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Two New Wine Bars Opening on the Upper East Side

Community Board 8 held its Street Life Committee meeting on Tuesday evening. Restaurant owners and their reps attended via Zoom in order to further their liquor, beer and wine license applications, and we learned about two new spots on the horizon.

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The owners of a popular restaurant and wine bar in Forest Hills are planning to expand to the Upper East Side.

Olga and Oleg Sakhno have owned and operated Keuka Kafe for eleven years, and they’re getting ready to bring the eatery – named after Keuka Lake in Upstate New York – to 435 East 86th Street (between York and First avenues).

“We feel that we’re ready to expand, we really like the neighborhood,” said Oleg. “We’re trying to open something that’s going to be more of a restaurant than a bar.”

The couple, both chefs, got unanimous board approval for their application for a wine, beer and cider license.

Keuka (the exact name they’ll be going with is TBD) will have 36 seats and accommodate a maximum of 48 patrons. The space, located right next to a dry cleaning business, was formerly home to Joanna’s Restaurant and Sharz Cafe & Wine Bar. Oleg said they’ll be keeping the same structural layout but will be making some cosmetic upgrades.

When asked about the menu, Oleg said it comes from all over the world but that they’re most famous for their charcuterie boards – while also noting oysters and seasonal / holiday menus. Here’s the menu from their current location in Queens, which they’re hiring a manager to run so that they can dedicate all their time to the forthcoming UES restaurant.

There won’t be any outdoor dining and they won’t be offering delivery. “Only pickup. We don’t believe in deliveries, it’s unsafe,” said Olga.

The Sakhnos also say Keuka will only have light recorded background music. “No live music under any circumstances,” Oleg said.

“We really hope to make it in your neighborhood, which we really like,” noted Oleg.

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More Upper East Side Openings

Upper East Sider Julie Bramowitz is planning to open Bar Florine at 163 East 92nd Street (between Third and Lexington avenues), where infamous French library La Librairie des Enfants had operated until recently.

The space will come with nine tables and 26 seats. Described as a small wine bar with a limited menu (at least initially), Bramowitz – who until last summer worked as the wine director at the Carlyle Hotel – noted that they may also host popup events.

While reception to Bar Florine was positive overall, one member of the public – Dean Evans, who said he owns two nearby rental buildings with his partner – raised a concern about the building itself.

“Our concern is not for the business, but some issues that the owner may run into. This particular building is plagued with a serious rat infestation.

“The way that the sanitation is handled for the rental portion of the buildings … the tenants in the rear of the building tend to go out and just throw their trash out into the courtyard and not place them into the dumpsters because they’re afraid of the mice and rats that are back there. Ourselves and the super of 145 East 92nd Street supply the super of 163 East 92nd Street with rat traps and bait. And currently, he’s catching between two to ten adult rats daily. And this restaurant may not be able to operate in a sanitary condition with the current rat infestation in the basement of the building, as well as in the rear [and] sides of the building. So our concern is [that it’s] going to only further the rat infestations in this building. And I just think the owner of this bar needs to know what she may be up against.

Evans went on to blame the landlord, who according to public records is Nader Ohebshalom with Gatsby Enterprises.

“The owners of the building will not take the necessary steps to control the rats. So neighbors are actually helping the super control the rats and the trash bags in the morning on trash days are ripped apart from these rats. So it’s just something that you need to be aware of that really may become an issue for you.”

Julie and her legal representative committed to taking whatever steps are needed to mitigate the rat problem. The application was approved with the stipulation that the issue be dealt with.


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