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Commercial Observer

Clay Pot, a Hong Kong-style rice bowl restaurant, is opening its second New York City location at the corner of Bleecker and Morton Streets in the West Village.

It will replace the short-lived Bleecker Street Luncheonette at 270 Bleecker Street, a gluten-free cafe by chef Joseph Pace, which opened less than a year ago. The Middle Eastern-inspired eatery replaced Pace’s previous restaurant, the gluten-free Italian restaurant Risotteria, which had been at the location for 17 years.

Clay Pot, which features a menu dedicated to Cantonese clay-pot cooking, was founded by Alex Yip, and debuted in 2017 at 58 St. Marks Place in the East Village. “It’s not your typical rice because it is cooked in this claypot,” Yip said in a prepared statement. The pot’s pores allow it to breathe, “so that all the flavor of the aged rice and ingredients stay and marinate, instead of the flavor getting killed and evaporated.”

Steve Rappaport of Sinvin represented both the landlord, Kenneth Birnbam, and the tenant in the deal. The space spans 1,450 square feet, 850 square feet on the ground floor and 600 on the lower level, and asking rents were $240 per square foot, per Rappaport.

“After two successful years, and much acclaim at St. Marks Place, Clay Pot was ready to expand westward in the village,” Rappaport said. “The highly visible corner of Bleecker and Morton seemed a no brainer for both tenant and landlord.”

Bleecker Street retail has gone through several rapid changes in the last decade. Retail rents there grew quickly and unsustainably, and after a rash of high-end openings, the street was filled with vacant storefronts. More recently, landlords have begun to get realistic about pricing, and average asking rents on the Bleecker Street corridor fell from $468 per square foot in 2015 to $293 per square foot in 2018, according to the most recent retail report from the Real Estate Board of New York.