Let me preface this by saying that it’s only a possibility and nothing is confirmed.
That said, there are credible rumors that Big Nick’s Burger Joint (2175 Broadway, between 76th & 77th) and two adjoining stores may be closing due to rent issues.
It was less than a year ago that Big Nick’s celebrated 50 years in business on the Upper West Side.
I’ve had a hard time getting anyone to go on the record with me, but have cobbled together enough bits of information — including a commercial real estate listing — to report it’s a distinct possibility.
This story actually starts back in October, when MUW reader Eric sent in the following note:
“We were in Big Nick’s “restaurant” earlier tonight and the waitress said they were likely going to close since the landlord will be increasing the rent and/or wants the space.”
Eric is a regular reader who sends in a variety of tips and I had no reason not to believe him, but after several visits to Big Nick’s I wasn’t able to get anyone there to tell me the same thing.
Since no one would corroborate the story, I held off on posting it.
Fast-forward to December… MUW reader Thomas sent in this link from RKF Properties showing that Big Nick’s and two neighboring stores (News Inc. & Bra Smyth) are available for rent.
The listing says the three spaces will be combined into one 5,350 SF offering with “unparallelled Broadway frontage” and are available for possession beginning 2/1/13.
I reached out to the brokers on the deal for additional information but never got a response.
Armed with this new information, I went to News Inc. and back to Nick’s to ask questions — employees at both places either denied the rumor or said they didn’t know anything about it.
However, an employee at Bra Smyth reported hearing the landlord wanted to increase rent and she was definitely worried about the store closing (and losing her job).
She was under the impression the store’s owner was trying to negotiate a new lease (which I assume holds true for Big Nick’s and News Inc), but didn’t sound all that hopeful about it coming to fruition.
I also checked-in with my regular late-night cashier at the neighboring Westside Market — he too reported hearing whispers that Nick’s might be closing.
When you add all these facts together, it appears as though this rumor has legs.
To be clear, the RKF listing alone does not mean this is a done deal — it can always be pulled if a new lease is worked out with the existing tenants. That said, it certainly isn’t a good sign for the future of these three UWS businesses.
I don’t know if anyone will shed a tear for Bra Smyth or News Inc. if they do end up closing, but after 50 years in business, Big Nick’s is an Upper West Side institution.
Gourmet it is not, but it’s family-owned and harkens back to days gone by. It’s also one of the few 24-hour restaurants left in the neighborhood.
If it does close, I’m sure there will be an immediate outcry about the death of the Upper West Side. If it’s replaced by a bank or pharmacy, it’s possible some people might spontaneously combust.
There was actually a paragraph in that NYT post about the future of Big Nick’s:
Big Nick’s Burger and Pizza Joint, I think of you and your root-beer-stained tables with trepidation. The smell of grease from your nonstop griddles billows out toward 77th Street 24 hours a day, seven days a week — a siren scent taunting gymgoers and health food nuts. You’re an unrepentant West Side institution, and that means that you, bubele, must be in the cross hairs, too.
I’ll repeat here what I wrote at the time:
The neighborhood may have lost some character in recent years, and there are way too many banks and pharmacies, but reports of the death of the Upper West Side are greatly exaggerated.
I’m sure a generation of Upper West Siders wh are currently new to the area or born recently will claim the sky is falling when Insomnia Cookies inevitably goes out of business in 30 years, replaced by some generic hover-board repair shop.
I’m not overly sentimental about this stuff and suspect we’ll all survive either way, but if this is indeed Big Nick’s swan song, it will be missed by many.
Filed under: Food & Drink, Going Out, Landmark, Manhattan, New York City, News, NYC, Openings/Closings, Real Estate, Restaurants, Upper West Side, Upper West Side Blog, UWS 8 Comments »
Tags: 2175 Broadway, Big Nick's, Big Nick's Burger Joint, Bra Smyth, Closing, New York City, News Inc, NYC, RKF Properties, rumored closing, Rumors, Upper West Side, UWS