Is Tribeca Getting an IHOP?

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”?



  1. Uhh…would rather have an IHOP than Bubby’s. (you asked)

  2. @Anna: You evidently don’t like eating at Bubby’s, which is your business. But Bubby’s participates in Taste of Tribeca, which I doubt IHOP would do. Bubby’s supports local farmers, which I’m positive IHOP doesn’t do (but, hey, you can get Kraft mac and cheese there). Bubby’s shops at the Tribeca Greenmarket. Bubby’s supports this website (not with advertising, alas, but by being responsive to my questions), which I can guarantee you IHOP won’t.

    Locally owned businesses do an awful lot to foster a sense of community; national chains don’t.

  3. Lets be open minded here. We stopped going to bubby’s with the kids because an $8 chicken finger order from the kids menu = 3 chicken fingers with literally nothing else, not even a scrappy grape or piece of lettuce that your kids won’t eat, but makes you feel good will for paying a 500% mark up for frozen fried chicken. Just a bare plate with 3 mediocre chicken fingers. I don’t need artisinal pancakes on a Sat morning, and will be more inclined to take my family to brunch if I don’t have to spend a small fortune for b’fast food which is essentially the same everywhere. Also IHOP’s chicken fried steak is pretty good.
    Also, 7-11 sucks on many fronts in the same way that Starbucks sucks, although more probably.

  4. Amen, Erik! I wish we were back to the days of NO chains in Tribeca. Isn’t that what the Upper West Side is for?

  5. I’m not a chain fan. I like the uniqueness of tribeca retail. but some of these spaces have been sitting empty for years…

    plus, the 7-11 on broadway used to be a Super Value. This is one of those stores hurting broadway’s retail. They had newspaper cuttings on the floor that would spill out to the sidewalk, and as far as I could tell, the biggest item they sold was porn.

    I’d much rather have Bubby’s than IHOP, but i’d rather have IHOP than boarded up storefront or Super Values.

  6. jane jacobs would roll over in her grave…

  7. I recently saw an IHOP on East 14th street and my jaw dropped. I thought one would make sense in Times Square, but the diner rich East Village?

    I agree that Bubbys has become over priced in this new format, and I’d like to support them, but I just can’t justify the cost for a family of 4.

    And the affordable diner doesn’t exist in Tribeca, so I can see an IHOP doing well. Yes, the Gee Wiz is great, but it too is pricey. Sorry to say that Shake Shack now gets my burger and fry money.

    For what it’s worth – 7 Elevens have a nauseating smell that makes me cringe every time I walk into one. I think it’s heated sugar, but not in a good way.

  8. have any of you been to the square diner on leonard and west broadway? it’s affordable AND delicious. i really hope IHOP doesn’t drive any of the local diners out or bring any rif raf to the neighborhood.

  9. Rif raf? How terribly elitist. How dare “those people” try to get a meal at an affordable price. I’ll still go to Gee Whiz, they support the community and I feel they deserve our support in return. But, really…..shame on anyone who turns their nose up at a place that delivers a level of quality at an affordable price that gives people a choice. How dare they invest and create jobs here!!!!!!

  10. It’s interesting to see what gets people’s pancakes in a wad. I like getting overcharged at all of the local mom & pop shops and restaurants. There’s no store in Tribeca that gives you a deal, except the chains. #OCCUPYMOM&POP

  11. “I’m with Jim!”

    If you and your 4 kids and nannies can’t afford to eat brunch at Bubby’s (and complain about the service at SuperLinda), then maybe you should move to the ‘burbs and enjoy your IHOP and serve-your-self slurpees there.

  12. Whoa, whoa, whoa, I won’t eat brunch at Bubby’s. There’s too much rif-raf (dads in flip-flops & moms in God-knows-what).

  13. Strollerless,

    I suspect that a stroller might not be the only thing missing for you. I will keep the remaining caustic comments to myself, because that is how I expect my 3 (not 2) kids to behave in the face of idiocy.

  14. Yeah, Strollerless! “suzanne” teaches her children to say 3 (not 2) caustic comments and then go behave idiotically. You should learn a lesson (or 2).

  15. Suzanne: Calling someone an idiot online is really inappropriate. I hope you teach your children better. I will restrain from keeping it personal, because I am CLASSY, something you clearly are not (one of the qualities you are truly missing).

    Put that in your triple stroller and think about it.

  16. “If you and your 4 kids and nannies can’t afford to eat brunch at Bubby’s (and complain about the service at SuperLinda), then maybe you should move to the ‘burbs and enjoy your IHOP and serve-your-self slurpees there.”

    Yeah…..that was a really CLASSY message………

  17. IHOP is a chain but the stores are owned by franchisees, often local people. There is no reason to think they would not participate in Taste of Tribeca, if asked.
    The site was a deli before.
    I’m sad to see the graffitti go — the building painted over an ESPO a while ago but the remaining art was fun too.
    We need a mix of stuff but I’d prefer IHOP to another overpriced restaurant or clothing store, no matter who patronizes it
    Franklin Street is hopping these days and its nice not to have empty storefronts.

  18. For the record: I am the Suzanne who made the comment Erik quoted. I have lived down here since 1981, and also worked here from 1970 to 1974. So I’ve seen lots of businesses come and go. And I have no connection to “suzanne” above.

    Now that I see the responses above, I have a correction: we seem to have assumed (myself included) that all bodegas are independent mom & pop stores. But what evidence do we have of that? Isn’t it possible that some are, in fact, owned by an entity that owns several — or even many — of them? That entity may have no connection whatsoever to the neighborhood.

    If that is, in fact, the case, the question becomes: “Which kind of chain do you like/hate more: one that you know is an international chain, or one that you *don’t know* is an international, national, regional, or local chain?”

    On one (negative) side, local ownership is no guarantee of community involvement; there are more independent local businesses that do not participate in efforts like ToT than do; they may not have the resources to participate, or may not have any interest (for whatever reason). On a positive, multinational/national/regional corporations often have philanthropic arms that can make significant donations of money or goods. In other words, location of corporate ownership does not automatically translate into citizenship.

    FranklinLAdy raises a good point: franchisees may have leeway in how and how much they may participate in local events. Before readers tar a business with the brush of “they won’t care,” perhaps they should investigate the businesses’ circumstances. Not as much fun as calling each other names, or being snarky, but possibly more useful.

  19. Most entertaining comment thread ever. Suzanne and Strollerless-you guys made my day.

  20. For the record: Strollerless, it’s appropriate to call people idiots online when they actually are idiots. Just sayin…

  21. rif raf is not elitest — have you ever walked by the IHOP in the East Village late at night? I’m sure all the stroller-owners of tribeca will not appreciate drunkards hanging around or puking in front of the IHOP at 2 AM.

  22. Ultimately it comes down to values and different people value different things. But the reality is corporations will never have the same vested interest in a community the way locally owned businesses do (and most franchise owners live in other states.)

    Corporations combine their resources and source on a national (or sometimes international) level while locally owned businesses are more apt to use local resources (accountants, printers, farmers market, etc.) Corporations are less likely to take a personal interest in crime in their neighborhood and attend community meetings whereas local business owners are more inclined to get involved. As far as involvement in community activities (Taste of Tribeca, PS 234 events, etc) corporations may or may not participate but their participation from year to year may waiver as the decision maker is a hire and not an owner therefore a different face and personality each year; a local business owner is constant and probably (if they are a smart biz owner) more likely to invest in local events when they can.

    Local business owners will care more about the happenings on the block, local government, the aesthetics of the streets and sidewalks, supporting other local businesses, and will have more of a diaglouge with the community – you will never find a corporation or franchise owner who participates in this kind of minutiae.

    Alas communities will never escape corporations and to some degree they must be present in a neighborhood, however, if the scale begins to tip towards more chains – the fabric of a community becomes less cohesive and intimate. Just look around Manhattan for some examples…

  23. @urban cowgirl: Thanks for the thoughtful comment—which I happen to agree with.

    For all that, the question (for me) is less about who owns the store or restaurant and more about what the experience is like. The national brands force their stores—no matter who owns them—to adhere to certain specifications, making everywhere feel the same. It’s boring! And generic! That’s why I don’t go to Dunkin Donuts (plus it’s gross), Subway (plus it’s gross), 7-Eleven, Quiznos, Starbucks, and so on. I’ll admit that I do occasionally go to Chipotle but *you* try living in southeast Tribeca and finding something quick to eat on a weekend lunch. And I only shop at Unleashed by Petco when the other pet stores don’t have what I need. (You can imagine how I feel about services like and—then again, I have the luxury of time to shop independently wherever possible.)

    And props to J. Crew for making its two Tribeca men’s stores feel unique.

  24. what a wonderful thread! superfunny. just waiting for Godwin’s Law to take effect.

    it really is scandalous that a couple of little kids breakfasts should add $25 to a bill, once drinks, tax and tip are included. kids meals should be inclusive at like $1/year, up to 12 years old.

  25. Let’s see. A book called Triburbia and an iHOP. Could there be a correlation?

    Add 7-11s and Triburbia will look like suburbia and here will look like there and everywhere.

    How did our local color become the fact that we have more nail salons and banks than anywhere?

  26. Anna,

    There is a demand for nail salons, that is why they are here. Same for Starbucks. We have created the neighborhood we live in.

  27. FYI I asked some of the guys who are doing construction on the possible IHOP, and they said they were building either a T-Mobile or a Sprint Store..I prefer an IHOP..

  28. Any suggested nail salons for this location?

  29. Can we officially bury the “too many nail salons” jokes? That horse is soooo dead.

  30. well, after all this talk about Bubby’s…i went there for brunch last sunday….but after seeing the price’s for it…not. never seen anything like it…………….