Top-Chef Alum Headed For Clinton Street

Leah Cohen.

“Top Chef” alum Leah Cohen is coming to the Lower East Side. According to a liquor license application filed with Community Board 3, she and Rick Camac (of the Fatty Crab empire) plan to take over Italian restaurant Falai’s space at 68 Clinton.

As you may recall, Iacopo Falai shuttered his 8-year old restaurant, saying that Clinton Street was not as hospitable to fine dining as it might have been a few years ago.

Last year, Cohen told Zagat she planned to name her new spot “Pig and Khao. It’ll be a Southeast Asian spot. Cohen tested out the menu last year at LTO, the pop-up on East Broadway, after a stint in the kitchens of several restaurants in Asia.

Cohen and Camac are going for a beer and wine license only. It should be noted the restaurant will be located in an area in which the community board tries to limit new licenses. But since Falai had a license, the precedent is already set.

CB3’s liquor licensing panel meets Monday, April 16th, at 6:30 p.m., at the JASA/Green building, 200 East 5th Street.


Baohaus on Rivington is Closing, Falai Plans on Hold

Baohaus, 137 Rivington Street.

There’s news today about a couple of Lower East Side restaurants. First, Eddie Huang told Eater and then started blogging about his decision to close his original Baohaus restaurant, at 137 Rivington Street. Huang says he wants to focus on his new 14th Street establishment and was just spread too thin. The restaurant will shut down after Sunday.

Second, Grub Street reports that Iacopo Falai is probably not opening a new trattoria on Clinton Street. He has already closed Falai, his more formal restaurant on Clinton and seems poised to shut Falai Bakery.  Here’s how he explained the situation to the food blog:

“I need to sell Falai first,” (he) said, indicating that the other project is up-in-the-air. (A rep e-mailed this morning to say the project isn’t happening.) The toque alluded that he could resurrect Falai restaurant elsewhere. “It’s the cooking I do,” he explained, and he hopes to continue it “in some other form.” The Lower East Side might just not be right anymore: “It’s mostly bars now,” he lamented. “Or people want tapas, small plates. They go out at 10 p.m. — at 10 p.m. Falai was closing.”


Officially for Rent: Falai’s Former Home

The restaurant formerly known as Falai is for rent at 68 Clinton St.

As we noted two weeks ago, Falai has closed its doors after nearly seven years at 68 Clinton St. From The Lo-Down inbox, we now learn that the restaurant is ready for a new tenant. Broker Steven Kamali’s firm has listed it at $8,800/month, with a 10-year-lease and a $250,000 fixture fee. The restaurant seats 40 diners inside, and 20 more in the 600-square-foot garden. There’s also a 1,000-square-foot basement.

Falai Panetteria, the casual cafe across the street at 79 Clinton, remains open for business but is listed for rent as well, at $6,300/month.

Falai Closes; “Changed Neighborhood” Cited

Image via Eater.

For a few months now, there’s been speculation about what’s happening at Falai, the high-end Italian restaurant at 68 Clinton Street. This morning Grub Street noticed an ominous message on Falai’s web site, indicating that the business was “temporarily closed due to technical difficulties.”

Now there’s more information from Florence Fabricant of the New York Times. A short time ago, Iacopo Falai told her the 7-year old restaurant has closed for good. “I want to concentrate on the cafe on Lafayette and be in the kitchen more, I want to cook,” Mr. Falai told Flo-Fab. “The Lower East Side neighborhood has changed, I think it might be less fashionable, I don’t see as many customers coming from the Upper East Side,” he added.

The Times was told Falai Panetteria at 79 Clinton Street will remain open. Online real estate listings, however, suggest changes may be in store at this location, as well. The 600 square foot space is being offered for lease ($6300/month plus key money).  There have been suggestions that Falai Panetteria would move into a larger space in the same building (the former home of the Lucky variety store that closed last year).


Restaurant Report Card: August 2011

Each month, on the second Wednesday, we post a report of restaurants in the 10002 ZIP code that scored 28 points or more–the equivalent of a “C” grade–on their health department inspections the previous month. We also call out establishments that excelled, by earning three points or fewer. August proved a difficult month for several notable local restaurants—among them, Beauty & Essex, Kuma Inn and Falai (which is now closed)—as well as a handful of popular nightlife spots, such as White Star, Gallery Bar and Foundation (which was shuttered after an Aug. 19 inspection).

For details on how the city grades food establishments, see the guide (PDF). Because of the way the city’s online search function operates, we cannot link directly to individual reports here, but you can visit the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website, type in the name of any restaurant and view the details of inspectors’ findings for all recent visits. For past months’ reports, see our Restaurant Report Card archives.

Here’s the report for August.

Is Falai Closing?

Photo via Eater.

Are Falai and Falai Panetteria on Clinton Street being sold?  Grub Street picked up on an item in restaurant insider Steve Kamali’s newsletter, indicating: “Falai’s ten-year lease is available for $8,800 a month, and Panetteria’s is going for $5,500 a month with eleven years remaining.”

Last month, Grub Street reported that Iacopo Falai was drawing up “very preliminary” plans to open another spot on the Lower East Side’s restaurant row — at 77 Clinton Street.

Yesterday, an employee at Caffe Falai on Lafayette Street told the blog that nothing was final but that the Clinton Street restaurants “might close.”  Grub Street hopes “the restaurateur is simply consolidating to a space that’s somewhere between his sit-down restaurant and the more casual panetteria, but we can’t say for sure at this point.”

Peek at 74 Orchard, LES Food Tours, Dragon Fruit, Falai

Renovations were in the works this week at 74 Orchard St., the former home of Bunny Chow.

It’s been a really busy week on the LES restaurant scene. The health department shut down The National Underground. The Doughnut Plant made plans to expand. Cafe Grumpy opened. In other food news:

  • We took a sneak peek at the renovations inside 74 Orchard, the former home of the short-lived Bunny Chow and the future home of an as-yet-unnamed burgers and fish-and-chips joint backed by the owners of Los Feliz.
  • The Tenement Museum’s Annie Polland talked about German beer halls of old and the Lower East Side food tours beginning next week.
  • Dragon fruit is making its way onto American menus, and the chef at Alias says, “It looks like something out of Star Wars, like Jabba the Hut would be eating.”
  • Iacopo Falai is expanding his LES empire with a new trattoria at 77 Clinton St.

Food Wire: El Castillo de Jagua, Doughnuts, Dufresne, Mulberry Street Bar and Bartenders’ Battle

Danny Kim / New York Magazine

In post-weekend food news around the neighborhood:

Wednesday News Links

A NYPD cruiser pursuing a white Cadillac jumped the curb on Avenue D and 5th Street yesterday afternoon, injuring 9 people. Five pedestrians (including a baby) and the driver and a passenger in the Cadillac were taken to Bellevue Hospital. The two officers in the police car were also hospitalized. Apparently none of the injuries was serious. A police spokesman said the officers were responding to a colleague who they thought needed assistance.

Uncharted territory: due to the State Senate's inaction, Mayor Bloomberg has lost control of the city's schools. Now what? No one knows.

Grand Street News details State Senator Daniel Squadron's bill to allow residential permit parking (BTW thanks to GSN for talking up The Lo-Down)!

Eater has the scoop on the shuttering of Le Pere Pinard on Ludlow Street.

Frank Bruni dines on the Lower East Side, discovering that, on weekends, it's a party scene:

More and more there’s a meatpacking-district loudness and rowdiness to
the circulating throngs, and it made me wonder if some of the
restaurants that set up shop here years ago chose the wrong area—or,
rather, are hurt by the direction in which the area evolved. It feels
less edgy and more like an all-purpose, indiscriminate party scene than
it used to.

He mentions specifically WD-50 and Falai. On the upside he loved the restaurant, Peasant on Elizabeth Street. The downside: it's not really in the Lower East Side. Our upside: Peasant's sister restaurant, Bacaro (on Division Street), is just as good and it is, in fact, in the neighborhood.

Finally, we mentioned this a few days ago, but now it has the air of legitimacy only Twitter can provide:

From RPATTZGPS: WEDNESDAY 6am-9pm CONFIRMED Remember Me (the Robert Patterson film) at Orchard St. btw Broome & Grand on lower east side

Falai Prevails Before Community Board 3


Community Board 3 signaled its support tonight of the Clinton Street restaurant "Falai's" application to upgrade to a full liquor license. Earlier this month, the CB3 committee that evaluates liquor licenses deadlocked on the Falai application. In spite of the fact that there's a moratorium on new licenses in the area, some board members argued an exception should be made in this case because the restaurant is "world renowned" and it has been a good neighbor. The committee chair, Alexandra Militano, argued vigorously against the approval. She said Clinton Street is overcrowded and overwhelmed largely due to "successful" businesses like Falai. Unlike most other restaurants on the block, however, Falai is only able to serve wine. Representatives of the restaurant have argued that, in a tough economy, they need the additional revenue a full liquor license would provide. The application now goes to the State Liquor Authority.

There was lots of other news at tonight's Community Board meeting, including the re-election of Dominic Pisciotta as chairman and the announcement that funds have been approved to give Luther Gulick Park a much needed facelift. More details tomorrow.