Will Big Nicks Become Another Casualty of UWS Hyper-Gentrification?

Big Nick's (NY Mag).

Big Nick’s (NY Mag).

Big Nick’s might not  be to everyone’s liking, but it has certainly made an effort to suit everyone’s tastes. In a city of increasingly “curated” dining experiences and foraged vegetable tasting menus, Big Nick’s offers not only hamburgers, pizza and assorted Italian favorites, a vast assortment of sandwiches, chicken barbecued, fried and broiled oreganate, but also Greek standbys, salad platters, a full breakfast menu and a surf-and-turf shack selection of seafood.

So it will come as sad news to many an Upper West Sider that Big Nick’s, which has been open for 24 hours a day for the last 50 years at 2175 Broadway Avenue may soon be no more, reports The West Side Rag. The reason is not a lack of fans—although the Upper West Side’s DNA has changed considerably since the greasy spoon opened—but, you guessed it, a rent hike.

The restaurant, which is located in a ground-floor space at West 77th, has been told that its rent will be going from $ 40,000 to $ 60,000 a month. “I can pay the $ 40,000 per month I am paying now. I just can’t pay $ 60,000. It is only 1000 square feet (and you know how small my place is)!” owner Nick Imirziades lamented on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

That means that Big Nick’s would need to earn approximately $ 2,000 a day on its low-end restaurant items just to make the rent.

Apparently, the building owner is counting on renting not only Big Nick’s space, but also Bra Smyth and News Inc.’s for a huge corner storefront clocking in at 3,100 square feet. The space is listed with RFK Partners brokers David Abraham and Zach Winkler with an availability date of February 1.

Mr. Imirziadess told The West Side Rag that he hadn’t intended to take the news public, as he’s still trying to negotiate with the landlord, but that he felt the need to respond to the rumors that were flying.

Even if Big Nick’s leaves, it is unclear if building owner, Lophijo Realty, can cash in on the corner space. When reached on the phone, Bra Smyth manager Angela Cukar told The Observer that the store had no plans to leave, especially given that it has a few more years left on its lease.

“Yeah, good luck, I don’t see it happening,” Ms. Cukar said of the store’s departure, adding that she was willing to entertain large lease buyout offers. She noted that she hadn’t seen any potential tenants sniffing around the commercial space and didn’t expect to at $ 21,000 a month.

Mr. Abraham declined to comment on the situation and an email sent to the owner has yet to be returned.

While the restaurant has another location on West 71st Street (couples who can never agree on a cuisine need not give up hope!) it’s a bad sign for a neighborhood where so much of the retail space has already been gobbled up by banks, big-box pharmacies or luxury retailers. And yet another sign that even popular, long-enduring, independent businesses are an endangered species in this city.

kvelsey@observer.com

Observer

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