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3. The Real-Estate Market May Be Punishing, But It Is Also Liberating


Underwest Donuts  

3b. Weird Spaces Are Sometimes Great Spaces
By Katie Van Syckle

... Like a Father-in-Law’s Car Wash
Former Chanterelle sous-chef Scott Levine opened his first solo venture, Underwest Donuts, inside the Westside Highway Car Wash, where his father-in-law is an owner. “This was definitely a place where the concept could be tested to see if it has legs,” he says. The car wash already does brisk business, so there was built-in traffic. Levine also sells his cake doughnuts from a takeout window to maximize sales from passersby.

... Or an Office Lobby
Arcade Bakery’s Roger Gural, a former head baker for Thomas Keller, built his shop in a disused entrance hallway of a 16-story Tribeca office building managed by his grandfather’s real-estate company. The downside: no streetside visibility. The upside: He pays no rent. “With a building as large as this, if the bakery attracts tenants, that’s going to dwarf what I would pay as a market rate,” says Gural. “It is just a value added.”

... Or a Neighbor’s Pizza Parlor
For nearly three decades, Iranian-born Saeed Pourkay owned a print shop on 18th Street. He cashed out and started selling the Persian soup ash reshteh at a Union Square Holiday Market stand under the banner Taste of Persia. The kiosk was such a success that the owner of a pizza shop across the street from his old office offered Pourkay a tiny space inside his pizzeria. Now Pourkay has a short-term lease and dreams of opening shops across the city.

... Or Your Own Kitchen Window
For years, Hearth chef-partner Marco Canora struggled to come up with something quick and easy he could sell out of an unused kitchen entrance. He considered everything from ice cream to meatball sandwiches before settling on bone broths with add-ins like ginger juice. Because Hearth isn’t open for lunch, he’s been able to fold Brodo (his name for the kitchen-window enterprise) into the restaurant’s existing operation.