Blue Ribbon will bite the dust, latest victim of unaffordable rent

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The Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen has been a neighborhood fixture at Bedford and Downing Sts. since 1998. Photos by Dennis Lynch

BY DENNIS LYNCH | The Village will lose a neighborhood favorite eatery and market at the end of the month. The Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen at the corner of Bedford and Downing Sts. aLd the Blue Ribbon Market nearby on Bedford St. will shut their doors because of a sharp rent hint at the Bakery Kitchen.

Rumors swirled in the neighborhood that Blue Ribbon was facing an astronomical “200 percent” or even “400 percent” rent hike on the larger restaurant space, but those could not be confirmed by press time.

The reason the owners will also close the nearby smaller Blue Ribbon Market on Bedford St. is because it relies on the Bakery Kitchen for many of its products. Blue Ribbon’s owners did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Blue Ribbon’s gourmet fare is hugely popular among locals, many who lamented its loss and the circumstances around it. The eatery has been a neighborhood fixture since 1998.

“I was in tears when I found out,” Market regular Sheila Haas said. “If you go there and ask regulars, they’ll tell you they’ve been such a wonderful part of the community. There’s been so much change in the neighborhood, the stability they provided was just amazing.”

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The smaller Blue Ribbon Market is a favorite go-to food-and-coffee spot for locals.

The new tenants who will take over the Blue Ribbon Market space, at 14 Bedford St., applied for a tavern wine liquor license, which would allow them to serve beer and wine. They have named the business Pocket Bar, according to Community Board 2, whose S.L.A. Licensing Committee will weigh in on the application at its meeting on Thurs., Nov. 10, at the Scholastic building, 557 Broadway between Prince and Spring Sts., at 6:30 p.m. The matter will next go before the State Liquor Authority.

On the other hand, the new tenants at the Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen location applied for full liquor on-premise license, which would allow them to serve all varieties of liquor — the same license the Blue Ribbon held.

The application notes the eatery will “be casual with a California-inspired, curated menu that will highlight locally sourced ingredients,” according to the owner’s lawyer. Until this Tuesday, the application as described on the C.B. 2 agenda called for the new restaurant to include a D.J. and live music. But that sentence had been removed from the C.B. 2 site by Wednesday.

The lawyer for the applicant told The Villager that the place would have “recorded background music only.” The owner is a former business development director for a restaurant group based in the city.

The Bedford-Downing Block Association urged members in an e-mail on Monday to petition C.B. 2 to deny the application at the former Market space, and to make sure the owner at the former Bakery Kitchen location “agrees to seal all windows, maintain a 24/7 closed-door policy, enforce the proposed closing times (midnight on weeknights, 1 a.m. Saturday & Sunday) be personally accessible for noise complaints, and actively control patron noise outside the restaurant.”

Livvie Mann, the president of the association, said it has the latter arrangement with the owners of all restaurants in the area, including the Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen. A 30-year-resident of the block, she said there are “a million restaurants” in the area and the neighborhood could use another market instead of a bar at the former Market location. Restaurants aren’t what her neighbors need, she said.

“The kinds of businesses that restaurants replaced were shoe-repair places, tailors,” Mann said. “There was a deli where the market was — the kind of stores you want in a neighborhood where people live. Every time a service business closes and a restaurant moves in, it’s not your livable neighborhood anymore, it’s a neighborhood for people who come from Uptown for lunch or brunch.”

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