Monday, January 20, 2020

Say What? Former 'The Grocery' Space On Smith Street To Become 'Pop Pasta', Home Of The Original Spaghetti Donut!

Screenshot from Pop Pasta's web site

This, we did not expect.
The storefront once occupied by The Grocery at 288 Smith Street is to become Pop Pasta, home of the original spaghetti donut. If that sounds like a sad replacement for a once  thriving and much loved local eatery to you, you are probably not alone. The storefront has been for rent since about 2016. Most people in the neighborhood probably expected a more upscale restaurant to open in The Grocery's place.

What exactly is a spaghetti donut? Pop Pasta describes it on its web site as the combination of "a popular Neapolitan dish, the spaghetti pie (frittata di maccheroni or frittata di spaghetti)  with an
American food icon, the donut
Is that really a thing?
Apparently, Pop Pasta has been serving its spaghetti donuts at Smorgasburg Williamsburg and the Bronx Night Market. The 288 Smith Street location seems to be its first brick and mortar eatery.

When The Grocery, one of the first farm-to-table restaurants opened its doors in this spot in 1999, it quickly became a favorite spot for fine dining in Carroll Gardens
The intimate little eatery garnered much praise throughout its 16 year run, earning a rating of 28 out of 30 for food in the 2004 Zagat Survey for New York City.

Many were therefore surprised when, in 2015, owners and chefs Sharon Pachter and Charles Kiely decided to close their restaurant to take a step back and to decided what to do next. At the time, Pachter told the New York Times, that the decision had been difficult to make, but that they were exhausted. Long days and nights in the restaurant had taken their toll. "We love what we do. We just have to find a more humane and civilized way to do it, ” Pachter was cited in the Times.

Since the restaurant closed, Pachter and Kiely have hosted special dinner events, wine tastings and private parties in the storefront. At the same time, a "For Rent" sign has been attached to the gate off and on for the past years. 
Since Pachter and Kiely owned the building when they operated The Grocery, one would have thought that they could have found a worthier replacement then an eatery that serves pasta in the shape of a donut.

What do you think? Will Pop Pasta make it in Carroll Gardens?


Anonymous said...

lololol good luck to them! they're gunna need it!

Andy said...

Wahahahhahah.....Won't be long until we read about this closing. A spagetti donut?!?!!?

lynchly said...

That is a disgusting concept. Better a Dunks if it's going to be a donut shop.

Ed said...

In the short run they will probably do OK as a novelty. Long-term I don't think is viable. Product looks to be fairly dense and heavy. To get the shape and look they advertise via pictures it must be a fairly dry product. I don't think it will have the same satisfying effect as a bowl of perfect al dente pasta with a great sauce. I'm assuming fast food drinks, not a good complement to the "donut".

Anonymous said...

Wow, you really need to evaluate your privilege. This blog is an endless whinefest about how stores are vacant or buildings are too tall or things are too noisy, and here we have a couple who had a basically shuttered storefront for years, who have now found a tenant to presumably fund their retirement after years of work, and your thought is that it just isn't a high class enough concept for you?

"one would have thought that they could have found a worthier replacement" JFC, do you even hear yourself???

Not to mention that the tenant is clearly a small business that will be opening a brick and mortar location for the first time, the exact kind of business your idealized version of Smith Street should have, but sorry, this concept is not "worthy" of your standards. I guess we can add this to the list of things that don't meet your standards.

Katia said...

Part of the problem with Smith Street and all the vacancies is that many new businesses just won’t survive long if the concept isn’t right or won’t attract repeat customers. That leads to more vacancies.
The businesses that do tend to thrive are those that fill a need in the neighborhood and attract clientele from other neighborhoods like Grocery used to.
I may be wrong, but I can’t imagine a pasta donut shop will have the same type of repeat business than a well thought out eatery that offers a full, varied menu.
Of course it is better than leaving the storefront empty, but the goal should be to have stable neighborhood businesses. One would think that is good for the landlord as well.

chance bliss said...

i'm inclined to agree with anonymous at JANUARY 21, 2020 8:18 AM.

there's lots of talk of shuttered storefronts and here we have an opportunity to welcome entrepreneurs who are neither corporate nor part of a chain, so it does feel like a double-standard that they should be subjected to so much criticism before they've even had a chance to open their doors.

maybe there's something more to their pasta concept. case in point: "asia dogs" (whose owners used to live in carroll gardens) was an early staple of the flea market scene, graduating to pop-up appearances at music festivals, also appearing at smorgasburg, and then opening a brick and mortar storefront on kenmare street in manhattan. their concept was novel at the time (hot dogs made with condiments traditionally associated with various asian cuisines) yet they expanded their concept when their brick and mortar restaurant opened up. and the owners were good people.

in fairness to "pop pasta," i think we should give them a chance.

Anonymous said...

There's not enough evening foot traffic for many restaurants to make it CG. Unless it's extremely popular (unlikely) or caters to families (i.e. does delivery), it'll close in a matter of months like everything else. It's a shame that this neighborhood has essentially become a suburb.

Jackson Ravio said...

Anony January 21, 2020 8:18 AM

Needs to check themselves before they start asking the merits and work that Katia does here on this blog and the neighborhood.

Katia said...

Thanks, Jackson. I do enjoy reading ALL comments, including criticism. I don’t take it personal after so many years of blogging.
I do understand what Anon 8:18 was trying to convey and left a response under their comment.
Like I said, I may be totally wrong about this pasta donut shop. If it can attract people from out of the neighborhood, they may have a chance.
I just think it is too gimmicky to survive just on neighborhood patronage.
We shall see.

Anonymous said...

definitely a gimmick (my opinion) and there is fear of it having a short life on Smith street. However, it IS better than an empty storefront and the feeling that we live in a ghost town.

Maybe these spaghetti donuts are friggin incredible and taste heavenly. Maybe this place isn't for us (select readers of PMFA), but maybe some locals and families will find it pleasant. So let's not create this "you'll never make it here" attitude and encourage entrepreneurs to take a chance in our lovely neighborhood and give them the support they need. It wont cost you a penny to spread the word.

Anonymous said...

I’m mortified. I would rather have this restaurant than the Nature’s Grill people. That owner has many racist rants on social media. Pop Pasta just wants to have fun. So let them.