Docks Oyster Bar, the two-decades-old Upper West Side seafood restaurant, closed unexpectedly on Feb. 25. A sign was posted on the window thanking the regular customers who kept the place buzzing with business, even up to the day before the restaurant closed.Like so many other businesses in the area, a high rent and bad economy appears to have caused the owners to close the West Side Docks, located at 2427 Broadway between West 89th and 90th streets.
Although not involved in the restaurant’s daily operations, Stewart Rosen, co-owner of the East Side Docks restaurant, on Third Avenue and East 40th Street, said he has been inundated with calls from customers inquiring about the closure of the West Side Docks. “We’ve had a lot of calls from loyal customers upset about it,” Rosen said.
The restaurant opened in 1985, and was previously owned by Barry Corwin and Howie Levine, who died last year. In 2004, Ernie Bogan took over the West Side seafood mainstay and Steward Rosen helmed the East Side location on 633 Third Avenue and East 40th Street. The owners are part of a four-person restaurant group with shares in the business.
Bogan said that despite being current with rent, the owners were unsuccessful in renegotiating their lease, which was up in several years.
“Sales are down. Costs have not gone down. Consequently, rents are going up,” Bogan said.
Barry Levites, president of Levites Realty, which owns the West Side commercial space, said he had “no clue” as to why Docks closed. Sources at the company said Bogan is a sub-leaseholder and could not pay money owed to Corwin, the prime leaseholder and former Docks owner.
Bogan and Rosen, the East Side owner, denied subleasing the space and maintained that rising rents and dwindling sales were the reason for closing up shop. Regardless of the cause, loyal customers are left without their beloved seafood eatery.
Council Member Gale Brewer, a regular, lamented the loss of a familiar place.
“It was like a watering hole,” Brewer said. “Some people went three times a week.”
Rosen, the East Side owner, was saddened at the loss, but reminded die-hard Docks fans that the restaurant is not completely gone.
“I hope that people come visit us on the East Side,” he said.
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