Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mob scene on 10th Street as 'Gotti' crew and John Travolta hold forth

Crews and classic Cadillacs were out today on 10th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A to film scenes for "The Life and Death of John Gotti," a biopic on the crime boss and his son. EVG regular Daniel shared these photos...

John Travolta, seen below, is in the title role... the cast includes Kelly Preston and Stacy Keach... "Entourage" star Kevin Connolly directs the film that Lionsgate is releasing later this year...

If this helps...

Some more cast members ... or some employees of landlords...

9th Precinct hosting blood drive in honor of rookie officer who died on Feb. 1

The 9th Precinct is hosting a blood drive tomorrow at the station house on Ninth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue. (Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)

As Bedford + Bowery noted, the blood drive is in honor of Bianca Bennett. The off-duty rookie officer died in a car crash driven by a fellow cop in the Bronx on Feb. 1. Bennett, 27, had been stationed at the 9th Precinct.

Ost Cafe closes on Sunday

The rumors you may have heard in recent days are true: Ost Cafe on Avenue A at 12th Street is closing its doors on Sunday at 5 p.m.

Here's the message from ownership on the Ost Facebook page:

It has been a good run. We love being part of the neighborhood, and part of all of your lives.

Unfortunately, our little corner of 12th St and Ave. A has become too expensive to stay open any longer. The East Village (the commoditized version of it that is controlled by the Real Estate industry) is moving on up, and they seem to have forgotten to set any place at the table for small businesses. The City of New York is complicit in this change, cheering from the sidelines for more, bigger, taller, and pocketing the tax revenue. Alas.

Short of charging $10 a cup, we can no longer make ends meet selling just coffee and wine, and options are limited. “Ost Café and 24-Hour Vape Shop Emporium” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

We will close the doors on Sunday at 5PM for the last time. Stop by and say hello in the next few days, and thank you for making the past 9 years such a wonderful experience. Our Lower East Side location on Grand St is going strong, and we will always call this community home.

The cafe opened here in December 2008.

Out and About in the East Village

In this ongoing 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: Delphine Blue
Occupation: Radio Host, DJ, Pilates Instructor
Location: St. Marks Place between 1st and 2nd
Date: Thursday, Feb. 2 at 1:45 pm

Read part 1 of the interview with Delphine, a Queens native, here

When the Ritz was opening where Webster Hall is, they had an ad in the SoHo Weekly News, and it said that they were starting a dance company and they were choreographing rock music. I thought that’s the company I need to be in, so I went to the audition. The dance company thing lasted for 3 seconds but Jerry Brandt who owned the Ritz, was there. I said to Jerry, ‘I’m a DJ,’ and he said to me, ‘I’ll give you any job you want here but you can’t be the DJ.’ He said I could be the waitress.

I had never been a waitress, so opening night I tried to carry 12 Heinekens on a tray, which is impossible but I didn’t know that because I wasn’t a waitress. The place was packed because it was opening night. I dropped all the beers and I just put the tray down and started dancing. He said to me, ‘Ok, you can answer the phone in the office.’ So I did that and then I started putting together the VIP list, which was totally fun. But all the time I wanted to be the DJ. So after a few months they gave me Monday Nights. I worked there for five years and I eventually started working in all the other clubs from 1979 to 1983 or 1984. Danceteria, it was so fun.

I always loved the Cure from the get-go. They were my favorite band, and they’re still my favorite band. I also loved the B-52s, Gang of Four, The Police, The Knack, The Records, The Pretenders, Elvis Costello and Marianne Faithfull. One of my favorite nights ... was when Tina Turner played. This was probably the most exciting night. She played and after the show I was in the VIP room and David Bowie was there. I said to my friend, ‘I wish I could kiss him,’ and he heard me and spun around and kissed me on the lips. I think I fainted. That’s my big Bowie story.

Meanwhile, I also wanted to be on the radio, so I went to WNEW, which was the cool station and I just stood outside the door. Vin Scelsa came out and I said, ‘I really want to be on the radio. I really want to be a DJ,’ and he hit on me. I was so crestfallen, because I was so sincere and earnest.

Meanwhile. I got hired to work at WLIR, which was a modern rock station. Then in like 1985-86, everybody started listening to these stupid big hair bands like Poison. Everyone started going in that metal direction and I just couldn’t get with it. So I got fired from WLIR and I started my own show on WBAI. I forged a place for myself and developed a reputation based on playing music that you didn’t hear on the radio.

In 2000, I started working at WFUV, then I got hired at Sirius, and then at the same time East Village Radio started. East Village Radio just blew up, and it was so fun being in that DJ booth in that window. I loved that station, but then they crashed and burned and WBAI became a frightening caricature of itself and started to fail, so I left there.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this I got hired to be on, which was the most despised FM radio station, but it didn’t matter because it was the No. 1 market in New York. I was on afternoon drive so I had gone to the mountaintop. That’s it — I did it. I got to speak 30 seconds twice and hour in a three-hour shift, and I made more money than I had ever made in my life. We’re talking basically three minutes in three hours. It was ridiculous. I would say nothing, nothing. Then they changed the format one day without telling me and I lost my job.

I got scared and lost sleep, and then I decided to become a Pilates teacher. I got certified, which was really hard to learn something totally new. I still do radio and DJing too so I’m happier now. A little while later one of the guys who had been on EVR, my friend Steve Dima, called me and he and a couple people were starting a radio station at the South Street Seaport called Little Water Radio. So now I’m an owner-operator. Four of us started the station and we’re having a blast.

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

Residents and community groups to rally 'to end construction as harassment'

Via the EVG inbox...

More than 100 tenants, along with 25 community organizations, legal advocates and elected officials, will rally at City Hall on Thursday, Feb. 23, to urge that the City Council take action to stop “construction as harassment.”

Aggressive landlords frequently use dangerous construction work in residential buildings to harass rent-regulated tenants. The rally, organized by Stand for Tenant Safety Coalition, will call for the Council to pass 12 bills to help end the harassment and strengthen tenant rights.

Many unscrupulous landlords use dangerous or negligent construction to harass tenants out of rent-regulated apartments. When landlords successfully evict, displace, or harass out rent stabilized tenants, their apartments can be leased at a much higher rent to the next tenant, adding to the loss of affordable housing in New York City.

During the rally, tenants and advocates will share their personal, real-life stories and discuss the impact of dangerous construction. Tenants and advocates also will share information about the legislation awaiting Council approval.

Tenants, community groups and local elected officials have accused several landlords with properties in the East Village of employing "construction as harassment" tactics, including Icon Realty ... Raphael Toledano ... Jared Kushner ... Steve Croman ... and Ben Shaoul.

The rally takes place tomorrow from 11 a.m. to noon at City Hall.

Chi Ken, the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Store, coming to St. Mark's Place

Two weeks ago, we noted that Clay Pot, serving "traditional Hong Kong style open-flame cooked clay pot rice," is coming to 58 St. Mark's Place between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

On Monday, signage arrived for a new restaurant arriving in the open space on the west side of the building — Chi Ken, the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Store...

A Chi Ken location opened in Sunset Park last summer...

Chi Ken sells a variety of quick-serve items, including milk tea, popcorn chicken and Crazy Jumbo Squid "that's bigger than your face." You can find the Chi Ken website here.

And here's a feature on the shop from last summer...

Hakata Hot Pot and Sushi Lounge closed here at the end of February 2016. (Hakata Hot Pot combined with sister restaurant Zen 6 the next block to the west at 31 St. Mark's Place.)

Natori closed at this address in November 2012.

Line check at Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan had its soft opening back in December... and the lines immediately started at the Hong Kong-based, Michelin-starred dim sum parlor on Fourth Avenue at 10th Street.

The restaurant, the first in the United States for the brand, had its grand opening on Jan. 18, expanding the hours of operation in the process. So did that do anything to help reduce the crowds...?

No, at least on the weekends.

Here's a look at the line Saturday morning around 10 (they open at 10:30)...

[Photo by Steven]

... and Sunday at 9 a.m. ...

[Photo by EVG reader JG]

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gutting the former M2M on 3rd Avenue

In case you missed our post from the holiday weekend ... M2M has closed at 55 Third Ave. after 15 years in business here at the corner of 11th Street.

However! The Asian-specialty story will return, eventually occupying some of the long-empty storefronts on Third Avenue and Ninth Street later this year. (For now, M2M is open at their location on Waverly Place.)

As for No. 55, workers are already gutting the space...

[Photo today by William Klayer]

Wagamama will be building out the space for an outpost of the London-based chain of Japanese restaurants.

Previously on EV Grieve:
M2M has closed for now on 3rd Avenue; new storefront coming 2 blocks away

Reader report: M2M to move; Wagamama on the way


Squirrels in Tompkins Square Park continue trying to be cute... photo by Steven

Love Shine is closing shop on 6th Street and moving online

[Image via Facebook]

After 20 years at 543 E. Sixth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, Love Shine is closing up shop at the end of March, moving to an online-only operation.

Owner Mark Seamon, a visual artist and former chef, officially launched his business in 1996. He opened the storefront and studio the next year to sell his line of handmade bags, accessories and gifts.

We reached out to Seamon for more on the upcoming closure.

"Our lease is expiring at the end of March. The best deal we could negotiate with our landlord was a 25-percent increase with additional yearly increases," he said via email. "While we absolutely love our location, and live right down the block, the foot traffic isn't really the best for a retail store. We couldn't afford to move to an avenue and now we can't afford to stay here."

He continued: "When we first opened in 1997 it was possible to open a mom-and-pop shop in the East Village because the overhead was low and the neighborhood was filled with creative people, artists and designers. There was a large availability of affordable spaces to rent. I really think the development of the neighborhood, change in demographics, along with the enormous rents and the rise in online shopping, have made it really difficult to sustain a small retail shop."

Despite the changes, he doesn't have any plans to move away.

"The positive news is the East Village has always been our home," he said. "Our studio/workshop will be in the hood. We have our own unique line of bags and designs, and while we continue to invest in our online shop, we hope to be able to maintain a presence here at local craft fairs and markets and possible some other local stores."

You can follow Love Shine on Pinterest ... Facebook ... and Instagram.

VeryThai coming to Avenue B

Signage is up for VeryThai at 186 Avenue B between 11th Street and 12th Street.

We have very little information about the new restaurant at the moment. They were pre-approved for a beer-wine license during this month's CB3-SLA meeting. The application (PDF) on file for that committee meeting shows daily hours of 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The restaurant will have nine tables seating 29 people.

It appears that VeryThai will not be using the garden space that the previous tenant, Barbone, had. The low-key Italian restaurant closed after 10 years last June when landlord Steve Croman reportedly wouldn't renew the lease.

[Updated] Foreclosure notice arrives on Raphael Toledano-owned building on 12th Street

[Click for more detail]

A tipster shared the above photo... a foreclosure notice arrived yesterday on the door of 514 E. 12th St., one of the East Village properties owned by Raphael Toledano.

Earlier this month, Madison Realty Capital reportedly moved to foreclose on one of Toledano’s major EV portfolios, 15 buildings total, sources told The Real Deal.

From that article published Feb. 6:

Just three days before Madison filed to foreclose on the buildings, sources said Joseph Sutton, son of retail mogul Jeff Sutton, signed a hard contract to buy the buildings from Toledano for about $145 million.

Madison, according to documents filed in New York State Supreme Court late last week, claims Toledano, the founder of Brookhill Properties, owes the firm about $140 million, which includes $125 million in loans against 15 properties, plus interest and attorneys’ fees.

Sources close to Toledano said that after he defaulted last year, Madison waited months to initiate foreclosure proceedings, allowing time for him to find a buyer for the properties.

The address on the foreclosure notice matches that of Madison Realty Capital.

The notice reads in part:

The dwelling where your apartment is located is the subject of a foreclosure proceeding. If you have a lease, are not the owner of the residence, and the lease requires payment of rent that at the time it was entered into was not substantially less than the fair market rent for the property, you may be entitled to remain in occupancy for the remainder of your lease term.


All rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants are protected under the rent regulations with respect to eviction and lease renewals. These rights are unaffected by a building entering foreclosure status.

It's not known at the moment how many other Toledano properties received similar foreclosure notices.

The Toledano-owned 97 Second Ave. will be auctioned off next week.

Toledano purchased 28 buildings in two separate portfolios from the Tabak family for a total of $140 million in the fall of 2015. Toledano has been accused of a variety of predatory practices. In addition, 20 of his buildings were tested for toxic levels of dust.

Updated 1 p.m.

A resident said that that packets of foreclosure legalese arrived on the doorstep outside one of Toledano's building on Fifth Street...

Former Dahlia's Tapas Wine Bar space for lease on 9th Street

[Photo by Steven]

The for lease sign has arrived at the former Dahlia's Tapas Wine Bar on Ninth Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue.

The restaurant quietly shut down in December.

The owners also operated Dahlia’s, the Mexican restaurant on Second Avenue and Fifth Street that the SLA busted for allegedly serving 50 minors in January 2016. The restaurant closed in May. The owners tried again with 100% Healthy Blend (or maybe just Healthy Blend) in the space last September. They closed after three months. That space is also on the rental market.

Full views of the zinc-clad 347 Bowery

Workers have removed the construction netting from the Annabelle Selldorf-designed 347 Bowery ... allowing for full views of the 13-story luxury building with the zinc panels at Third Street ...

As previously noted, the building will feature five stacked town homes: "The four duplex units and penthouse triplex each have a central spiraling staircase and suspended catwalk which overlooks the main living space and provides a separation between the master and secondary bedrooms."

According to Streeteasy, two of the units are in contract with three left for sale.

The homes will sit atop a two-story commercial base.

No. 347 was previously the Salvation Army's East Village Residence.

Previously on EV Grieve:
The Salvation Army's former East Village Residence will be demolished on the Bowery

Whatever happened to that really ugly hotel planned for the Bowery?

Looks like 347 Bowery will be home to a 13-floor mixed-use residential development

The future of 347 Bowery (sorta!) revealed

Let's take a look at 347 Bowery, now and in the future

347 Bowery getting its zinc supplements

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Immigrant adds cocktails to its menu on 9th Street

The signage for cocktails arrived this afternoon outside The Immigrant, the low-key neighborhood bar at 341 E. Ninth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

The Immigrant, which opened in 2009, started serving several cocktail choices last month to supplement the wine bar menu, according to owner Jason Corey.

The "immigrant themed" menu includes an Old School Manhattan, a Bee's Knees, a Green Juice Margarita and a Cuba Libre with Havana Club Rum, Corey said.

For now, the cocktails won't be served in the Tap Room, the extension that opened next door in 2013.

Thanks to Steven for the photos!

Behold Civic Hall, the high-tech future of Union Square — and NYC

[EVG file photo]

As you may know, the city is redeveloping the city-owned site that P.C. Richard (and Son!) has leased the past 20-plus years at 124 E. 14th St. at Irving Place.

In late December, the de Blasio administration announced that RAL Development Services, a real-estate firm, will develop the site with Civic Hall — "a tech-focused work and event space" — anchoring the space.

And on Friday, de Blasio unveiled the renderings for the 20-plus story building that will be erected between NYU dorms...

And here is more from the city's news release on Civic Hall:

Mayor de Blasio met with tech workers at AppNexus today to unveil the latest designs and details for the new Union Square Tech Hub, a City-backed project to provide space for tech worker training, education, start-ups and convening.

The hub itself will generate 600 good paying jobs, and serve as a new home for Civic Hall that will include a digital job training facility for all New Yorkers, and modern, flexible workspaces designed to meet the unique needs of early-stage startups in New York’s vibrant innovation economy.

“This new hub will be the front-door for tech in New York City. People searching for jobs, training or the resources to start a company will have a place to come to connect and get support. No other city in the nation has anything like it. It represents this City’s commitment to a strong and inclusive tech ecosystem,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.


Currently the site of PC Richard & Sons Union Square, 124 East 14th Street will be transformed into a hub for civic innovation, job creation and fluid work and learning opportunities in a state-of-the-art tech-enabled facility. The 258,000 square-foot project will be developed by RAL Development Services and designed by Davis Brody Bond, and is expected to create more than 800 construction jobs. The project will be union-built and staffed, and in compliance with HireNYC guidelines.

The $250 million project on City-owned land, will bring together the best-in-class programs offering affordable digital skills training for New Yorkers seeking to join the 21st century economy – all in wired, open, and accessible workspaces. It will be anchored by Civic Hall, a collaborative work and event space advancing the use of technology for the public good. Civic Hall has grown to more than 1,000 members, including a diverse mix of community organizations, tech companies, city, state and federal agencies, and individual civic entrepreneurs. The new Civic Hall plans to include the following workforce development partners: the New York City Foundation for Computer Science Education, General Assembly, Per Scholas, FedCap, Code to Work, and Coalition for Queens.

As for the renderings, Gizmodo noted: "14th street’s new tech tower looks like what would happen if you asked Ikea to build a white-collar prison" and also referred to the building as a "massive broken Rubik’s cube."

According to TechCrunch, the plan is to start construction in 2018 and open in 2020.

Updated: There were public meetings about the plans here via CB3 in December 2015.

EVG reader Charlie Chen, who shared these links, noted that the second rendering "is dead wrong, as in 2020, the L will still be closed and 14th Street will mostly likely be a bus/bike/pedestrian walkway."

It's 7 a.m.

Photo today by Bobby Williams...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week in Grieview

[Filming in Tompkins Square Park Wednesday via Derek Berg]

Stories posted on EVG this past week included...

Onetime home of Lucky Cheng's and adjacent property on the development market for $26 million (Friday)

Clockwork Bar denounces weekend attack by reported white supremacist group (Tuesday)

Prepping for 2019: L train shutdown workshop rescheduled for March 9 (Thursday)

Raphael Toledano-owned 97 2nd Ave. is on the auction block (Thursday)

Out and About with Delphine Blue (Wednesday)

Local support for "A Day Without Immigrants" (Thursday)

Southern Cross Coffee now open on Fifth Street (Tuesday)

First sign of Ikinari Steak, the quick-serve, no-seat steakhouse coming to 10th Street (Monday)

At the rally for the former PS 64 today at City Hall (Tuesday)

BeetleBug arrives with flowers on Ninth Street (Tuesday)

The all-new 189 7th St. asking $6.25 million (Wednesday)

State attorney general sues David Barton Gyms following sudden closure in December (Wednesday)

Former Biscuit shop for rent on Avenue A (Monday)

Valentine's night at Sunny's (Tuesday)

A new era of Bowery bums, plus more workout choices (Monday)

Plywood arrives on 11th Street outside Danny Meyer's incoming restaurant Martina (Friday)

A 4-vehicle pileup on East Houston (Monday)

Happy No. 163 McSorley's! (Thursday)

More renovations for Whole Foods Market® Bowery (Monday)

"An Evening With Martin Shkreli" no longer happening at Webster Hall Monday night (Thursday)

...and one more look at yesterday, which was reportedly pretty nice...

[Astor Place photo by Vinny & O]


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M2M has closed for now on 3rd Avenue; new storefront coming 2 blocks away

As we reported, M2M was closing on Third Avenue at 11th Street at the end of the business day yesterday.

This morning, the owners of the Asian market put up signage with an announcement about their new East Village location ...

As you can see, M2M will eventually be moving two blocks to the south ... to the long-empty spaces in the retail strip of NYU's Alumni Hall...

The corner space was home to Birdbath Bakery until the summer of 2014. Next door, Citi Habitats moved out in June 2014. No word how many of these storefronts M2M will take. There are two other empty slots that the Subway sandwich shop and Saint's Alp Teahouse previously rented.

As for the former M2M space, Wagamama, the London-based chain of Japanese restaurants, is coming here soon. Before M2M opened in 2002, the storefront housed an OMG jeans outlet.

For now you can get your M2M fix at their Waverly Place store.

Thanks to Steven for the photos!

A mock presidential funeral for Presidents' Day weekend; plus a new NYC Protests site

Several hundred protestors took part yesterday in a New Orleans-style mock funeral for the American presidency... the group started in Washington Square Park... and made their way to Union Square, where Derek Berg took these photos...

Per the Facebook invite: "Join us for wailing, honoring, remembering, grieving, marching, singing, chanting, and demanding the rebirth of a Presidency dedicated to the service of all peoples and 'sacred fire of liberty' that President George Washington swore to uphold."

“We’ve allowed a barely functional idiot reality-TV show star to lead one of the once-great, proud political parties of this country,” funeral organizer Jay W. Walker told Newsday.

On the topic of protests ... this arrived recently in the EVG inbox...

A new tool, NYC Protests, makes it easy to discover, engage with and join the many protests, rallies and marches happening in and around New York City to resist Trump.

With public displays of resistance proving to be a major factor in the resistance to President Trump’s agenda, NYC now has an easy, simple tool that allows thousands of activist-minded residents to join the fight. The newly launched site — — has user-friendly calendars and alerts that make engaging with NYC’s protests easier than ever.

The site is free, easy to follow and optimized for the way we consume info today, with desktop and mobile optimized versions of the website, plus an active Twitter, Facebook and mailing list.

“In the days following the Women’s March, we saw hundreds of posts on social media from New Yorkers asking how they could find more protests, rallies and marches,” says NYC Protests’ Brooklyn-based founder, who has chosen to remain anonymous for employment reasons. “So we created an easy, simple tool for New Yorkers to stay engaged with the resistance.”

Saturday, February 18, 2017

[NSFW] Christo and Dora's spring fever

Tompkins Square Park today... photos by Bobby Williams...

Baby hawk watch TK...

It is nice out today

...a little earlier this morning in Tompkins Square Park...

...and going, going...