Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Living Above a New York City Restaurant

A recent article in the Real Estate section of the New York Times hit a little close to home (insert a "har, har," "lol," or your favorite smiley emoticon here).

"Living Above the Stove" was all about residing above one of New York's 23,000+ restaurants -- the good, the bad, the smells and the sounds.

As the reporter explained, there's no one thing you can expect from living above a restaurant. Take it from one who knows. The first restaurant/bar below us was horrible -- thumping music with a heavy bass shook our floor and kept us awake many nights. Drunk customers would pile into the streets fighting, surely not caring that the people upstairs were now aware of their painfully loud break-up. When the place closed at 4 a.m., more often than I care to remember someone would go warm up their car's engine -- or was it a jet engine? It thundered so horrifically that it was difficult to tell.

I preemptively apologized to overnight guests, sure that they would be awoken in the middle of the night by something loud and embarrassing. 

Now, however, there's a nice seafood restaurant that we've never had a lick of trouble with. It too has a bar in the front, but it seems to attract sports fans and even families. I've heard music once or twice -- certainly the exception more than the rule. When we get home after midnight on the weekends, the place is generally closed or in the process of shutting down for the night. The restaurant's summertime outdoor seating abuts the entrance to our building, but no matter. I enjoy the liveliness that comes with being surrounded by people having a good time -- quietly.

Thankfully, with neither restaurant have we had to deal with smells, good or bad. You'd think this would be especially worrisome with a seafood restaurant, but I haven't had even the faintest whiff of fish. As for the offer of free food that the article says sometimes accompanies living above a restaurant -- well, we've had none of that, although our landlord (also the restaurant's owner) has covered a beer or two for Paul when he's been there with friends. That's generous enough and already more than I would expect.

When we first moved to New York, a bitter real estate broker -- whom I told over the phone that we chose this apartment and not the one she showed us the day before -- berated me by claiming that we'd certainly have problems with cockroaches. No such thing. And we had troublesome vermin issues only when some upstairs neighbors moved out, leaving a trail of problems behind that surely weren't helped by the simultaneous construction on the building before the new restaurant opened..

A few years ago I would have warned anyone and everyone to stay away from apartments above restaurants. Now I have a much better view and might even recommend it, depending on the location and the restaurant. I certainly have a list of things I don't like about New York City apartment living (space, no washer and dryer ...), but living above a restaurant isn't one of them.

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