UES Corner To Be Restored With Planned 'Cozy, Inviting' Cafe

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — An Upper East Side corner is returning to its cafe-bakery roots.

After the closures of three business this fall at 1477 Second Ave. at the corner of East 77th Street — Zazzy’s Pizza, Nook Room and cafe Innocent Yesterday’s — Patch has learned that the formerly subdivided spaces will be restored to their pre-2020 status as a sprawling cafe and bakery.

While the space has yet to be named or formally announced, Patch spoke with one of the owners about their plans to give Upper East Siders a bit of breathing room.

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“We’re going for something that is cozy and inviting,” said Misha Punwani, 29, “that’s our primary goal.”

Prior to its closure in 2020, the large, undivided space was the longtime home to a location of the once but now slightly less ubiquitous cafe-bakery chain, Le Pain Quotidien.

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Punwani, along with co-owner and father, Raj, want the space to be a welcoming sit-down cafe that can be just as easily a third place for meeting up with friends or for finishing up your homework, something she said they “felt the Upper East Side needed.”

“We want it to be an oasis for everyone at all times of day,” Punwani told Patch.

For refreshments, the cafe will offer coffee, “the best lattes,” according to Punwani, brunch, gelato and an assortment of fresh baked goods made on-site, including pastries, cookies and pies.

This isn’t the first business venture for this father-daughter team.
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The pair and business team currently run nearly 15 franchises of the popular bowl and smoothie shop, Playa Bowls, with at least six location in New York City.

One of their franchises is on the very same block as their future unnamed bakery cafe, making the family duo already very familiar with the neighborhood and the comings and goings on Second Avenue.

When the Queens born and raised Punwani graduated college from Stony Brook, she initially began a career in marketing, but soon found herself going into business with her dad, who was working in the corporate side of things at Playa Bowls at the time and had previously run his own smoothie shops.

As her father began to talk about finally opening his own franchise location on Wall Street in 2019, she started pitching marketing ideas.

Before she knew it, the two were full-on business partners.

“It came together really organically,” Punwani said. “One thing let to another and few years later, we have 14 locations.”

The idea for a new non-Playa Bowl venture just came from chatting with her dad about new ideas, Punwani said.

“We’re always talking shop,” she said. “It just kind of came up and we saw an opportunity.”

Punwani says she and her pops have already lined up their team for the new Upper East Side cafe and bakery, with a goal of opening sometime in January.

But that’s not all the family has in store.

Once the Upper East Side spot is up and running, the father-daughter team will open up a similar cafe-bakery across the park at 2321 Broadway, on the corner of West 84th Street, which Punwani said they hope to open within the next six months.

“We’re really excited to share this with the community,” Punwani said.

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