Hey, Want To Open A Restaurant In The Heights? Uh, Not So Fast…

Anyone that has lived in Brooklyn Heights for more than five or so years has seen that wonderful new restaurant open its doors up the street with so much promise, a great menu and meaningful ambiance… only to shutter a year later, supplanted by a nail salon or cell phone retailer. Sigh.

The Real Deal offers some grim statistics about why it’s so difficult for an eatery to survive in New York City (which has definitely made me think twice about my plan to open Chuckey’s Pizza Pies & Absinthe Bar in the nabe. Big sigh).

NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing and tourism board, reports that despite 18,696 restaurants currently in the five boroughs and 200 new joints opening each year, “few survive their first year of operation, and less than 10% will be in business in five years.” That’s according to restaurateur expert Alan Stillman, founder of TGI Friday’s and Smith & Wollensky.

Whether or not you have the greatest chef in town, the key to success is location, adds Phil Scotti, CEO of Clarke’s Group, owner and operator of P.J. Clarke’s, in the Real Deal piece. Financing is another major challenge, especially for an independent venture: “A limited amount of financing is available from government sources and capital firms for franchisee operations, but few financial institutions are willing to provide backing for upstart restaurants,” the story reports.

In other words—and this is my personal opinion here—I thank the stars above that Le Pain Quotidien opened at 121 Montague Street, instead of Citibank. Amen.

(Photo concept: Chuck Taylor)

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  • Flashlight Worthy

    I think you mean 2,000 not 200, no?

  • Andrew Porter

    I remember a little hole-in-the-wall bakery that opened in the St. George arcade, was there for a week or two, then closed abruptly. That’s likely the shortest time open of any food place I remember in BH.

  • KG

    I remember living on Clark street around 2005 and there were 2 or 3 restaurants in the space across from the subway opening — I think either Tazza or Ozu has successfully occupied the space for a while now.

    Anyone want to take bets on when Bevacco will close? Good food, but they need to refine their menu (stop with the flan!) and bend over backwards to correct the absolutely horrendous service they had in the first month or two. (It’s medicore service now at best.) Shame since it’s a great space, kid-friendly but adult, and is a more comfortable atmosphere than so many of the cramped restaurants near us. And the pizza is really good; so is the fish. Sigh.

  • EHinBH

    That and rent… Even Bay Ridge has a 3rd and 4th avenue chock-full of half-decent restaurants which have been around for ages. Even Cobble Hill and Carroll G has a ton. It’s the Brooklyn Heights rents I think that keeps new restaurants away…

    Bevacco is so strange — like the waitstaff is from Mars. They need a better menu — some chicken breast dishes and better appitizers. The veal dish is good and the rocotta tart is good. It is still SO SLOW. It’s like maybe there is only one cook. Thing is, now that is is renovated, maybe a better place will be willing to move in when their lease is up…

  • Lenbee

    Just looked up Eng. translation of Le Pain Quotidien: The Daily Bread. Yes, restaurants come and go. When I was a kid, I thought places I ate at with my parents were there “forever” as many has mid 50s decor harking back to the 40s. The concept of full-meal restaurants only come into being in the late 19th C. The only cooked food one could get back in the early 19th C, was in Bar-Pubs and Inns. I miss several now gone good food restaurants. But most of all, I miss the old time, often Greek-American owned, Diners.

  • She’s Crafty

    I think Bevacco should offer their pizzas all the time, not just brunch and lunch. I’d go there for drinks with my friend(s) if I knew I could sit at the bar and have a pizza with my wine, but now I tend to go to places where I can fill up on appetizer-y type things so it doesn’t get too expensive. I thopught the food was great the one time I ate there but it’s a little too pricey for me generally.

  • Knight

    KG: Across from the subway opening, you’re talking about the Tazza space. Ozu moved into their current digs when — after a great run — Sea Asian moved to Livingston Street.

    The Tazza space has an interesting history over the past 5 or so years. There was a bar there for a while that had a unique downstairs space popular with the kids from the St. George dorms. Then the bar raised their drink prices significantly and effectually put themselves out of business! After that, a guy named Mike Domgjoni opened a kosher steakhouse on the premises. A year or so later the steakhouse closed when Mike was arrested for molesting one of his waitresses. That’s when Tazza moved in.

    I give that landlord credit for attracting interesting tenants! Unlike the commercial space on the NE corner of Hicks and Clark — which has been vacant for over five years since Palmira’s closed — the owner of 72 Clark has mostly kept the whitewashed window look to a minimum.

  • Flashlight Worthy

    Knight, didn’t that same Tazza space hold the Clark Street Station — a bar with decent grub — for decades before all the turnover in the last few years?

  • Knight

    It’s possible. I can’t remember what was there in 2001 when I moved to the Heights.

  • Andrew

    BageLady was in what’s now the Tazza space on Clark when I moved to the neighborhood in 2002. How long it was there and what preceded it, I don’t know…

  • http://www.thevermontartist.com Dianne

    Would anyone remember some of the names of the restaurants in the early 70’s in the Heights. Possibly pizza parlors or diners or whatever? I’m writing a novel and need names of some place to each in early 70’s. Help!

  • Andrew Porter

    When Obama lived briefly in BH, he bought bagels at BageLady and the NYT at the Clark Street subway news stand, as the NYT reported.