East Village Noodle Bar Owner Opening ‘Tang Hotpot’ at 135 Bowery

The saga of 135 Bowery is entering its next chapter.

Already established as a tech incubator of sorts in the year-and-change since Caspi Development took control, the ground level of this former flashpoint property had remained bereft of permanent occupancy. Aside from a handful of pop-up establishments (e.g. Nike), it remained largely dormant with perennial window paper. That changed last week with the arrival of the token sidewalk shed and the revelation of the new tenant.

Yu Li, proprietor of the nine-month-old “contemporary noodle bar” on First Avenue, The Tang, plans on joining the Bowery scene. His Tang Hotpot spot (as in the Tang Dynasty) is a loose spinoff of the East Village location.

“We are building a contemporary Chinese Hotpot restaurant that specializes in Szechuan Hotpot, the spicy one!,” Li told us in an email. “We aim to provide a authentic food experience top with a high end dining environment that will transform the existing loft to a beautiful Modern Chinese style design.”

The Department of Buildings issued permits to construct the new restaurant, and also for the exterior venting system. Opening is slated for sometime in August.

Caspi Development acquired the rebuilt property for $16.2 million in October 2015, and is betting big that this nook of the Bowery becomes a high-tech sibling of Astor Place (don’t call it Midtown South). The previous owner, First International Bank, initially intended to use much of the new seven-story replacement for its offices, as well as “affordable” office space for local small businesses. However, that didn’t happen. Councilwoman Chin proved turncoat, flip-flopping on her initial landmark backing, and allowing the bank to both back out and sell out. She argued this was needed to help Chinatown’s “economic recovery.”

Caspi also received permits to overturn the “community facility” use initially baked into its Certificate of Occupancy. Instead, it hopes to convert this third-floor use into additional office space.