Tutt Cafe Reno Irks Neighbors

There’s already one complaint on file with the NYC Department of Buildings about after hours work at 47 Hicks Street, home of Tutt Cafe. And that doesn’t include BHB readers gripes about the new giant pizza sign in front of the eatery, ostensibly part of its current renovations.

North Heights resident Andrew Porter observes, “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.”

Commenter AEB adds, “I can attest to the fact that the new northerly sign is in fact new, not a redo of an existing one.”

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  • Andrew Porter

    I took several photos of the reno today and posted them to both BHA and to Homer.

  • stoptalking

    It’s ridiculous that people on here are irked by this and have a place to voice an opinion. I’m irked by your opinion. nice guys with good food. soon we will criticize how we walk down the street. Guys it’s enough. this blog used to be more informative.

  • stoptalking

    Andrew Porter…i am putting a star by your name for your outstanding reporting work. Maybe you’ll get nice letter from the mayor. really it’s silly.

  • Monty

    I love that place, but the new sign is hideous. It’s kind of thing business on Broadway put up to attract tourists. Hicks and Middagh is getting a ton of foot traffic, they should harmonize with the neighborhood aesthetic to win over fans.

  • David on Middagh

    @stoptalking: I’m very glad Tutt is here, and hope they prosper, but it isn’t fair that other businesses are abiding by the regulations and Tutt isn’t. The awning with the web address and telephone number was always a violation, and now this sign is pushing things further.

  • Y

    @ David: U r pulling the fairness card? This blog has ripped restaurants apart even before they opened: Oh my pasta, Bevaco just to name a few. Was that fair?

    Sounds like a number of my neighbors would have been good informants for the Gestapo 70 years ago.

    There are a lot of miserable people living here.

  • Sheila

    Who is the owner of the building? If not in Landmarks area, certainly there is a code for good taste?glad I don’t live across the street!

  • diane75henry

    Tutt’s is an Oasis in an ever increasing desert of pretentious people and restaurants. Redirect your energies to holding developers in check. Bully them.

  • Penny Bridge


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

    Really folks get a grip, Would you feel better if you run them out of business?

  • AnnOfOrange

    Tutt has a shabby charm, offers outdoor seating that modestly enlivens an otherwise dull residential block, and the food is quite good. The tacky signage is (and always has been) inappropriate for what is not a commercial strip. Unfortunately, the owner’s unwise (and illegal?) signs and awning will increase the expense of their welcome renovation.

  • here

    I haven’t seen the sign but I have to say, it took us years to actually eat there because of the way it looks. Too bad they cant make it look nicer. Love the food though.

  • David on Middagh

    Eddyenergizer, I don’t think Tutt will go out of business if they put up a classier illegal sign. That pizza one is visible from my window, and it’s already a neighborhood eyesore.

    @Y: Apples and oranges.

  • here

    Oh wait.. looking closer at the picture….
    Yeah.. that’s hideous. : )

  • David on Middagh

    Oh, and Y? Violation to you for breaking Godwin’s Law.

  • http://loscalzo.posterous.com Homer Fink

    “Y”…. there’s a difference between “this blog” and commenters on the site. The opinions expressed by commenters do not necessarily reflect the opinion or thoughts of our commenters.

  • David on Middagh

    @here: (“it took us years to actually eat there because of the way it looks.”)

    Same experience one street over, but with Fortune House’s old, broken, immortal exterior signage! Which has survived at least one interior renovation and a change of ownership. Oh, life.

  • caroline

    really? They have such good food and are so nice….big deal, people….why don’t you just stop in, tell the owner that the sign is kind of ugly and offer to help….they are just trying to make a living.


    What is it with persons whose broad life’s judgements are governed by their narrow palettes and half-blind vision? Are we really expected to understand these stupid rants?
    Lets face it, obtrusive, unnecessary, flamboyant signage does not good food and good taste make.
    We should all be deeply annoyed and personally offended by persistent regulation breakers who flaunt the regular rules of simple neighborliness out of ignorance, mis-guided business notions, and crude taste.
    TUT should absolutely be forced to backtrack on these multiple violations and clean up their act before anyone buys their pita and falafel.

  • nabeguy

    Agree with Caroline. I remember Sammy, the owner, as being one of the more conscientous proprietors in the area, always eager to keep customers and neightbors happy. Whiie his taste in decor and signage is not as good as his taste in food, I’m sure he would be open to any suggestions if anyone would make them. But I guess it’s easier to gripe on a blog, so I won’t hold my breath.

  • Y

    @ Homer: Agreed.

    @ David: Replace Gestapo with Stasi, Securitate, KGB or any other instituation that uses or used informants to control its citizen.

    It always gives me great pleasure to hear about people who enforce that others obide the law and rules, but then get busted doing exactly the same thing at a later time.

  • Daisy


  • Sajh

    I havent seen them working after hours. But I usually dont get home till 7 or so. Are people really trying to stick them to a 5pm time? I leave about 8am in the morning and never see them working. Best advice is to let them get their work done as long as it keeps between 8-6pm-ish. It’s not like they are doing major demolition here as far as can be seen.

    As far as the signage, it would have to conform to the approval of the historic district.

    As far as the permits, them having one shouldnt be an issue to people except for the fact that if the work they do changes the structure or fire-suppression related design, then having a permit means that the DOB approves of the scope of their work and changes which increase the ensurance of safety for those that live above and next door to the building. So it’s not a matter of them having permits but more a matter of trust. Can we trust their work won’t increase the risk of fire or cause structural damage to the building?

  • Sajh

    If the answer is “no” simply b/c it is a contractor who no one knows, then complaining about them not having permits is valid. However it all depends on the scope of their work. They may not even be required to have permits depending on what they are doing….

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

    Who says they are breaking any laws, does anyone have proof? or is this just another example of the overreaching assumptions made daily on this blog.

  • AEB

    Well, you know, people have different degrees of tolerance for signs such as Tutt’s newest. Much depends on where it is and how often the viewer has to see it. (Though grandma always said that people can get used to anything, even hanging–feh!)

    I suspect that many of the commentators of the “what’s-the-big-deal” persuasion don’t live in proximity to the sign. So it’s no skin off their posteriors if the sign stays or goes. And some people are always going to find others’ esthetic demands fussy, if not outrageous.

    Me, something that offends the eye is just as bad as something that offends the nose. Wouldn’t want to live in a place that smells bad, so don’t want to live, if possible, with something jarringly ugly.

  • Master Of Middagh

    @AEB- I live about as close as a man can get to Tutt Cafe and the sign doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s pretty much the same thing they’ve always had there already, only on the opposite side of the awning. I believe it may help serve the purpose of shielding outdoor customers from the wind a little better.

    And I don’t think it’s a problem from a preservationist perspective either- after all, didn’t people use signs in the past too?

  • Brooklyn Tea

    Complain, complain, complain…it’s exhausting. I, on the other hand was actually relieved to see them up grading the decor. The food there is delicious and very reasonably priced. This restaurant has lasted a lot longer than many on Henry Street despite not being on the main shopping strip. Tutt is also a supporter of PS8 and have always been very nice to the parents and kids. BH residents should embrace and support local businesses which make improvements to their storefronts which ultimately improves our neighborhood.

  • stoptalking

    Homer…I’m sorry but i have to disagree with your comment. Honestly the blog is becoming a place for “bad” news like the 11 oclock news, it’s mainly about problems in the neighborhood. sorry man, it’s the truth and disappointing.

  • stoptalking

    …the headline is “tutt irks” it should be..”Tutt gets a great renovation”

    it’s feeding the negativity that is on here…makes me sad.