Monday, October 1, 2012

Remember The Frenchmen on First Avenue

EVG reader Baby Dave recently told us the sad news that The Frenchmen recently closed on First Avenue. The air conditioning shop near East 19th Street had been in business for as long as anyone can remember.

The Town & Village Blog reported on Sept. 6 that the owner, Bill Koniuk, had to close the store due to some health issues.

Reporter Sabina Mollot noted how the shop was well-known to residents of Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village for its annual Christmas party for neighborhood kids.

"The party, a decades-long tradition, included free horse carriage rides, live music, toys and a holiday window display that rivaled midtown’s department stores."

Brown paper now covers the shop's windows, but signs of the holiday remain near the Frenchmen's fantastic sign...

Jeremiah had a post about the Frenchmen's sign back in 2010, and the old-time telephone exchange.

Baby Dave shared this about The Frenchmen:

Mr. Koniuk was a very nice guy. His annual Christmas party was a real throwback, and his holiday window display was a treat.

I once went in on a sweltering Saturday needing help. I asked if the shop made air-conditioning house calls on a Saturday. My mother's machine was sort of revving, but not much else. "No, no house calls today, but what kind of machine is it?" "Does it have an electronic keypad on front?" "OK, just press 'filter alert' and 'Energy saver' [or something like that] at the same time. Hold them for about 15-20 seconds." 
And darned if it didn't work. I was practically about to write him a check on the spot, or scurry to the cash machine, and he fixed the problem for free.

In the last few years, it was unclear just how much business the place was doing. I suppose much of the air-conditioning work was done off the premises, but the display of audeo equipment was like a museum: used boom boxes from 1982, maybe a Discman.

And so a little precious bit of a community disappears.

Indeed. No idea what will come here next. But you get an idea of the new local landscape with the recent arrival of this next door ...


jack lance said...

I really missed frenchmen:( i remember when i was at frenchmen when japanese street culture and a japanese expatriate scene forms in the noodle shops and bars that line the street, also an aged punk culture and CBGB's new store nearby.
but i moved to clifton, nj long ago and join Commercial ac firm

Anonymous said...

That TD Bank is down the block from PS 40, and is the former location of the store where I bought my penny candy as a kid, back in the '50's.

Anonymous said...

I live around here and I swear that TD Bank sprung up in a matter of days. One day I looked up and there it was, all fully constructed and open for business, like it had been there for years. I hadn't seen it coming. Sneaky and disturbing.