For a long time– well, starting four years ago, which feels like it was a different era in Bushwick years– Alaska was the after-midnight bar that guaranteed a good time and cheap drinks on the night ship to crazyville, and when it closed just a few weeks ago, it seemed almost certain that some frou-frou cocktail place would replace it. The bar’s Facebook goodbye only seemed to confirm this suspicion: “Alaska, at least in its present form, is closing, forever,” it read. So what’ll it be this time? A lesson on cocktail “shrub” cultivation, perhaps? Bushwick’s first X-Files-themed alien bar? Or maybe I was walking into a trap set by the Tim Burton bar guy?
What does a real estate broker do when he’s tired of dealing with leases and property listings? Well, if it’s someone like Andy Kim, he goes ahead and opens a Korean-style gastropub instead.
The WhaLES, as Kim’s new venture is called, opened last Wednesday at 71 Clinton Street, the space that once housed Wylie Dufresne’s pioneering 71 Clinton Fresh Food and more recently played host to the short-lived Seoul Chicken. The latest tenant features Asian twists on pub favorites, such as (yes) Korean fried chicken, cheesy ramen, and the rice burger, which consists of a patty marinated in Korean spices and topped with a fried egg, served on a bun of rice, and wrapped with edible soy paper. All these goodies are prepared by executive chef Toki Numasawa, who hails from the now-closed Kirakuya in midtown.
Kazusa Jibiki, the owner of the popular Nolita Thai eatery Lovely Day, will be expanding to the Lower East Side next week. Jibiki’s new venture, entitled Gohan, will be a return to her Japanese heritage. Unlike Lovely Day’s Southeast Asian diner fare, Gohan, which means “a meal” in Japanese, will be all about wholesome, comforting Japanese home cooking, Jibiki explained. The restaurant, which is located at 14a Orchard Street at Canal Street, will open its doors next Monday, on August 1. Although the menu is still going through its final stages, Jibiki has given Bedford + Bowery a hint of what her version of Japanese home cooking will entail.
Step aside, asparagus water: in Williamsburg, the mecca of organic, sort-of-unnecessary, and often prohibitively expensive foodstuffs is planning to do things a little differently. The supermarket giant, which will open its newest Brooklyn location on Tuesday, July 26, will include a food hall packed with local flavor: OddFellows Ice Cream (which will have a stand outside), an outpost of No. 7 Restaurant, Luke’s Lobster’s grilled tail cart, Roberta’s pastries, and East Coast Poke will all be represented at the store, as well as a “traditional Jewish delicatessen” dubbed N4, which is Whole Food’s way of “paying homage to Williamsburg’s storied roots.”
Sure, New York may be caught in the middle of what is disconcertingly being called a “heat dome,” and hot, melted cheese is probably the last thing on your mind as you desperately fan yourself with a free Time Out NY on the Finnish sauna known as the subway. But come on: Melted cheese makes everything better, and if you can’t accept that then perhaps there’s no help for you. Enjoy your limp kelp salad.
Glorified food courts keep sprouting up, from the new Gansevoort Market to the one at the forthcoming Whole Foods Williamsburg. The latest, from real estate developer Scott Marano, opened in Noho earlier today. The Bowery Market features stalls from several local vendors and restaurants, including Soho Italian sandwich spot Alidoro, “veggie slaughterhouse” The Butcher’s Daughter, taco joint Pulqueria, and upscale Brooklyn cafe Champion Coffee.
I met a man today whose religion was speakers. Whitney Walker, the general manager of retail for the soon-to-be-unveiled Sonos store in Soho, talked to me for an hour about sound diffusion and stereo design and, while I’m not sure, there’s a chance our discussion may have ended with me agreeing to check out their literature. Who knows?
After opening in 2014, Gansevoort Market was unceremoniously booted earlier this year so that Keith McNally could take over the food hall’s space for a revival of his Meatpacking District longtimer Pastis, which itself had become homeless due to development. If you’re keeping score in this game of musical chairs, Gansevoort Market has quietly reopened on 14th Street and 9th Avenue with a host of new vendors in addition to some returning favorites.
The rooftop of the William Vale Hotel isn’t finished yet—right now the floor is covered in some kind of black canvas—but I hardly noticed that when I was 21 stories up, with the Manhattan skyline to the west and all of North Brooklyn surrounding me. Across the river, this altitude is nothing (the Flatiron building is 22 stories, for reference) but in Williamsburg it’s pretty mindboggling.
It’s only been about a year and a half since the closure of Glasslands Gallery, the other DIY venue on the Williamsburg waterfront– the one that was the button-down oxford (second-hand, but you couldn’t tell) to Death By Audio’s torn-up band tee. It wasn’t so surprising– after 8 years of hosting indie rock, R&B, techno, you-name-it shows in their cavernous, blackened industrial confines, their neighborhood along Kent Avenue no longer felt like the “forgotten backwater” it did when they opened in 2006. Today the Glasslands team announced that it’s returning with a new venue in East Williamsburg, Elsewhere, set to open this fall– and it’s not just any old ramshackle DIY establishment, but a 24,000-square-foot affair in a former warehouse. It’ll be #blessed with $3 million worth of pure sparkle, including a sprawling roof, food and drink service, and an adjacent art space.
Game of Thrones aficionados, Athena impersonators, and Rivendale lovers, take note: the next time you need to stock up on delicate laurel wreaths, headbands, and bracelets ornamented with metal, gold-plated leaves and twigs, this new Williamsburg shop may be just what you’re looking for.
Avigail Adam has opened her first brick-and-mortar shop of the same name on Bedford Avenue. “It was always a big dream of mine to have a shop in New York,” she said.
The Hotel on Rivington has a new restaurant following the closure of its previous one, CO-OP Food & Drink, after five years in business. Café Medi, an airy, Mediterranean-style affair with a terrace that opens up onto the busy street out front, opened for dinner last Wednesday. Owners Corey Lane (of Meatpacking District spots RDV Lounge, Kiss & Fly, and Gansevoort 69) and Roberto Buchelli (Rivington Hospitality Group) are planning to add lunch in mid-July, with brunch and breakfast service also in the works.