By: JASMINE SHEENA
After restaurateur Jeffrey Bank temporarily closed two restaurants in Times Square during the pandemic, he signed a lease on another space nearby for fear of the pandemic closing his restaurants permanently. He is now debuting an enormous new venue, Mermaid Inn Oyster bar, in Times Square with restaurant power couple Cindy Smith and Danny Abrams.
"It was our insurance policy, for lack of a better word" Bank said of the lease signing back then "Anywhere like Times Square that has the opportunity to see a lot of businesspeople, locals and tourists is a trifecta for us."
Abrams said the oyster bar reflected the diet trends of Americans.
The space will include 550 seats and will feature a bar, an oyster bar, a dining room and private party rooms. According to commercial real estate information company Costar, the restaurant's interior is 18,920 square feet and the lease is for more than years. The menu features a selection of East Coast and West Coast oysters and offers a "grand platter" featuring 12 oysters, six clams, tuna crudo, shrimp cocktail and salmon tartare for $79.
Smith and Abrams. who are married. are operating branches of the Mermaid Inn in Chelsea and Greenwich Village. In October the couple shuttered their original Mermaid Inn location on the Upper West Side. They opened a new restaurant, pizzeria Sirenetta, next door. Abrams also previously opened a Greenwich Village outpost of the Upper East Side's American restaurant JG Melon, which is now closed.
Bank is president and chief executive officer of the Alicart Restaurant Group, which operates Times Square eateries Carmine's and Virgil's Real Barbecue. both had previously closed temporarily during the pandemic.
Stephen Zagor. adjunct assistant professor of business at Columbia Business School, said Smith, Abrams and Bank would bring important industry knowledge to the new Mermaid Inn and the presence of one of few nonchain restaurants to Times Square
"They're New York restaurant royalty," he said.
The Mermaid Inn Oyster Bar,127 W. 43rd St., will open Dec. 13