Search HPS:

This area does not yet contain any content.

Entries in Scoops (361)


Closed for Business: Filfila Falafel, 310 Ninth Street

Filfila, the falafel shop that opened back in September of 2011 on Ninth Street just west of Fifth Avenue, has closed. Signage has been removed, the space has been cleared out, and the phone line has been disconnected.

The shop, which was previously occupied by Pita Hut, was run by two longtime friends, Salah and Emad, and Salah's mother could be found in the kitchen near-daily preparing her old family recipes, which included falafel, shawarma, kebabs, lentil soup, and baklava. Tahini and hot sauce were also made from scratch, and falafel sandwiches sold for a very reasonable $3.50.

I first tried their falafel right after they opened, and found it fresh, crispy, and (nearly) comparable to what you'd find at Mamoun's in Manhattan (in fact, one of the owners previously worked at the legendary shop).

The listing notes that it closed suddenly "due to family emergency, and partner disagreement," and also mentions that the $2,600/month rent is a "very cheap lease for [the] area," which is certainly reasonable for a storefront, even though the space is only 450 square feet.


Starbucks Coming to Five Guys Space on Flatbush

It's been a month and a half since the Five Guys on Park Place between Seventh and Flatbush Avenues closed down after a year and four months in business, and yesterday the "For Rent" sign was taken down, construction paper went up, and the next tenant was confirmed: Starbucks.

The DOB permits for chains tend to be the ones that reveal actual tenants (as was the case with Five Guys), as opposed to the independent businesses, which tend to say ambiguous things like "coffee shop." That's also the case here, as the permit on the door makes it very clear who's rented out the space.

The double-wide storefront, which was the longtime home of Park Heights Stationers before Five Guys took it over, is in for some major changes. Permits also allow for new partitions, new cabinetry, a new ceiling and floor, and new plumbing. At also appears that the signage will be non-illuminated.

With rents so high that even a national chain like Five Guys couldn't turn a profit, it's not surprising that a behemoth like Starbucks ended up taking over the space. This space is big, and Five Guys certainly didn't make the best use out of it, so I'll be interested in seeing what Starbucks' interior architects have in store.


Mandala Tibetan Store Re-Opens After Renovation

Mandala Tibetan Store, which closed last month for renovations after five years on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Lincoln Place, reopened last week.

One of the few neighborhood businesses in recent memory to close for renovations and actualy re-open in a timely manner, the new and improved store doesn't actually look much different than it did before. I wasn't allowed to take photos inside the shop for some reason, but it appears as if the merchandise is what's changed the most; the emphasis now appears to be on jewelry as opposed to clothing and decorative items, as it was before. As you can see from the view into the front windows, colorful shawls and scarves are also featured. This shift actually makes a lot of sense; I'm sure that the authentic Tibetan clothing wasn't a big seller.

The space itself, while small to begin with, also appears to have been opened up a bit, but I can't place exactly what was changed. It's certainly far less cluttered than it had been in the past, however.


Custom Tailor on Fifth Up For Rent

I've always appreciated, in an old-world kind of way, walking past the no frills Custom Tailor on Fifth Avenue between St. Johns and Lincoln and seeing the owner through the window, without fail, hard at work altering garments. That view has been blocked for the past week, however, by a giant "For Rent" sign.

The shop was apparently officially called Lilo's, and unfortunately Yelp reviews indicate that the lady in the window was, shall we say, a bit less than welcoming. Still, this homespun shop served a niche in the neighborhood, and there have been a whole lot of businesses closing down in the North Slope so far this year.


Closed for Business: Canaille Bistro, 78 Fifth Avenue

Canaille, the small French Bistro on Fifth Avenue between St. Marks and Warren that had a great reputation but was marred in recent months by a prolonged closure and a menu revamp, finally closed for good over the weekend. I ran into the building's owner right after the "For Lease" sign went up, and he told me the reason for the closure was unpaid rent. The space has already been cleared out, and according to the listing, the rent is $4,500/month, plus electric, or $67.50/square foot/ year. 

The cozy bistro, run by the husband and wife duo of Philippe de Crespi and Marie MacLean, was considered one of the neighborhood's hidden gems, and they arguably served the best French food around. The owners were in the restaurant nightly, and eating there was like dining in their living room.

In July of last year, after five years in business, the restaurant closed suddenly, and even though a sign said it would only be closed for a couple weeks, it didn't open back up until October.

Sadly, when it did re-open, it was but a shadow of its former self. Renamed "Canaille Wine Bar," it appeared as if the kitchen was no longer operational, as the emphasis was on cheese, charcuterie, a few cold appetizers, and wine. It was only open sporadically, with odd hours, and the axe finally fell over the weekend.

This is a loss that's actually worth mourning (even though the classic Canaille has been gone for months); a real mom and pop passion project restaurant that served fresh-made, no-frills French food in a low-key, unpretentious atmosphere. Sad to see it meet such an unceremonious fate.