A mainstay of Battery Park City’s restaurant scene will soon be almost-but-not-quite gone, and replaced by an uptown cousin. SouthWestNY, which been serving quesadillas and margaritas to Lower Manhattan residents since 1999, is a victim of changing times, according to Alexander Yellen, associate counsel at Merchants Hospitality, which owns the eatery. “Revenue has slowed, because there is a lot more competition for southwestern style cuisine in this neighborhood,” he said at the January 5 meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1. He was likely referring to the neighborhood debut, in recent years, of El Vez on Vesey Stret, Amada in Brookfield Place, Dos Torros in Hudson Eats, and Chipotle in Gateway Plaza, as well as the Lower Manhattan outpost of Rosa Mexicano in Tribeca.
So the company, headed up by Lower Manhattan resident Abraham Merchant, plans to remodel and reposition SouthWestNY (which moved from Brookfield Place to its current location, at the corner of Albany Street and South End Avenue in 2012) as Treadwell Park, a craft beer hall that Merchants Hospitality has been operating on the Upper East Side (at First Avenue and 62nd Street) with considerable success for just over a year.
“It will be a craft beer hall and have a family-friendly area with ping pong tables and pinball machines,” said Mr. Yellen. “There will be no structural changes or changes to footprint of area, but all of the tables will be changing to more of a community style — communal picnic tables. We feel this will add to the community, and be a nice gathering place for families.” He added that SouthWestNY’s menu will remain available for takeout and delivery, because this part of the restaurant’s business is still robustly profitable.
The Lower Manhattan restaurant that hews most closely to the Treadwell Park concept is Clinton Hall, an artisanal beer garden at Rector and Washington Streets. Mr. Merchant’s company was once a partner in this establishment, “but currently it is a different company that we have no connection to,” Mr. Yellen explained, adding that, “there will be some overlap in the patronage of Clinton Hall and Treadwell Park, but generally we’d like to focus a little bit more on family. We see this as a place to come, sit, and meet friends.”
Mr. Yellen predicted that SouthWestNY would likely close at the end of January (with food delivery still available during this hiatus and beyond), and reopen as Treadwell Park in late March of early April.
Looking over the proposed menu, Battery Park City committee member said, “this will be the only place Downtown to get pierogies.” Robin Forst (a public member of the Battery Park City Committee). She cautioned Mr. Yellen against seeking variances in the permits for construction, to allow work on nights or weekends. Mr. Yellen replied that he did not envision seeking such variances.
Merchants Hospitality will be familiar to Downtown residents as the operators of Merchant’s River House (on the Esplanade), Industry Kitchen and Watermark (both on the East River shoreline), and Pound & Pence (at Liberty and Nassau Streets), but the company owns more than a dozen restaurants and hotels in Manhattan, with other properties as far away as Detroit and Aruba.