Thursday, April 24, 2014

New 7-floor buildings for East 14th Street include 150 residential units

[EVG file photo via Google]

Developers pre-filed plans yesterday for the two new retail-residential buildings that will take up a good chunk of East 14th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B.

As previously reported, Gary Barnett of Extell Development purchased eight parcels — consisting of 222 Avenue A and 504 - 530 E. 14th St. (excluding No. 520) — in a 99-year lease worth $35.14 million. The renderings that accompanied the retail listings for the space look like …

[500 E. 14th St.]

... and this...

[524 E. 14th St.]

We have not seen the final renderings just yet. Paperwork on file with the DOB lists Richard J. Metsky of Beyer Blinder Belle as the architect of record. (The firm's many high-profile projects include the restoration of the Beacon Theater, City Hall and the Chrysler Building, among others.)

Now here are details via the DOB about No. 500:

• 7 stories with 106 dwelling units. In total, the proposed building is 138,388 square feet — 100,349 for residential; 20,039 for retail.

And here are details about No. 538:

• 7 stories with 44 dwelling units. In total, the proposed building is 50,509 square feet — 40,397 for residential; 10,112 for retail.

So that's 150 residential units total in nearly 189,000 square feet of space. For comparison's sake … Douglas Steiner's new residential building waiting for city approval at the former Mary Help of Christians lot boasts 158 apartments in 118,321 square feet. The Steiner project will also contain 22 affordable units.

Previously on EV Grieve:
The disappearing storefronts of East 14th Street

[Updated with correction] 8-lot parcel of East 14th Street primed for new development

East 14th Street corridor now nearly business-free ahead of new development

Here is the future of East 14th Street and Avenue A: 7 stories of residential and retail

City OKs permits to demolish the empty storefronts along this section of East 14th Street

Here is the next new section of East 14th Street

Sidewalk bridge arrives for start of demolition on East 14th Street; last chance for Blarney Cove sign

Miracle on St. Mark's! Sidewalk bridge comes down 6-plus years later!

What a scene late yesterday afternoon on St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue … where workers quickly removed the 6-plus-year-old sidewalk bridge from the south side of the street.

According to the DOB, the city issued the permit for the sidewalk bridge in February 2008. As far as anyone can recall, no work had ever been done on the buildings at 32 or 34 St. Mark's Place.

Among other things, the removal of the sidewalk bridge gives "The Doorshitter" of St. Mark's Place less cover … if he ever decided to return…

Oh, and THAT'S what the front of 2 Bros. looks like…

Previously on EV Grieve:
St. Mark's sidewalk shed celebrates fourth anniversary

Happy 5th Birthday to the sidewalk shed of St. Mark's Place!

Virage is now Bar Virage, which reopened last night

The retooled Virage reopened last night at Second Avenue and East Seventh Street. As you can see the place is now called Bar Virage… to match the name, the space now has a more bar-centric feel — the 20-plus-seat bar is now in the middle of the former dining room …

[Photo from late yesterday afternoon]

And there are changes on Virage's menu as well. While several of the restaurant's Middle-Eastern options (hummus, chicken kebab, etc.) remain, there are expanded offerings … such as lamb sliders with goat cheese, arugula and tomato served alongside fries ($14) and Medi tacos with homemade laffa bread and featuring chicken shawarma, shrimp or skirt steak ($12). The new menus are not online just yet.

The 14-year-old Virage closed for renovations on March 24, as we first reported.

City Council approves smaller sidewalk cafe for The Fourth on 4th Avenue

As previously reported, several nearby residents had concerns about a proposal for a sidewalk cafe with 13 tables and 26 chairs at The Fourth, the ground-floor restaurant located in the Hyatt Union Square.

Community Board 2 issued a denial for the cafe back on March 20, even after reps for The Fourth agreed to 12 tables and 24 seats. Residents wanted the number of tables here reduced to six (with 12 seats) to better fit the space on Fourth Avenue at East 13th Street.

Flashback to our post:

With this application, they are claiming that their diners will sit shoulder to shoulder while pinned against the wall to be in compliance. Even if diners were willing to sit that way (at a very expensive restaurant), would the restaurant then turn away anyone with above average or particularly large shoulders? Of course they would not and it would not even be legal to do so. Even in the best case scenario, it is clear that this cafe, as proposed, will not comply with city regulations. There is simply not enough room for 2 persons to sit side by side on this sidewalk and be in compliance with the law. What they have proposed is impossible.

City Council weighed in on this yesterday ... and the residents were able to get the smaller 12-seat cafe, per their wishes.

"I'm still skeptical as to how they might implement it to be greedy with space," said one resident, who noted that District 2 Councilmember Rosie Mendez was "a helpful mechanism to effect this change."

Previously on EV Grieve:
Concern over a proposed sidewalk cafe for The Fourth on 4th Avenue (20 comments)

No hotel but 6 condos for dormant NoHo building

There's new condo life for that concrete and cinderblock tower on Great Jones and Lafayette. Once conceived as a hotel back in the heady years of 2007-2009, the building has sat dormant for years … while changing ownership and what not.

The Commercial Observer had an update yesterday on 22 Bond Street aka 25 Great Jones Street, noting that developers are transitioning the unfinished building into six condo units.

Here's a look at a rendering…

Find more history of this project at Curbed.

Speaking of history, here's what Great Jones and Lafayette looked like in 1935

Previously on EV Grieve:
Your chance to buy a boutique hotel on Great Jones

At Biomed Drugs & Surgical Supply Co., closing soon on 3rd Avenue

As Biomed Drugs & Surgical Supply Co. continues its going-out-of-business sale at 50 Third Ave. near East 10th Street, Jeremiah Moss pays a visit to the store.

Biomed was one of a dying breed of surgical supply shops, the place to go if you needed a bedpan or a sling or some rubber catheter tubing, a knee brace, a sitz bath, crutches, or a wheelchair.

They still have an impressive selection of podiatry products, including bunion regulators and hammer toe cushions.

High rents did the store in, the cashier told Jeremiah. And what might be next? The cashier figures "a chain, a restaurant or a bar — they're the only ones that can afford the rent."

Previously on EV Grieve:
Biomed Drugs & Surgical Supply Co. closing on 3rd Avenue

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bar Veloce hostage crisis from 2002 is dramatized for TV tonight

[June 2002 via the New York Post]

In June 2002, an unemployed Brooklyn barber named Steven Johnson armed with three pistols, a 30-inch sword and kerosene held 40 patrons hostage at Bar Veloce on Second Avenue. (Read the account of this at the Times right here.) Three people were shot in total.

And this ugly rampage gets a documentary-style re-creation on the Investigation Discovery network tonight at 10. (Channel 23 on Time Warner cable.) Here's the description for this episode of "House of Horrors: Kidnapped" titled "A Madman Walks Into a Bar" —

When a crazed gunman storms into an East Village bar, Ann-Margret Gidley and her friends scramble for a way to escape. Trapped in a back room with no way out, Ann-Margret must summon a strength she didn’t know she had to take down the shooter.

In March 2013, a judge sentenced Johnson to 240 years in prison. In closing, Johnson reportedly told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Daniel FitzGerald, "I'd just like to say, fuck you and suck my dick."

Tonight's sunset

Photo by Bobby Williams

More (TV) crime drama in Tompkins Square Park today

Crews were out early this morning setting up shots for NBC's "The Blacklist" ...

... and a little later, there was some fake FBI action as well as star James Spader (seated in hat and glasses)...

[Photo by Derek Berg]

"The Blacklist" shut down part of the Park last Wednesday as well ... followed by the "Law and Order: SVU" shoot in the Park on Friday. (Plus that Richard Gere film has been doing scenes in the Park...)

Out and About in the East Village

In this weekly feature, East Village-based photographer James Maher provides us with a quick snapshot of someone who lives and/or works in the East Village.

By James Maher
Name: Bill Gerstel
Occupation: Musician
Location: Two Boots Pizza, 3rd Street and Avenue A.
Time: 12:10 pm on Saturday, April 19.

Happy Record Store Day. I got too much. I went to Kim’s and Other Music. I got my fun. I got my one obscure find. Everybody’s looking at all the new releases, the new special releases, of which there are some good ones, but I found this Al Kooper-produced band called Appaloosa that I’ve never heard of. That’s Record Store Day. Also, I’ve been reading the history of Stax Records, so I got Otis Redding’s first album and I got an Elvis Presley recording at Stax.

I grew up in California and I moved here in 1980. I was playing music in California. Van Halen and the Knack were real big then, and Television and the Talking Heads were here, so moving just seemed like a no brainer. I had to be here. I’m a drummer.

When I first arrived, I lived near Christopher Street in the West Village for a bit and then I lived on Gansevoort Street, which was just like meat trucks and hookers and transvestites turning tricks in the middle of the night. I got my first place in the East Village in 1986. I lived on 1st Avenue above Gringer Appliances, which is still there. I think that will always be there because they own the whole building. The owner’s not trying to gouge anybody. He’s not a great landlord but he’s not a horrible landlord either. So I stayed there and I was super of the building for awhile, which meant I just swept floors and hung out for the oil delivery. I really didn’t have to do much. Then we moved to this block in 1997.

I used to have a day job working for a music company putting out a cassette label. I was sort of marketing, promotion, radio distribution and everything. It was very small and for years it was just cassettes. But I haven’t had a day job in 20 years.

I was playing music all over the place. In the East Village, I played at A7, which is now Niagara. It was just a dirty punk club and if they didn’t like you they would sit on the stage. I played Brownies and I was in the band 3 Teens Kill 4 for several years, so we played at the Pyramid Club a lot and did a little touring.

I now play with Emily Duff [The Emily Duff Band]. It’s sort of like Americana, Bluesy, R&B stuff — great songs. I’m also in a cover band in New Jersey and that’s how I make money, because everybody wants to just hear a jukebox; nobody wants to pay for live music. I did a lot of Irish music for years and now I do classic rock covers — Bowie, the Rolling Stones. It’s more fun playing originals, but I don’t mind playing covers.

One of my favorite nights was playing at the Continental … and Johnny Thunders was headlining. We were opening for Johnny. It was a cold, snowy night and so he had a big overcoat on. He was leaving at the end of the night and somebody in the backroom was like, ‘Johnny, Johnny!’ I think they were going to pay him or whatever it was. He was all nervous and running out, and he stopped abruptly and two frozen chickens fell out of his trench coat that he was stealing from the kitchen. He passed on getting paid and just left.

The venues are disappearing in the city but there are a lot in Brooklyn. It’s really hard in the East Village now cause the demographic is changing. It’s crazy. When I first came here, everybody was going to the West Village. I would work over on Bleecker Street and everybody would go there looking for Mary Travers and Bob Dylan, and now everybody comes over here looking for Johnny Thunders. It’s just the lifecycle. It’s inevitable and with rents going up and now property taxes have gone up astronomically. I’m a rocker and I play music, but I’m also a homeowner, so I notice all of that as I grow older. Now we’re just part of the city.

There are things that I don’t miss. I don’t miss the danger of it. I wish it was a little more edgy, but I got mugged a couple times and I’m glad I’m not worrying about that anymore, and I don’t have to step over junkies and my son doesn’t have to step over junkies. Although he did see junkies when he was 6 years old, going, ‘What? How’s that guy doing that?’ It was a great place to have a kid because the parks were nearby and there were lots of kids and lots of people like me around. There were a lot of us that didn’t leave. You can take them to museums or to hear music. He’s seen stuff that he’ll never see anywhere else. My son has got a gig a two. He’s a guitarist and not a drummer, fortunately, so we can play together.

James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.

Former Christodora House gym and (fabled) pool for sale

For years now there has been talk of doing something with the derelict community space in the Christodora House on Avenue B.

There were plans 10 years ago to turn the space into residential units, but the Christodora House board reportedly eventually withdrew the application to receive a zoning variance. (The pool, gym and other adjacent rooms are zoned for community use.)

In any event, the gym and pool area arrived for sale yesterday at Massey Knakal. Here is the listing:

Located on the northeast corner of Avenue B and East 9th Street, the subject property consists of 2 community facility condominium units located on the ground floor and lower level of 143 Avenue B a/k/a the Christodora House. The ground floor unit was a former gymnasium with ceiling heights of approximately 22'. There is a small outdoor terrace to the north and two doors on East 9th Street that have been boarded up. Both doors could be reopened and collectively serve as an exclusive entrance for the two units. The lower level is a former pool and could either be put to use or filled in for an alternative use. The two units have a 501C filing status (Not-for-profit) and are therefore restricted to community facility use only. The building sits directly across from Tompkins Square Park and adjacent to the former Public School 64 which closed a number of years ago and is currently being converted into a mixed-purpose building including dormitories for the Joffrey Ballet School and Cooper Union.

Price: $2.5 million.

For starters, the former PS 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center is NOT "currently being converted into a mixed-purpose building." That is developer Gregg Singer's wish. The city has yet to approve any of those plans.

As for the gym and pool…

Here is the pool as it looked in 1928 … via the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.

… and here are photos that we happened to have of the pool and gym taken much more recently…

Scoopy at The Villager got a look at pool back in 2008. Here's part of his description: "It was 8 feet deep at one end and sloped up from the center to a shallow depth at the other end. From the looks of it, it hadn’t been used for 50 years."

South Brooklyn Pizza is closing … and moving

EVG reader MP spotted this sign last night at South Brooklyn Pizza … apparently the pizzeria, with four locations in Brooklyn, is closing here at the end of this week … and moving to an undisclosed new space.

There isn't any mention yet on South Brooklyn's Facebook page about this new East Village location. (An employee told MP that they were still looking for space.)

Shortly after opening at 122 First Ave. between East Seventh Street and East Eighth Street in April 2010, South Brooklyn Pizza began expanding into the space next door formerly occupied by Ruben's Empanadas. There was a legal battle over this move, which Jeremiah Moss covered here. (It was never easy for South Brooklyn. There was also opposition to the pizzeria's liquor license. And what became of those "Fondle Parties"?)

The expanded dining room opened in August 2012.

Also in August 2012, the company behind South Brooklyn Pizza filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In any event, this will be a lonely stretch of First Avenue … next-door neighbor Kim's is also closing in the months ahead.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Opposition to South Brooklyn Pizza's liquor license

Cocktail specialist Eben Klemm opening King Bee in the former Exchange Alley space

The other day, we wondered if 424 E. Ninth St., where Exchange Alley just closed, was a doomed location.

After all, Exchange Alley, which opened in August 2012, was the latest to give this space a try between Avenue A and First Avenue … where Olivia, Sintir and Zi' Pep all closed in fairly quick succession.

However, there's a already a new suitor lined up to try the space… a sign out front notes that a restaurant by the name of King Bee will appear before next month's CB3/SLA committee for a wine-liquor license... and the applicant is noted mixologist Eben Klemm, the former MIT molecular biologist who created the "aperitif-driven cocktail program" at Pearl & Ash on the Bowery, among may other bars and restaurants.

Meanwhile, outside the former Blarney Cove...

[Photo by Cassandra Gaylor White via Facebook]

Spotted along the plywood near the former Blarney Cove on East 14th Street …

"I have rich parents and I am going to rent your apartment for $6,000 a month just because I can!"

[Photo by Bobby Williams]

Some day, this stretch of East 14th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B will be home to a new luxury retail-residential complex that will look something like this.

That $6,000 should get her a nice 1 bedroom!

Sahara Citi has apparently closed on East 13th Street

A reader noted that the nearly two-year-old hookah bar/Middle Eastern restaurant has closed on East 13th Street between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue … we don't know too much about the place, except that it looked as if it had the ambiance of a bus station.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

EV Grieve Etc.: Mourning Edition

[Giuseppi Logan in Tompkins Square Park yesterday ... photo by Penny Rand]

Is Clinton Street Baking Company expanding into Min's Market space? (BoweryBoogie)

Joey Ramone Birthday Bash returning to Bowery Electric (Brooklyn Vegan)

East Side Stories — The 2014 East Village Theater Festival continues through May 4 (Metropolitan Playhouse)

The Incubator Arts Project decides not to renew its lease at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery (The New York Times)

An interview with Bella Meyer, Marc Chagall's granddaughter and the proprietor of Fleurs Bella on East 11th Street (The Jewish Daily Forward)

An interview with the co-author of “Gentrifier? Who, Me? Interrogating the Gentrifier in the Mirror" (Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)

Here's your Summerstage schedule, including for East River Park (The Lo-Down)

RIP Pearl Paint (Tribeca Trib)

The last L-shaped streets in the city (Scouting New York)

Source: Kim's staff looking for ways to save their store

Yesterday we broke the sad/bad news that Kim's Video & Music is closing at 124 First Ave. There isn't a closing date just yet (word is the store will be around another two months months). For now, there's a sale with up to 30 percent off on all video and music.

Meanwhile, an unnamed source says that a few Kim's staffers are exploring a number of possibilities to keep the store open there or elsewhere in the neighborhood. That's all the source could say at the moment… other than that the employees "feel horrible" about the impending closure.

Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] A really bad sign outside Kim's Video & Music on First Avenue

Life at 438 E. 13th St.

[EVG file photo of 438 E. 13th St. from November 2012]

Back in November 2012, news surfaced about a deal involving 11 walkup apartment buildings in the city, including two in the East Village — 438-440 E. 13th St. and 104 E. Seventh St. Stone Street Properties reportedly bought the properties for $73 million, according to The Real Deal.

We heard from a resident at No. 438 who let us know what life has been like here since the sale. First, the resident says that many longtime tenants were driven out of their units … "and we had to deal with a round of apartment gut renovations last year. But things have really gotten bad in the past two months as they have started another round of gut renovations."

Among the problems: No gas (the resident says that it was turned off on March 20). "We didn't have any heat for extended periods in January and February and a whole list of plumbing/electric/structural issues that have occurred since."

Is there hot water now?

"Yes, we do have hot water at the moment, but you never know from one day to the next. Sometimes we get notices stuck to the door, sometimes not," the resident said. "Depends on what the construction crew is doing. What we do have consistently is construction noise every weekday morning at 8 — with workers ringing all the buzzers to gain access starting at 7:45. This has gone on since the first week of March. Two weeks ago they started at 7 a.m. on a Saturday.

In the resident's opinion, "Stone Street doesn't seem to care at all. They ignore calls and emails on these issues."

"I have lived in the East Village for [20-plus] years and have never dealt with such disregard for tenants," the resident said. "Even the tenants who moved into the renovated 'luxury' units are being screwed."

Previously on EV Grieve:
2 East Village buildings part of $73 million deal

East 2nd Street is home again to a 'Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches'

EVG regular RyanAvenueA pointed out that a Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches just reopened on East Second Street east of Avenue A.


So to quickly recap the recent history here:

Vicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches took over the Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches space on East Second Street nearly three years ago. Vicky's then closed at the end of November.

The folks at the all-new Nicky's said that they are the original Nicky's.

HOWEVER. We later emailed the family who ran the original Nicky's (and who still have two restaurants in NYC). Here's what they had to say:

"No. They are not the original Nicky's. We only have two locations now. One in the Financial District and one in downtown Brooklyn."

A family member said that they are aware of the name use here, but that it was OK.

On closer inspection, the menu for the new Nicky's looks similar to Vicky's…


The new Nicky's!

Previously on EV Grieve:
Nicky's Vietnamese Sandwiches leaving the East Village?

At long last, Brick Lane Curry relocating to Second Avenue

[EVG file photo]

It was almost exactly three years ago that we heard that Brick Lane Curry was going to relocate to 99 Second Ave. between East Sixth Street and East Fifth Street.

Via a sign in the bathroom (!!!) at the East Sixth Street location, Fork in the Road learned that the move will take place in the next three to four weeks.

Per FITR: "The curries and tandoor oven will make the move, too — and you'll still be able to get phaal, one of the hottest dishes in the city."

And this Second Avenue space is huge at 7,000-square-feet and three levels.

Previously, the address was home to Sea Salt, the short-lived fish place that remained intact for several years after closing.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Brick Lane Curry House still planning Second Avenue expansion

World's largest Brick Lane Curry House slated for 99 Second Avenue

Someone vandalized the entryway to Boukiés

Someone slashed the winterized entryway into the now-shuttered Boukiés on East Second Street at Second Avenue …

Boukiés closed last month. A "farm-to-table Mexican" restaurant is in the works for the space now.

Photos by EVG contributor Derek Berg.

Monday, April 21, 2014

[Updated] A really bad sign outside Kim's Video & Music on First Avenue

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. EVG regular William Klayer spotted a store closing banner outside Kim's on 124 First Ave. this morning.

There isn't any mention of a closure yet on their website, Facebook or Twitter accounts. We'll see if we can get more info about what is happening here.

It's the latest/last blow for the mini chain of stores specializing in experimental, foreign and independent movies and music.

The Kim's Video that you loved to hate/or hated to love on Avenue A closed in 2004. The Kim's on Bleecker Street became a Duane Reade in 2006. Mondo Kim's closed on St. Mark's Place in December 2008.

This remaining location, with its esoteric DVD collection, opened in 2009.

In September 2012, there were published reports that proprietor Yongman Kim was going to open an "interactive pizzeria" in the new Arabella building on Avenue D. We haven't heard a thing about this since then.

Updated 1:51 p.m.

Kim's posted a message on the store's Facebook page, noting that despite a successful Record Store Day this past Saturday, "sadly we will be closing our store on 1st Ave. No closing date yet but 30% off ALL VIDEO and MUSIC. (all formats and NRs as well)."

The hawk egg watch continues at the Christodora House

[Photo by Francois Portmann]

Here are two of the most recent photos of the eggs belonging to the hawk couple (Christo and Dora for now) of Tompkins Square Park. They're up on the East Ninth Street side of the Christodora House … at Avenue B…


These photos are courtesy of photographer Francois Portmann … find more egg photos right here.

And, as always, head over to Goggla's Gog in NYC site for the pair's latest adventures.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Red-tailed hawks nest on the Christodora House

The hawks of Tompkins Square Park have laid an egg at the Christodora House

More eggsciting hawk news from the Christodora House

Real-estate offices invade the boutique-filled block of East 9th Street

There are two newcomers to the boutique-filled block of East Ninth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue… given the rising rents, makes sense that we'd find two real-estate offices opening shop along here…

Universal Realty Group takes over the space left behind by Azure, the skin care and laser center and thrift shop… And up the block is Next Step Realty …

According to the Next Step website: "The Next Step Realty finds apartments for recent college graduates relocating to Manhattan."

In new non-real-estate businesses on the block … Honest Chops, billed as "the first all-natural halal meat store in Manhattan," recently opened… and VERA MEAT has launched a second shop at No. 305.

'Farm-to-table Mexican' coming to former Boukiés space

The Boukiés space on Second Avenue at East Second Street won't be empty for too long.

The Times reported last week that Vicki Freeman, Marc Meyer and Chris Paraskevaides, who own Cookshop, Hundred Acres and Five Points, will convert the corner space into a Mexican restaurant.

Said Freeman: "I’m calling it farm-to-table Mexican."

The Greek-themed Boukiés closed in March after a two-year run. In April 2013, owner Christos Valtzoglos sued the State Liquor Authority over an "illegal agreement" with Community Board 3. Boukiés only had a beer-wine license. Perhaps the new owners will somehow be able to secure a full liquor license.

Speaking of Mexican food, the Black Ant is getting ready to open just one block away… on the east side of Second Avenue north of Third Street…

The owners of Ofrenda in the West Village are behind Black Ant, which is billing itself this way: "Innovative Mexican cuisine & cocktail bar."

Previously on EV Grieve:
Boukiés has 'permanently closed' on Second Avenue

Team behind Ofrenda bringing Black Ant to the East Village

H/T Eater

Avenue C 'residents with children' not happy with Babel Lounge

We spotted this sign on Saturday over at Babel Lounge and Hookah Bar on Avenue C near east Eighth Street…

"Your club will be shut down if you continue to disturb the peace of this neighborhood."

Ave. C residents with children

Babel doubled in size recently when it took over the late Duke's spot next door.

That's apparently it for Exchange Alley; is 424 E. 9th St. a doomed restaurant location?

Last Monday, we noted that Exchange Alley on East Ninth Street had not been open for the past week or so. Everything was still in place inside. It looked like a working restaurant.

In recent days, we noticed that the space had been cleared out … and paper is now hanging in the front windows. The phone is no longer in service either.

Perhaps we can say that this is a jinxed/doomed location for a restaurant? Exchange Alley, which opened in August 2012, was the latest to give this space a try between Avenue A and First Avenue … where Olivia, Sintir and Zi' Pep all closed in fairly quick succession.

As Eater put it, "Exchange Alley opened to some decent buzz, but most of the big critics skipped the restaurant, and the hype quickly died down."

Huertas officially opens this week on First Avenue

We've been watching the progress over at 107 First Ave. between East Sixth Street and East Seventh Street, where Huertas, a restaurant featuring "the cuisine of Northern Spain," is set to debut.

Fork in the Road reports that chef-owner Jonah Miller will officially open the doors tomorrow evening (they've been in soft-open mode since last Tuesday).

Here's more about Miller, who started working in restaurants in the city at age 14, via FITR:

Miller's inspiration comes from a variety of experiences. "When I was coming up, it was a time when Spain was influencing cooking throughout the world," he says. "That and the fact that Spanish was spoken in kitchens made me want to study abroad in Spain in college. When I was there, I realized the experience of eating in Madrid is not really available in New York."

So he built it, giving an East Village space a revamp to make it feel old — "We want people to feel like they've been here before," he explains …

This address was previously home to L'asso EV, the pizzeria that closed in July 2013.

Here's is the restaurant's website with more info and menus and stuff.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Huertas, opening this spring on First Avenue

Twist-ing the night away, though it's no longer self-serve

Several readers pointed out that Twist was open for business this past weekend on Avenue A… Some folks put the place up for dead, as the fro-yo shop between East Fifth Street and East Fourth Street had not been open much during the past 3-4 months…

But! It is open… with a new look … and the the place is no longer self-serve. Someone will serve it for you. (Gelato is also on the menu.)

Twist opened last September.

Meanwhile, unlike Twist, Twister on Second Avenue is officially closed.