In New York City real estate, “side street” is often a dirty word. Retailers associate side streets with being off the beaten path and generally out of the way. While that perception may hold true for apparel and dry retail, the fact is that boutique dining restaurant concepts can find some real diamonds in the rough by moving their search off the main thoroughfares.
While quick-service and fast-casual concepts rely on the high-traffic models of main-street retail, full-service restaurants have no such restrictions. In fact, a “hidden” location can add more mystery and intimacy to eateries as consumers, especially Manhattan residents, enjoy the thrill of discovering restaurants that haven’t yet made it onto every dining blog in town. Availabilities on side streets typically come at a lower price point—especially in neighborhoods like the West Village, Greenwich Village and Soho, where avenue prices are especially high. Side streets also offer a larger inventory to choose from without the same level of competition as the streets and avenues that carry more name recognition.
Restaurants like The Smile on Bond Street, The Lion on West 9th Street, and Alta on West 10th Street have done a number of things right to harness the power of the side street to create an exciting dining scene that spans all meals of the day. They have leveraged the value of their location—as well as the benefit of lower monthly expenses—to create eye-catching build-outs and successful PR campaigns. Beyond serving great food, these restaurants have used all of the benefits of their side-street locations to create true destination dining.
Of course not all side streets are created equal, and it is important for any restaurant concept to look closely at the neighborhood and co-tenancy before jumping on the first side-street availability that comes along. But at the end of the day, side street locations can offer great value for an array of food-driven concepts and should not be overlooked.