Bedford Avenue hasn’t seen as much recent turnover as Grand Street has, but that may be about to change. If you’ve walked down Williamsburg’s main drag in the past few weeks, you may have noticed an uptick in shuttered storefronts and signs saying “We’ve Moved.” Meanwhile Manhattan transplants like a gluten-free pizzeria and a foreign-language bookstore have moved in, and brokers say more of them are coming.
At 120 Bedford Avenue, near North 10th Street, La Isla Grocery, a hold-out bodega once known for its Four Loko shrine and pasted-up family photos, has closed and is being renovated, though it’s unclear for what.
At 172 Bedford, near North 7th, Vietnamese restaurant An Nhau and its accompanying banh mi walk-up window are no more.
At 194 Bedford, near North 6th, S&B Restaurant has flipped its last potato pancake.
At 287 Bedford, the South Side location of New York Muffins has closed.
Other Bedford Avenue businesses have simply moved to cheaper digs. Earlier this month By Robert James, a men’s boutique, shifted its pop-up shop on Bedford, near North 3rd Street, to a more permanent location on Grand Street. Manager Jason Treible said it was because “rent is crazy on Bedford” and the store is “more of a neighborhood shop.” In that same building at 241 Bedford, Vice Versa moved to Bushwick, for a better deal on rent, and Corcoran moved its offices four doors down.
At 193 Bedford Ave., near North 6th Street, L.L. Nail & Spa has shuttered (it found another location several blocks down, on the South Side) and a former Tasti D-Lite sits vacant. Angela Salon, formerly at 341 Bedford, has moved just a few blocks away, to South 4th Street. Meanwhile, Primp & Polish, the type of salon that’s more likely to be frequented by the incoming residents of the new 101 Bedford complex (where studios are going for $2,450) opened its third Williamsburg location at 172 Bedford last month.
Gal Horovits, a real estate broker with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank in Williamsburg, says with some gruffness that the uptick in vacancies are a natural side effect of a hot neighborhood. “I don’t think there is any question that where the market is when they signed the lease and where it is today is different. It comes time to sign a new lease and they may look at the price and say this doesn’t make sense any more.”
Horovits is currently marketing the space at 193 Bedford and he says those interested are mostly Manhattan tenants looking to break into Williamsburg. “Williamsburg has caught the eye of a lot of tenants over there,” he said. “There’s still not a lot of vacancy [here], and a lot of demand.”
At 210 Bedford, near North 6th Street, Horovits brokered a deal with Juice Generation, which already has 10 locations in Manhattan. It’s due to open in the next month or so.
Inside of the mini mall at 218 Bedford Ave, Idlewild Books opened a Williamsburg outpost a couple of weeks ago. David Del Vecchio, who opened his first store in the Flatiron, said he chose this new location in part because of the “large community of Europeans living in Williamsburg, and it’s a big European tourist destination. Lots of families with kids now, too.” In addition to foreign books and language classes, the bookshop offers Icelandic ceramics, Mexican screen-printed notebooks, Czech stationery, Danish blankets, and artwork by artists from around Europe.
In December, yet another Manhattan transplant, Wild, a “Farm fresh, gluten free, hormone free” pizzeria with locations in the West Village and Las Vegas, opened at 340 Bedford Ave, near North 3rd Street.
But Brooklynites do still want a piece of Bedford if they can get it. Krzysztof Drzewiecki, who is opening a Polish restaurant, Dziupla, in S&B’s place, said he was able to afford it because he got a good deal from the previous owner, who is a friend.
“You always worry about [the cost], but it’s the best location possible,” said Drzewiecki, who already owns two Polish restaurants in Greenpoint (Krolewskie Jadlo and Karczma) and one in Williamsburg (Kristophe). “And I think that as the rents get higher the more simply people like to eat. Polish food is inexpensive.”
Dziupla will open as soon as it receives a liquor license. Drzewiecki aims to seat 50 inside and is planning an outdoor patio.
Down the street at 292 Bedford Ave., the site of the beloved but erratically-open burger joint Leon’s Burger, a mysterious (and we’re guessing French) new restaurant/bar called Les Cyclistes has also applied for a liquor license. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.