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Entries in Scoops (359)

Monday
Mar112013

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.

Friday
Mar082013

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.

Tuesday
Mar052013

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.

Monday
Mar042013

Get Reel Closes, High-End Consignment Boutique Moving In

Get Reel, the 7 year old video store, closed as planned over the weekend on the corner of Fifth Avenue and St. Marks Place, and a new tenant has already been lined up for the space.

It'll be a location of the high-end Eleven Consignment Boutique, which has another location on First Avenue and Eleventh Street in Manhattan. Yelp reviews are largely mixed, and the focus is on the buying and selling of designer labels (their Twitter feed is advertising a pair of Louboutins for $350 and a Louis Vuitton belt for $125).

The north end of Fifth Avenue is one of the most competitive locations in the city when it comes to thrift and consignment stores, so these guys will have plenty of competition. If they could carve a niche out for themselves with their emphasis on high-end apparel, though, there's a good chance that they'll do well.

Thursday
Feb282013

Closed for Business: Tasti D-Lite, 339 Seventh Avenue

The Tasti D-Lite on Seventh Avenue between Ninth and Tenth Streets has closed up shop. Many thanks to a tipster for sending word that a "For Rent" sign is in the window and that it wasn't open last night. And while the phone line hasn't yet been disconnected, calls have gone unanswered.

There's certainly no shortage of frozen yogurt in the neighborhood, with the newest one, Yogurtland, opening about six blocks away in January. Winter is never a great time to run a frozen yogurt shop, especially one with so much local competition. This location was also robbed three times by the same bandit last year, losing about $600 in total.