I was excited to see the long-dormant storefront at 257 Church (at the southeast corner of Franklin) change hands recently, and even more excited when the metal gates were raised. It looked like it had been a restaurant in a past life—there were fixtures inside, and a sign about selling Lavazza coffee on the Franklin side. (Anyone want to tell what was there before?) Spaces that were once restaurants are much more likely to become restaurants again, usually because venting is in place—at least from what I can tell.
Could this sad, neglected corner of Tribeca be in for a revival?
Last night, a reader tweeted that the space could be becoming an IHOP. When I asked where this knowledge came from, she replied that “it’s a ‘might’ according to rumors of what the licensee also owns rights to.” Here’s how I feel about rumors like this: On one hand, it’s just a rumor, so who knows. On the other hand, these rumors often end up being true, and am I supposed to wait till someone from IHOP confirms it (there’s no media contact on the website) or signs go up in the windows? That was a rhetorical question, obviously.
Given the number of city workers who like a cheap meal and families who want to make their kids happy, an IHOP could make some sense. Still, as if a possible barrage of 7-Elevens wasn’t bad enough, now this? And there? Couldn’t they have found a space on Chambers? Or Broadway? Both of those streets would actually benefit from something big and shiny, even if the food sucks.
Reader Suzanne commented on the 7-Eleven post by asking: “But seriously, what’s the difference between 7-Eleven and what used to be referred to as a Korean grocer or, before that (or in other neighborhoods), a bodega? Not much that I can see, other than that the first is a franchise or corporately owned and the others are independent businesses. That doesn’t make either one better/worse than the other. Oh, and maybe the lights are brighter at the 7-Eleven? So?” The answer to me is so clear. I don’t shop at bodegas or delis, but they’re part of the fabric of this city—the gorgeous mosaic, if you must. The idiosyncratic stock, the kooky spelling on the awnings, the loosies—well, not around here, I guess. But 7-Elevens are all exactly, boringly the same.
Would you rather have Kaffe 1668 or a Starbucks? Canis Minor or Petco? Frankly Wines or BevMo? The Olive Garden or Capri Caffe? IHOP or Bubby’s? Tribeca has so far resisted much of the corporatization of Manhattan, and it’s a huge part of why the neighborhood has charm and soul. If that goes, what’s left? Some pretty buildings and schools with parents rich enough to keep them “good”?