Storefront Developments Around Brooklyn Heights

It appears that the space formerly occupied by Nanatori, above Lichee Nut on Montague near Clinton, will be taken by another Chinese restaurant, Din; this one specializing in soup dumplings, noodle dishes, and dim sum. Thinking it might be part of a chain, I did a web search for “Din soup dumplings.” This yielded a Grub Hub page for Din Tai Soup Dumplings, located on College Point Boulevard in Flushing. It offers soup dumplings, dim sum, and Japanese dishes, and gets only a two star rating on Grub Hub. I’m guessing – hoping – the new Montague Street place is unrelated. I also found a link to Din Tai Fung, a chain based in Taiwan, but its only U.S. locations are on the West Coast and Vegas. It’s possible, then, that “Din” on Montague will be a one off, at least at first. If you’re wondering how to eat soup dumplings, Gothamist has a video.

Elsewhere on Montague, something seems to be happening at the long vacant, since well before the pandemic, former Vegetarian Ginger space, above Pinto at the corner of Henry. It’s hard to tell what, though. Many spots remain vacant. Largest are the former Loft and Pain Quotidien spaces in the same building at Montague and Henry. Others include the former B.Good space between Custom House and Grand Canyon, the former Francesca’s space, both former Café Buon Gusto spaces, the former hair salon space above Montague Street Bagels, the former Ani Sushi space, the former real estate office (before that Housing Works, which after some time was able to relocate further east on Montague) between Khiel’s and Haagen-Dazs, and one or two others that I’m sure some of you can mention (I can’t recall what previously occupied the space on the south side of Montague about halfway between Henry and Clinton where a chair sits in the sheltered entranceway that is frequently occupied by Bill, erstwhile waiter at Capulet’s on Montague (a name now taken by a hair salon) that had occupied what became the first Café Buon Gusto spot, almost directly across the street. The former Starbuck’s space, next to Lassen & Hennigs (which suffered a cracked window today in what may have been an unsuccessful attempt at a smash-and-grab cake robbery), remains unoccupied until God-knows-when.

Good news for caffeine addicts: Brooklyn Roasting Company is planning a new Brooklyn Heights location on the Clinton Street side of the new One Clinton building.

Possibly bad news for tea, scones, and Lewis Carroll addicts: as the New York Times reports (link thanks to BHB friend Andrew Porter), the owners of Alice’s Tea Cup are looking to sell the business, with locations on the Upper West and Upper East sides of Manhattan as well as at Hicks and Middagh streets in Brooklyn Heights, with hopes for a new owner who will be able to carry on the business more or less as is.

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  • AEB

    Oh, dear! With the coming of the pandemic, Alice’s Teacup was put on life support, and though reopened, has mostly limped along.

    Some–all?–of its baking occurs in the basement of the building it occupies; a treat for those who live nearby, as the smells are delicious. They don’t, however, seem to translate into anything like a variety of come-back-for-more merchandise. Also, at five bucks per piece, a brownie, for example, is something of an an outlay. Alas, another case of the BH food curse!

  • KDHicks

    Love Alice’s Teacup – hope they find someone to carry the biz forward. And any idea what the Montague BID is doing to help / support vacancy efforts on the st. or anyway the community can help? Felt like there was momentum after the survey earlier this year…

  • Andrew Porter

    Got some good news: Mark Rhodes is returning to Salon Van Sickel on Middagh Street, after breaking his leg months ago on the Brooklyn Bridge while commuting on a scooter. He’ll be working Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday. He’s still having physical therapy the other days of the week.

  • Andrew Porter

    The problem is twofold: PS8, with its horde of unvaccinated kids/customers, was shut down for a long time. The interior of the store is tiny, so social distancing for those inside is next to impossible—and there is very little space to eat outside.

  • Jorale-man

    Great news about Brooklyn Roasting Company. I still miss their locations in Dumbo. Presumably the turbo-charged coffee hasn’t changed.

  • Robert E Sage

    Fortune House, which has been owned by the same family for almost 40 years, is now under new ownership. New items are being added to the menu and the entire staff has been retained to serve our community. Please provide your feedback to the restaurant staff and support the new owner.

  • Mike Suko

    I know that new owners often have a lot on their plates, especially if (I have no idea) it’s not their sole source of income, e.g., a 2nd location.

    I’d watch for (a) SOME use of the exterior – that they never went beyond a single table to the best of my knowledge spoke volumes; and/or (b) at least SOME upgrades within. There’s “functional,” and then there’s 20 years plus of begrudging every penny of expenses.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Alice’s never made much of an effort to attract retail customers. They have short hours, open too late in the morning for many coffee drinkers, and only sometimes adhere to the posted hours. This was true pre Covid and continued during the pandemic. Even after PS8 reopened they made little effort to attract that one steady source of foot traffic. They claimed to open at 8 but often didn’t open past 9, long after the morning school crowd departed. Joe or Vineapple are much more dependable choices. I wish them well but (assuming they actually were trying to be successful here) they shot themselves in the foot.

  • WallBull

    New signage just went up today at the Ani Sushi space. Looks like it’s going to be “BK Lobster”, a lobster roll franchise that has a bunch of other locations in Brooklyn. Godspeed to them. That space is not gonna be easy for them.

  • AEB

    The new owners would do well to attempt to make the restaurant operate as…a restaurant. That is, as an enterprise that strives to attract and provide its customers with good food and service in a clean and comfortable dining room. That wishes to please.

    The old owners gave up on their enterprise years ago, banking on take-out and delivery to fill the till. It was as if the “store” existed solely as a pace to answer phone and take-out orders. Even the tanked fish got up and went.

  • Heightsman

    I beg the new owners to change back to the old dumplings. The new ones are frozen fresh and mass produced. The Monday chef was the best of the week. I hope he or she is still employed.

  • Mike Suko

    Yes – that says it all. Interesting restaurant article in today’s Times about “midtown,” obviously “another country,” almost. But it’s a reminder about what food & restaurants CAN BE. Yes, something quite different from “Suko? That’ll be $58.45″

  • Andrew Porter

    Just posted this comment on the Times article about Alice’s, which when it first appeared didn’t allow comments:

    Much coverage of this in local media in Brooklyn Heights, esp. the Brooklyn Heights Blog. The tiny place on Hicks Street, across from PS8—a natural location, considering the schoolgirls and their parents, who would be a primary audience—was dealt a heavy blow by the pandemic.

    First, there were months-long problems converting the store to add baking ovens in the basement, then the pandemic closed the school and the store. The tiny inside can barely hold the counter and a couple of tables.

    The sidewalk outside is narrow, and because of the school opposite, the volume of traffic on Hicks Street, and the fire house down the street, it’s impossible to build an outside space.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I wish the owners well.

  • Effective Presenter

    $58.45 plus a tip = $68.45 rounded up to $70 if its a better day