They're packing up the crêpe pan and the chopsticks over at Market 25 (1948 West 25th Street), as both La Crêperie and Kimo's Sushi Shop prepare to move out of the international bazaar -- and in with each other -- when their leases expire at the end of July.
Owners of the two little carryouts say it's been a struggle to grow their businesses when the market, managed by the Ohio City Near West Development Corp., is closed every Monday and Tuesday. "We need more space, more business, and the freedom to set our own hours and do our own advertising," says the mono-monikered Didier, who operates La Crêperie with his similarly singular wife, Denajua. The complaint was seconded by Kimo Javier, chef-owner of Kimo's Sushi Shop, who said that losing out on lunch traffic every Monday and Tuesday was hurting his business.
The two operations are combining forces to launch Garde Manger, a full-service restaurant at 1881 Fulton Avenue in Ohio City. Javier says the eatery, scheduled to open later this summer, will have a large dining room and bar, and will serve lunch and dinner, six days a week. Sweet and savory crêpes will be the focus at midday; come evening, the menu will drift east, with sushi and seafood entrées, done up Pacific-Rim style.
Laura Noble, assistant director of the Near West Development Corp., says she's familiar with Didier and Javier's complaints. However, she says that the market's hours are set not by the development corporation, but by the vendors themselves, during a quarterly poll. "Interestingly, only 3 of the 15 vendors chose to be open on Mondays during the last poll," she observes. Nonetheless, she says she couldn't be happier that Kimo's and La Crêperie are able to move on. "The market is designed as a retail incubator, to help new businesses get their feet wet and develop a following, and that's certainly what these two places have done." Both a Greek and a West African food vendor have expressed interest in the soon-to-be-vacated spaces, but Noble says that no new leases will be signed until an anchor tenant (probably a non-food vendor) is in place. The departure of the crêperie and the sushi shop will leave the market with 10 of its 23 spaces unoccupied.
Despite the vacancies, Noble remains high on the market's future, calling it a "successful experiment. The public's response to the concept has been positive, and we are pleased with the results." The market opened last October.