What was once a Blockbuster Video at 1456 First Ave., between 74th and 75th street, encouraging people to head to their couches, is now 4,200-square-foot yoga studio, encouraging people of all ages to move around.
The House of Jai Yoga Studio, had its soft opening last week and will start its full schedule this week with Vinyasa classes — where poses flow from one to the other — plus special classes targeting a wide audience, including prenatal and postnatal yoga, yoga for kids and teens and even chair yoga for seniors.
"We'll have a little something for everyone," said teacher and co-founder Molly Lehman. "To take a class downstairs at the same time that your mom is taking a class upstairs is pretty neat."
Lehman met the other Jai founders — Meg Carlough and the mother/daughter team of Jeri and Erin Fogel — four years ago at a yoga retreat, and they've been visualizing their own studio ever since, Lehman said.
Though there will be a focus on the "gym" side of yoga, Lehman emphasized there will also be a focus on yoga's spiritual side, noting, for instance, that the beloved master teacher Sri Dharma Mittra would be coming on May 6 to offer a blessing.
"We are really offering inspiration and spiritual development," Lehman said. "I think that's a missing piece on the Upper East Side."
The popular card and paper store, Papyrus, opened its 17th Manhattan location last month in an 1,100-square-foot spot at 1285 First Ave., near East 69th Street, where it will also carry high-end bags, jewelry and gifts, company officials said. The company starting moving into the fashion world recently, with moves that included a partnership with "Project Runway” alum Rami Kashou and his wearable dresses, which inspired a line of 3D greeting cards. Kashou is designing more dresses to be unveiled at shops this spring and summer, officials said.
The L.A. cult favorite Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf opened last month at 1469 Third Ave., at East 83rd Street, bringing its popular sugar-free iced coffee drinks that are a hit with fashionistas working out across the street at SoulCycle and the new young mom's group that was hanging out there after its opening. Co-founder Doug Soclof added a new green twist for the Upper East Side location, bringing lockers to the shop where regulars can store their personal coffee mugs, which will be cleaned by the shops staff.
"We look to be part of a community," co-owner Doug Soclof said. "We want to be people's home away from home or office away from the office."
Speaking of SoulCycle, the spin studio is planning to more than double the space of its location at 1470 Third Ave., between East 83 and 84 streets. The expansion, gearing up for a Memorial Day opening, will transform the existing 1,480-square-foot space, which opened in 2009 into 3,425 square feet with two new studios. The popular spin company is also opening a second Upper East Side branch in the fall at the former Barbizon hotel with 63 stationary bikes at 140 E. 63rd St.
The televisions are dark and the red-and-white checkered table cloths are gone from the Third Avenue branch of the fratty fave Brother Jimmy's. The barbecue joint known for its cheap pitchers of beer and huge fishbowl drinks has closed after more than a decade in that location, where it long attracted legions of fantasy sports league drafts. A sign hanging at 1644 Third Ave., at East 92nd Street, said, "Thanks for all the memories. The party will continue at the rest of our NYC locations." It also offered a 20 percent discount for patrons with a picture of this sign, who show it at the Brother Jimmy's at Second Avenue near East 77th Street. Repeated calls to the company for comment went unreturned.
Madison Avenue is getting two more Parisian labels. Sandro is coming to 980 Madison Avenue, according its website. Its sister store, Maje, is also coming to the famed avenue, according to Racked.com, which also reported that Monique Lhuillier, the much sought-after designer of luxurious wedding dresses, will be opening on East 71st Street between Madison and Fifth Avenues this summer.
On Third Avenue, which recently gained an Anthropologie at East 72nd Street and is soon getting a Pier 1 at East 65th Street, Elijah Peters Optique recently signed a lease at 1039 Third Ave., between East 61st and 62nd streets, according to the leasing and sales team of Faith Hope Consolo and Joseph Aquino, part of Prudential Douglas Elliman's Retail Group. The boutique, which will carry such brands as Gucci, Chanel and Dior, is the shop's first U.S. flagship.
"Our goal was to reposition this entire block as a shopping destination," Aquino said, noting leases they arranged for Arche, Kusmi Tea and Variazioni. "In little over a year, we have successfully turned it into a virtual extension of the Bloomingdale's shopping corridor with a wide variety of retail and non-stop foot traffic."
Roosevelt Island's Main Street is about to get an infusion of new life in late summer with Island Spirits, a wine and liquor store; the European Bakery Café, offering gourmet foods; a Subway Sandwich branch; and a 7,000-square-foot fine arts center being opened by the Child School, complementing the program's art, music and dance studios. The Hudson and Related companies took over the master lease last year for the strip's 34 retail spaces and are trying to bring much needed stores to the two-mile island.