Another carcass spotted along Chelsea's 8th Avenue. Cafe Bamba, just off 8th on West 20th where Trois Canards was most recently, has abruptly closed up shop. Sometimes my neighborhood -- in the middle of the most crowded island in the world -- looks like the landscape of a town that was left behind when its industry dried up. Businesses have always come and gone -- only about 50 percent survive four to five years. But the rate of failure on this once-bustling avenue -- where even chain stores cannot afford the rent -- has me perplexed as to why the mayor cannot force building owners to charge reasonable rents instead of letting them sit empty for literally years before finding a sucker who finally falls for it only to have their dream go belly up in record time.
On the brighter side, the Square Deli just opened (on 8th between 18th and 19th) in what was most recently the gay clothing store Efor (and before that Lightforms). The deli has a full grill and decent selection of groceries. Having lost the Pine Tree (which became Brooklyn Industries but is now vacant) and the deli by the old 18th & 8th, this is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.