In the form of a “cozy, lively neighborhood place with delicious food and drinks,” the Upper West Side is welcoming a new haven.
Owned and operated by 25-year Upper West Side resident Brian Staub, Haven is set to open its doors this fall (though it was originally expected to open last fall). The restaurant will reside in the space formerly occupied by Burke & Willis at 226 W. 79th St. (between Amsterdam and Broadway). Burkes & Willis closed in early 2020 following an alleged nonpayment of rent (and a whole bunch of other controversial claims).
The name of Staub’s new restaurant has a double meaning. Haven is meant to be exactly that: “an ambience and experience that people will like, where everyone knows the staff,” said Staub. It also pays homage to Dehaven Drive in Yonkers, where Staub grew up.
“Finding a suitable place on the Upper West Side took awhile, but I insisted on it,” said Staub, who spent most of his career in the financial services industry. “I know this neighborhood better than I know any other. My kids have grown up here. We feel like we’re a part of the community.”
“If you had to designate a center of the Upper West Side, it might be 79th and Broadway.”
Apart from the prime location, which will accomodate up to 75 customers once renovations are complete, Haven plans to offer a menu inspired by what New Yorkers love the most.
“It’s New York food. New Yorkers love their Japanese food, their tacos, their pasta,” said Staub, who also mentioned “novel and updated” versions of his grandmother’s recipes and traditional Jewish holiday dishes as influences. “We want to be able to incorporate elements of all that into one menu but make it cohesive.”
After his career in finance, Staub chased his dream of getting into the hospitality business, studying cooking and restaurant management at the Institute of Culinary Education. Needless to say, the pandemic threw a wrench in his plans and posed plenty of delays.