Brooklyn Heights Rallies For Montague Street Retail Corridor

Call it what you will… resurrection, revitalization, renaissance or even recovery. The Montague Street retail corridor is healthier than it has been since the economic collapse of 2009… Over the past year or so, a dozen or so new businesses have gained traction, including restaurants, spas, bodegas, bakeries and clothiers. Let’s take a walk up Montague, shall we?

* Around the corner from 84 Montague Street’s Heights Cafe, at 214 & 216 Hicks Street, Della Rocco’s of Brooklyn is coming in June, a brick-oven pizzeria and bar, operated by Brooklyn-bred brothers Greg and Glenn Markman and Joseph Secondino.

* Across the street, the three narrow retail spaces are all filled for the first time in years: At 89 Montague is bodega Heights Deli & Convenience, which opened in April 2010 in space that once housed an upscale clothing boutique and then temporarily served as a political office for Doug Biviano… At 91 Montague is Jeffrey Stein Concept Salon, which opened in January 2011 in the former space of Dimples Kids Spa… And at 93 Montague is February 2012 new kid on the block, VIP Nails & Salon.

* Crumbs Bake Shop rescued the space that was sadly vacated by beloved Heights Books—which departed in July 2008—opening in August 2010.

* Le Pain Quotidien at 121 Montague opened in mid-April 2012, after previous Jennifer Convertibles closed in April 2010, leaving the space empty for two years. Despite some complaints that sit-down service prices are steep, the joint is an instant hit.

* Women’s apparel boutique Ruby and Jenna opened this week at 130 Montague, above beauty salon Dashing Diva and previously occupied by Migita Sushi (see post below).

* Starbucks opened May 12, 2012, at 134 Montague in the former location of Nine West Shoes, which closed in July 2010—moving up the street from 112 Montague. That leaves a primary retail space at its shuttered locale, which at one point last decade was a swanky Italian restaurant.

* Irish pub Custom House will soon be opening at 139 Montague in the former space of La Traviata, which closed in November 2011.

* In September 2011, Indian restaurant Ghandi Palace opened at 140 Montague, in the previous space of same-cuisine Amin, which shuttered a month before.

* Oh My Pasta! opened in September 2011 at 142 Montague, site of the former Taze Turkish restaurant (and Kapadokya before that). The 100% local eatery is owned and operated by Marco Lasala, a Brooklyn Heights resident. Despite a lot of cat-calling from BHB readers about the restaurant’s name, it is thriving.

* Last week, Area Yoga & Spa Center‘s second location (the original is in Carroll Gardens) opened on the second floor of 144 Montague, above Bentley’s shoes, in the former location of Spring Thyme spa.

* Eight months ago Vietnamese “Bubble Tea & Vietnamese Sandwich” shop Hanco’s opened at 147 Montague. Not only is it a runaway favorite on Yelp, but the destination finally made good out of a retail space that was dark for more than a decade.

If you made it this far, perhaps it’s a perfect time to take the Montague Street Business Improvement District’s survey on what folks think about programs & services in the neighborhood. Access the questionnaire here. Cheers, BHB compatriots!

(Photo: Lumierefl/Flickr)

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  • She’s Crafty

    This is a great post and makes me feel good about Montague St. but just one little niggling point – the Hanco’s space hadn’t been empty for more than a decade. Mr. Souvlaki was the previous tenant and they only closed about 5 years ago.

  • tonym

    My overall impression has been that Montague Street hasn’t thrived since the mid-80s but as your post shows there are glimmers of hope. I too was skeptical about Oh My Pasta! but once I got past the name and actually ate there, I liked it.

    We are still missing good Chinese and Mexican restaurants in both Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill.

    What was the restaurant in the former Starbucks space at 112 Montague?

  • GHB

    I like Hanco’s, but I still miss Mr. Souvlaki

  • ColumbiaHeightster

    Economic collapse of 2009? As opposed to the good times of 2007 and 2008?

    Tonym, just stroll down the hill to DUMBO and go to Gran Electrica for amazing Mexican food.

  • Wrennie

    Whoa, Gran Electrica? I’m a giant fan of Colonie and went to Gran Electrica with very high expectations, but was unfortunately very disappointed. I’ve had worse, but considering it’s the same team as is behind Colonie–and Colonie is inventive and smart about their food–there should have been a lot more flavor. And those four different sauces they give you–it’s one so spicy it’s scalding, and three equally bland ones. Womp.

  • ColumbiaHeightster

    To each his/her own, Wrennie. They’ve been getting tons of positive feedback, particularly on this blog, but you please everyone.

  • ColumbiaHeightster

    ^ “you CAN’T please everyone.”

  • Wrennie

    And I’ve seen plenty of middling-to-bad reviews in other places, too. =) In any case, the space is great and their cocktails are wonderful. So there’s a glowing review for them–see? Not all bad!

  • Nick A

    nice to see it all summarized like this. montague street is getting better and better every day.

  • DrewB

    I have to agree with you Wrennie. I’m a big fan of Colonie, and was excited by Gran Electra opening, but ended up being disappointed. Other than the tongue tacos, there wasn’t anything that great. Though, as you said, the setting and cocktails are very nice!

    I’m quick to malign Montegue, but when you list it out like that, it does seem like things are afoot. Happy to have Hanco and Le Pain. Looking forward to Custom House and Della Rocco. Hard for me to get that excited about a deli and another nail salon. But I am anxious to see what goes into the old Starbucks spot.

  • zburch

    Agreed with Wrennie re Gran Electra. The meat was very very dry in the tacos and the prices kinda high for such teeny portions….and I usually find oversized portion size kinda gross. More than anything, I wasn’t keen on their menu, but the wallpaper is nice…probably will not be back, would rather go to the rooftop at Alma.

  • Gerry

    I feel that Montague Street has a LONG way to go still there is no gift shop like Overtures. And we need a high end home furninshings store no place to buy anything for the home and this being a transient area I would think we would. Its not all bout restaurnts and hair salons.

  • hicks st guy

    nothing beats Alma. nice to see Montague St getting better, but all snark aside, could it get worse?

  • Karl Junkersfeld

    I love Le Pain Quotidien, and have been there every day since opening for breakfast and sometimes lunch or a late Latte. Sitting outside also has given me a wonderful perspective of Montague Street. There are tons of pedestrians walking to and fro and the street is full with energy. Brooklyn Heights rocks.

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    hicks st guy,
    I agree, nothing beats Alma. I have been to Maya and Rosa Mexicano many times and still prefer going to Alma where we can eat good food at a fraction of the cost of eating at those other places.
    I have absolutely no problem with the 20 minute walk either.

  • Promenade Princess

    AWESOME POST! thanks for the legwork, CT, with all the new businesses along Montague Street, as well as the links on the Brooklyn Blog to past coverage about everything that’s opened and closed. I learned more reading this than I ever knew about all the changes along Brooklyn Heights’ Main Street.

    I spent my entire lunchtime reading all of this. Who needs Gawker? This was much more entertaining.

  • Remsen St Strollin

    Uh, not sure that Oh My Pasta is thriving. Saw it was listed as closed on menupages, walked by last night, and sure enough the wall posters had been torn down, the inside was a mess, and the place looks very permanently closed. We went once… Food okay, service and atmosphere left a lot to be desired. Here’s hoping something better opens in its place…