The owner of Ollie’s Noodle Shop and Grille says the future of his restaurant remains uncertain as he waits for Barnard to extend his lease.
Early last month, a fire at 600 West 116th Street—the Barnard dorm whose first floor houses Ollie’s—brought over a hundred firefighters to the scene. Ollie’s front windows exploded during the fire, and the restaurant has since been closed.
The fire marshal and gas company are still conducting a joint investigation on the cause of the fire, according to a representative from the New York City Fire Department.
“If I get a new lease, I will rebuild and stay in that location. If they [Barnard] don’t want to give me a new lease, I cannot renovate,” Ollie’s owner Tsu Yue Wang said.
If Barnard does extend Ollie’s lease, the restaurant could reopen “in a couple of months, probably ready for the graduation,” he added.
A spokesperson for Barnard said that the College had no comment on Ollie’s lease at this time.
In the meantime, some employees have been relocated to other Ollie’s locations in New York City, including an Ollie’s To Go on 89th Street and Broadway.
“We don’t have a service [at the To Go place], so we couldn’t take the waiters, but we took some kitchen staff to work in that location right now,” Wang said.
However, he expressed skepticism in regard to Barnard’s willingness to allow his restaurant to reopen.
“I think the landlord is probably not willing to extend my lease,” Wang said. “Wish they can change their mind, but it’s their decision. I respect that decision, whatever it is.”
Vine Sake & Sushi, the restaurant next to Ollie’s, is currently closed as well. According to a flier on its window signed from restaurant management, the Japanese restaurant doesn’t currently “have gas due to the next door—Ollie’s fire.”
Ollie’s has had issues with fires in the past. In November 1994, a grease fire forced diners and residents to evacuate 600 West 116th Street. Then, in April 2014, the restaurant closed again because “pipes needed fixing,” according to employees.
“We wish the landlord gives us a lease so we can stay, we don’t want to leave the community,” Wang said. “We’ve been here so long, like you know, it’s kind of an emotional thing.”