On the outside, it would seem that the restaurant space at 905 Lorimer Street is cursed. The corner lot seems like prime real estate, across the street from McCarren Park. So, why haven’t the past few restaurants at 905 Lorimer succeeded?
On the opposite corner, local mainstay Five Leaves has served the neighborhood for 15 years. One theory is that Five Leaves would fill up and subsequently, send customers across the street to 905 Lorimer, but with the new outdoor dining setup at Five Leaves, it does not fill up as quickly, and thus, there are no superfluous customers for 905 Lorimer.
Years ago, before the last three unsuccessful restaurants, 905 Lorimer was home to Lokal, a casual Mediterranean bistro. After Lokal closed, the space got spruced up and, in 2016, became French bistro, Sauvage, the sister restaurant of Williamsburg’s Maison Premiere.
In 2019, both Sauvage and Maison Premiere filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after racking up approximately $5.2 million in debt, as Greenpointers and Eater previously reported. The restaurants said that they filed for bankruptcy to settle a legal matter, but didn’t elaborate on what the legal matter was.
What was known through court documents was that both restaurants owed money to creditors and suppliers. Sauvage owed nearly $2 million to New Jersey’s Provident Bank.
Both restaurants stayed open after filing for Chapter 11, but then the pandemic hit. Maison Premiere was able to reopen and flourish after the initial pandemic shutdown, but Sauvage closed permanently in 2020.
Following the closure of Sauvage, Xilonen, a vegan Mexican restaurant from the owners of Michelin-starred Oxomoco, took over the space. Despite the success of Oxomoco, Xilonen closed after just a year.
Xilonen’s permanent closure came after a temporary two-month hiatus due to the second wave of the pandemic. Eater reported that Xilonen’s owner Justin Bazdarich would not be reopening the restaurant due to factors outside his control, including operating restrictions on restaurants caused by the pandemic.
The teams behind Sauvage and Xilonen did not respond to Greenpointers’ request for comment.
Greenpointers asked Cool World’s co-owner Julian Brizzi if he believes the failures of the restaurants at 905 Lorimer are tied to the location. Interestingly, he said no.
“We were not far off from it making sense, but it didn’t,” Brizzi said. “The branding and concept was ambitious, and not the safest choice…. But, it was not an absolute calamity. It was busy on Friday and Saturday.”
“Chef Q is enormously talented,” Brizzi boasted of Cool World’s Executive Chef, Quang Nguyen. “His food we were extremely proud of.”
Brizzi told Greenpointers that the space at 905 Lorimer is deceivingly small with more than half of the seats outside, but he did not want to criticize the size or space, not does he blame it for the restaurant’s failure.
Brizzi said that if he and his team had we done something “down the middle,” and had “less hubris walking in,” Cool World might still be open. “We are very sorry to our staff, investors, vendors and guests,” Brizzi added.
On a positive note, Brizzi told Greenpointers that he is exploring the possibility of a new and different concept at 905 Lorimer, making it even clearer that he does not believe the space is cursed.