Brooklyn Heights Blog » Commercial Real Estate Dispatches from America's first suburb Thu, 08 Jun 2023 02:10:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Veterinary Hospital Coming to Montague & Henry Mon, 10 Apr 2023 01:33:00 +0000

According to Rebecca Baird-Remba in the Commercial Observer, a “[n]ational veterinary chain”, GoodVets, has committed to lease 2,899 square feet at 125 Montague Street (photo, by C. Scales for BHB) for a veterinary hospital expected to open about one year from now. We presume the 2.899 square feet are the former Ann Taylor LOFT space on the building’s street level. With Chama Mama preparing to open in the former LPQ space, this means the ground floor of 125 Montague will be occupied for the first time in about two years.

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St. Francis Sale Goes Through … for $40 Million Less Wed, 05 Apr 2023 03:40:02 +0000

In February we noted that St. Francis College had sold its Brooklyn Heights campus for $200 million. In March we noted that the sale may not have gone through. Now, thanks to The Real Deal, we know that there is an apparently final deal to sell the campus for $160 million, to an affiliate of Rockrose Development Corp.. Rockrose has a long history as a developer, owner, and manager of residential properties. When your correspondent first arrived in New York in 1970, he and his roommate shared a two bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side for which Rockrose was our landlord. Our only complaint was that, as early tenants in a newly rehabbed building, we had no hot water for a week or so after moving in.

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St. Francis Sells Vacant Brooklyn Heights Campus for $200 Million Sun, 19 Feb 2023 02:27:38 +0000

We noted in May 2021 that St. Francis College was moving from its campus in Brooklyn Heights (photo) to space in a new building in downtown Brooklyn. Today The Real Deal reported that St. Francis had sold its now vacant campus, located between Remsen and Joralemon streets on the block between Clinton and Court, to Alexico Group, a developer of — guess what? — luxury residences. For the property St. Francis got a cool $200 million. With part of that perhaps they can construct new athletic facilities which, as our 2021 post noted, their new space lacks.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB

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Can Ian Schrager Save the Hotel Bossert? Sun, 12 Feb 2023 15:03:48 +0000

The Commercial Observer reports that hoteliers Ian Schrager and Ed Sheetz have partnered with the Chetrit Group to… actually get the Hotel Bossert open? According to the Observer, the deal is in its early stages and contingent on raising $26 million to save the Bossert from a foreclosure auction, that was to happen in December 2022. If the deal works, the Bossert will become part of Schrager’s Public Hotel brand, and Schrager and Sheetz will become 50/50 owners with Chetrit, whose current $80 million equity interest would be written down to $11 million.

Can Schrager, who opened Studio 54, and Sheetz, who opened the Hard Rock hotels, finally get the Bossert open?

(Photo: WSTM Zefferus via Wikimedia Commons)


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Can We Have Some Love for Sidewalk Sheds? Sun, 12 Feb 2023 05:14:53 +0000 Lately we’ve had a lot of negative remarks on Open Thread Wednesday — see here and here — some of them by Yours Truly, about sidewalk sheds or sidewalk bridges (sometimes mistakenly called “scaffolding” — that’s what goes above them), especially about those that are seen to have outlasted their neighbors’ patience, if not that of the Department of Buildings. Now PIX 11 has a story about how a sidewalk shed at 16 Court Street, the skyscraper office building at the southern corner of Court and Montague streets, may have saved the life of a woman who was passing on the Court Street side. A heavy piece of stone fell from the building’s façade. It was caught by a lintel, and a steel bar of the sidewalk shed, but broke an office window at the building’s second floor. Because of the break in the roof, some debris, including broken glass from the window, did fall on the sidewalk and on a woman walking there. She was hospitalized with what the PIX 11 story calls “non-life-threatening injuries.” According to the PIX 11 story, “[p]ictures from the NYC Department of Buildings show the sidewalk shed and scaffolding kept the stone from coming down onto the sidewalk.” Had that happened, the woman would likely have been killed.

You can see a photo of the fallen stone, wedged above sidewalk level, in Mary Frost’s Eagle story.

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Brooklyn Women’s Exchange Open on Montague Sun, 23 Oct 2022 05:03:27 +0000

The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange is open for business in its new location at 137 Montague Street, below the UPS Store, between Henry and Clinton (see photo above).
BWE Interior
The interior has plenty of room for the Exchange’s inventory of handcrafted items, including housewares and decorative items, children’s and adults’ clothing, toys, greeting cards, and condiments, as well as children’s books and books of local interest.
BWE Interior Halloween
The Exchange also now has a large selection of items for Halloween.

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Bossert on the Block Tue, 20 Sep 2022 03:21:01 +0000

The auction block, that is. After many projected opening dates, the last of which we noted here, we now have word from Raanan Geberer in The Eagle that because of its owner’s default on a mortgage. Thanks to reader Cassie Von Montague for the link to the story. As the Eagle story notes, the building had undergone extensive renovations, initially by its previous owners, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and later by those who bought it — see our story here.

Anyone want to bid?

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Brooklyn Poets Finds Its Home at 144 Montague St. to Welcome All to Writing Workshops, Open Mikes and More Mon, 11 Jul 2022 11:23:18 +0000

Montague Street is about to get a lot more interesting, thanks to an enterprising… poet? That’s right. Brooklyn Poets, started right here in Brooklyn Heights by Jason Koo, is making 144 Montague St. its home. Think poetry readings, writing workshops, open mikes, and more. We talked to Jason about the genesis of Brooklyn Poets, inspired by his admiration of Walt Waltman, Brooklyn Heights’ rich literary history, the prospect of unemployment, and maybe even the Brooklyn Heights Blog, a tiny bit.

How did Brooklyn Poets get its start?

Brooklyn Poets started as a Tumblr blog on May 31, 2012. So to say I “founded” the company, when I look back, it seems kind of funny. Because when you say you founded something, it sounds like a big deal. But we didn’t even have a location at first, it was just in my apartment in Brooklyn Heights. I always wanted to live in the neighborhood because I was particularly into Hart Crane and Walt Whitman, who were both poets who lived here. They are just two of my biggest touchstones. And when I moved here, I was entranced by the history and read a lot about it. That’s one of the reasons I was reading the Brooklyn Heights Blog and also about the neighborhood’s architectural history.

That’s also when apps started getting big and you just felt like you could start your own business digitally with just an app. There was a real sense of empowerment in that regard. When May 31st rolled around that year, I might have randomly just found out it was Whitman’s birthday, maybe on the Brooklyn Heights Blog. (See 5/31/12 BHB post that mentions Whitman.) I took that as a sign, maybe I should really do this. Every poet I knew had a Tumblr at the time. Maybe I’ll just start a Tumblr and start posting about Brooklyn poetry history and if I’m into it enough, I’ll develop it further.

I also started Brooklyn Poets because I realized I wouldn’t have a teaching job come fall of 2012. So, I began thinking about alternatives as people often do in NYC. One of the things that occurred to me is that the job I had at Lehman (College) was so work intensive. I was teaching four classes per semester and directing the English graduate program. And I would have these fanciful thoughts like, “Why can’t I teach my own workshops in my own home, then I won’t have to commute an hour and a half to the Bronx? I could make more money and cut out the middleman.”

So, I started thinking about what would make an ideal poetry school, what I’d do if I didn’t have to teach in an institution of higher education, which has all these constraints that are antithetical to teaching, like very big class sizes. I thought I’d just try to teach poetry workshops, since I had some former students and knew a lot of poets in the city. I thought I’d see how it goes and promote it on social media. My first workshop had 3 students and the second had 5, and it was just in my apartment. In the fall of 2012, I hired the first teacher, Dorothea Lasky, who teaches at Columbia now. The next year, I hired Melissa Broder who’s gone onto become much bigger. Also, John Murillo. It’s funny when I look back, they’re big names now, but back then they were just hustling.

How did you find and decide on the space on Montague St.?

That was set up through our board president Isaac Myers, who I met because he came to our events. He’s a poet and writer who runs a literary journal Curlew Quarterly. He’s not only a writer, but a practicing lawyer with real estate experience. I always thought it would take much longer to find a space, but the pandemic was actually good for us because online instruction became the norm in 2020. Suddenly, our customer base opened up to everyone, and that was the biggest revenue year we ever had. So, we were able to start saving capital and investing it. With that capital base, we felt good about the idea of getting our own space. We first thought Brooklyn Heights was not even on the table because it would be too expensive. Isaac started looking outside at some spaces, like on Atlantic Ave. that were not quite right. They were either not the right vibe or too expensive or too big or too small.

And then I said, “why don’t we just look in Brooklyn Heights,” because I wanted to find a space that matched our vibe, our community and what we’re supposed to be about. And we found out that a lot of the spaces on Montague St. were shuttered and 144 was one of the first spaces that we saw. We just found Tony Bates, who owns Bentley’s (Shoes), to be a really amenable guy, a really reasonable person. We were almost shocked when he gave us his first proposal. Then there was some back and forth, but he just seemed like someone who’s community-minded and not looking to make a quick buck. He wanted someone who’s going to be in the space for a while and doing good things in the space.

The space itself was perfect from an aesthetic standpoint because it’s mixed use and in a brownstone, not a commercialized space. Tony preserved a lot of the original architectural details. It just looks like an old Brooklyn Heights parlor room. It had everything that we wanted, a part event space and a separate room where we can have a small group workshop. We were also able to convert a closet into a second bathroom, and there’s a small office space in the front. The downside is that it isn’t ADA accessible. So, we thought about it for a while, but there was nothing else that fit all the things that we were trying to hit. And it came to a point where we realized this was a time-sensitive deal and a once-in-a-lifetime rental opportunity.

What types of events and workshops will you hold at the space?

The space will mainly be used for our multi-week workshops that many different teachers teach online and soon to be in person. This summer, we’ll be teaching 21 different workshops, ranging from 5-7 weeks. And we’ll have one day workshops in 3-hour blocks. There are different kinds of poetry reading series we have, like our flagship Brooklyn Poets Reading Series. We invite three poets to read together, there’s usually one emerging poet, and one more established, and one in-between. We have sort of curatorial rules too, one must be from Brooklyn and one from outside. First and foremost, we’re seeking to feature and promote underrepresented writers. That informs everything we do, from board and staff decisions to teacher hiring decisions. We also started offering fellowships to try and bring in students who can’t afford the workshop fees.

Our most popular event is called the Yawp, after Whitman’s “barbaric yawp.” It’s our monthly workshop/open mike event. For the first hour, the students take a generative writing class with one of our teachers and then the second hour and a half is an open mike. If people go to our website, they’ll see all the different kinds of events and our plan is to start adding more. We also plan to sublease the space to poets and orgs looking for an event space that’s affordable. One of the problems for writers or a lit org in NYC is finding a place that you can rent out for less than a thousand dollars. We’re creating a space that we intend to be beautiful, but also specifically for poets to share their work. So, there will be a stage in the front, and good tech and sound. We hope it’ll be a place that can host book parties too, or for lit magazines to hold readings.

What would you tell people, who haven’t developed an interest in poetry yet, that Brooklyn Poets has to offer them?

What we’ll have to offer is a very open, inclusive, community vibe. Although I’m a poet in NYC, I didn’t always feel invited to the literary spaces I was going into, or I was literally just not invited. So, when I created Brooklyn Poets, from the very beginning, I wasn’t going to have a reading series where we’re featuring only White poets. Even in 2012, that’s what I was seeing. Everyone forgets because now it’s a very different scene. But back then, you’d go to ten different readings, and it would be completely White, not even one poet of color.

Also, at the beginning, I wasn’t even thinking about diversity in ages. But when we started doing the Yawp events, we started seeing a wide range of ages, people in their 20’s up to 70’s showing up to open mikes. There was this amazing mix of ages, ethnicities, races, genders, and gender expressions. We’re trying to recreate the same energy in the new space, where people feel included in our community even if they’ve never written a poem or read a poem, or feel intimidated by poetry. The best comments we get from people at our events are, “I never felt included or I never felt cool enough to be at this table,” or “I never understood poetry, but I really like the vibe and so I kept coming back.” And that’ll be true for people who don’t think of themselves as writers, but they just like the energy they’re feeling. The primary thing we’ll offer is openness and inclusiveness. And to me, that’s what Brooklyn is supposed to be about.

At a Yawp in 2019. Photo courtesy Jason Koo

At a Yawp in 2019. Photo courtesy Jason Koo.

At a Yawp in 2019. Photo courtesy Jason Koo

At a Yawp in 2019. Photo courtesy Jason Koo.

At a Poetry Reading Event in 2019. Photo courtesy Jason Koo

At a Poetry Reading Event in 2019. Photo courtesy Jason Koo.

At the Brooklyn Poets Whitman Bicentennial Celebration in 2019. Photo by Shun Takino.

At the Brooklyn Poets Whitman Bicentennial Celebration in 2019. Photo by Shun Takino.

At the Brooklyn Poets Whitman Bicentennial Celebration. Photos by Shun Takino.

At the Brooklyn Poets Whitman Bicentennial Celebration in 2019. Photos by Shun Takino.

Brooklyn Poets’ grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be on Sat., July 23 to coincide with Open Streets Montague. More details to follow.

See Brooklyn Poet’s website and follow on Instagram @brooklynpoets.

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Brooklyn Women’s Exchange Announces Move to 137 Montague Street This Fall Thu, 23 Jun 2022 01:18:06 +0000

Brooklyn Women’s Exchange is relocating from 55 Pierrepont St. to 137 Montague St., the ground level space below the UPS Store, last occupied by Heights Cleaners. The stars aligned as BWE searched for a new space due to its lease expiring, and the Calfa brothers (owners of Lassen & Hennigs) sought a new tenant for their vacant commercial space. While discussing possible tenants with Erika Belsey Worth of the Brooklyn Heights Association, Tom Calfa said, “What I really want is the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange.” Worth then connected the soon-to-be landlord and tenant.

Extensive renovations will be necessary to transform the old dry cleaner’s space to a gift shop, but the work is expected to be completed by early September 2022. BWE President Ann Aurigemma said, “The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange has occupied two other spaces on Montague St. in our 168-year history and we are very excited to be back! We hope our new location will provide greater visibility for our hand-crafted products and an enhanced connection with our community.”

Kate Chura, Executive Director of Montague Street Business Improvement District said, “We’re excited to welcome Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, the oldest remaining Women’s Exchange in the country, back to Montague Street, Brooklyn’s first business corridor. We look forward to their grand opening this Fall, and to the unique crafts and gifts they’ll offer Montague St. shoppers.”

BWE is a non-profit, volunteer-run shop, supporting over three-hundred artisans with seventy cents of every dollar going back to the crafter. BWE carries gifts for everyone and for every season. Let’s support the BWE now and at their new location. Visit their shop on Pierrepont St. through the summer, check out their website, and follow them on Instagram.Brooklyn Women's Exchange

More About The Brooklyn Women’s Exchange:

For 168 years the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, a not for profit, volunteer organization, has served the Brooklyn community. BWE is currently located at 55 Pierrepont Street, where they have been since 1980. The Exchange’s mission is to support American handcrafts. There are over forty volunteers who staff the shop, curate the handcrafted items and publicize their mission. Items included in the shop are hand knit items, children’s clothing, jewelry, holiday items, linens, pottery, greeting cards, books, toys and much more.

BWE takes great pride in being at the forefront of the American Crafts movement since 1854. BWE is a member of the Federation of Women’s Exchanges, which includes fifteen Exchanges around the country. Of these women-operated, volunteer-run community organizations, BWE is the oldest, continuously operating Exchange.

Photos courtesy of BWE.

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Restler Launches “Go Fund Me” Page for Deceased Construction Worker’s Family Wed, 16 Feb 2022 19:12:22 +0000

The Brooklyn Paper reports that City Council Member Lincoln Restler (photo), in conjunction with the Worker’s Justice Project, yesterday launched a Go Fund Me page to raise money for the family of Angel Pilataxi, who died last Friday after a fall at the construction site at 124 Columbia Heights. Mr. Pilataxi, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was a resident of Plainfield, New Jersey and had six children, ranging in age from 12 to 33. Donations can be made here.

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Construction Worker Killed In Fall from 124 Columbia Heights Sat, 12 Feb 2022 02:58:04 +0000

The Brooklyn Paper reports that a construction worker, whose name has not been released pending notification to his family, died Friday morning, February 11 after falling several floors at the construction site at 124 Columbia Heights (the address is not given in the Brooklyn Paper story, but is available from the NYC Buildings site, which is linked in the on line version of the story). Another worker at the site is quoted as saying the man was not wearing a harness at the time he fell.

124 Columbia Heights is a former Jehovah’s Witnesses dorm that is, according to the Brooklyn Paper story, being renovated for use as luxury housing by Vincent Viola, a billionaire developer. The story notes that KBE NY LLC, general contractor for the site, has been fined $10,000 twice within six months for “failure to maintain safety measures” and that other complaints have been lodged that led to a stop work order having been issued last April.

Addendum: a big tip of the BHB hat to ever alert reader Andrew Porter for supplying the photo of the construction advisory poster for 124 Columbia Heights. It seems the anticipated completion date of November 2021 was a bit over-optimistic.

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Bye, Bye Rite Aid Fri, 28 Jan 2022 01:34:15 +0000

Update: If you have prescriptions to pick up, starting Friday, February 11 you can pick them up at Duane Reade, at the corner of Court and Montague, unless you’ve made other arrangements. It’s already been noted on this week’s OTW, but today your correspondent’s wife paid a visit to Rite Aid at 101 Clinton Street, corner of Joralemon, and discovered the denuded shelves shown in her photo here. A conversation with an employee confirmed that the store’s last day of operation will be February 10. The employees, who are unionized, will be offered jobs at other Rite Aid locations.

The nearest other Rite Aid location is at 182 Smith Street, corner of Warren, a bit of a schlep. Those of you who, like my wife and me, have relied on Rite Aid to fill prescriptions, may want to switch to another nearby pharmacy.

Photo: Martha Foley for BHB

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Court Street Regal Cinema Movie Theater CLOSED Tue, 18 Jan 2022 21:47:55 +0000 It’s official: Court Street Regal Cinema at the corner of State Street is closed. According to the Brooklyn Paper, signs were posted on the doors indicating it is closed (with the nearest theater in Sheepshead Bay!), and there are no showtimes listed on the Court Street Regal Cinema. It’s still not clear if this location is “all dead” or “mostly dead”, since we haven’t seen any official confirmation that the location is permanently closed, but we’re going to guess “all dead”, since we see indications of a plan afoot to convert the space into some kind of a mall, “The Shops at Court Street”, dating from 2020.

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Heights Vision Seeks New Location Wed, 29 Dec 2021 21:11:42 +0000

For many years Heights Vision has been located at 132 Montague Street, between Henry and Clinton. That location was destroyed by fire on December 10. Heights Vision is a family owned and operated optometry office and optician, and is seeking a new home in the neighborhood. They “plan to secure an exam space to provide urgent eye care needs soon” and welcome any suggestions for a location for their practice. According to their Facebook page they have secured a temporary administrative location with help from the Montague BID and Brown Harris Stevens. They can be reached by email at and you can also follow them on Instagram.

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The “Mystery of Montague Street” Featured on Curbed Wed, 01 Dec 2021 00:57:05 +0000 Curbed published an interesting article on “The Mystery of Montague Street” — why does it suck? There are the usual reasons given — business owners blame the high rent, landlords blame the high taxes, the BHA and the Montague BID don’t want to blame anyone. Incoming city council member (and neighborhood son!) Lincoln Restler puts his support behind a vacancy tax. Of course, 112 Montague Street, and its totally normal, not at all out of touch with reality landlord (who may or may not be named Nathan Silverstein), are featured as well, and seem to provide a case for why a vacancy tax might not be such a bad idea:

He said he is asking $15,000 a month for the second-floor space and “more than double that for the ground floor.”

“When Starbucks first closed, I had all the restaurants call, like Armando’s. But I’m holding out for a triple-mint tenant.”

But there’s a quote I would like to highlight, from Lassen & Hennigs co-owner Thomas Calfa:

This is a bedroom community for Manhattan, and it always has been. That’s never changed. People around here will basically stay in Manhattan and do their clothing shopping and go to restaurants. It’s maybe shifting a little bit, but it’s always been like that since the 1970s.

Do Brooklyn Heights residents still feel this way about their neighborhood, 40 years later? Or do residents “stay in Manhattan” because the local options are so mediocre and bleak? And how much has that changed since the pandemic struck? Is it odd that this argument is made concerning Montague Street, but doesn’t seem to apply to more bustling “commercial” streets in the area (Henry Street, Atlantic Avenue), or Cobble Hill?

Be sure to read the Curbed article before answering!

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Storefront Developments Around Brooklyn Heights Mon, 25 Oct 2021 03:07:17 +0000

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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Latest Montague Restaurant Rumblings Mon, 30 Aug 2021 03:42:12 +0000

The scuttlebutt is that the Teresa’s site, which has been vacant since before the pandemic, will become a Korean restaurant. If so, I welcome it. My limited experiences of Korean cuisine to date have been pleasing. I’ve yet to try kimchi, which I suspect is somewhere in my wheelhouse of spicy and sour. If I do my wife, who has a very sensitive nose, may take exception. I saw lights on in the restaurant space on Friday, which indicates something may be going on, if not just a fire inspection.

Giulia has closed, but there are no signs of transition, like paper over windows or construction permits. Since the site is being taken over by a chain of Italian restaurants, perhaps all that is needed is a new sign and name on the awning.

Otherwise, the Montague restaurant scene is mixed. Our two Thai restaurants, Lantern and Pinto, along with the pan-Asian and cleverly named (if you’re old enough to remember Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In) Saketumi, and the Chinese Lichee Nut, are still going strong, but two Japanese restaurants, Ani Sushi and Nanatori, are no more, and the former Vegetarian Ginger space above Pinto has been vacant for years. The Custom House treats us to memories of the Auld Sod, and the reborn Grand Canyon keeps turning out its fine burgers, as does the Happy Days Diner. Grand Canyon also does Mexican, but its across the street rival, San Blas, appears to be defunct. The Good Food spot stays vacant. Nothing can kill Chipotle. Both of the former venues of Café Buon Gusto remain empty. Monty Q’s keeps on keeping on. The former Subway sandwich place remains empty. One ice cream place, the world’s first Haagen-Dazs shop, remains open, but the former Emack & Bolio’s space is vacant, although a French patisserie may be moving in there.

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Arrivederci, Giulia! Sun, 15 Aug 2021 17:26:37 +0000

We hardly knew you! Word is that the restaurant, formerly the Heights Café, has been sold, though we don’t yet know to whom. It opened just under three months ago, and will close at the end of this week. We’re told that Dellarocco’s, which has the same ownership as Giulia, has not been been sold and will continue to make pizza.

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Caffe Buon Gusto Closed? It’s Probably Just Temporary Tue, 20 Jul 2021 00:48:16 +0000

Update: reader Andrew Porter has confirmed that Caffe Buon Gusto is moving to 72 Clark Street, evidently to the space previously occupied by Tazza. It seems the owner did decide that one Italian restaurant on Montague was enough.

A neighbor alerted me to paper covering the windows at Caffe Buon Gusto, so I rushed to 132 Montague Street (between Henry and Clinton) and got this photo. Note the sign that says “We’re Open” and the lack of anything thanking us for our years of patronage. Back home, I checked their website, which is up and functioning. I clicked on “Make a Reservation”, then on “Find a Table”, and got this message:

This restaurant is temporarily offline. Please contact the restaurant directly or check back shortly for availability.

I tried calling Buon Gusto’s phone number. It rang and rang, with no recorded message. For now, I can just presume that Buon Gusto is undergoing an interior makeover, and that its owner has not decided, following the opening of Giulia, formerly Heights Café, that one Italian restaurant on Montague is enough. Perhaps, though, just as the papering over of Heights Café’s windows betokened its transformation into Giulia, this papering foretells Buon Gusto’s transformation into – a Persian restaurant, or maybe an Argentinian steakhouse.

Time will tell.

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New Owner, New Chef for Jack the Horse Space Tue, 25 May 2021 03:02:07 +0000

Our friends at the Brooklyn Heights Association have advised us that Chef Sean Rembold will be taking charge of the kitchen at the former Jack the Horse Tavern, at Hicks and Cranberry streets. Chef Rembold has twice been nominated for the James Beard Foundation award as best New York City chef. From his website:

Originally a Kentucky native, Sean moved to New York City to attend the French Culinary Institute. After cooking in the kitchens of Campagna, Osteria del Circo, and Bayard’s, Sean found his personal and professional fit in Williamsburg, the neighborhood he has called home since 1999. He lives there with his wife, designer Caron Callahan, and their daughter.

Despite his fondness for Williamsburg, the BHA website says:

Sean loves Brooklyn Heights and reached out to the BHA a few months ago about helping him find a suitable location. Of course, we were glad to help! We’ll keep you informed as plans move forward.

We checked out the websites of the three Williamsburg restaurants at which he served as chef. One, Reynard, no longer exists. Marlow and Sons (follow the Instagram link below the “Order Online” link) and Diner, have menus that look interesting, though a notch more expensive than JTH’s.

The menus at whatever the name JTH gets under its new ownership may be quite different, as may the prices. We hope that the menu will in some way reflect the spirit of the JTH menu – dare we hope that the mac & cheese appetizer will be revived? – and that the prices will be within reach of most Heights residents; not just the most affluent ones.

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St. Francis College Leaving Brooklyn Heights for Downtown Wed, 19 May 2021 02:25:47 +0000

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that St. Francis College, a four year liberal arts institution that has made its home in Brooklyn Heights since 1963, will be moving to new, smaller quarters in a high rise building being built above the Macy’s store on Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Although St. Francis plans to expand its student population from its present 2,700 or so to 3,500 by 2026, the Eagle story quotes a representative of the school as saying that while the present building at 180 Remsen Street (photo by C. Scales for BHB) wasn’t “designed specifically to be a campus” the new space is, and therefore will use its square footage more efficiently.

The Eagle quotes “officials” as saying the new “space will include a 6,600-square-foot library, a 300 seat auditorium, a cafeteria, two art gallery spaces, and plenty of outdoor space, with a terrace and rooftop.” It’s interesting that there’s no mention of athletic facilities. St. Francis fields intercollegiate teams in a number of sports, including basketball, soccer, volleyball, water polo, diving, and swimming. While the soccer team has done its practice on the fields at Brooklyn Bridge Park, other sports have used the ample indoor facilities at the Generoso Pope Athletic Complex, which is part of the same 180 Remsen building which will presumably be sold to a developer to be demolished, no doubt for high rise (the building is outside the Brooklyn Heights Historic District) luxury apartments. Update: SFC Athletic Director Irma Garcia provides this information:

Because our new Wheeler building campus does not have a gymnasium or pool on site, we are making special plans for indoor teams that rely on those facilities, including aquatics, basketball and volleyball.

SFC will partner with nearby educational institutions, to use their indoor facilities in the short term after our move. SFC is developing a permanent solution for its indoor sports and other athletics facilities longer term. More information will be announced soon.

What will we Heights residents be losing because of this? An auditorium with ample space for neighborhood meetings and for cultural events, a lobby with inviting and interesting art exhibits, and a swimming pool available for community use during limited hours. Oh, yes, and for many of us, a place to vote.

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Will Hell Freeze Over – er – the Bossert Open Next Month? Sun, 28 Mar 2021 01:43:25 +0000

A big hat tip to reader Cassie Von Montague who alerted us on OTW to this Brownstoner story about the Bossert Hotel at 98 Montague Street (corner of Hicks), which has been undergoing renovation for some years and has had many projected opening dates come and go. The Brownstoner story refers to websites showing furnished hotel rooms and inviting reservations, starting on April 30, with prices that “range from $246 to $303 a night.” It also indicates that the Bossert has a new manager, IHG Hotels & Resorts. Brownstoner tried to contact IHG, but got no reply.

Let’s see if this finally works out.

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The Results Are In: BHA’s Future of Montague Street Survey Wed, 03 Feb 2021 02:39:11 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association recently called for community input on the future of Montague Street, and the survey results are in. BHA promises to use the 1,381 responses “to support the creation of a vibrant and successful Montague Street,” while working with community members, local real estate brokers, and the Montague Street Business Improvement District.

Some highlights from the survey:

1.  Survey respondents want a different retail mix on Montague. Specifically, 80% asked for a bookstore, followed closely by new restaurants and/or cafes. Many would also like to see new types of fresh food establishments, like a butcher, a fishmonger, and a bakery.

2.  Most survey respondents (over 60%) want a greater prioritization of pedestrians/bikes on Montague Street, with more outdoor dining, shopping and seating, along with music and events to bring a more “neighborhood feel” to the street.

3.  Many respondents noted that they currently go elsewhere (DUMBO, Cobble Hill, etc.) to shop and dine. This “retail leakage” could be addressed by bringing more unique and desirable options to Montague Street.

See the complete survey results here.

What’s your wishlist for zhuzhing up Montague Street? Comment below!



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Brooklyn Heights Association’s Survey for the Future of Montague Street Sat, 12 Dec 2020 15:14:51 +0000

Dear Neighbors – Two things you need to do this weekend:

1.  Fill out Brooklyn Heights Association’s community survey to add your voice for the future of Montague Street.

2.  Read Mary Frost’s (as always) rich and fascinating report in the Eagle on the history of Montague Street retail, and the many reasons for its past and current struggles. Mary digs deep to uncover the issues that go far beyond the obvious, and interviews longtime retailers who offer their frank assessments. A notable quote from Tony Bates, owner of Bentley’s Shoes: “Shopping online is destroying the small businesses. If you want to get an idea of what’s going on on the street, take a look at the UPS store. Take a picture of the people lined up with their returns. This is not Brooklyn Heights, this is Amazon Heights.” A must read.


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Permanently Closed: Brooklyn Heights Businesses Lost To The Pandemic Mon, 12 Oct 2020 01:49:31 +0000

Seven months into the pandemic, most of our local small businesses are hanging on. With pure grit and ingenuity, restaurants turned parking spots into dining spaces, and retail stores went online until their doors could open again. Tragically, not all of the businesses survived the long shutdown, not to mention the loss of tourists and nearly half of the residents who left town for months. Here, we memorialize the Brooklyn Heights businesses that permanently closed since March 2020.

Jack the Horse Tavern (66 Hicks St.)

Jack the Horse Tavern (66 Hicks St.)

JtH Next Door (66 Hicks St.)

JtH Next Door (66 Hicks St.)

Five Guys (138 Montague St.)

Five Guys (138 Montague St.)

Amy's Bread and East & West Wellness

Amy’s Bread (72 Clark St.)

Chocolate Works (110 Montague St.)

Chocolate Works (110 Montague St.)

The Heights Salon of Brooklyn (136 Montague St.)

The Heights Salon of Brooklyn (136 Montague St.)

Scott J Aveda Salon (119 Montague St.)

Scott J Aveda Salon (119 Montague St.)

B.GOOD (141 Montague St.)

B.GOOD (141 Montague St.)

Heights Nail Salon (60 Henry St.)

Heights Nail Salon (60 Henry St.)

Le Pain Quotidien (121 Montague St.)

Le Pain Quotidien (121 Montague St.)

WMA Karate (67 Atlantic Ave.) (Classes moved online and outdoors -

WMA Karate (67 Atlantic Ave.) (Classes moved online and outdoors –

Blossom Poke Bowl (153 Remsen St.)

Blossom Poke Bowl (153 Remsen St.)

Cafecito (Clark St. Station)

Cafecito (Clark St. Station)

Emack & Bolio (115 Montague St.) (To close permanently on 10/31/20.) (Photo courtesy of BHB reader.)

Emack & Bolio (115 Montague St.) (To close permanently on 10/31/20.) (Photo courtesy of BHB reader.)

The loss of these small businesses is a blow to the community. Some are simply irreplaceable. What could possibly fill the void that Cranberry’s or Jack the Horse left behind? But we can find hope in knowing that there are already small signs of recovery and renewal. Here are three businesses that opened in the midst of the pandemic and by all indications, are fast becoming favorites of the neighborhood.

Cardinal Mkt (44 Henry St.)

Cardinal Mkt (44 Henry St.)

Vineapple (71 Pineapple St.)

Vineapple (71 Pineapple St.)

Ella Crown Bakehouse (149 Atlantic Ave.)

Ella Crown Bakehouse (149 Atlantic Ave.)

Support our local economy. Support our small businesses.

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Montague BID Head Tapped to Lead Atlantic Avenue BID; Will Have Both Roles Mon, 31 Aug 2020 02:44:09 +0000

The Eagle has reported that Kate Chura has been named the new Executive Director of the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District (“BID”), of which she has been serving as interim Executive Director for some time. She has also served as Executive Director of the Montague Street BID for almost five years, and will continue to hold that post concurrently with that at Atlantic Avenue.

The Eagle story quotes Greg Markman, board chair of the Montague Street BID, praising Ms. Chura for her “marketing efforts”; her help in getting a “greenest commercial block” award, and her promotion of “events that brought foot traffic to Montague Street ….” He added that

“Over the past six months, the efforts of Kate and her team have helped some of our businesses remain open during the pandemic. I’m confident that she will help the businesses on Montague Street and Atlantic Avenue continue to navigate the new business landscape and thrive as best as they can.”

The only fly we can see in this ointment is: suppose, after the pandemic fades, there are (as we think there are likely to be) many vacant commercial spaces on both Montague and Atlantic. If rivalry develops over who gets new tenants, can she remain neutral?

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BHA Annual Meeting: BQE, Clark Street Station, Empty Storefronts, and More Sat, 29 Feb 2020 22:27:01 +0000

Wednesday’s Brooklyn Heights Association annual meeting began with a summary, by BHA President Martha Bakos Dietz, of BHA’s accomplishments during the previous year.  First among these was the apparent elimination of the city Department of Transportation’s plan to demolish the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and replace it with a temporary six lane highway. Both the expert panel appointed by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council have now rejected that plan. Still, Ms. Bakos Dietz said, there is work to be done. The BHA has joined with A Better Way NYC and the Cobble Hill Association to form the Coalition for the BQE Transformation which, in conjunction with other affected community groups, will strive to assure a plan for the future of the BQE that respects the needs of these communities and realistically reflects future transportation needs. In the photo above (by and © Andrew Porter) Ms. Bakos Dietz is shown holding the new poster designed for the Coalition, which she said can now replace the “No Highway to Hell” posters.

The planned eight month closure of the Clark Street subway station to replace its three decrepit elevators will, Ms. Bakos Dietz said, begin sometime in 2021. The Transit Authority has given assurances that it will take steps to help the merchants whose shops line the arcade outside the turnstiles by putting up signs that inform the public that the arcade, and the shops, are open during the construction.  During the later question and answer session, someone noted that during an earlier and shorter closure of the station about twenty years ago, the merchants had been given rent abatements.

The Brooklyn House of Detention is outside but close to the Heights, and plans for its expansion, in conjunction with the City’s planned closure of Rikers Island, are a concern for Heights residents. Ms. Bakos Dietz said the existing House of Detention is now closed and will be demolished. Its replacement, scheduled to be completed in 2026, will, thanks to advocacy by the BHA and other community groups, be much lower than the City’s original plan.

Rats have been a problem on the Promenade. Ms. Bakos Dietz said the City Parks Department will provide twenty rat-proof trash receptacles, and increase extermination efforts. During the Q&A period, a Heights resident said the area below the circle at the north end of the Promenade and the walkway paralleling Columbia Heights is a dumping ground for trash and an ideal rat habitat. Andrew Porter pointed out that this area, which is adjacent to the BQE, is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. Ms. Bakos Dietz said, “We have lots of experience dealing with them.”

Finally, Ms. Bakos Dietz said there is a six month moratorium in effect on film shoots in the North Heights; when it expires a six month moratorium for the South Heights will become effective.


Ms. Bakos Dietz was recognized for her three years of service as the BHA’s President. Following her report, WNET-13 host and Heights resident Tom Stewart (in red tie in the photo above by C. Scales for BHB; at left in the photo is BHA Executive Director Lara Birnback) presented awards for community service. The first was to architect, urban planner, and Heights resident Marc Wouters (at right in photo above) for his work with the BHA in designing alternative routes for the BQE.


The other was to a group of local residents who formed the Promenade Gardens Mapping Project to map the locations of plantings in the Promenade Gardens. The map will be a useful resource should BQE work cause damage to the Gardens. Members of the group are in the photo above (by and © Andrew Porter), with Mr. Stewart standing behind them.


Following the community awards there was a panel discussion on the topic “Empty Storefronts and Our Commercial Corridors: How Can We Help Great Local Businesses Survive and Thrive?” The panelists were (left to right in the photo above, by and © Andrew Porter): Randy Peers, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of CommerceDeborah Marton, Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute and a Heights resident; and Nur Asri, Senior Research Analyst at Streetsense. The moderator, at right, was New York Times reporter and Heights resident Eliza Shapiro.  It quickly became evident that the panelists didn’t think there was any primary cause of the proliferation of vacant commercial properties, or any single or easy solution. High rents have been an important contributing factor, but they have recently been declining. On line shopping has disrupted retail for items like clothing, and even groceries, but it hasn’t affected the demand for restaurants or for services like barber shops and hair stylists, nail salons, and urgent care facilities. Some traditional stores survive because they provide good value and service, and because of a loyal customer base. In some neighborhoods, like Williamsburg, new construction has increased the supply of available commercial space while in others, like Brownsville, spaces that become vacant find few takers. High property taxes, regulations and bureaucratic inefficiency, an example being the long waiting time for liquor licenses, are an impediment to new business formations.

The panelists were unenthusiastic about the efficacy, or desirability, of a “vacancy tax.” During the Q&A, an audience member noted that an owner of a vacant property could, assuming they had another property or properties generating income, get a tax write off for the vacant property.  One panelist suggested that property owners should be encouraged to allow temporary “pop-up” users of vacant spaces.  Perhaps most important was the advice to be loyal to any local business that you love.

For more detail on the BHA Annual Meeting, see  Mary Frost’s Eagle story.

Addendum: an item I should have added to the original post was that, during the Q&A, one audience member raised a perennial issue; that of helicopter noise. He asked if there was any reason helicopters had been hovering above Remsen Street. Another person suggested that an increase in helicopter use of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport might lead to hovering while waiting for landing space. Someone else mentioned the Uber helicopter service from downtown to JFK. Ms. Bakos Dietz said the BHA is aware of the problem, and has contacted the organizers of Stop the Chop to plan a response.


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Brooklyn Heights Association Annual Meeting Wednesday Evening, February 26 Thu, 20 Feb 2020 04:01:21 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association will have its 2020 Annual Meeting this coming Wednesday evening, February 26 at Founders Hall, St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street (between Clinton and Court).  The meeting starts at 7:00, but you’re advised to come early. Last year’s meeting was standing room only for later arrivals. All are invited; you need not be a BHA member to attend.

This year’s meeting will feature a panel discussion, followed by Q&A from the audience, on the problem of empty storefronts and how to keep commercial corridors like Henry and Montague streets “alive and thriving.” The BHA will present an update on its work on local issues, including an update on the BQE repair.  Community service awards will be presented to the volunteers who mapped the plantings in the Promenade Gardens to facilitate replacement of anything lost because of the BQE repair, and to architect and urban planner Marc Wouters for his work with the BHA to show there are alternatives to the Department of Transportation’s plan to place a temporary highway at the location of the Promenade.

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What’s in the Crystal Ball for Brooklyn? Wed, 01 Jan 2020 17:20:06 +0000

The Eagle’s Mary Frost interviewed prominent Brooklynites, asking for their views on Brooklyn’s future. Carlo Scissura, head of the Mayor’s panel studying the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, predicts that “the BQE will get some much-needed love and attention.” Love? He also thinks the Nets will make the playoffs. Karen Johnson, owner of DUMBO’s Olympia Wine Bar, thinks the BQE will continue to be an issue, along with subway overcrowding (that’s what happens when your only convenient subway is the F train). Both Lara Birnback, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, and Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, believe the re-opening of the historic Gage & Tollner restaurant on Fulton Street will have a major effect. Ms. Birnback predicts it “will become the hottest reservation in town.” Cobble Hill Association president Amy Breedlove says “NYU will break ground and begin construction at 70 Atlantic Ave. on the former LICH campus.” Borough President Eric Adams thinks there will be “new and innovative” ways to deal with the problem of homelessness.

The boldest prediction comes from Brooklyn Brewery co-founder and chairperson Steve Hindy, who thinks “Brooklyn will annex Queens and the Bronx” and secede from New York City.

There’s lots more in Mary’s Eagle story; well worth a read.

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Inside the Hotel Bossert with Montague BID Sat, 30 Nov 2019 20:21:01 +0000

You may recall earlier this week, Claude reminded us that today is Small Business Saturday and the Montague BID would be hosting a “selfies with elves” event at none other than the lobby of the storied Hotel Bossert. We won’t get into the 7+ years longat times heart-warming, always intriguing, and unendingly mysterious saga of the Bossert. It’s a holiday weekend afterall. Let us just feast our eyes on these photos of the stunning lobby. (For best results, click on photos to enlarge.)










Radiator Grill with Hotel Logo Inscriptions

Radiator Grill with Hotel Logo Inscriptions

Outside the Bossert, a WPIX van was parked, presumably to report on the event. Inside was a security guard who, to the question, “when is the hotel opening,” replied with all sincerity, “I have no idea.” And let’s not forget the sprightly elf who greeted every shopper with an abundance of holiday cheer.


This holiday season, shop local, shop small, shop early and don’t stress.


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