no more Syd's Serious Sandwiches
  • What a bummer! I never did get around to trying it, but I know it had a lot of fans on these boards. 

    I was away for a few months, and walking up the avenue this morning, from eastern parkway to atlantic, I was surprised by just how many storefronts are now shuttered. I'd say it's easily over 50%. It makes Nostrand feel very abandoned. Did this happen in other neighborhoods (prospect heights, park slope) as well? That as landlords decided to warehouse their retail spaces, the neighborhood went through a pretty desolate stage?
    photo
  • laura palmer, I'm with you in my dismay. Between the closing of syd's, the addition of (yet another) beauty supply store (http://www.brooklynian.com/discussion/comment/551337#Comment_551337), and the increasing number of shuttered storefronts... I worry that I may be priced out of my apartment before this street supposedly 'blooms' with new business. I am an impatient person, and I know the world of real estate/small businesses moves on a slower scale, but it seems Nostrand (near EP) is slowing down. I moved here about 1.5 years ago and I haven't been here for long by any means, but I fear Nostrand will become a ghost town. Landlords are raising their rents, but there doesn't seem to be enough interest for those shuttered storefronts to be snatched up. Perhaps we must wait for the proposed developments in this part of Crown Heights to be built and begin leasing, but that will take several years. What is the fate of Nostrand near EP until then?
  • So sad! But I have theories, one re the closing of Syd's and the second re the ghost-town of Nostrand between Prospect Place and Eastern Parkway (my microneighborhood).

    1) I liked Syd's Serious Sandwiches, with the caveat that I liked it when it was OPEN and staffed by someone FRIENDLY. Those two things rarely happened together, for me. Syd's has been closed a lot, and the hours were often random, and I think that was off-putting for a bunch of people. Other times, it would be open and I would basically be ignored until I was practically dancing for attention from the attendant. So, while I am sad, because the sandwiches were delicious, I am not surprised as to why the business never totally took off.

    2) I have heard that the owner of the buildings on that strip of Nostrand between St. John's and Lincoln is a REAL tool and very bullish. He is the owner of the buildings that the new Deck Hair Salon is in, the unnamed Michael de Zayas project at the corner of St. Johns/Nostrand, and the shuttered barbershop next door. My theory is that the building owner either raised the rent on Syd so much that he forced him out, or just did not renew the lease, or offered a buyout, so that some new tenant would come in and combine the storefront of Syd's and the barbershop for a new business.

    3) I think many of the landlords on this stretch of Nostrand are waiting with baited breath for the opening/leasing of the big new development on Sterling between Nostrand and Rogers. There will be a lot of new, moneyed foot traffic coming down Nostrand heading towards the subways, and they want to be ready.
  • I'm seriously bummed! It was the first place I ate at when I moved in. Though to be fair I've only eaten there once in a while since. I thought the sandwiches were great and I assumed it was the type of place that would only do better business as Nostrand becomes more popular. I always thought they should have stayed open a bit later. I would have loved to have been able to get a sandwich from them on my way home from class. Does anyone know if they're going to reopen?

    As for what happens to Nostrand till the business open I'm not quite sure. Places like Syd's make a neighborhood liveable. If N A bagels and #1 Chinese kitchen close I'm screwed. I don't get those idea of warehousing storefronts. It he landlord still has to pay to keep the power on and the storefront maintained. So that's cash they're spending with no return investment.

    I don't recall Washingon Ave experiencing this during the mid phase of gentrification. And I really just went to Franklin Park and back so I didn't spend much time on Franklin till I moved to Nostrand. I almost wonder if people are overestimating how soon Nostrand is going to turn. Yes it looks kinda like a ghost town right now. I'm not sure the number of empty spaces is quite as high as 50% but I'll count next time I'm out.
  • I think that place's like Syd's have a really hard time in the gentrification process. Syd's was a steadfastly middle-brow affair -- good food, decent price, not too much atmosphere. The businesses that I witness being very successful are either the neighborhood treasures, like Glorias or Trinidad Golden Place, or the "new Brooklyn aesthetic" upscalish, like Lula, Meme's, Tinto, Chop Chop. Not much room for middle-brow/neither nor kind of places...

    Merchants of Nostrand, beware: aesthetic and atmosphere matter to residents who would be spending money in food and drinking establishments.
  • I do remember when Vanderbilt was basically a ghosttown for awhile, in the mid-gentrification process...
  • Syd's sporatic hours did not help.
  • newguy88 said:

    @crownheighster I'd argue many young gentrifiers like myself still care more about bang for the buck and aesthetics are a secondary concern. Of course we're getting pushed farther east and north all the time. 



  • Thanks for those informed theories, crownheightster - that the landlords are awaiting the opening of the Hello living building makes sense to me. Though it's hard not to share newguy's fears that Nostrand has been overestimated and will plunge into disrepair. (About the >50% -- My walk was at 9:30am, so it's possible a number of places just hadn't opened for the day yet. I'll look again on my way back this evening.)

    Re:warehousing, I've also struggled to understand it. But here's my fuzzy math. Let's say the storefront was renting at 2,000 a month and the landlord now hopes to rent it for 4,000 a month. And let's say a commercial lease is 5 years.
    At 2,000 a month, the landlord would make 2,000x12x5 = 120,000
    At 4,000 a month the landlord would, obviously, make twice that:
    4,000x12x5= 240,000
    If the landlord has no need for immediate cash, they could theoretically leave the storefront vacant for 5 years, rent it at the higher price for the following 5 years, and still break even over the course of 10 years. Anything less than five years of vacancy, and they've made a profit in the long term. I assume that the gas/electrical costs of an unused space are pretty minimal.

    What I really don't understand is how the business owners like de zayas or the people behind Z bar, can afford to rent their spaces and then leave them empty for so long, with no signs of construction.

  • Some bars are able to get contingency clauses built into their leases:

    Example: I'll pay you $2500 a month until I get the lic, and then $5000 a month for 5 years afterward. If I don't get my lic, the deal is off.

    ...but I don't know that such a clause in effect at Z Bar or Beauty World. I am merely making an example of what has been able to be negotiated with landlords elsewhere.
  • I think that place's like Syd's have a really hard time in the gentrification process. Syd's was a steadfastly middle-brow affair -- good food, decent price, not too much atmosphere. The businesses that I witness being very successful are either the neighborhood treasures, like Glorias or Trinidad Golden Place, or the "new Brooklyn aesthetic" upscalish, like Lula, Meme's, Tinto, Chop Chop. Not much room for middle-brow/neither nor kind of places...

    Merchants of Nostrand, beware: aesthetic and atmosphere matter to residents who would be spending money in food and drinking establishments.




    So true! A good friend of mine owns the barbershop across the street from that giant red building next to Syd's and he recently renovated the whole thing simply because the older look wasn't going to cut it anymore. It helps to change a bit with the neighborhood.
  • Compared to a few years ago, Nostrand between EP and Atlantic is now devoid of people and businesses.

    Someone from outside the neighborhood might conclude it is a street in decline.

    No, we are not seeing "urban blight".

    We are seeing a version of what used to be known as "urban renewal".

    Discussion of this thought is continued here:   http://www.brooklynian.com/discussion/44488/urban-renewal#Item_6
  • Heard a rumor that Syd is trying to reopen the shop in Crown Heights. I hope that's the case, because I am missing good cheesesteaks.
  • If he is coming back, he is not going into the same space; the landlord aparently signed a lease with an entity that plans to combine Syd's old place with the former Finesse barber shop.
  • His cheesesteaks were good.

    However, his hours of operation need to be more consistent.
  • I think the plan is to look at new space with upgraded and larger facilities.
  • If he is coming back, he is not going into the same space; the landlord aparently signed a lease with an entity that plans to combine Syd's old place with the former Finesse barber shop.




    Any word what will come into that space?

  • I heard (and this is second hand) that it will likely be an eatery of some kind. The former barber shop will be a seating area and the Syd's shop will be a kitchen.
  • This would be most welcome news! 
  • Hello all.  I am holding a crowd funding campaign to raise funds to reopen hopefully on Nostrand Avenue.  The campaign will go live on October 15th and I hope you will consider supporting it and spreading the word.  If you'd like more information, email at sydeway@gmail.com.

    Thanks, Syd

  • Hello all.  I am holding a crowd funding campaign to raise funds to reopen hopefully on Nostrand Avenue.  The campaign will go live on October 15th and I hope you will consider supporting it and spreading the word.  If you'd like more information, email at sydeway@gmail.com.

    Thanks, Syd




  • Welcome Syd.

    Where do you plan to locate your new shop?
  • Welcome back, Syd!
  • Hopefully along the Nostrand corridor between Pacific and Eastern Parkway.  The hope is to be south of Park Place, though.
  • When I walked by last night, Syd's former location seemed to have all of the equipment still in place.

    When combined with what Crownheighter heard, it seems likely that the already "DOH approved" kitchen is part of the package, making it very attractive to an aspiring restaurant operator.

    I heard (and this is second hand) that it will likely be an eatery of some kind. The former barber shop will be a seating area and the Syd's shop will be a kitchen.



  • Good luck on the campaign, @serioussyd! And please keep us updated.
  • This is most welcome news! :)
  • Sid,

    Why reopen in the same general area? What makes you think the second time around would be successful? (I don't ask this rhetorically. There may be many reasons why the first time didn't work that wouldn't exist with a second attempt.)

    Just curious. Wherever you end up, I really hope the next attempt is successful.
  • @mike_dunlap I think most of the closing had to do with him losing the lease and not business reasons. 


  • An inneresting read! 

    "Crown Heights is gentrifying and attracting residents who are looking for that "new Brooklyn aesthetic" in the businesses they patronize.  Atmosphere and ambiance are important elements of the retail experience.  Consequently Syd's needed to renovate its space to reflect this.  At the same time Syd's needed to modernize its equipment, most of which was more than twenty years old and breaking down too frequently; upgrade and expand its refrigeration and freezer capacity to reduce energy costs and support growing catering sales; increase its seating capacity; and expand our marketing activities, including developing and implementing a comprehensive branding strategy.  

    In March 2014 an investor expressed an interest in investing in the shop.  Over the next few months we negotiated an agreement that called for the investment to take place in early July.  Unfortunately the investor backed out of the agreement the day before funding.  Without the investment we could not go on so we closed the shop."


    Also says 

    "Major budgetary assumptions are:

    1. renovations will be required whether we renew the lease at our previous location or lease a new location. 
    2. monthly rent is forecast at $3,500 and the lease will require 2 months security"

  • I fear that the combined space discussed above will be way more than $3500, and go to someone in a far better position than Syd appears to be.

    Landlords do not like cash poor tenants, and Syd's account seems demonstrate just how much investment is needed to compete in the present neighborhood.

    Readers may not be aware that Syd's Sandwiches got "a big part" of its seed money from a competition run by the Brooklyn Library in 2005.

    http://www.bklynlibrary.org/media/press/brooklyn-public-library-bpl-announces-winners-power-business-plan-competition

    ....he has been successfully establishing his reputation and brand since about 2005, yet (like many in the area) remains a very fragile small business.

  • I don't think he's looking at the combined space, which I suspect would be far more (especially in light of what's been discussed as coming in behind him). However, I think there are other spots on Nostrand that you could still get for <$4k as there are so many vacancies. <br />
    Here's hoping he pulls it out.
  • Me too.

    If he can't get his old space, there seems to be small formerly Carib food places that should not require too much $.
  • Nice write-up in DNAinfo.  Retail along Nostrand is fluid so hopefully Syd can find a way to land on strip,

  • yes, many storefronts there are vacant, and he has an existing brand and reputation locally.
  • Mike Dunlap, business was good.  Reached breakeven and had opportunity to grow margins expanding on-line orders and catering businesses.  The area is prime.  I just needed to invest in the business to take advantage of growth opportunities so when investor back out, I was left with no options.

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