Wednesday, October 18, 2017

24 hours in the life of a pumpkin in Tompkins Square Park


... and today...

Photos by Steven

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 or Lower East Side.

By James Maher
Name: Jay Yang
Occupation: Owner, The China Star
Location: 1st Avenue between St. Mark's Place and 9th Street
Time: Monday, Oct. 17

I’m originally from the Fujian province in southeast China, very close to Hong Kong. I came here in 1996, when I was eight. My sister was the one who took care of everything for the most part since she was older and my parents were working. Later on my father started working with one of my relatives in the original China Star, around 1998 or 1999. He was helping out there.

Starting around 2000, in middle school, my uncle offered for me to help out during the weekends, so I worked Saturday and Sunday as a delivery boy. We saw all kind of crazy stuff. I have one delivery guy, he delivered the food somewhere on 20th Street. The customer opened the door butt naked, and then he offered my delivery guy to come in. My guy was freaked out, so he just dropped off the food and ran.

There were a few times we would deliver food and people were so wasted, they were like, ‘Take my wallet, take whatever and give me the food.’ Other times, we call up and no one answers. We ring the bell, no one answers. We leave a voicemail, no one answers. We usually tell the delivery guy to wait outside for five minutes to give them time to check their phone — nothing happens. They call me the next day, ‘I didn’t get my food.’ I’m like, ‘You do know it’s already been like 9 or 10 hours?’ Especially during weekends, this always happens. I think it happens about six times a month.

In 2005, my family took over the restaurant from my uncle, and I was working most of the time. We were pretty much working seven days a week at that time. It was really tough, and I was kind of miserable — pretty much work and home, work and home. I just worked seven days a week for a good seven or eight years.

It’s long hours and very hard work. I didn’t see myself working in the restaurant, but I promised my dad I would work. I thought I was just going to work for two years and then move on, and somehow I’m still here. I took over completely in 2012 from my parents.

It’s getting easier because after I married my wife, and we have a kid, I hired my brother-in-law to help me out, so I have some time for the family. Life is getting a little better. Running your own business is never easy, especially with what my parents expect for me. They always want you to do what they do, or even better.

It’s changed. We used to have a lot of customers on Ninth Street, all the way from Avenue A to Second Avenue — all these small shops. All the regular customers have either moved out, went out of business or passed away. You don’t have a regular customer anymore. Every once in awhile you will see a regular, but we lost a lot of customers due to moving out because everything got so expensive in the neighborhood. A lot of my customers, they move into the East Village for a short time and they realize that it’s too expensive to live in the neighborhood, then they either move to Queens or Brooklyn.

I realized that I enjoyed learning about business, how you build your business, how you market it. I learned a lot online. Even though the rent is kind of high these days — I just had my rent increased about 40 percent in March. We also use all these major mobile websites, and the commission is very high. It does bring business but at the same time you have too much overhead — but so far we are still doing alright, and I want to expand and open a different type of restaurant in a new location in the future.

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

Efforts continue to rename the Williamsburg Bridge after jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins

[Image via Instagram]

Back in the spring, Lower East Side resident Jeff Caltabiano launched the Sonny Rollins Bridge Project with the purpose of renaming the Williamsburg Bridge to commemorate the jazz saxophonist. (This April feature in The New Yorker has the full story.)

And now, Brooklyn City Councilmember Stephen Levin (apparently with the support of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams) has introduced legislation to rename the Williamsburg Bridge the Sonny Rollins Bridge. (Rollins turned 87 last month.)

Here's more background from a news release yesterday via the EVG inbox...

“I first listened to Sonny Rollins at the age of 13. His music and his story has stayed with me to this day,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin, the bill’s sponsor.

“Looking around New York City you’ll see plenty of monuments to politicians,” he added. “You won’t see many monuments to cultural pioneers that embody the spirit of the city.”

In the summer of 1959, Rollins, who was 28 years old and at the height of his musical career, stopped performing and recording, and for two years would disappear to the pedestrian walkway of the Williamsburg Bridge, not far from his home on the Lower East Side.

It was on the bridge that Rollins, a native son of New York who lived in the city over seven decades, would practice for up to 16 hours a day.

“Playing against the sky really does improve your volume, and your wind capacity,” Rollins wrote in The New York Times in 2015. “I could have just stayed up there forever.”

During his sabbatical, Rollins also began practicing yoga, started exercising, quit smoking, and worked on improving himself. After two years on the bridge, Rollins became a better, more confident player and a better human being.

Rollins’ decision to retreat from the jazz scene — essentially taking a vow of artistic silence — was considered an extreme act. The only place one could hear Rollins play music was up on the bridge.

When Rollins finally returned to playing in public in November 1961, he was a changed man; a more confident and refined player, but also a radical humanist. He went on to create music for another half century, playing many of the world’s great concert halls and releasing many more albums.

Rollins’ work, part of his life-long pursuit of self improvement, exemplified by his time on the bridge, has provided inspiration for people of all walks of life around the world. He is considered one of the living legends of jazz, the greatest improviser in the history of recorded music, and an artist whose influence transcends music.

You can find more info at the Sonny Rollins Bridge website.

Chong Qing Xiao Mian coming to 2nd Avenue

Signage went up yesterday for Chong Qing Xiao Mian at 82 Second Ave. between Fourth Street and Fifth Street.

The proprietors have another location on Ninth Avenue in Hell's Kitchen. Here's a description of that location:

Our restaurant offers a wide array of authentic Chinese Food, such as Mala Noodle, Special Hot Dry Noodle, Homemade Beef Noodle, Fried Dumpling.

Perhaps they will fare better than the other recent restaurants here, including Express Thali, Golden Crepes and 7 Spices.

Thanks to the EVG reader for the photo and tip!

Hitchcocktober movie of the week — 'Vertigo'

The Hitchcocktober movie of the week is "Vertigo" playing at 8 tomorrow (Thursday!) night at the Village East Cinema on Second Avenue and 12th Street.

So dizzy...

And the upcoming Hitchcocktober films:

Oct. 26 — "Rebecca"

And on Oct. 31, Halloween night, there's a screening of "Psycho."

You can buy advance tickets here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Looking for ideas to improve Joseph C. Sauer Park on 12th Street

Invite from City Councilmember Rosie Mendez's office via the EVG inbox...

As part of the Community Parks Initiative, NYC Parks will host a public input meeting to gather community ideas for the redesign of Joseph C. Sauer Park, 12th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B.

The Community Parks Initiative is investing new City resources in parks in communities that need it most. NYC Parks will spend $318 million to rebuild parks in neighborhoods all over the city – including Joseph C. Sauer Park.

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 6:30 pm
Campos Plaza Community Center
611 East 13th St. (between Avenue B and Avenue C, north side of street)
Refreshments served

Repainting the 2nd Avenue bike lane

Workers were out this morning continuing to repaint the well-worn Second Avenue bike lane (this work started in late September, as the crew passed south of 14th Street).

Derek Berg shared these photos of the bike-lane-painting in progress from south of Sixth Street ...

[Updated] New York Central Art Supply returns as Jerry's New York Central on 4th Avenue

On Sept. 2, 2016, New York Central Art Supply closed its doors at 62 Third Ave. after nearly 111 years of business.

The Steinberg family, who ran the art supply store for three generations, cited "poor business conditions" and the pending sale of the building between 10th Street and 11th Street as the primary reasons behind the closure.

Seemingly out of nowhere yesterday (H/T Bayou!), there were multiple updates on the New York Central Art Supply Facebook page.

The new About on Facebook reads: "New York Central Art Supply is now Jerry's New York Central. We offer a large selection of fine art materials for professional painters."

At first glance, it appears that New York Central Art Supply has merged with the Jerry's Artarama shop at 111 Fourth Ave. between 11th Street and 12th Street.

This is now on the New York Central Art Supply website...

I reached out to family member Doug Steinberg to find out more ...



OK, this isn't actually new. Doug Steinberg said that shortly before they closed the business, they worked with David and Ira Goldstein, who own Jerry's, to acquire the remaining paper inventory of NY Central Art Supply.

"We felt Jerry's as a family business had at its core, many similar sensibilities, and David, Ira and their daughter Heather, who oversees their New York store, have a mutual love of the industry that my father had," Steinberg said. "I'm not sure what the long term plan is but they have been introducing some new high end New York Central branded products.

"We are not involved in any of their current or future plans, but we do speak about the business on occasion. We're fortunate they came in and saved the beautiful paper we had remaining."

And this is from Heather Goldstein, who manages the Jerry's on Fourth Avenue, via Facebook:

"My grandfather was Jerry and my dad and uncle currently run the company out of North Carolina. NY Central was one of my favorite stores to go to when I was younger. I remember the first time my dad took me to meet Steve and I couldn't believe the amount of art supplies they fit in that space and to make it more special, I remember how warm and friendly Steve was when we saw him.

NY Central was a landmark art supply store with the best paper selection in the world (literally). I wish we could offer everything that they did but we are doing the best we can. When Central had officially closed last year, Steve’s son, Doug, approached our family to see if we would be interested in purchasing the remainder of their inventory, the name, and their vendor lists. I understand that we are not NY Central but I hope to keep the store’s memory and Steve’s legacy alive as best I can."


Jerry's Artarama, a 15-store art-supply chain headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., opened on Fourth Avenue in late 2013. They took over the space from Utrecht Art Supplies, who moved into a new store on 13th Street between University and Fifth Avenue.

A look at the former P.S. 64

The former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center on Ninth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C is back in the news after Mayor de Blasio said that his administration would take steps to reacquire the building.

This surprise announcement came during the District 2 Town Hall last Thursday night at P.S. 188, the Island School.

De Blasio didn't expound on the topic any further that night. His spokesperson didn't offer any specifics to follow-up queries from DNAinfo.

A spokesperson for owner Gregg Singer, who bought the property from the city in 1998, said that he has no plans to sell the building. The spokesperson, who said that the city is being a bully, told DNAinfo the appraised value of the property is $60 million, and that Singer "has already poured $80 million into upkeep."

Singer, who wants to turn the landmarked property into a dorm called University Square, continues in a holding pattern while the DOB has a Stop Work Order on the building.

Here are some photos of the building from this past weekend... starting with the 10th Street side...

... and the Ninth Street side...

The wheat-paste posters are nearly 8-inches thick on the plywood...

Preservationist groups and other residents have been opposed to Singer's plans, and want to see a return of the landmarked building to use as a cultural and community center.

As seen on the fence at La Plaza Cultural down on Ninth and C...

The DNAinfo piece also quotes East Village resident Jorge de Yarza, who co-owns the cafe Donostia on Avenue B between Ninth Street and 10th Street. Accordonig to DNAinfo, "he helped gather roughly 900 signatures from locals living within a mile of it in support of the dorm plan, asking the city to allow it to move forward."

"We think this is a completely personal issue with a very vocal minority in my community and we have proved that the vast majority of the immediate community is in favor of this building permit going through as a dorm for Adelphi, because bottom line is it's a 100,000-square-foot eyesore that has been there forever for no reason."

According to the Lo-Down, de Yarza helped Singer support candidates running against Carlina Rivera in District 2’s City Council race last month. Rivera, who won the race, is an ally of outgoing Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who has long opposed the dorm plan.

In an interview with the Lo-Down, Singer's attorney, David Schwartz, "alluded to the possibility of a lawsuit to force the city to sign off on the dorm plan, but expressed hopes that Mendez’s successor will 'do what’s right for the community.'"

In a comment on the previous EVG post on this topic, someone wrote, "To find out the truth regarding 605 E. 9th street see:" and signed it Gregg Singer. That website has background on the building, at least from Singer's perspective.

Previously on EV Grieve:
During Town Hall, Mayor announces city's interest in re-acquiring former P.S. 64

Renovations proposed for mysterious 84 2nd Ave.

Renovations are in the works for the mysterious 84 Second Ave. between Fifth Street and Fourth Street.

This address is on Community Board 3's Landmarks Committee docket tonight. (No. 84 falls within the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District. Owners of buildings located within a designated New York City historic district must receive a permit from the Landmarks Preservation Commission before performing any type of work.)

The agenda item reads as follows:

• Certificate of Appropriateness, 84 Second Ave: Exterior work includes façade restoration; storefront alteration; installation of new dormer at roof; elevator, stair and mechanical additions; and rear-yard additions

Betty Sopolsky, the longtime owner, moved away in 2016, around the same time as an LLC with a Hempstead, N.Y., address bought the building for $5.125 million, per public records.

The new landlord, listed on the CB3 paperwork as EA Development Partners, is looking to make some upgrades to the building and long-empty storefront, which is on the rental market ... There are diagrams galore for the proposed work. (Find the PDF here.)

[Click on image for more detail]

The owners are seeking a Certificate of Appropriateness, and this type of permit requires a public hearing at the local community board and LPC offices.

As previously noted, the address has a dark past. This is from The New York Times, dated Jan. 18, 1974:

The nude body of a 40-year-old woman propiretor of a tailor shop that rents tuxedos on the Lower East Side was found bludgeoned to death. The victim was Helen Sopolsky of 84 Second Avenue, near fifth Street, whose shop is one flight up at that address. The motive of the attack was not determined immediately....

As far as some longtime residents can remember, the storefront has remained empty since Helen's death. (Helen was Betty's sister.)

For years (decades?), you could see a plastic-covered dinner jacket in the second-story window with the neon sign that reads "DRESS SUITS TO HIRE." Previous posts have more on this residence ... here and here and here.

The Landmarks Committee meets tonight at 6:30, JASA/Green Residence, 200 E. Fifth St. at the Bowery.

Hotel Tortuga, under new management, will reopen soon still as Hotel Tortuga

One EVG reader confirmed what another reader left in the comments: Hotel Tortuga is currently closed.

However, a reader yesterday said that the Mexican restaurant (with plentiful vegetarian options) on 14th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue will return. Signs on the door say that the space is under new management, and they will reopen soon as Hotel Tortuga.

David and Jean LaPointe opened this Hotel in 2010. They also ran Curly's Vegetarian Lunch one block to the east on 14th Street until the end of 2011 when their lease expired. As Dave LaPoint, a founder of Burritoville, wrote at the time: "[T]he new lease terms proved just too much for a little vegetarian place..."

Monday, October 16, 2017

Oc. 16

EVG reader V.H. McKenzie spotted this Winter Wonderland just-needs-a-good-home (and some water) tree outside the neighborhood on Fifth Avenue and 12th Street tonight... still, it's noteworthy given how easily it would have been for someone to just keep this tree another two-plus months until Dec. 25.

Today's fish-head-on-sidewalk contribution

Spotted on Second Avenue at 11th Street.

Previous contributions are here and here and here.

H/T Bagel Guy!

A morning scene in Tompkins Square Park

Photo today by Derek Berg...

Cafe Orlin signs off

[Photo from yesterday]

As previously reported, Cafe Orlin closed last night after service, wrapping up a 36-year run on St. Mark's Place.

Grub Street reported last month that the Cafe Orlin owner is also the building's landlord, "and a new restaurant will open in its place" here between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

So far, the restaurant hasn't posted any messages on the Cafe's social media properties abut the closure or what might be next.

The chalkboard outside thanks patrons...

There were a handful of thank-yous and goodbyes on social media...

Previously on EV Grieve:
Cafe Orlin will close next month after 36 years in business (34 comments)

Reports of shots fired on Avenue C and 11th Street

[Photo via @_elkue]

Several EVG readers reported hearing 8-12 gunshots around midnight on Avenue C between 11th Street and 12th Street.

According to Christopher J. Ryan, who shared the below photos, the shots came from the east side of Avenue C outside Avenue C Pharmacy, with bullets hitting a building across the Avenue as well as the bus shelter.

One person was reportedly shot and transferred to Bellevue. It was not known if he/she was the intended target. Police are apparently searching for three suspects one suspect.

Will update the story when more information becomes available.

Updated 8 a.m.

The Post reports that a 29-year-old man was shot multiple times as he was riding a bike along Avenue C.

The cyclist, who was struck once in the torso and once in the arm, managed to flee and took himself to Bellevue Hospital, where he is in serious but stable condition.

Police are looking for one suspect. The Post reports that the victim is cooperating with the NYPD. The article does not say if the man was the intended target.

Updated 10:15 a.m.

Per DNAinfo: "The shooter wore a black hoodie, according to a police source. A black hoodie and a black ski mask were recovered near the site of the shooting, the source said."


Here's surveillance video from when the shots were fired on the east side of Avenue C...

Never a dull moment. Here’s a shooting last night outside my house. ( white flashes above the white car )

A post shared by Chris (@chrisryanaction) on

Unique 4th Street church on the market for development

The three-story building — aka the San Isidoro y San Leandro Western Orthodox Catholic Church of the Hispanic Mozarabic Rite — on Fourth Street between Avenue C and Avenue D is for sale.

The listing for the address describes it as a "religious building" and "former religious assembly space" with potential use as either a single-family home or multiple units. There are unused air rights too.

Here's more about the sale via Cushman & Wakefield:

[T]he building sits on a 24’ x 96’ lot and contains approximately 4,502 SF above grade or 6,810 SF with usable lower level. 345 East 4th Street is in an R8B zone which allows for a total BSF of 9,232 (approximately 4,730 SF of unused air rights are intact).

A new development (of 9,232 SF) could be residential single family/multi-family or Community Facility. The building was formerly used as a religious assembly space and will be delivered vacant upon sale.

It is currently configured with a step-down usable lower level, a former religious assembly space with soaring ceiling height on the first floor which includes mezzanine space, and an owner’s apartment on the top floor. The lower level previously housed building mechanicals but is now used for general storage and can be accessed directly from the street or from the first floor. Lower level and first floor are built full on the lot while the top floor is approximately 51’ deep.

The former religious assembly space benefits from tremendous ceiling heights (20+’) and therefore lends itself well to a user looking for interesting space. The owner’s unit has four rooms plus a kitchen, full bathroom and outdoor roof space. Due to the impending vacancy, the property presents an exceptionally unique opportunity for a developer and/or end user.

Price: $6 million.

According to New York City Songlines, the San Isidoro y San Leandro Western Orthodox Catholic Church of the Hispanic Mozarabic Rite is "named for brothers who were successive bishops in Seville, circa 600 AD. Originally a Russian Orthodox Church, built circa 1895." I do not know when the church last held any type of mass here.

Here are two photos of the interior that I took in 2011 during one of the many weekend rummage sales held here...

... and here's an interior shot via the Cushman & Wakefield marketing materials...

According to public records, Patricio Cubillos Murillo (there are several variations of this name) is the building's owner, with a deed dating to September 1975.

The document on file with the city shows that this building changed hands for $6,000 that year. Here's the first page...

[Click on image for more detail]

Tea Dealers opening soon on Avenue B

Tea Dealers, a cafe-retail combo space, is shaping up on Avenue B between Second Street and Third Street.

Here's more about the owners and mission via their website:

Stefen Ramirez and Shin Won Yoon created Tea Dealers with the aim to introduce the highest quality pure, non-blended teas to America. Our tea catalog is a distinctive selection of exceptional teas that focus on cultivation, the artistry of the producer, and the cultural heritage of each origin.

We import teas from India, Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan and source them directly from the farmers. All of the selections use traditional agriculture methods that do not use pesticides and only natural fertilizers when needed.

In June 2015, they opened a retail outlet in Williamsburg ... followed by a summertime pop-up shop on Canal Street this year.

Aside from serving tea and a food menu, the Avenue B location will sell tea pots, cups, flower vases, etc., and offer tea-related workshops and tastings.

The storefront in the middle of Brunch Row was previously home for seven years to Sigmund Pretzel Shop, which closed last fall.

Corner space at 118 1st Ave. for rent

The owner of the building on the northeast corner of First Avenue and Seventh Street has put up a for rent sign in the corner space ... which has already drawn some commentary...

... to coincide with the commentary that has been on the front door since the previous tenant, Golden Food Market, closed at the end of July after 35 years in business...

The storefront listing isn't online. So there isn't any word of the asking rent.

An LLC with a West 11th Street address bought the building at 118 First Ave. back in the spring for $5.8 million, according to public records.

The Golden Food Market staff said that the lease was up for renewal and the new landlord wanted an increase that was more than they could manage.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Golden Food Market closes on 1st Avenue and 7th Street

Pouring one out for the former Pourhouse!

[Photo Wedensday via @edwardzick]

Back on Wednesday, workers removed the Village Pourhouse neon signage on Third Avenue ... the sports bar closed in April after 10 years of hosting every neighborhood pub crawl...

Workers, for now, did leave some remnants of the Pourhouse on the 11th Street side...

In July, CB3 OK'd a new liquor license for the owners behind the Ainsworth, the upscale sports-bar chainlet with three NYC locations as well as one in Hoboken, N.J., and Las Vegas. No word on an opening date for the Ainsworth East Village.

And someone has kept the memory alive of the tenant that never was — E.Vil, the rock-and-roll bar with big plans and an active Instagram account.

[Photo from early October by Shawn Chittle]

Previously on EV Grieve:
The Village Pourhouse still looks like the Village Pourhouse outside, but E.Vil is on the way

Village Pourhouse is closing on 3rd Avenue; E.Vil is coming soon

An outpost of the Ainsworth vying for former Pourhouse space; E.Vil is not coming