Monday, January 17, 2011

About Mercadito Cantina closing: 'Open letter to EV Grieve and CB3'

As we first reported on Friday, Mercadito Cantina on Avenue B is closing on Jan. 30 ...

We received the following note via e-mail on Friday night... titled Open letter to EV Grieve and CB3:

Hello. I am a server at Mercadito Cantina. I'm 22 and I grew up here in the East Village. My Dad's from here too. I find many of the comments regarding our closing highly insensitive and offensive.

I'm really sad about our closing. The staff here works very hard and we have become like extended family to each other. Most of us have been working together here for over 2 years. A lot of us are from the area and the owner and mgmt were really cool about hiring us back during off time between semesters to make some extra cash. To wish us gone or to say we were some kind of bad thing for the community is just wrong.

I know for a fact that Cantina often donated food and gift certificates to many local schools and fund-raising events. I know because I got to serve at some of those events. To say that our neighbors didn't like us is also wrong. All of the shop owners on Ave B are very friendly and close. We get discounts at the vintage shop next store so I doubt we were hurting their business at all. I am also confused about some of the comments saying our costumers were 'D Bags' because most of the people I served were locals. Yes, on Friday and Saturday night we'd get some B&T, but that happens everywhere. As far as I ever knew, the neighborhood really liked us.

It is also incredibly insensitive to say it's 'good' we're closing when you think about the fact that around 25 of us are now going to be out of a job. I am a student and I wasn't planning on staying at the restaurant past the summer, but there are other people, especially the chefs, who have responsibilities and families to take care of. The chefs are decent hard-working guys. They don't deserve any bad feelings.

My soon to be ex-manager is also from here. I want to tell you this story about what he did because I think it says all you need to know about whether or not our restaurant was a good place to have in the East Village. Two summers ago, there was a a group of kids running around Ave B basically making it their mission to wreak as much havoc as possible. Knock over the newspaper machines, throw things, yell and scream at random people, etc. They were driving everyone nuts. They gave an especially hard time to the Frank Sinatra looking dude at 11B ... always throwing his to-go menus all over the street and knocking over his special board. Anyone who seen that guy can vouch that he's a tough-looking dude.

So, when my manager told me he was going to get to know these kids and try to hire a couple of them I thought he was A) out of his mind or B) had a death wish. I should mention he's like 5'5 and not intimidating looking at all. Sure enough he hired two of the kids. One of them is still with us as a bus boy. We had a staff meeting around that time and he told us to welcome the new guys as if they were any other new hires. He never got into why he hired those guys and I never asked him but I assume he felt he had some sort of responsibility as a guy running a business in the neighborhood. He is actually a very sweet guy.

A bunch of us got to go to the CB3 meeting when we applied for a full license the second time. Our manager and one of the owners went up there and basically got yelled at by the ladies who ran the meeting. I really felt they were really confrontational and disrespectful at certain points. Almost looking for a fight. Toward the end they asked the crowd if anyone had complaints or anything against granting us our license and no one in the crowd said a word! I thought we were going to get it!

At one point my boss told one of the women on the panel that he really needed the license because the restaurant had a lot of debt and that there was a whole staff of people waiting for good news and that their jobs depended on it. The woman told my manager that if the restaurant closed it would just create new opportunities for someone else. They asked us why we didn't ask for full liquor when we opened and the owner said he wanted to prove that he wasn't going to be a bar but a real restaurant. The woman then accused him of trying to trick her!!! They did not give us the license. They said places like ours were bad for the neighborhood. I wanted my boss to tell them about some of the things we've done. For some reason, he didn't say a word. Maybe he figured it was a lost cause.

I hope you print this letter. I feel that some of the people on this site and CB3 lump all restaurants and bars into one big group and label us all bad without ever bothering to do a little research or find out what we are all about. I also feel that a lot of these people like to sit around and write swear-laced comments and bitch and complain about the good old days but, they never do anything positive. The story I told you about my boss, that's positive. Who on this site or CB3 has done things like that. We are going to close and a lot of us will probably be unemployed for a while before we get another job. But, the real losers are CB3 and the community. Whether you realize it or not is another story.

Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updated] Mercadito Cantina closing Jan. 30

[Image via]

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

Their customers are not locals. There is a constant stream of taxis letting out customers for both Mercaditos and their customers are always blocking the sidewalk. Owners just don't get it. The community board gives you advance notice and says that there are too many licenses in one area. They are telling you in advance that you are going to have a hard time getting a license but all owners think they are special. It's pretty arrogant. If the owner wants to do something nice for the community he can turn the space into a hardware store, butcher, fish store (a real one) or somthing useful. Just not another bar or high volume, loud, sidewalk blocking destination.

Anonymous said...

First of all there is already Mercadito Restaurant with a full liquor license on Avenue B. Then another one with the same food opened right across the street , Mercadito Cantina. Ok so now there are two.

If the second one was suppose to be more of a take out kind of place then they shouldn't have needed a full liquor license. Avenue B is already over-saturated with liquor licenses.

Opening another one on the same block is audacious, even if it was apparently geared more towards take out, but to then try and get a full liquor license there too, is greedy.

Your not seeing the full picture. Liquor licenses have deliberately been handed out like candy over the past several years adding to the disintegration and degradation of the community, destroying peoples quality of life and helping to chase long time tenants from their apartments. These landlords just want to get rid of any long time residents so that they can quadruple the rent, squash the building, sell to a monster, etc., The ground floor commercial spaces are so expensive that businesses need to either have a full liquor license in order to survive or else be a high end designer store like Marc jacobs. This is everywhere, all over the city. All over the city storefronts remain shuttered. Commercial spaces are particularly high in our trendy neighborhood. Part of the problem with Mercadito is that they've both followed the trend and in fact have added to the trendiness of the East village, so whose kidding who.


There have been thousands of businesses that have been forced to close over the past several years, some great ones, long time establishments, and thousands of people have lost their jobs.


This is about the greed of the landlords not CB3, and the fact that Mercadito Cantina is in debt is not the fault of residents or CB3.

WE CAN NOT CONFORM TO THESE LANDLORDS ANYMORE

Anonymous said...

Seriously, I'm a local who has lived here for as long as that waitress has been alive, and while I do appreciate her letter, we just don't need another bar in the neighborhood.

I'm sure that the writer and her colleagues will do fine finding work as there is no shortage of watering holes nearby.

Anonymous said...

sidewalk blocking?

But whatever, yes it is too bad, the people who worked there were nice.

Im local, I have eaten there many times with other locals.

Anonymous said...

mercadito = no bueno. overpriced and not overrated. cute letter.

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt that employees at either of the restaurants have health insurance.

These are not sustainable jobs.

Anonymous said...

They didn't say that the patrons were douchebags. Someone said that the patrons were obnoxious.
The douchebag thing was making reference to a CB3 meeting where club owner Ariel Palitz used the word and how it was inappropriate. Ariel Palitz will vote for anyone applying for a liquor license, anyone at all. The only time she ever voted against anything was when someone tried to get a license right up the block from her lounge.

I don't think that club or bar owners should be allowed to serve on the CB3/SLA committee, as it is a clear conflict of interest.

Jeremy said...

It's a freakin' Mexican restaurant, not a night club. Sure, there are people getting out of taxis to go to it; the tacos have been written about in numerous magazines and newspapers, and people want to try them. These people are not rowdy drunks hopping all over the road - they're just regular people that want to have a damn fish taco. It's not like this place is open till 4am like the bars surrounding it and people that frequent it are puking on the streets.

Why is it such a crime that they want to serve margaritas? Who in the world doesn't occasionally want a margarita while eating a taco? You'd need to drink a pissload of watered-down margaritas to be sloppy drunk, and there are plenty of Mexican joints within blocks that serve them without issue.

When a rowdy bar or club is causing community issues, that's one thing, and all of us in the EV can relate to the noise and grime, but a relatively quiet dining establishment serving good food should not be criticized (or should I say "punished") in the same regard.

Anonymous said...

I researched the building when it was first built and the space is not zoned for a restaurant at all- It was suposed to be a non- profit only space. Check the records with the DOB. Nothing against people who work there, it simply isn't legal.

Anonymous said...

For chrissakes Jeremy, Goldie Hawn and her daughter ate there when they were in town shooting a movie. If you would like to dine at another one, aside from the two that are there now, there's another one in the West Village, Miami and Chicago.

People like the Kardashions eat there, and I'm sick and tired of that stretch limo that parks on my block. Avenue B is very narrow. The vintage clothing store next door use to have two storefronts and now only has one.

Anonymous said...

I'm not very familiar with Mercadito Cantina's situation on that block, but wanted to give a heartfelt thank you to the person who sent in this letter. It's very easy for us to compartmentalise the places that give us grief without remembering that there are good, honest, hardworking people that work there and patronize those establishments in addition to the B&T/NYU noisemakers.

Some of these comments seem truly unnecessarily cruel. The situation is already dealt with but some people really feel the need to rub it in ("you just don't get it"? really?). I'm afraid this attitude gives the neighborhood and its residents a bad name, because when we try to band together to voice bigger concerns, we look like kneejerk assholes.

Anonymous said...

Great job anon 11:13! How can we get DOB to investigate? I think that you can email Susan at CB3.
She will know how to go about it.
It would be great to have a non-profit move into the space. Who knows maybe the landlord will be sued, forced to rent to a non- profit, therefore forced to lower their rent.
There is illegal shit like this that goes on everywhere, so everyone, to all who actually care about the East Village, take the time to research. No one is looking out for us. We have to do it ourselves. We have a lot more power then you think, even when the odds are against us.

Ya know Westville was apparently operating an outdoor cafe illegally. It wasn't until someone took the time to call it in for an investigation that anything happened. They were found in violation and are now not allowed to have outdoor tables on 11th Street.

Much inspiration from Roger M. Lane. R.I.P.

We may not get there but we have to try.

Rocky Raccoon said...

@Jeremy and Anon 12:29:
Let's be clear this place is not closing because the community board voted against a full liquor license. The owners should have known what they were getting into when they decided to expand their operation. To blame the community for their bad business model is an old song. The other thing folks should consider is that while this may not be a bar now, if the owners get a full liquor license it will be a bar at some point in our lifetime. As long as owners can sell their licenses on the open market, then what was a harmless place can be sold to Team SuperDive, the crew behind Sin Sin,the guy who owns Diablo, that angry guy from La Vie, the people behind Le Souk - pick your poison! Imagine the worst joint on your block and if these folks got a full license it could be them, maybe not in 6 months or maybe not in two years, but it will happen. We have seen it time and time again - SuperDive was supposed to be a freakin bookstore, Aces & Eights was Mo Pitkins - supposedly a performance venue for local artists. They became shit shows through this peddling of liquor licenses. Give the people on Avenue B a break, they know that if Mercadito Cantina were to get a full license and not make it they could be living above or next to le Souk!

Jeremy said...

And why is it bad that Goldie Hawn enjoyed dinner in our town with her daughter?

Anonymous said...

no your comments make you look like a knee-jerk asshole

which fact don't you understand

this is not an esoteric argument these are facts

and what the hell have you ever done for the neighborhood

and if your not familiar with the situation then MYOMFB

Anonymous said...

I think they might have made it if they had Tequila. I was there Sat night and spoke at length with the manager. They were making margaritas with a sake that cost them almost $20 per bottle where tequila would have cost them $6. That in turn led to them having to charge way more for food than they wanted which in turn led to lots of complaints about high priced tacos.

Anonymous said...

The owner of 172 Ave B only cares about money. When the built 172 a while back they structurally damaged 174 Ave B next door because the owner hired the cheapest contractors & they did shore it up correctly. 174 now has metal braces holding up the building on the West side. A few years ago all the tenants - paying premium rent - left after they went without heat for several months.

Anonymous said...

When all the restaurants shut down, and the taxis stop coming into the east village, and the whole of Alphabet City is full of dark streets and empty shuttered storefronts, all of you so called 'pioneers' will all be running back to middle America with your tails between your legs .

LiberationNYC said...

I used to live in the building behind the original Mercadito two summers ago and can say first hand that it was very noisy at night. It wasn't a nightclub, but they keep the front of the restaurant wide open in the summer and people spilled out on to the sidewalks to smoke with their drinks. Nobody from the restaurant ever made any attempt to coral them so it was either walk in the street or cross the street to get around them.

To the person that said people from the neighborhood ate there, maybe they did, but from the crowd I saw EVERYDAY when I walked by I would say those neighborhood people were few and far between. Those of us who DID live in the area thought the place was overpriced and after seeing the type of people who ate there, some of us avoided it.

My window faced the back of the restaurant. At one point they put these stupid little bushes outside their windows which were at the ground level in our garden. For WHATEVER reason they installed floodlights to show off their new Home Depot finds and my apartment suddenly was lit like a football stadium until 2 in the morning. Mix that with the cackling that came from said windows and it was pretty hard to fall asleep.

Anonymous said...

@anon 1:29 - not sure what you are talking about. The "pioneers" you refer to were here before all these bars and restaurants and know full well what the neighborhood was like without them. Why oh why would they move away after 30 years of suffering through the downfall of their neighborhood if it actually returned to its previous status?

If you can't answer this question then you have no idea what it was like even 10 years ago, no less 30, not a clue.

Anonymous said...

Because, Jeremy, predatory landlords, real estate developers, movie stars, bars, lounges and restaurants are trying to take over the East Village.


The apartment that you live in was probably home to someone who was forced out in a good old fashioned brass knuckles way.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Anonymous said...

You live in a thriving, bustling neighborhood. You have supermarkets, delis, hardware stores, theaters, cinemas, bakeries, coffee shops, tea shops, smoothie shops, police stations, cheese stores, greenmarkets, designer boutiques, vintage stores, community centers, community gardens, parks, universities, bookshops, artists, hair salons, karaoke, pizza for $1 or pizza for $20, chinese food, japanese food, korean food, polish food, german food, slovak food, ukranian food, french food, italian food, indian food, sri lankan food, peruvian food, ethiopian food, vietnamese food, mexican food, american food (north and south), argentinian food, australian food, israeli food, greek food... should I go on?

Yes, people like to stay up until 2am, yes, it makes some noise and the city will be happy to take your complaints (because really complaining is all you know how to do). If you don't like how the city is handling things and if you think the businesses around you aren't meeting your needs, you can take your stuff and go to Bushwick where it's real quiet at night (and of course illegally keep the lease on that little rent controlled hole that is your bunker). It's not up to you to decide what people will eat and drink, not up to you to decide what landlords will do with their property as long as it more or less meets city regulations.

Anonymous said...

yeah right, and when African Americans said that they would like to decide which schools they would like to go to, which restaurants they would like to dine at , which areas they would like to live in, which seats they would like to sit in the people in power said it's not up to you

happy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

long live Rosa Parks

Anonymous said...

"It's not up to you to decide what people will eat and drink, not up to you to decide what landlords will do with their property as long as it more or less meets city regulations."

Actually it is, partly. The licensing process at the SLA takes into consideration the testimony from the local community. That would be us, and the community board. We've been here before Mr/Ms 22 year was born and we don't intend to leave anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

yes, equate your quality of life battle against bars and restaurants with the civil rights plight of a race of people formerly enslaved on the very land they occupy to this day. makes you sound so reasonable, NIMBY... i sincerely hope one day you're all priced out of your little neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to get a serious answer from the original 22nd old server that posted regarding Pollo Cafecito on Avenue C owned by the same owner. I've never actually seen it open & apparently it's now up for rent. Let me guess. It's hard to pay the rents in our neighborhood without a full liquor license ? No s@#t. That's why all we have left are bars.

Anonymous said...

"i sincerely hope one day you're all priced out of your little neighborhood."

I dare you to say this to the face of
Rosie Mendez
Margarets Lopez
Susan Stetzer
and Mary Spink

EVGayBear said...

Mercadito's guacamole is tasty.

And Goldie and Kate noshed here with Donna Karan. Because i know such fabulous things!

And in my humble opinion, as someone who lives VERY close by, I put the crowd at 75% out of neighborhood vs. 25% neighborhooders.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to the young man who wrote this thoughtful letter. I know there are rude people on both side of the issue and it would be best if everyone would keep cool heads and speak to each other with respect. But even though your boss might have been very good to you, the establishment was causing a lot of problems in the neighborhood, and it had to go. It doesn't mean your boss was the world's most evil person, but unfortunately he was conducting business in a way that was causing a lot of distress to those who live nearby. He could have cleaned up his act but he didn't and it is a shame that you employees have to suffer because it really didn't have to end up with this place closing.

Anonymous said...

Great letter.

Typical EV response.

Yes, you all saved the east village with the closing of a taco shop.

allan said...

reading the hatred from the cognoscenti have only furthered our resolve to reopen the super bar SUPERDIVE.

LONG LIVE SUPERDIVE !!!!!

and cant wait to serve our first SUPERsized mercadtiomargarita.

HALF OFF FOR HATERS!!!!!!!!!!! you know who you are

SUPERDIVE 2011

coming to YOUR neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I live on A, and I had no idea that Mercadito also had a "cantina." What's the difference — aside from no margaritas? Seems piggy to me to have 2 like that on the same block.

Ryan T. said...

Ahem, ahem, ahen...baby boomers and fellow old-timers, you really, really suck. You wrecked the financial system, tanked the housing market, ruined the notion of credit, and now you're rejoicing in the closing of a restaurant? It's pathetic and perverse. You are aware of the fact that growing old does NOT have to suck? Just because you're bitter about your aching back and bad hips doesn't give you the right to revel in the loss of jobs and closing of businesses.

You know what? Things change over time...nothing ever stays the same. You may be able to get a decent grip on yesteryear for a little while, but eventually, time catches up and new ideas, broader terms of acceptance, and less self-centered worldviews crush your pessimism, pissing and moaning. There are certain establishments, such as Sin Sin, which are, truly, bad seeds. Cantina was of a higher caliber, and your failure to recognize said fact is further evidence of ridiculous levels of intolerance and senility.

And also...commenting anonymously is such a punk-move. If you're so proud of your opinions, put a damn name with them.

Anonymous said...

Ryan - We are nor reveling in the loss of jobs. If the owner of Mercadito would like to open a business such as a hardware store, butcher or one of the many other businesses that have been displaced by all the bars then we will welcome him with open arms. And he could employ the same 25 people. Problem solved.

"You wrecked the financial system, tanked the housing market, ruined the notion of credit..."

The same irresponsible behaviour is exhibited by those seeking a liquor license in the CB3 resolution areas. They tell you in advance that you're going to have to prove you are a benefit to the community. But then these dudes walk by open an open space in betweeen 20 other licenses and think - this would be a great place for a high volume alcohol establishment. It's arrogant and obnoxious. Apply somewhere else. Go 'beautify' Avenue D.

Ryan T. said...

Anon @ 10:26P PM - whether or not you like it, you are reveling in the loss of jobs. With the closing of a business comes the loss of employment for "x" number of people...there's no two ways around that, and it's impossible to have one without the other. Intentions are one thing, but when the rubber hits the road, they often become warped.

This is clearly a generational issue...in the age of Home Depot, Lowe's, Whole Foods and other large grocery stores, it's no surprise that opening a hardware store or butcher shop is NOT the hot business or investment opportunity in the neighborhood. And it's also no secret that the area of the city in which you live is FULL OF YOUNG PEOPLE who like to go out for dinner and drinks. Why is it that you remain static while the rest of the city, and the world, changes? Why are you so entitled?

What your precious CB actually does is stifle business and restrict the ideas of capitalism, while also slowly choking out the final breaths of achieving the "American Dream" via small business ownership.

Bob Dylan isn't what he used to be, and the same can be said of the EV. Those who seem excited about the closing of this delicious eating establishment probably also believe that Barry Obam was born in Kenya.

I thought there was supposed to be wisdom and sensibility in old age?

Also - kudos for continuing to write in the shadows.

The Eastern Cynic said...

These comments were brought to you by the fine folks at Summer's Eve. Summer's Eve: because after all—someone has to get the sand out of your vagina.

Anonymous said...

This place will become a bar eventually, money talks. It's called gentrification and happening all around you, just accept it!

Anonymous said...

Ano 10:26. Butchers and fish markets can't compete with the pricing power of Whole Foods. Hardware stores have been crushed by Home Depot. Book stores with Amazon and Barnes and Noble. One of the few industries that big box and corp power can't crush is the indy restaurant/hospitality industry. Because we have soul, passion, and a human touch that can't be undercut by super-sizing. When they try they wind up with Pizzarini Uno and Chipotle. We can't be homogenized. E V oldies should support the indy restaurants. We're the closest thing left to the 'good old days' you've got left.

Anonymous said...

...I researched the building when it was first built and the space is not zoned for a restaurant at all- It was suposed to be a non- profit only space...

Yup, as far as I know, that buidling has not been re-paperworked to allow the community space to be, well, not a community space. There are dozens of similar situations in the area. There's very little enforcement of buildings that received significant breaks from the city following the rules.

The large retirement building (Casa Victoria, named after Alfonse D'Amato's mother, no kidding) on the S. side of 8th St. between B and C, for example, should have a large community space on the ground floor. It can be used for a variety of community-friendly things but, ahem, as far as I know, it's used by the building management and was never a public or non-profit space.

Most neighborhood buildings that were rehabbed under various city programs in the last twenty years have provisions for non-profit and/or community spaces. Sometimes the buildings try to rent to doctors or other professionals who claim to serve the community above and beyond the usual. (And, of course, some do.) However, with no enforcement/inspection, I'd guess that a vast majority of these spaces are now rented to the highest bidder.

Anonymous said...

Great job anon 3:57 AM! Nobody is looking out for us. I have actually taken the time myself to call DOB regarding renovations of apartments and commercial spaces in my building and other buildings.

Inspectors eventually came and found that the renovations were done contrary to the Certificate of Occupancy and or contrary to plans filed at the Department of Buildings.

In other words architects present a plan that show the renovation for a one bedroom and then go ahead an turn the space into a four bedroom. In my case, in my building, architects were found guilty for both renovating contrary to the certificate of occupancy as well as contrary to architectural plans.

The certificate of occupancy is a document issued by the buildings department certifying a building's compliance with building codes and other laws, and indicating it to be in a condition suitable for occupancy. A certificate is required whenever:
▪ a new building is constructed
▪ a building built for one use is to be used for another (e.g. an industrial building converted for residential use)
▪ occupancy of a commercial or industrial building changes, or ownership of a commercial, industrial, or multiple-family residential building changes.

Protocol: Go to the NYC DOB web-site and enter the address of the building on the right side of the page. The page that opens should say "Property Profile Overview" - below that there is a tab that says View Certificate of Occupancy. Open that link and there should be a PDF that has the CO. The CO should state how many apartments or commercial spaces etc are in the building. If this does not match how the building is being used or there is no certificate on file you can call 311 and file a complaint. Tell them the building's use or occupancy does not conform to the Certificate of Occupancy listed on file. Keep your complaint number so you can check back at the DOB site or with 311.

The work that you have done regarding zoning is another area that needs to be followed up on. Something can be done. This is not a done deal.

If you or anyone else would like to take this on as an activist research project please do. Collect the information and send it to East Village Community Coalition -www.evccnyc.org and I will then take that information and figure out what to do next. Great detective work!

Glenn Belverio said...

I've lived in the East Village for over 20 years so I think that makes me a local. I used to eat at this place all the time--the food was wonderful and the servers were nice. I'm sorry that it's closed. I'm really tired of all the cranky old bitches in the East Village who live to kvetch. People have been taking cabs from other areas to eat in the East Village since the '80s and probably before. Big fucking deal. Enough with the complaints! If you can't handle a neighborhood that changes once in awhile, then move to Idaho.

Anonymous said...

Dear Letter Writer,

Your boss could have easily gotten a liquor license had he handed an envelope full of cash to CB3 members like other questionable establishments with many quality of life complaints such as webster hall have done.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry Glenn new restaurants have opened.
Theres another nice place that you can try called Olivia's Bistro on East Ninth Street.

Anonymous said...

Yup, the DoB sez that 172 Ave. B is zoned for a store and a non-commercial art gallery. Oooops.

Thank you Anon! Just a glance at the DoB site shows that, yes, Casa Victoria is supposed to have a large community room (with kitchen) and that the Christadora House is supposed to have two community spaces. Is there a way to dig deeper? A glance at buildings, say, Westbeth, that honor the community space zoning make it clear that the space is used for the good of the community and that it's available for, say, meetings, etc.

Anonymous said...

I have lived and partied in the village for more than 30 years & still do. It has ALWAYS been a destination place for people to gather & have fun. It has always been loud, had night clubs, bars, live music venues, etc. All the people who "remember" the way it "was" must have alzheimers! The "quiet" areas were drug dealing, crime ridden, dark empty streets. All of NYC's tourist literature says go to the village. Many of the most popular artists out there in every medium have said they started in the village. You should be PROUD there is NO PLACE LIKE IT ANYWHERE ELSE. Not trying to stifle its identity with a self-serving agenda.

Anonymous said...

Really!, that's funny because I've lived here my whole life and have never seen anything like this. When the World Trade Center imploded that was number one, and now the overthrow of the Lower East Side ranks number two as something I have never seen in my whole life.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe i read all of these posts.

I use to live at 165/167 Avenue A until Westbrook Associates and Magnum Management took the building over. Prior to them Extel owned the building for around a year until they sold it to Westbrook for a huge profit. Prior to that it was a nice building with interesting people. I'm not saying they were great with repairs or anything but the management left us alone. We thought that when Extel purchased the building that things had deteriorated, nothing compared to Westbrook and Magnum taking over.

Practically everyone left. I remained through the horrendous renovations that violated every rule. They did woodworking on the roof destroyed the hallways filled the building with all kinds of chemicals and debris, anything to get the rest of us out. The construction workers were a bunch of animals. Along with this, management played games with lease, threatened us, hired an animal for a super who broke into my apartment to snoop and steal. My front door was constantly being rattled by the super and other workers. Threats from a man named Josh Slepian(management), the slimiest man I ever met. The renovations of the apartments coincided with the gut renovations of the commercial space on the ground floor for a restaurant now known as Diablo Royale Este. This guy knocked out the entire brick wall to put in a garage door. The building shook and brick dust filled my apartment and the entire building, the whole summer. Then they did their wood working both in the ground floor space and the back yard for a good year and a half every day including weekends from 7AM till well past six. The owner also used a blow torch on every piece of wood in the place. The smoke was so great that all my things were covered in black soot and my asthma became exacerbated, and all the fire department could say to me every time was what's the difference between this and a fireplace. Who ever the person was who made the remark about being pushed out in a good old fashioned brass knuckles way is not exaggerating.

I now live in Queens, which is now also having problems like this. Fortunately my block is nice and I have a nice smoke free apartment. Please do not patron this lounge.

Jill said...

I think the point that is being missed by these 47 comments is that the issue is not about resisting change, or caring whether or not a store closes or opens, but about caring about the place we live, our community, our homes, by trying to encourage our local community decision makers that maintaining a retail balance that serves the residents is important.

Just because you moved to the big city doesn't mean it's a faceless city and things just can happen to you. This is a neighborhood, with people who care about their lives here, raise our children here, will probably die here too (if not from old age then from dragging laundry up the incredible number of stairs).

How does such a multitude of bars and restaurants on every single block serve the residents? Are there really not have enough choices? That one commenter's list about all the great things we have in the EV is 75% restaurants. No more art galleries, and our live music venues have mostly moved to Brooklyn. Notice no butcher or fishmonger. And when the Essex Street Market closes, we are truly done. It will be like the West Village which has turned into a pale facade of its former vibrant self. Gorgeous houses, fancy restaurants, but try to buy an apple for less than $2. You can't. It's unlivable there, and the EV is almost at that point.

Go to any neighborhood north of 14th street and you find communities with a balance, a bunch of bars and restaurants, but also bagel stores, grocery stores, butchers, fishmongers, delis, gift shops, clothing stores, drug stores both mom/pop & duane reade, and a general variety of retailers.

What we have seen here is a radical shift in the makeup of the retail over the past 10 or so years. It's not just "change," it's truly dramatic.

The landlords have managed to scare out all but the brave and have moved on to the retailers by raising the rents so that the only kind of store that can survive are those that serve alcohol. There can be jobs created in all kinds of stores, not just bars and restaurants. Even Soho has managed to attract shoppers and daytime activity, leaving the dregs to the EV.

The only winners are the landlords. Not you who wish you were landlords and never will be (same as the republicans who oppose taxing the billionaires because they strive to be one some day), those who stick up for their evil ways. The landlords CHOOSE to keep their retail spaces empty, take the tax break on the "loss of business" and wait til the next sucker comes along to try their hand at having the next hot bar, if they can get the license. It makes no difference to them, and they get top dollar or the equivalent of a tax break that supports that top dollar. You think they care about the jobs won or lost in their spaces? No they don't.

The state sets the bar at 3 establishments within 500 feet of each other as being a reasonable amount. In the East Village, we have a minimum of 20 per 500 feet (500 feet is a radius of about a block and a half).

Ok I have to eat dinner now so I can stop rambling. Stay warm!

Anonymous said...

...I have lived and partied in the village for more than 30 years & still do. It has ALWAYS been a destination place for people to gather & have fun...

Sigh. Who among us isn't up for gathering and fun? Fewer liquor licenses, a bit of regulation and decency about zoning and building, and less corruption isn't about cutting out the fun. It's just not true that turning down a few liquor licenses, ticketing idiots, running safe building sites, and encouraging a wide range of neighborhood businesses and services will lead to, I dunno, the Upper East Side or Utah. In fact, having rational growth and a reasonable quality of life in the 'hood makes it better for everyone, including wildass party types.

Jill said...

The only winners in this argument are the landlords. The spaces are empty not because bars have closed, but because landlords want so much money it is impossible to succeed without liquor. And there is a threshold the state has agreed is reasonable - 3 per 500 feet. The EV has no less than 20 per 500 feet in any given area.

It's about retail diversity, not whether one bar or other is worthy of having a liquor license. It's the big picture that people are talking about.

Now that the landlords have strong armed out their rent regulated tenants and only the brave survive, they have moved on to the retailers, charging exorbitant rents that make it very hard to succeed. Their incentive is to keep high rents or keep the space empty and get a tax credit for "loss of business." They don't negotiate or work with their tenants to make it work for all involved, like business partners. If the space is empty, who cares, the LL gets it all back from tax breaks.

We are over-saturated with bars and restaurants and have lost the variety of retail that we used to have. The complaining is not about "change" it is about radical change that impacts our every day life. I for one would like to have the services nearby that were here for decades that have recently disappeared.

The commenter who listed what we have here has a list 75% restaurants, which is exactly opposite of the point he tries to make bout retail diversity (or she?). Odd. We've lost art galleries, fresh food markets that used to be on every corner, butcher, fishmonger, knick knack crap shops, drug stores, laundrymats etc. Even the live music venues have moved to Brooklyn.

I'm going to eat dinner now. Fish from a can, because I can't get good fresh fish without going a mile out of my way or paying a ton for gross supermarket fish.

Stay warm!

Jeremy said...

"Go to any neighborhood north of 14th street and you find communities with a balance, a bunch of bars and restaurants, but also bagel stores, grocery stores, butchers, fishmongers, delis, gift shops, clothing stores, drug stores both mom/pop & duane reade, and a general variety of retailers."

Hey Jill - I don't mean to intrude here, but with the exception of fishmongers (which would be amazing), we have all of those things...Everything Bagels, Key Foods/The Met, East Village Meat Market, plenty of delis/bodegas, 9th street is full of boutique clothing stores and there are plenty of vintage (Metropolis) and non-vintage (Urban Outfitters) stores to join them, the PHARMACY on Ave A, and tons and tons of retail stores owned by locals where you can get anything from extremely rare craft beer to personalized rubber stamps.

Sure, there may not be as many mom and pop stores as there used to be, and there may be less in the future, but anyone that claims the East Village has lost all of its charm in lieu of being only bars and noise really needs to spend next Saturday walking the streets during the day to realize how much realize is in here our small neighborhood. The East Village will continue to be more diverse and dynamic than 90% of Manhattan. It is a living thing, and as such, it will grow and adapt to its surroundings and its needs, but in the end, it will always be the East Village.

Anonymous said...

Jill! Lovely. Marry me and we'll reopen Victor's fish market! (Though I guess it would have to be a pushcart unless your dowry includes a properly zoned building.)

...It's the big picture that people are talking about...

Yes. It's that we've all seen what happens to towns that lose their mixed use occupancy for various reasons and become shells. We've all seen college towns that lose their downtown because it's all bars and t-shirt shops. And, we've seen towns that fight those radical changes, make smart compromises, and turn out far better than neighboring towns. The EV is changing rapidly, why not work to encourage a better future and avoid some obvious dead ends?

I'm sure there was a moment when, say, Asbury Park's future looked bright--more bars!, more tourists!, more Bruce!, what can possibly go wrong?

Jill said...

Jeremy it's great that you are so enthusiastic but let me recount what has been lost in a mere few years within 3 blocks of north ave a, all turned into bars or restaurants. My laundromat, Italian deli, parking lot (2 bars), 3 "Korean" fresh food markets, 2 /bodegas/bookmakers, 2 thrift shops, printer, fish store, butcher/fish store .more i'm sure I can't think of right now. We never had great clothing stores, but a lot more thrift shops and bodegas. Sure things change, who cares, it's that they've changed so fast and in such a vapid direction of beer bongs and frat inspired party palaces without replacing essential services, all to the benefit of the landlords, not the tenants..

Anonymous said...

Well said Jill. I would also like to say to the original server at Mercaditos that it is truly sad that people are losing their jobs. It is also sad when all the small mom & pop shop owners were priced out. It's about diversity. Some bars yes. All bars no.

Anonymous said...

When you have a bunch of bored psychotic housewives, old retired farts who don't leave their apartment past 8pm, and a smattering of other nutjobs with assorted anger and personality issues, it's not surprising the community boards are as corrupt, ineffective, and as bad-for- business as they currently are. A class-action suit is needed to put these corrupt bastards back in their place, and take back our neighborhoods from these good-for-nothing jerks.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I live in Park Slope and really enjoyed Cantina. If that's the way CB3 feels about non locals - I'll take all my business elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Piggy to have two on one block? If you thought the crowds in front of them was big before, I can only imagine how big the crowd will be when everyone try's to get into one place.

Anonymous said...

The EV will always remain a dirty neighborhood full of drug addicts with no signs of progress, the community board would rather keep those dirty dive restaurant / bars in business that you find in every block in the EV as oppose to granting liquor licenses to new business that serve great food, attract nice people from other neighborhoods and people that actually behaved instead they rather keep in business those nasty old restaurant / bars in business that add nothing to the neighborhood. Allow new restaurants / bars owned by the generation into the neighborhood so those restaurants / bars that should have closed a long time ago rest in peace. The problem is that all those restaurants / bars that should had closed down a long time ago typically bribe the community board members so competition is not allowed into the neighborhood. Let's face it, there are a handful of restaurants / bars in the EV that deserve to be in business based on quality, good service, etc.....