Japanese restaurant leases former Sushisamba space

West Village’s 87 Seventh Avenue to fill 9K sf hole

The former Sushi Samba at 87 Seventh Avenue South was featured on "Sex and the City"
The former Sushi Samba at 87 Seventh Avenue South was featured on "Sex and the City" (Google Maps, Getty)

UPDATED April 17, 11:00 a.m.: The West Village space where a restaurant gained fame from “Sex and the City” and battles with the government has been leased after sitting empty for five years.

A Japanese restaurant company signed a 15-year deal for the 8,700 square feet at 87 Seventh Avenue that Sushisamba occupied for 17 years.

The building has 2,800 square feet on the ground level, a 1,700-square-foot second-story roof deck and another 4,100 square feet on a lower level. The asking rent was $50,000 per month.

Douglas Elliman’s Brad Siderow, who represented the overseas company that took the space, declined to identify it. The new eatery, still unnamed, will have 300 feet of wraparound frontage along the triangular corner at Barrow Street.

The hip setting was the first location for Sushisamba’s mix of Brazilian, Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, which has since spawned a global franchise with outposts in Las Vegas, London, Dubai and soon Doha, Riyadh and Edinburgh.

The space served as a Fuddruckers through much of the 1990s before the Varveris family bought the property at a foreclosure sale in 1996 and subleased it to Joshua Pickard, now NoHo Hospitality Group.

By 2000, the space had been released to Sushisamba’s founders. The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a trellis for the one-story building’s roof but it quickly morphed into a makeshift tent.

After millions of viewers watched Sarah Jessica Parker’s character swill cosmopolitans at the venue, partygoers swiftly jammed the location, which lies in the Greenwich Village Historic District.

“Sex & the City” wrapped up its sixth and final season in 2004, but the damage was done, as far as some neighbors were concerned. They called in government watchdogs and a multi-year legal fight ensued.

The property was cited by the Department of Buildings for overcrowding on the roof. Despite demanding $5,000 per day in fines over the makeshift outdoor shanty, the Landmarks Preservation Commission was deemed “toothless” by neighbors, AMNY reported at the time

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

By signing up, you agree to TheRealDeal Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

Building owner Alex Varveris refused to sign off on permanent changes to the property without renegotiating a new lease.

“These guys want to have their cake and eat it, too,” he told AMNY in June 2005. “If they want a second story and an extension on their lease, they have to pay for it.”

Landmarks declined a request for legalization and a state Supreme Court judge agreed. After the commission said it could be replaced with a permanent structure, the city tried to force the issue in court.

The standoff ended in February 2007 when Varveris signed an agreement with Landmarks to pay just $500,000 instead of the $8.5 million in fines. He also filed permits for a new roof enclosure with the Department of Buildings.

The new rooftop opened that May and Sushisamba continued its reign until closing in 2017. Varveris sold the property in 2018 for $13.3 million to Alternative Opportunities Fund of Great Neck headed by David Heiden of W. Financial.

But it remained vacant. 

“Since this is a single identity and single tenanted building, ownership was being very meticulous on the tenant and operator before entering into a lease for 15 years,” said Gregory Tannor of Lee & Associates NYC, who represented the owners along with colleague Jessica Gerstein. “They were also concerned with the integrity of the neighborhood and building.”

Read more

This article has been updated to include Jessica Gerstein of Lee & Associates NYC, who represented the property’s owners in the deal.