Orchard Street Whynot Coffee on the Lookout for New Location with Sushi Wa in the Works

Posted on: March 3rd, 2015 at 5:08 am by
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It would appear that Whynot Coffee is in damage control mode. Last week, we first reported that the popular cafe on Orchard Street would give way to a new Japanese spot called Sushi Wa. Yep, a head-scratcher.

For this, owner Emil Stepkov again seeks a full liquor license for 175 Orchard, the holy grail he’s been after from the get-go. Not to mention, there are plans to extend the premises into the rear yard. All this within the saturated area of Hell Square. Neighbors contend that this shift is simply a play to sell the business. We’ll see the drama play out during this month’s Community Board 3 meeting, no doubt.

But yesterday, Stepkov revealed to Grub St. that the Whynot coffee establishment is on the hunt for a space nearby to continue its singular function. Allegedly. The report indicates that, for this planned location, he’ll ditch the art gallery ruse and simultaneously seek full liquor privileges. Please remind us again why a straight-up coffee shop, as it’s described, really needs liquor?

Meanwhile, this change-up strategy is nearly identical to what transpired at the West Village location (14 Christopher Street), now renamed Whynot Bistro and serving French fare. Community Board 2 essentially told [PDF] the applicant to piss off with a strongly-worded resolution of denial for upgrade. Here’s a taste.

Whereas, CB2, Man. respectfully requests that the Authority consider these concerns as it evaluates this upgrade application:

There’s no need for a bistro to have a full on premise liquor license.

There are plenty of coffee shops in the area and numerous bistros and numerous places with full liquor licenses all offering varying combinations of what this Licensee presents as unique, and in fact licensing this location for Full Liquor would offer nothing unique, and in fact would be detrimental. There are plenty of live jazz venues as well in properly zoned areas, some also located in basements.

Prior to opening, the applicant improperly/illegally and knowingly altered two very large plate glass non operable windows facing gay street to convert them from non-operable plate glass windows to huge operable windows – the Licensee was aware that this was a landmark district prior to this change – they were issued a violation by the NYC Landmarks Commission on 12/31/2013 for “Alterations of 1st floor windows at Gay Street facade without permit(s).” This violation has not yet been corrected.

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