New York Magazine
Another Smith Street Revival
Brooklyn’s original restaurant row is back. Again.
since alan harding opened Patois in the late ’90s, Smith Street ➽ has become known for its restaurants—and shuttered storefronts: For every Clover Club or Ugly Baby that perseveres, dozens of bistros, brasseries, and bars disappear soon after they arrive. (Remember Char No. 4 or Phil & Anne’s Good Time Lounge?) Blame steep rents, few tourists, a lack of population density (no high-rises), and unfavorable comparisons to Court Street just one block away. “The other night, I was walking home on Smith, passing a space that’s been abandoned for two years,” says Amy Honigman, a real-estate agent who lives and works in the neighborhood. “Next to it was an empty pit with a work permit that lists its ‘anticipated completion’ as summer 2019.” But where some see empty pits, entrepreneurs see opportunity, and several easygoing spots have recently moved in to try their luck along this notoriously inhospitable stretch—the latest mini-boom on a street that has seen more than a few since the Grocery topped Zagat’s ratings 19 years ago. As East Wind Snack Shop owner Chris Cheung—a relative veteran of the area, having opened his spot in 2019—points out, the new competition is very welcome. “We definitely need more exciting restaurants, and it has started,” he says. “That cycle is coming back.”