Press "Enter" to skip to content

Can kimchi and bibimbap save 6th Ave. strip in Greenwich Village?

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Updated Nov. 9, 12:40 p.m.: Could a large, new Korean restaurant reportedly coming in on Sixth Avenue in Greenwich Village help the down-and-out strip finally make a turnaround?

Brown butcher-block paper — complete with construction permits posted — currently covers the windows of the space, on the east side of the avenue between Eighth Street and Waverly Place.

According to longtime local merchant Terrence Bae, who owns the next-door Waverly Wines & Spirits store, the restaurant group behind the Korean eatery is a “national brand” based out of Los Angeles. The space, which runs from the former 99 Cent Fresh Pizza to the former Grab and Go store — in the process, wrapping around an entrance/exit to the W. Fourth Street subway station — includes the first and second floors and is probably around 10,000 square feet.

As for the building’s long-vacant third and floors, the restaurant apparently is not taking them. The building long ago housed a record store owned by the Sam Goody chain, which filed for bankruptcy in 2006. The property’s exterior is landmarked since it’s within the Greenwich Village Historic District.

The property’s exterior is landmarked — including a long-dark electric sign that once displayed the time and temperature. (Photo by The Village Sun)

It wasn’t immediately clear when the Korean restaurant plans to open. But Bae said it would be a welcome presence on the block, which has long harbored a druggie street scene.

Bit by bit, the block has slowly — very slowly — been making a comeback. It took 10 years for TD Bank, which held the lease for the former Barnes & Noble bookstore space at the corner of Eighth Street, to fill the space with a tenant — a phone store. Bae noted that the community had opposed a plan for a swanky new music club by the Blue Note at the corner spot, feeling it would bring too much nightlife hubbub, a sentiment he shared.

Meanwhile, the down-on-its-heels street needs all the help it can get, he said. Bae is a survivor on the struggling strip.

“We’ve been here since 1989,” he said. “We’ve seen the changes. It’s worse than the Dinkins years. We get crackheads here. I can’t get angry at them. They’re sick. They need help for addiction.”

The block is part of the hard-drug scene that has taken root in the Village, out in the open, in recent years and includes the northwest corner of Washington Square Park and the surrounding streets.

Bae noted incredulously that even a Starbucks down the block had closed.

“Starbucks never close,” he said. “They closed because their staff could not deal with the drug users shooting up in the bathroom.”

The restaurant is reportedly leasing a space that stretches from a former 99-cent pizza place to a former Grab and Go store — which offered a great deal on sushi: buy two regular sushis, get one free. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Super-potent fentanyl, brought in over the border from Mexico, has now completely replaced heroin as the main opioid street drug in New York City, according to Bridget Brennan, the city’s special narcotics prosecutor. Brennan recently spoke about the street-drug situation in City Council District 3 at a Zoom meeting organized by Councilmember Erik Bottcher.

The drug traffic out on Sixth Avenue is not good for his business, either, Bae said, noting, “There’s catcalling. Eighty percent of my customers are ladies. They’ll circle around and go somewhere else.”

The block was formerly home to entrenched vendors selling used books — and possibly more — but efforts by the Sixth Precinct over the years, working with Terri Howell, former operations manager of the Village Alliance business improvement district, mostly cleared the block.

Scott Hobbs, the executive director for the Village Alliance BID, confirmed that the restaurant is on track to open at the spot, adding that its presence would help “cut down on negative uses” on the street.

“The Village Alliance maintains that an active storefront, as opposed to a vacant one, has numerous positive benefits for a neighborhood,” he said. “A vibrant and thriving business contributes to the overall vitality and sense of community in the area, offering economic, social and cultural advantages. It generates foot traffic, supports local employment, and enhances the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.

“An open storefront is not just about economic prosperity but also public safety. It significantly cuts down on negative uses of the street, fostering a more secure environment for our community.”

As for another key anchor spot on the high-profile stretch, Tashkent, the Brooklyn-based Uzbek supermarket, still has not opened in the former Duane Reade space at the strip’s southern end. Wine store owner Bae said he heard that Tashkent is having a dispute with someone over the space.

“They’re fighting,” he said.

Hobbs said his understanding is that it’s an issue with the required permits from the city.

“We spoke to Tashkent last month,” he said. “They informed us that they are still planning to open but are working through some permitting with the city. That’s as detailed information as they would share with us. We are very enthusiastic about their opening.”


  1. STEVEN G HILL STEVEN G HILL November 10, 2023

    The drug operation on that block now surrounds the news stand @ 6th Ave & 8th st

  2. Village Scruff Village Scruff November 9, 2023

    Wow, I’m so ancient I remember having my first savings account as a grade schooler at that Hanover Trust bank above the subway (IND!) entrance. The Kinney parking lot was on the next block downtown. Kinney started with mortuaries and then went into parking and car rentals, I believe. Alive or dead, they had a place for you! They later went into entertainment and had a hand in the record business. I remember when that clock came in that is in the article’s picture. It looked so modern, being digital and not a clock. I and a buddy, whose dad was the super at the building a door east on Waverly Place, would deposit our allowances every month or so. It trained me to have a savings account and put something away. Banks were models of efficiency back then. Now, Chase, especially, seems as if they went out and found someone on the street, put them in a blue shirt and called them a banker. I think I got caught once lifting a fudge bar at Whelan’s Drugs. The beginning of a life in crime!

  3. JJ JJ November 9, 2023

    An indictment on our country. We just observe and do nothing to rehabilitate these addicts ruining our city and country. They commit most of the crime in the GV area and our 6th Pct police just run around playing whack-a-mole all day. It’s absurd.

    Why don’t we have leaders who will work to amend laws so we can enforce long-term mandatory inpatient care for those people and relocate them away from their toxic communities? Because we would have to infringe on their civil rights? What about our civil rights, safety and pursuit of happiness?

    Judges need to stop imprisoning these people and start enforcing mandatory inpatient detox in facilities far away from where these people are being regularly poisoned by their local cronies and dealers. It’s all happening in plain sight and what we are (not) doing is clearly not working.

    • Mark M Mark M November 12, 2023

      This isnt exactly a new idea. Under governor Rockefeller, they established mandatory locked treatment facilities. There was one on Barrow and Greenwich Streets, now a middle school after extensive renovation.

Leave a Reply

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.