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When we passed by 253 Livingston Street in Downtown Brooklyn recently, we noticed big signs in the windows promising “IHOP coming soon 2015.” Another International House of Pancakes nearby, at 276 Livingston Street, shut down in 2014 to make way for TF Cornerstone’s big development at 33 Bond Street. The new location was slated to open in November, according to an article in the Brooklyn Eagle last year. GMAP

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Vinegar Hill House and Pizza East will open restaurants inside Empire Stores at 55 Water Street in early 2016, a spokesperson for the conversion project told us today. Pizza East will be located in the space at left pictured in the rendering above, with the schist wall. Vinegar Hill House will be on the right, in the space with the glass wall.

Both will have indoor and outdoor seating, although the outpost of the popular and nearby Vinegar Hill House will be “primarily grab and go and casual,” he said. The Vinegar Hill counter — apparently there will not be table service — will have its own menu and will serve breakfast, lunch, early dinner, coffee, and juices. It will also offer catering.

This will be Pizza East’s first New York location. The upscale eatery was created by private club Soho House and has locations in London and Chicago, all with different menus and decor. This one will offer ciabatta-crust pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven, as well as other dishes, according to a press release. Both restaurants will focus on “responsibly” and locally sourced ingredients. 

Empire Stores Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP

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Bakery and cafe IM Pastry Studio is prepping to open at 1131 Nostrand in Prospect Lefferts Gardens the first weekend in March, one of the three co-owners told us. Started in 2009 as a home-based custom cake business, IM Pastry Studio in its new space will serve coffee, cookies, cakes and cupcakes, as well as offer custom creations and a place for children’s birthday parties and bridal and baby showers.

The business is known for its remarkable looking confections and dessert tables for special events, including for magazines and sports stars. Click through to its website to see brightly colored cookies with gold seal designs, “Frozen” themed cupcakes, and a gravity-defying tiered cake that looks like a stack of spaghetti and sauce pots boiling over.

IM Pastry Studio had a preview Thursday, February 12, and will be taking custom orders only until the March grand opening. GMAP

Photo by IM Pastry Studio

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Hanson Dry’s Chris Buckley is opening his ’50s-inspired cocktail bar, Branch Ofc, tonight at 6 pm at 225 Rogers Avenue in Crown Heights. Vinyl floors, antique cash registers and steel bar stools all help channel that midcentury vibe, and there will be a pinball machine and photo booth to help keep customers entertained. The menu offers $11 cocktails, $7 beers, $9 wines and a selection of bar snacks and sandwiches. It’ll be open from 3 pm to 2 or 4 am seven days a week.

Hanson Dry Owner Branches out With 1950s-Look Bar in Crown Heights [Brownstoner] GMAP

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La Lupe opened about a month ago at 9 Jefferson Street, a worker there told us when we stopped by yesterday. The restaurant has a full bar and serves snacks and street food, including chips, grilled corn, pozole, salad, queso fundido with chorizo, flautas, tacos, burritos and some interesting sounding sandwiches.

These include a hot dog (Perros Gordos, literally “overweight dogs”) consisting of sausage with bacon, coleslaw and chipotle mayo and the Mexican Burguer, which is made of pork and beef with pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese, bacon, coleslaw and chipotle mayo. Most of the items have veggie options, and tacos include fish.

Beverages include aguas frescas, Mexican Coke, and Mexican style hot chocolate. The space was formerly home to the Salad Wheel. GMAP

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An Indian restaurant plans to open in the vacant storefront at 1703 Broadway under the elevated tracks in Bushwick, according to a sign posted on the front. We’re guessing it will be mostly takeout. The spot was previously home to a pizza place.

Only three blocks away at 577 Decatur Street in Bed Stuy is Delhi Heights, which is always busy with delivery, although it also has a very nice dining room. GMAP

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On Super Bowl Sunday, just before the game started, we stopped by Pequeña for dinner, thinking it would be easy to get a table since, as far as we could remember, the restaurant didn’t have a tv. It was closed.

We figured it was a one-time deal because of the game. But then we read in DNAinfo yesterday it went out of business because of a change in partnership and decrease in customers. The space at 601 Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights will become a Korean restaurant. There are no plans to close the original location, at 86 South Portland Avenue in Fort Greene, according to DNA.

We really liked the margaritas and enchiladas — and the elbow room – at this location and will miss it.

Curiously, this is not the first restaurant owner and actress Chelsea Altman has shuttered recently. Maggie Brown in Clinton Hill shut down last month, as we reported at the time. Altman also owns Olea and Allswell, according to Brooklyn Magazine, and used to own now-closed Moe’s Bar in Fort Greene. Altman has been in the news lately for testifying in the Elan Patz case (they were childhood friends).

Korean Restaurant to Replace Pequena in Prospect Heights [DNA] GMAP
Photo by ibellum on Instagram

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Our apologies if this is ancient history, but we just noticed a couple weeks ago that Sushi Tatsu at 884 Fulton Street in Clinton Hill has shuttered and the space is for rent. We’re not sure how long ago it closed its doors — July was the last reference we could find online to anyone eating there.

It looks like the rental listing from G-Way Management has been up for about three months. The asking rent is $6,900 a month for the 884-square-foot-space.

The sushi-and-thai-food restaurant has three other locations, at 1185 Bedford Avenue in Bed Stuy, 609 Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights, and 644 Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. Click through to see the “for rent” sign in the window. 

What do you think would do well here? GMAP
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Sugar Couture bakery opened at 386 Graham Avenue in east Williamsburg in mid-December. Among the unusual offerings are almond flavored caffeinated “breakfast cookies,” brownies with raisins, croissant chocolate custard bread, and a bacon jam croissant. The bakery is known for its wedding cakes, which owner and former documentary film producer Penny Stankiewicz was making long before opening this store, her first. Anyone checked it out? GMAP

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When we dropped by Saraghina this past weekend, workers there told us the new bar they are planning next door at 348 Lewis Avenue will open really soon — “before Valentine’s Day.”

The popular restaurant is expanding to give diners more room to wait for a table and alleviate congestion in its current bar and entry space. The two spaces will be connected with a passageway for employees, workers told us, although there was no sign yet of construction inside the existing restaurant.

Saraghina Bar will serve snacks such as meat and cheese plates and, of course, drinks. The sign on the space outside just says “Bar.” DNAinfo was the first to write about the plans.

Nine days to go!  GMAP

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Kosher burger spot Boeuf & Bun began serving up fancy burgers and a southern-inspired menu last week at 217 Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights. The “artisanal burger lab” has some interesting options, like “The New Yorker,” with pastrami, cabbage slaw and horseradish; a slow-cooked beef sandwich; and a lamb burger with olive tapenade and cumin garlic aioli. For sides and snacks, there are hand-cut truffle fries, fried pickles, and “pulled beef puffy tacos.” And the two desserts are a deconstructed peanut butter s’more and fried oreos served with a strawberry reduction and ice cream.

Co-owner and executive chef Tzemach Woolstone said he hoped the restaurant would appeal to all kinds of people, not just the Jewish community. “We live in an awesome, diverse neighborhood. We try to create an environment that’s comfortable for everyone, even though we’re making a kosher product.”

Burgers run $13 to $18, and most of the sides and desserts cost $8 or $9. Right now, they’re open from 1 pm to 11 pm Sunday through Thursday and Saturday from 90 minutes after sundown till 12:30 am. Has anyone tried it yet? GMAP