when was first announced by Commerical Observer in September, and activity inside the space last week seems to indicate that work is underway. 

This will be the fifth location of Union Market; there are two additional locations in Park Slope (at Sixth and Union and Seventh Avenue near 13th Street), one in Cobble Hill, and another on East Houston Street in Manhattan. It'll be opening in the existing building, and pricey spinning studio SoulCycle will be opening its third Brooklyn location on a to-be-built second floor.

The building, which was fornerly a dialysis center and has been used as a pop-up Halloween costume shop in recent years, is actually a lot larger than it appears to be from the outside; it continues all the way to St. Johns Place. No word on whether this new incarnation will resemble the site's previous occupant.


Momo Ramen Coming to 78 Fifth Avenue

A new ramen shop is in the works at 78 Fifth Avenue between St. Marks and Warren, in the space previously occupied by Pierre Loti Wine Bar, and before that Bistro Canaille.

Called Momo Ramen, it'll join the slew of other ramen shops that have opened in the area in recent years, including Zuzu Ramen, Naruto Ramen, Ramen Yebisu, and the insanely popular Chuko in Prospect Heights.

There's an unfortunate lack of any details or social media presence online yet. One thing we can probably be sure of, however, is that it has no connection to chef David Chang's Momofuku empire. That said, the more hot bowls of noodles and long-simmered stock the better.


Open for Business: Duman Home, 159 5th Avenue

A new home goods store opened last week on the corner of Fifth Avenue and St. Johns Place. Called Duman Home, it's the second location of a shop that owner John Duman opened on Court Street in 2013.

The charming boutique sells plenty of items for the home, ranging from sheets, pillows, and towels to tote bags, Fishs Eddy tableware, candles, and bathroom items. Aprons and some other kitchen tools are also for sale, and come the Holidays there will also be ornaments and decorations on offer.

With the sprawling Laytners closing recently after a nearly six year run on Union Street, there was a major hole in the market for high-quality home goods in the North Slope, and this fills the gap nicely. You might even recognize a familiar face or two from the Laytners staff here if you shopped there regularly.


Open for Business: Five Spice, 52 5th Avenue


Today brings the grand opening of Five Spice, a casual Vietnamese spot on the corner of Fifth and Bergen, in the spsce that was last home to Irish pub Cyprus Avenue.

While small, the space looks homey and nicely-appointed, and the menu looks like a lot of fun (click for a larger image, pardon the glare). It's more street food-oriented than the neighborhood's other Vietnamese spots, Bricolage and Ha Noi, which is okay in my book.

There are five varieties of pho ($9); summer rolls, spring rolls, and dumplings ($6); tacos in varieties including ground pork and shrimp, grilled five spice pork chop, fried clams, claypot caramel pork belly, and braised short rib (two for $8); banh mi ($7-9); and rice vermicelli salads ($10-15). The "tacos" are in bánh xèo, traditional Vietnamese pan-fried rice flour-based pancakes, instead of tortillas, owner Mike Khuu told Park Slope Stoop.

Khuu is also the owner of The Boil on the Lower East Side and Saigon Shack on Macdougal Street. According to Khuu, no alcohol will be served here because he "wants this to be kid-friendly."