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restaurants along second ave. subway see a surge in customers

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restaurants along second ave. subway see a surge in customers

these restaurants are getting back on track.

upper east side eateries are seeing a flood of foot traffic less than a month after the official opening of the second avenue subway on jan. 1.

new york restaurateur francois latapie took a leap of faith when he opened his modern french bistro little frog (322 e. 86th st.) near the corner of second ave. last october.

business wasn’t exactly hopping.

“we were hidden behind cranes and dumpsters. it was nightmare,” he tells the daily news.

latapie signed the lease in sept. 2015, and planned on a summer 2016 opening, but he faced a few road blocks as construction of the subway system was underway.

“we were in the middle of a huge mess,” latapie says. “i never envisioned that it [the subway] was going to take so long to complete. the sidewalk was a danger zone.”

cranes and dumpsters blocked  maz mezcal and little frog before construction from the second ave. subway finished.

cranes and dumpsters blocked  maz mezcal and little frog before construction from the second ave. subway finished.

(courtesy of mary silva)

but with three new stations at 72nd, 86th and 96th streets giving p engers an easier commute along the east side, and the construction obstacles removed, latapie knew his hidden would soon become prime real estate.

“i was very conscious of the risk,” he says. “for me, it was an investment into the future. it’s a good location. it’s becoming a very wonderful place.”

and with an estimated 200,000 riders per day served by the new stations, the q line is already bringing plenty of new business to restaurants that many customers barely knew existed.

on a recent urday night, the earliest availability for little frog on the reservation site opentable was at 9 p.m. the bustling bistro welcomes guests into the warm, 75-seat space with a now visible bright red awning. inside, there are pendant chandeliers and french globe lights in the dining room adorned with sleek, white exposed brick, vintage mirrors and old french car ads from latapie’s personal antique art collection.

a crowd of 20-somethings and older couples pack into the glowing green banquets. menu hits by chef xavier monge — formerly of minetta tavern — like the onion soup; steak au poivre; and perfectly-cooked scottish salmon in a zesty aged balsamic reduction fly out of the kitchen.

duck bourbon-orange flambe with asian spices and onions at little frog.

duck bourbon-orange flambe with asian spices and onions at little frog.

(paul wagtouicz for little frog)
the duck liver foie gras parfait at little frog.

the duck liver foie gras parfait at little frog.

(paul wagtouicz for little frog)

latapie says he also plans to have outdoor seating in the warmer months, like neighboring restaurant maz mezcal (316 e. 86th st.), which has been around for 30 years.

but maz mezcal owner mary silva says there wasn’t nearly enough tequila at the mexican eatery to keep customers isfied amid all the deafening noise from construction.

“the jack hammering, the jack hammering, the jack hammering. i cannot say it enough,” silva recalls of the excruciating sound she says cost her five years of summer business, her busiest time of year.

“[customers] couldn’t hear themselves speak,” she says.

in 2015, silva almost turned in the keys.

“it hasn’t been easy,” she admits.

when the subway finally opened, the mta threw her a bone by plastering a p o of her with the restaurant’s address on posters hanging inside train cars. she says it’s brought her some traffic.

mary silva, owner of 30-year-old restaurant maz mezcal on the upper east side, has her restaurant featured on the second ave. subway thanks to an mta paign.

mary silva, owner of 30-year-old restaurant maz mezcal on the upper east side, has her restaurant featured on the second ave. subway thanks to an mta paign.

(courtesy of mary silva)

a stone’s throw away, near 85th st., is the daisy (1641 second ave.). after years of catering to diners downtown with his widely successful west village mexican haunt, agave, owner james o’hanlon decided it was time to claim some uptown territory. he opened the daisy, named after the brandy tail, in november, 2015, originally as another tex-mex joint with an extensive tequila and mezcal selection.

but with so many competing restaurants serving up similar cuisine in the area, coupled with the incoming subway stop, he decided to change up the menu in august. now it bills itself as a “seasonal restaurant,” serving dishes like hamachi crudo; farro risotto; and double cut pork chops. menu prices have gone up since it opened.

“right now, conservatively, we’re seeing about a 15 - 20% jump consistently,” o’hanlon says of revenue.

the restaurant suffered most from late november through december when a 10-foot-high wall was put up due to sidewalk construction.

“it was brutal,” says o’hanlon. “the upper east side is very much a walking crowd. businesses really survive on the street traffic. since all of that is down, the area has become more appealing.”

just blocks up and not far from the 94th st. entrance to the 96th st. subway hub is the humble, new american eatery called angela’s montana table (1750 second. ave.). owner and chef angela gerdrum serves up signatures like the hearty bison burger, smoked trout, a colossal cobb salad with chunks of blue cheese, along with a variety of wine and brews from big sky country.

when gerdrum opened the tiny, 24-seat space on second ave. between 91st and 92nd sts. last june, fences blocked the sky-blue awning; and the noise of the construction polluted the air.

angela gerdrum, owner of angela's montana table on second ave. at 91st street, holding her brussel sprout and cauliflower gratin (left) and cobb salad (right).

angela gerdrum, owner of angela's montana table on second ave. at 91st street, holding her brussel sprout and cauliflower gratin (left) and cobb salad (right).

(jefferson siegel/new york daily news)

“every day it was like a maze to cross the street,” gerdrum recalls. she relied mainly on deliveries and word of mouth to get the news out about her affordable and delicious comfort food.

“business is much better now,” the billings, montana native says.

now the eatery is in plain view with street parking available beside the bike lane out front. gerdrum has even decided to start serving brunch.

these restaurants will need as much business as they can to make ends meet. rents along the second avenue subway will continue to soar in the next few years, according to a recent report by streeteasy. over the past five years, rents have gone up 27% along second avenue compared to a 14% growth on third ave. and 19% on first ave., the study shows.

eatery owners remain optimistic.

“is it worth it? i hope yes,” says latapie.

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