UWS RUMOR: Big Nick’s To Close After 50+ Years On The Upper West Side?

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

UPDATE 1/29: Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Offers Help, Nick Says No Thanks For Now

UPDATE 1/22: UWS DISCOUNT: Kids Eat FREE At Big Nick’s Burger & Pizza Joint On Tuesdays

UPDATE 1/10: Big Nick’s closing looking more likely due to massive rent increase

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.

Back in June 2011, when H&H Bagels went out of business, a New York Times opinion piece claimed “the neighborhood is finished.”

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.

Prophetic, perhaps…

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.

Stay tuned.



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 »
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  • http://twitter.com/NYCHillbilly Manhattan Hillbilly

    Really wish there was a way to publicly shame these landlords that are destroying our neighborhood through their greed.

  • http://twitter.com/onovotny Oren Novotny

    This is the same block where Grom was. They said they closed because the rent was too high, not just in that location, but the neighborhood in general.

  • HughGass

    shame a landlord for wanting to maximize their investment? FU

  • fattsmann

    If Beard Papa goes, I will move out — I moved into the neighborhood just to be close to them.

  • fattsmann

    I half-agree with you MH and also with HG. It’s not about shaming them. I think they just need to realize the bigger picture and how much power they hold with commercial space.

    Landlords, I think, need to consider long-term investment, not just short term (lease-by-lease) gains. If you consider what you want the neighborhood to look like and foster a great neighborhood by inviting certain businesses in, people want to move there or do business there, property values go up, commercial rents go up and it can be sustainable and not just a short-term burst.

    If you push all out all of these great local businesses and replace them with banks and pharmacies and the like, you can actually hurt yourself in the long run — I don’t know of anyone that wants to live in or visit/shop/etc. in a neighborhood that is only banks, pharmacies, and Starbucks. NYC has other neighborhoods with charm and character that will invite more people. If the neighborhood becomes unattractive, then the banks, pharmacies, etc. may also pack up.

  • steve

    There is another big nick’s on columbus. So you can buy the same crappy food over there

  • TYiceTEA

    Nooooo! God No!!! I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. Its deep in my familys memories. Me and my boyfriend go all the time, I go with my pops jus to remember good times. I cant imagine life with out it or the fried french toast. Ugh…we gotta do somethin. This cant happen.

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