Popular Greek Restaurant to Replace Pekarna

Yasouvlaki replacing Pekarna

Pekarna opened its doors in late 2020

Local businesses are welcoming the news that a popular Greek restaurant on the Upper East Side, Yasouvláki, will be crossing the park to open a location on the UWS.

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Yasouvláki is applying for a liquor license for the space at 592-594 Amsterdam Avenue (corner of West 89th Street), which was vacated at the end of last year by Slovenian-American restaurant Pekarna (after opening towards the end of 2020). The license application is expected to be discussed by Community Board 7 at its March 13 meeting.

The new restaurant will be an expansion for Yasouvláki, which has a location on the Upper East Side at 1568 Third Avenue (at East 88th Street). The Greek eatery offers an extensive menu of authentic Greek cuisine and has gotten great reviews online, with a few customers saying it reminds them of trips to Greece.

“Yasouvlake (sic) is the first restaurant of several I’ve tried that comes close to my experience in Greece,” said one reviewer. “The food reminds me of being on a Greek island,” said another.

John Giampilis, Yasouvláki’s owner, said he hopes the UWS location will be open by the end of 2024.

“Hopefully we’ll be open by the end of this year,” he said. “We just signed the lease a few weeks ago and we’re making plans now. We just hired a designer.”

He said the restaurant will be almost double the size of their east side location, which they will continue to run. “Of course,” he said of keeping the Third Avenue location. “It’s our first baby.”

That location opened just two years ago. The decor on the UWS will be very similar but one big difference is that they hope to have a full liquor license on the west side. On the east side they have just a beer and wine license. “We only serve Greek wine,” added Giampilis, who was born and raised in Greece.

Giampilis also owns Bacado Cafe, an American style restaurant at 87th St. and Lexington Ave.

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On Amsterdam Avenue, businesspeople said they would welcome a new restaurant to the block, pointing out successful businesses benefit everyone and potentially bring new customers to the area.

“It’s definitely going to be good for the neighborhood. It’s always good to have more restaurants on the block,” said Simon Zhao, the owner of the nearby Chinese take-out restaurant Dragon 89, which just opened a few weeks ago itself. Zhao said he’s felt welcomed by Upper West Siders. “Everyone’s been really nice. They come in and grab a menu and say congratulations,” he said.

At Gold Leaf Stationers, owner Fasil Yilma was also happy to hear the Greek restaurant may soon be moving in. “Anything that’s going to bring new people to the neighborhood and improve the area is welcome. If new customers find them, then they’ll find me too, so it’s going to be a plus, a good plus.”

Pekarna closed on Dec. 31. A note on its website explains that its Covid-adjusted lease expired on that date and the restaurant was “unable to meet the new rent requirements.”

“I want to thank everyone for all their support and help over the years turning Pekarna into a party mecca,” wrote owner Dean O’Neill. Pekarna played host to numerous “cocktail experiences” with themes including BeetlejuiceAlice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast.

Pekarna, which means bakery in Slovenian, was an ambitious two-floor eatery, bar and entertainment space redone by O’Neill to evoke a feeling of old New York and celebrate the architectural history and beauty of the neighborhood and the 100+-year-old building, which was once a bakery (if you remember the bakery’s name, please let us know in the comments; neither Eater nor the NY Times was able to identify it).

Before Pekarna opened, the space was home to a Papa John’s / Subway and a 99 cent store.

(Google Maps)


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