‘Whynot Coffee’ on Orchard Street May Grind to Halt as Contra Principal Seeks Pizzeria

Posted on: September 29th, 2017 at 5:06 am by

Whynot Coffee may soon grind to a halt. It would appear that the concept at 175 Orchard Street isn’t sustainable in the enormous space without a proper liquor license.

To that end, the 2,000 square-foot store is now on the market, courtesy of Misrahi Realty. Current rent is $16,400 per month with 12 years left on the lease and 3% annual increases. The listing also dangles the possibility of backyard use. There is no mention of a key fee.

And the first suitor is already out of the gate. One of the principals behind Contra is pursuing a pizzeria concept for 175 Orchard; Jeremiah Stone’s name appears on an application to Community Board 3 for full liquor. If confirmed and approved by the state, this would be both the third pizza outpost within a block (behind Rosario’s and Pizza Beach) and third Orchard Street establishment for team Contra (Wildair, and the proposed liquor store).

Stone did tell Eater, however, that there’s “a strong chance we will not pursue it.”

As for Whynot, the road hasn’t been easy. Conceived in 2013, owner Emil Stepkov opened with a beer-wine license under the guise of an art bar, and twice tried to upgrade to full liquor. Both times resulted in failure. Then their scaled-back booze privileges were eventually revoked altogether by the State Liquor Authority in May 2015. The state found that ownership ignored the binding stipulations and changed their method of operation by offering live music, pumping excessive volumes, and dancers (Whynot doesn’t possess a cabaret license). This happened after Stepkov considered relocating the coffee shop to make way for a restaurant concept that never got off the ground called Sushi Wa.

Despite the lack of license, locals seemed to embrace the business. The coffee shop is usually brimming with laptop-toting java guzzlers wired into their technology. Apparently, that doesn’t pay the rent in these parts anymore…

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