Restaurant Opening at Former Home of Vai

A new restaurant – Ren – appears to be opening ‘soon’ at 429 Amsterdam Avenue, between 80th and 81st Streets. This space was previously occupied by Vai Restaurant, which closed in the summer of 2019 after 12 years on the UWS.

Tipster ‘Upper West Sider’ let us know that construction permits were recently filed, and that the restaurant is looking to hire between 11 and 25 employees. They’ve also launched a website,, which includes contact info and an email newsletter signup.

We spoke with owner Armen Basmadjian early last year. At the time, he was hoping to open in May or June 2020, as his planning began before the pandemic shutdown.

We’ve reached back out for updated details – but during our 2020 conversation, Basmadjian told us he had hired a chef who had worked at both Masa and Eleven Madison Park, and that the menu would consist mostly of modern American food but with some Asian-influenced dishes (the description he gave us was a “Hong-Kong twist”).

He told us that Ren would have a modern, downtown and professional feel, and that tables would accommodate 40 seats in addition to an 11 person bar.

Basmadjian is an Upper West Sider with 4 kids and a recent culinary school graduate. Ren will be his first restaurant.

We’ll provide an update once we know more!

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