Why’s the UWS Suddenly the Place for Spinoff Restaurants?

Ditch Plains UWS.
Ditch Plains UWS. Photo: Melissa Hom

As mentioned earlier today, Five Guys is opening a location at Broadway and 110th Street on the Upper West Side — and that’s not the only popular restaurant expanding to the hood. Yesterday DNA Info reported that UES Mex spot Cascabel will open a second outpost at Broadway and 108th in April or May, which will follow the recent UWS openings of Ditch Plains, Luke’s Lobster, and Tarallucci e Vino. Not long ago, even noodle specialist Xi’an Famous Foods was said to be eyeing the Columbia University area. What’s going on here? Is rent simply cheaper uptown, do affordable foods like tacos and lobster rolls do well with the area’s student population, or is it, as food writer Laura Weiss suggested to DNA Info, that, “Instead of going to Teaneck, [restaurateurs] go to the closest ‘burb, the Upper West Side”? If that’s the case, what does it say about all the expansions to Williamsburg?