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Photograph: Ruvan Wijesooriya

This new downtown speakeasy is hidden in the back of a bodega

By
Collier Sutter
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Ever been at a cocktail bar and wished you could get your hands on some late-night Hot Cheetos or a gourmet sandwich without heading back out into the cold? Well, here’s your new downtown haunt.

The Little Shop, one part bodega and one part speakeasy, just arrived this winter at South Street Seaport to feed downtowners a stacked sandwich at midnight after a good cocktail. It's also hoping to be the nabes' go-to shop for necessities and sundries on the fly.

Upon walking in, the mini grocer feels like a nostalgic New York deli with a modern spin. Coffee is a buck fifty and there are plenty of throwback snacks and cult junk food lining the wall like Fruit by the Foot and Haribo. However, you can also order pricier items like rose toner spray, Oatly ice cream or a prosciutto, fig and goat cheese sandwich. They sell a large selection of children's toys if you're looking to pick up a last-minute gift or two.

Photograph: Ruvan Wijesooriya

  Past the cleaning supplies aisle of this mom-and-pop convenience store, you’ll spot an eye-catching room with floral wallpaper. (Psst: It’s the not-so-secret speakeasy.) Luckily, there’s no special password or hidden door so you don’t have to feel like a huge dork trying to find it.

Photograph: Ruvan Wijesooriya

The room is filled with vintage furniture, including an animal print chair and a purple couch with plush pink pillows. “We decorated ourselves!” says Anna Bazhenova, co-founder of Little Shop along with Philippe Boujnah, who both came from a fashion ad agency prior, before calling it quits for their dreamed-up grocer/speakeasy concept. “It was a true labor of love. Philippe and I, along with our spouses, spent weekends during the summer with a huge U-Haul going to flea markets and collecting each sofa and tea-cup one by one. I still don't walk by a single yard sale in the city without leaving with at least five vintage plates!”

The speakeasy-style bar has a separate menu than the bodega counter, with offerings like vegetable empanadas, duck dumplings, torched shishito peppers, tomato soup, whitefish dip among others. There’s a variety of refreshing cocktails to choose from like “Turmeric,” “Celery,” “Tamarind” “Strawberry” “Celery” and “Ginger,” each simply named after their main ingredient. There’s also a “Double Hot Chocolate” made with ancho infused coconut milk and more classic picks like an “Aged Old Fashion” with bitters or “Pisco Sour” with egg whites. You can order up beer, wine and sake too.

The best part? The whole bar-in-the-back-of-a-bodega concept wasn’t really even planned. “Originally, the idea was to just open a small shop with affordable coffee and interesting sundries. When we got to planning with our architect, we realized we had room to have some fun, which is where the idea of a bar came in,” Bazhenova told us. “I always feel like I'm leaving cocktail bars and then running to bodegas for those late-night Hot Cheetos!”

The Little Shop is living at 252 Front Street. The bodega front is open Monday to Friday from 7:30am to midnight (1am on Fridays) and Saturday to Sunday 8:30am to 1am (midnight on Sundays). Meanwhile, the back bar is open Sunday to Thursday from 5pm to midnight and Friday to Saturday 5pm to 1am.

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