Joe Birch said his Avenues Bistro-Brookside is bursting at the seams.
But maybe not for long.
Plans are in the works for Avenues, at 338 W. 63rd St., to expand into the current Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream/Topsy’s Popcorn space next door. The additional space would be used for the restaurant’s popular happy hour offerings — before 6 p.m. and after 8 p.m. daily — and for private events.
Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream/Topsy’s Popcorn’s lease expires next summer. It could relocate in Brookside, possibly to the former James Hallmark Shop space at 6245 Brookside Blvd.
Bob Ramm, owner of the Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream/Topsy’s Popcorn shop, said he has operated in Brookside for 42 years and has been at his current location since 1980.
“This is a very good store, we get 300 or 400 customers a day. But it would be very expensive to relocate,” Ramm said. “Knowing we are being pushed out by the neighbor is discouraging and I am somewhat surprised that the ownership group would throw me out basically.”
Ramm estimates relocation costs at about $300,000. The former Hallmark retail space would have to have new plumbing and electrical to accommodate a food operation.
“There could be some landlord participation, some tenant improvement funds, depending on how badly they want to keep me in the neighborhood,” Ramm said.
George Gilchrist, managing partner of BKS Real Estate LLC, owners of the three properties, said the Hallmark space will probably be divided into two spaces — side by side or front and back.
“We want to divide the Hallmark space to accommodate him, so it would be about the same square footage that Baskin-Robbins is using now. We don’t want to throw him out,” Gilchrist said. “Relocation is sometimes hard, but I believe after the move it will be positive.”