Thursday, July 27, 2017

Free Shakespeare at La Plaza Cultural this weekend

Via the EVG inbox...

This Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. at La Plaza Cultural Community Garden!

WalkUpArts presents "Much Ado About Nothing." Directed and original cut by Matt Engle, with performances by Samantha Cunha, Cassie DeMarco, Anthony Gabriele, Stefanie Harris, Germainne Lebron, Kat Peña, Hallie Samuels, Alexander Stene, Jenna Tanzola, and Chelsea Thiboutout. With costumes by Will Atkins and live music with Philip Santos Schaffer.

Admission is Free!

Given the rainy forecast on Saturday, organizers said they'd move the audience into La Plaza's gazebo area. La Plaza is on the southwest corner of Avenue C and Ninth Street.

Find more details here.

McDonald's loses its golden arches on 1st Avenue

In a dramatic development at McDonald's on First Avenue, a crane crew was on the scene here between Sixth Street and Seventh Street for a signage switcheroo this morning...

As you can see, workers replaced the McDonald's with the stylized yellow "M" of the Golden Arches to...

... a sign that a typographist standing nearby believes is now entirely Helvetica Neue Black...

There was no immediate response from anyone else in the area.

At the new home of the Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo Academy on 2nd Avenue

All photos by Stacie Joy

Earlier last month, the Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo Academy (CHKA) moved from the second floor of 34 Avenue A to its new home at 122 Second Ave.

No. 122 between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place houses the Ukrainian Sports Club, which has a space in the rear of the building. (The Club plans to be here for two more years.) The two-level space arrived on the market last fall, with signage noting retail/restaurant space for rent.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that CHKA, a 20-plus-year-old martial arts school offering classes in Kenpo karate and kickboxing for children and adults, was moving into the space. And not like, say, a gastropub.

I recently stopped by for a quick tour and to talk with Jane Ray, CHKA's program director, about the move. (The studio is owned by Sandra Shamburger. Her husband, Sifu Jack Shamburger, is the Academy's head instructor.)

[Jane Ray]

"We were looking for about a year-and-a half for a new space," Ray said. "We have so many kids from the neighborhood who come here — hundreds of families. And we work with the schools. So staying in the neighborhood was of paramount importance."

On Avenue A, CHKA was simply outgrowing the space.

"Before, we would run three classes side by side. We had sort of an invisible divider," said Ray, an East Village resident. "We were working in 800 square feet — we were bursting at the seams."

CHKA is now spread over two floors. They will eventually have locker rooms with showers and offer early-morning sessions for people who may wish to take a pre-day-job class.

For years CHKA has offered a free self-defense class (aka SMASH CLASS) for women on Tuesday evenings. Ray said that up to 50 participants would show up for a class. They have recently added a session on Thursday evenings ... and, just during the summer, one at 3 p.m. on Sundays.

"The women’s self-defense class is in the process of being incorporated as a not-for-profit entity, so that will help us get grants and funding to grow that program," Ray said. (CHKA also offers scholarship for kids and provides outreach at the Boys' Club of New York and other community groups.)

According to the Commercial Observer, Jerry Lebedowicz purchased 122 Second Ave. for $9.1 million last October. Before him, the Ukrainian Soccer Club owned the property since 1959. The building dates to 1920. There are also two apartments and 2,400 square feet of office space above CHKA.

The landlord will be installing a new façade with floor-to-ceiling windows.

"For a martial arts school, you always want people to see in and what we are doing. We have boxing, kickboxing — the visuals are a great marketing tool," Ray said with a laugh.

[Ray in action]


Saturday afternoon from 2-4, Steve "Nasty" Anderson — considered the greatest sport karate fighter of all time — is hosting a seminar at CHKA. Find details here.

Autumn in New York this summer

[EVG photo from Monday night]

EVG reader Brian Orce asked the Parks Department about the number of dead leaves seen in Tompkins Square Park and elsewhere in the neighborhood this summer.

They responded:

Often in the high summer months, particularly if there has been intense heat waves or drought, you will see some otherwise healthy looking trees with slightly brown or dry-looking leaves. Sometimes leaves fall early due to drought or heat. We have been lucky with rain this summer (so far) so our trees shouldn’t be more stressed than normal. The leaves of London planetrees (our most common species) tend to dry out and brown in midsummer regardless of rain or heat, but there is nothing abnormal about it. You will see London planetree leaves at their best in the late spring, when they are full and green. You can use our Street Tree Map to learn more about NYC’s trees and to report a tree in need of care.

Perhaps this suitably explains why you've been hearing leaf blowers in recent weeks...

Reader report: Cleaning power and a clean up on Cooper Square

[Photo on Cooper Square at Seventh Street from June]

You may have noticed a group of travelers camping out in front of 59 Cooper Square at Seventh Street this summer.

An EVG reader, who works nearby, said that on Monday, the group was gone — "replaced by a cleaning powder. Looked like the church [the First Ukrainian Assembly of God] figured out how to 'clean out' the crusties."

Yesterday morning, someone dumped garbage on the sidewalk where the sleeping bags had been, on top of the cleaning powder ... prompting the reader to wonder if this was an act of retaliation...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

GURGLING TUB ALERT issued for the East River Greenway

If you've been on the East River Greenway near 23rd Street in recent weeks, then you may have noticed a sinkhole forming in the bike lane.

Town & Village first reported on it on July 19.

And now?

Town & Village has an update with the headline of the day/week/month/summer....

Read their report here about what's happening with the gurgling tub.

Meanwhile, on 11th Street...

The M-A-R-T-I-N-A signage is going up at the Roman-inspired pizzeria from Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group... 11th Street at Third Avenue.

Thanks to the tipster for the photo!

[Updated] After 34 years off the Bowery, the Great Jones Café closes tonight

The Great Jones Café, the low-key Cajun-Creole restaurant that opened in 1983, is shutting its doors tonight after service.

Multiple tipsters shared this news (H/T Spike). The initial word passed along from staff to patrons last night is that the lease is up at the restaurant on Great Jones Street just off the Bowery. However, that has not been confirmed and an official reason for a closure hasn't been offered.


Updated: A longtime employee told the Daily News that the Café will close after tonight "for a week of clean-up, and during that break, the 34-year-old institution will decide whether or not they’ll ever open again."


“It’s a possibility, but nothing has been decided yet,” according to one long time employee.


Back in March, Bill Judkins, who had been GM for 26 years (and an employee for longer), was fired.

He told me this in an email in April:

My two partners and I have not seen eye to eye about the direction the restaurant needed move in for a few years now. I’ve been arguing that The Jones is unique and special, one of a vanishing breed (certainly in Manhattan) that is loved and needs to be preserved. They feel that the Jones needs to be changed into something more contemporary to appeal to the “new" neighborhood.

It came to a head this past March 10th, when they forced me out.

Since then, four employees have quit. The jukebox has gone dark. They took the Mardi Gras beads off the bar lamps that they’ve been on for years. They took down the Christmas lights that illuminated the room. I’m not sure what other changes are planned.

I think it has been a special little “joint” for many, many years. It seems a sad way for it to go down.

The jukebox, stocked with the likes of the Flying Burrito Brothers and Howlin’ Wolf that Judkins curated, was typically named on the city's best-of lists. (Judkins removed his records from the jukebox after being fired.)

On my last visit here in April, the jukebox sat unplugged in its usual spot. The bartender had the stereo on behind the bar. (I recall hearing Coldplay and Keane.)

In January 2015, Eater's Robert Sietsema wrote this appreciation of the Great Jones Café:

The website of Great Jones Café mentions that when the place first opened in June, 1983, Great Jones Street was so isolated and desolate that after eating, patrons would often rush outside and indulge in a game of Wiffle Ball uninterrupted by traffic. Nowadays in this bustling, now-upscale Bowery neighborhood, street sports — as well as rents — are impossible. Yet Great Jones Café remains, as much a clubhouse providing reasonably priced meals for the artists, writers, and rock musicians who have lived and labored in the vicinity as it is a place that employs them when the royalty checks dry up.


I had two very enjoyable meals in an atmosphere blessedly quiet and relaxed, even with the jukebox. It made me nostalgic for an era in downtown New York when real estate pressures didn’t dominate everything, when food didn’t always have to be the best and most expensive it could be, when a meal was simply a meal, best consumed among friends.

As an EVG tipster noted, the newcomers in that area now want to go to places like Atla on Lafayette for plates of $12 Brussels Sprouts..

Updated 7/27

WPIX was at the restaurant and filed a report last evening.

A bad sign at Heart of India on 2nd Avenue

The Marshal came calling Monday at Heart of India, 79 Second Ave. between Fourth Street and Fifth Street.

The Indian restaurant remained closed yesterday. (As always in these cases, this doesn't necessarily mean the end for the business.)

Heart of India opened in April 2010.

The address was also once home to the Binibon, where career criminal Jack Henry Abbott stabbed the owner's son-in-law to death in 1981 following an argument about the restroom.

Thanks for the comments. I took the Binibon info from The New York Times:

Weeks later, while eating with friends at the BiniBon, an all-night diner at 79 Second Avenue, Mr. Abbott became confused when Richard Adan, a part-time waiter, refused to let him use the bathroom. Within moments Mr. Abbott lured Mr. Adan outside, stabbed him to death and fled. At a Manhattan civil trial in 1990, the jury awarded Ricci Adan, Mr. Adan's widow, $7.57 million in damages, so Mr. Abbott will not receive a penny for the sales of ''In the Belly of the Beast'' or any other writings. At the trial, where he acted as his own lawyer, he told Mrs. Adan her husband's life was ''not worth a dime.'' Now 56, Mr. Abbott will become eligible for parole in June 2001.

Thanks to EVG reader Jonah Bayer for the tip!

Oh yes the former Caffe Bene storefront is still for rent

In recent weeks the for rent sign was no longer in the front window at 24 St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue, in what was the former Caffe Bene space. A few Former Caffe Bene Watchers wondered if the space had been leased.

However! The sign made its triumphant return this week, as the above photo shows.

Plus! The listing is finally now online at Eastern Consolidated. In case you are curious, the asking rent is $14,000 a month.

Caffe Bene closed back in April after 17 months in business.

Retail rent at 190 Bowery is $2 million a year

The news yesterday was that fashion emporium Totokaelo has signed a lease for 8,918 square feet at the landmarked 190 Bowery.

Totokaelo, which sells designer lines such as Acne Studios and Jil Sander, plans to open a pop-up shop from this fall to March 2018. A rep for owner Aby Rosen’s RFR said that he hoped it would turn into a longterm deal.

Whoever the tenant will be needs deep pockets. According to the Post: "the asking rent for the retail space on the ground floor, mezzanine and basement was $2 million a year." Or roughly $166,000 a month.

Rosen bought the landmarked building from photographer Jay Maisel for a reported $55 million in 2014.


Michelle Alteration & Boutique now open on Avenue C

An alterations/tailoring shop recently opened on Avenue C just north of 10th Street...

... and there's a 50-percent off deal now though Aug. 11...

Photos from July 16

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The blanding of Union Square West

Bloomberg files an article on the escalating rents on Union Square West that are forcing restaurants such as the Blue Water Grill and Republic to close or relocate.

Some passages from the piece...

Rising rents and real estate turnover are hardly new phenomena, but Union Square West, along with other desirable residential areas of New York ... have seen their rents become so prohibitive that most of their restaurants — with the exception of chains, or flagship “loss-leaders” — are forced to move elsewhere.


“When rents go up, it makes the viability of restaurants harder,” said Stephen Sunderland, the senior managing director of Optimal Spaces, a tenant broker in the city. “You have to think of restaurants as artists, or neighborhood pioneers,” he explained. “They come into a neighborhood, it becomes hip, and that’s the source of their demise,” he said. “They create the trends that undo them.”

80 E. 10th Street rises, teases

The broker bunting is up on the sidewalk bridge surrounding the new development on the southeast corner of 10th Street and Fourth Avenue.

As previously reported, a 10-story, retail-residential condoplex is on its way up on the property that was formally a one-level structure of businesses.

The address here is officially 80 E. 10th St. And there is a teaser site up for the 12 condos. Sales are expected to start this fall.

Incoming rendering!

Previously on EV Grieve:
Report: Demo permits filed to raze southeast corner of 4th Avenue and 10th Street

The 'tremendous retail potential' of East 10th Street and 4th Avenue

10 stories of condos in the works for the long-vacant corner of 4th Avenue and East 10th Street

With new building OK'd, corner of 4th Avenue and 10th Street finally ready for razing

98/99 Favor Taste opens on St. Mark's Place

98 Favor Taste is in Grand Opening Mode now at 37 St. Mark's Place at Second Avenue. (They opened on Saturday.)

As noted back in February, 98 Favor Taste is from the operators behind the 99 Favor Taste restaurants, which include locations in Sunset Park and Grand Street.

The restaurants specialize in traditional Korean-style barbecue and Chinese hot pot meals. You can find their menu here.

Upon opening on Grand Street, the Voice gave 99 Favor an enthusiastic review... calling it "a feastly orgy: trays heaped with raw meats and fishes, feathery greens and fungi, boiling and bubbling pots, and popping and sizzling meats top every table. Diners crowd around, heads-down, slurping noodles and soup with chopsticks, only looking up to tend the meat, cooking at arm's distance away."

And as you may recall, the hot pot hotspot went through some signage changes during construction...

[Photo from February by Steven]

These storefronts had been vacant going for nearly five years. Timi's Gelateria Classica™ closed at the end of 2011 in one of the spaces… while Michael "Bao" Huynh's Baoguette Cafe shut down at summer's end in 2012.

The Pourhouse might be in the poorhouse with back rent due in excess of $60k

The Village Pourhouse vacated the premises at 64 Third Ave. at 11th Street back in April after 10-plus years in business.

Over the weekend, the landlord placed some legalese on the front door... giving notice that the establishment owes $65,046.29 in back rent (which includes some legal fees...)

Take a look at the notice... the combined rent (for "store west" and "store east") is more than $30,000 a month.

Meanwhile, the owners of the Ainsworth, an upscale sports bar with multiple NYC locations, have been vying for the space.

Monday, July 24, 2017

This week at the Village East Cinema

[Random City Cinemas Village East marquee shot]

A few screenings to note this week at the Village East Cinema on Second Avenue at 12th Street.

On Wednesday night, its the 50th anniversary of the Oscar-winning "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" with Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn.

On Thursday night, Hedda Lettuce hosts a viewing of "American Gigolo."

Find ticket info here.

The Village East is also showing "Dunkirk" in 70mm.

RIP Neftaly Ramirez

The cyclist who was fatally struck by a garbage truck early Saturday morning in Greenpoint has been identified as Neftaly Ramirez, 27, who lived in East Village, according to published reports.

Ramirez was biking home following his shift at Paulie Gee's, the pizzeria on Greenpoint Avenue.

About the collision, per DNAinfo:

Ramirez was riding on Franklin Street about 12:30 a.m. when the garbage truck driver, heading south on Franklin, turned right on Noble, fatally struck Ramirez, and kept driving, NYPD officials said.

The truck was green and had white and yellow writing on it, police said. Investigators were still trying to find the driver Monday morning, police said.

Authorities said they believe the truck belongs to a private company.

The Daily News talked with several people who knew Ramirez.

“He was such a nice, quiet guy,” said tearful neighbor Emily Yambo, 43.

“He was a good, hard-working person,” the pal said, adding he was loved animals and video games. “They need to find the person that hit him.”


Gothamist talked with Paulie Gee proprietor Paul Giannone about Ramirez:

"He washed dishes for a while and he was engaged to be married and he was very excited about that, and he wanted the opportunity to make more money," Giannone said. "And I just recently had the opportunity to promote him to a bar back, and he was very excited about that. And the staff was very supportive about him, and helped him."

1st LinkNYC kiosk coming to St. Mark's Place

[Photo Saturday by Steven]

There was a ceremonial groundbreaking on Saturday (following the ceremonial sawing down of the pay phones) on St. Mark's Place just west of Second Avenue ... where workers have started the prep work for what will be the first LinkNYC kiosk on St. Mark's Place.

The other pay phones remain up for now on this block between Second Avenue and Third Avenue, where the LinkNYC will sure to be put to good use.

[A Clint Mario special]

Despite LinkNYC's tech advances (Wi-Fi, device charging, access to city services, maps and directions), they do not provide ample space to, say, mix or hold beverages like the pay phones on the block ...


Former San Loco space for rent on 2nd Avenue

[Photo from Friday]

The empty storefront is now on the rental market at 124 Second Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place.

The listing (PDF here) doesn't offer too many specifics on the 800-square-foot space. There isn't any mention of the asking rent... (the first neighboring tenant mentioned is Caffe Bene, which closed in April on St. Mark's Place...)

San Loco closed last month "due to a rent increase that is unsustainable," according to owner Jill Hing. The business opened in this location in 1986.

Polish G. I. Delicatessen has officially closed

[Reader-submitted photo]

Back on Friday, an EVG reader spotted workers removing shelves and equipment from the Polish G. I. Delicatessen on First Avenue between Sixth Street and Seventh Street. With that, it appears the shop is now closed for good.

Eater reported that that the Eastern European specialty foods shop was closing on June 30. However, counterman David Cohen kept the space open for several weeks after that, selling coffee and doughnuts from the mostly empty storefront.

There are two versions of what will happen next with the business.

1) Cohen told Eater that they would be taking a two-month vacation and returning with hopes of opening in a new location. "Nothing is sure, but we'll see what happens," he said. EVG reader DrGecko said the shop would reopen on Ninth Street in September.

2) Multiple readers told us that chef-owner Grace Iwuc was retiring, and closing the shop. The retail listing for the space notes that "the owner is retiring and selling her 10-year lease of $2,600/month." Several readers wondered how a business could find a more reasonable rent in a different locale in the neighborhood.

The Polish G. I. Delicatessen opened in 1996.

H/T Luke A

Previously on EV Grieve:
Report: Polish G. I. Delicatessen is closing at the end of the month

Bonefade Barbers mark arrival on Avenue A

A tipster told us last month that a barber shop is opening at 115 Avenue A between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place.

On Saturday, the coming soon message/skull arrived for Bonefade Barbers.

The space hasn't had a full-time tenant since Alphabets closed here in February 2014 and moved to 64 Avenue A.

Here's Martina

Just a quick post to note that the plywood came down last week outside Martina, the Roman-inspired pizzeria from Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group that's opening next month on 11th Street at Third Avenue...

The previous Martina post (here) had a few more details on the place.

Eventually the space will look like this rendering...

Meanwhile, the corner slot on 11th and Third — the former M2M — still has the plywood treatment while workers carve out the incoming Wagamama.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group planning Martina for 55 3rd Ave.