Maybe it was the student discounts, or the teen-friendly atmosphere? Or it could have been a menu filled with choices like kale salads, organic burgers and lentil soup.
But all Abdul Karim, 17, knew was he liked sitting down for a meal at Novelty Nachos most weekdays after school. It was also a good place to run into classmates he might not see at New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science, where he is a student.
But Karim and many customers like him will need to find a new after-school hangout now that the West 231st Street eatery is gone for good, shuttered by the city marshal last month.
Unfortunately, there just weren’t enough customers visiting that part of Kingsbridge — where West 231st meets Riverdale Avenue — according to former owner Socrates Sellas.
“Because the walk-in traffic is not sufficient over there, it’s very hard to keep a business running like Novelty Nachos,” Sellas said, refusing to elaborate much more beyond that. “My product was very good, but there was not enough traffic.”
A lot of his business came through delivery orders, Sellas said, but even that wasn’t enough.
The location was for known for businesses opening there and soon closing down, said Angelita Suriel. She owns Angela Beauty NY, a hair and make-up salon located on the same street. She also was a customer, eating at Novelty Nachos at least three times a week, and using its menu for events at her salon.
Suriel was happy there was a place practically next door, which provided healthier food choices and welcomed teenagers like her daughter, Penelope.
“With some places, when they see kids coming from school, it’s like ‘I don’t want you here,’ but they were very friendly with them,” Suriel said. “They would make this special menu, like, a little cheaper.”
Novelty Nachos was also popular with Suriel’s customers, who would visit the eatery when finished at her salon.
Karim, who usually ordered a slider or a quesadilla, said the friendly atmosphere and staff made the eatery appealing to students. Also, the food was good and the establishment was always clean and well-maintained.
If the lack of passersby was a contributing factor to Novelty Nachos’ closing, Sellas is not alone. A business without strong foot traffic is one of the primary reasons why they fail, according to Investopedia, a website on investment and financial news.
Even Forbes has a pessimistic outlook, saying 30 percent of businesses don’t succeed in their first two years, and 50 percent fail after five.
Fees from online food order companies might have also chipped into Sellas’ profits. Businesses like GrubHub, which Novelty Nachos was a part of, can charge up to 15 percent for each order.
Novelty Nachos ultimately owed more than $10,000 in back rent, according to court records.
Karim now brings food from home. Suriel now eats at other establishments nearby, but says she still misses the eatery, which was located just two doors down from her salon.
“It was like a blessing for the block,” Suriel said.