What’s Up at Tutt Cafe?

This morning we received this dispatch from BHB reader “Ann” about Tutt Cafe [47 Hicks Street]:

Any idea what’s up at Tutt Cafe? Walking my dog last evening I noticed that it was stripped almost bare!

We vowed to check it out but BHB super-commenter Andrew Porter beat us to the punch with an investigation of his own, telling us:

Tutt Cafe, 47 Hicks Street, is renovating; they were working there today, Saturday. New drywall and other stuff inside. Workman could/would not say whether or not the outside will change.

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  • tb

    We saw that too. At 8pm tonight (Saturday) the lights were all on and it looked like the interior had been completely ripped out.

  • tb

    Oh, and I hope they do change that slope of an outdoor patio!

  • Andrew Porter

    As I noted to Homer, and to the BHA, no permits displayed in the window. “Permits? We don’t need no stinkin’ permits!”

    New wallboard looked like it was installed on the cheap. Don’t know if there’s new wiring, etc., as well. And people wonder why so many buildings in the Middle East collapse. Planning? Architects? Inspections? Wazzat?

  • Master Of Middagh

    @Andrew – Wow. Thanks for the racist insult- now go soak your head…

  • Heightser

    Glad they are working to spruce the place up. Love the food and the owner is so nice, but it was starting to feel a little too old to feel clean.

  • AEB

    One thing that’s up with Tutt is a kelly green vynl side-sign, about 40 x 40, that shows a sort-of pizza and proclaims that one can but ten-inch versions inside.

    Not exactly a neighborhood ornament. To say the least.

  • AEB

    but = buy

  • Cranberry Beret

    Andrew, if you have so much free time to call the BHA and post on a blog, why don’t you volunteer to point the guy in the right direction of getting a permit?

  • Andrew Porter

    I’ve done that in the past. One guy I did that for, when renovating a store on Henry, threatened to kill me. So now I just contact various agencies, sometimes anonymously. As long as Tutt doesn’t do anything to the outside, I think they can slide under the radar.

    However, AEB says they’ve posted an exterior sign, so…

    Does anyone remember when Peas & Pickles had their first store on Henry, where Siggy’s is now, and simply removed the entire front of the first floor of the building?

    Or when the Chinese place took the art deco grill out and threw it away?

    If anyone wonders why the death toll in the recent Turkish quake (or in the Chinese quake, where a lot of schools collapsed) was so high, it was because of shoddy construction, bribery to get around building codes, etc. By contrast, look what happened in Japan: tall buildings swayed, stood, didn’t collapse.

  • not cool


    You could have very well made your valid point regarding the need for permits and safety without damning entire societies and world regions.

  • Y

    The american building style doesnt look too much better when the right natural disaster hits…

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/13189502@N02/ Eddyenergizer

    They don’t need a permit If they are only doing a cosmetic alteration. However, the work still needs to be done to code.

  • Knight

    I look forward to their grand reopening. They consistently have the best lentil soup available!

  • Andrew Porter

    Walked by on Tuesday, and they’d erected a large, green external sign; strictly illegal. Talked to possibly owner, or guy in charge of the construction, about how Tutt is in a landmarked area. They were working on the outside of the building, on the entryway into the door. No permits, not even from DOB. Owner of brownstone next door came out, agreed with me in passing that permits are required. I am working with the BHA on this.

    Cranberry Beret, are you happy now?

  • Master Of Middagh

    @Andrew- Did you tell the “possibly owner” that you already knew things weren’t on the level because he’s a Middle Easterner? No? I wonder why you would share that here, but not to the man’s face…

  • Cranberry Beret

    Andrew, the restaurant has had similar signage for a long time, although they’ve recently changed the text. I confess I don’t know whether he obtained the proper permits for the signs; however, it doesn’t sound like you do either (since you think they were newly erected) so I’m not sure how you’re able to conclude they’re “strictly illegal.” For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen them do any work on the outside of the building (although the building owner is painting the fire escape above the restaurant awning).

    Anyway my point was not that you should ask him if he had permits, and then report back to the BHA and the world, but rather, that if you discovered he DID need a permit which he didn’t have (perhaps because he didn’t even know it was required), instead of tattling, you should just tell him where on the LPC website to find the info on how to get a permit.

    Give the guy a break. He’s a small business owner who works 14 hour days making great food. Of course he should follow the law like anyone else, but he doesn’t deserve your unfounded presumptions of the legality of the work, or even worse, your obnoxious commentary linked to his heritage.

  • AEB

    As a neighbor of Tutt (also the name of the store cat at Clark Pet), I can attest to the fact that the new northerly sign is in fact new, not a redo of an existing one.

    On the issue of its being or not SOLELY, I’d prefer it not be there. It’s an eyesore.

    Given that we live in an historic neighborhood with landmark status–a place in which a certain esthetic is meant to be maintained–I applaud Andrew’s willingness to do the necessary legwork to see that that happens in regard to the sign.

  • David on Middagh

    Agree with AEB. And my friend Andrew.

    And what’s up with the jagged, bright white concrete job on the SE corner of Middagh/Hicks? It ruins the look of that beautiful corner. Was that whole corner jackhammered to pieces and repoured just to install two non-slip plates? Why wasn’t the new concrete dyed gray, as it was supposed to be so that it would blend in with the ever-diminishing bluestone? Who messed up that job?

  • WillowtownCop

    “Anyway my point was not that you should ask him if he had permits, and then report back to the BHA and the world, but rather, that if you discovered he DID need a permit which he didn’t have (perhaps because he didn’t even know it was required), instead of tattling, you should just tell him where on the LPC website to find the info on how to get a permit.”

    And if you saw someone selling drugs or shoplifting you should just politely point them to the section of the penal law that forbids it?

    You’re quick to call Andrew a racist, but don’t you think your assumption that the owner doesn’t know how to properly and legally run a business in NYC despite the fact that it has been there for years might be taken as racist by some people? If he were an upper middle class wasp with a lawyer on retainer would you assume he were breaking the laws on purpose, but everyone else must be too simple to have criminal intent?