Downtown's Newest Dining Room

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, owners of Bombay's and Fika, and Nicole LaRusso of the Downtown Alliance officially opened the pop-up cafe Thursday.

DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, owners of Bombay's and Fika, and Nicole LaRusso of the Downtown Alliance officially opened the pop-up cafe Thursday.

Midtown may have Pop-Tarts, but Downtown has a pop-up.

Just in time for refreshing fall weather, the New York City Department of Transportation has created an innovative, pleasant place to sit outside in Lower Manhattan on Pearl Street, called a “pop-up café.” It’s a temporary curbside seating platform and the first of its kind in New York City.

While anyone can enjoy the space, the platform was installed by adjacent restaurants Fika and Bombay’s, which will maintain and remove the platform later this year at their own expense. The program’s effectiveness will be evaluated to help determine if similar spaces should be created elsewhere in the city.

“As we know from the success of Stone Street, the addition of outdoor seating creates an exciting new destination for Downtown’s 300,000 workers, 55,000 residents and six million annual visitors,” said Downtown Alliance President Elizabeth H. Berger. “The Department of Transportation’s new pop-up café platform is an especially creative way to add seating along a street with narrow sidewalks. We hope everyone will come enjoy this great new addition to the neighborhood.”

Today, Downtown Alliance Senior Vice President for Planning and Economic Development Nicole LaRusso joined DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz and Community Board 1 Financial District Chairman Ro Sheffe at a news conference to officially unveil the space. Also making an appearance was cycling enthusiast and former Talking Heads band member David Bryne, who recently worked with DOT to design and select whimsical new bike racks.

Many of the nearby tables were filled as the restaurants handed out mango lassi, samosas and a selection of Swedish hors d’oeuvres to celebrate the unveiling.

Click here to view photos from the event. And here’s a YouTube clip of the space.

Both restaurants had approached the Downtown Alliance and DOT earlier this year about ways they could possibly expand onto the sidewalk, which was too narrow for a café according to Consumer Affairs rules. DOT and DCA discussed this innovative solution and DOT proposed the pop-up café platform concept to be installed in the roadbed in the businesses’ loading zones. The 84-foot-long, 6-foot-wide wooden platform is landscaped with planters, wire railing and furnished with 14 café tables and 45 chairs.

One week into the project, Fika and Bombay’s have already reported huge increases in business. Perhaps samosas and gravlax are best taken in the shadow of Downtown skyscrapers.