Saturday, June 3, 2023

Check out 6 plays written and performed by local artists at the 6th and B Garden

The second annual LUNGS Theater Festival takes place this weekend at the 6th Street and Avenue B Garden.

The free performances are from 3-6 p.m. each day. Note: The program is the same today and tomorrow.

Saturday's opening shot

At the Second Avenue F stop, a new mural of Sasha Colby — winner of season 15 of "RuPaul's Drag Race" — by David Puck...

Friday, June 2, 2023

Friday's parting shot

An EVG reader shared this photo today from Veselka on Second Avenue and Ninth Street, where the cold summer borscht is back on the menu ...

Get the 'Message'

Every-Friday-at-5™ faves Osees (Thee Oh Sees!) have announced a new record, Intercepted Message, out this August. The video here is for the title track.

Annnd they are a great live band... you can see for yourself this coming Sept. 22-23 at the Warsaw.


A hint of their live show... though without the video aura...

At the former St. Brigid School, a generous outpouring of community support for asylum seekers

Photos and text by Stacie Joy 

Yesterday was the first distribution day since we published the stories (here and here) about the asylum seekers at the former St. Brigid's School, which the city is using at a temporary "respite center" on Seventh Street and Avenue B. 

It's a big production, with many community members reaching out, eager to help. I hope all donated goods: clothes, bedding, towels, personal-care products, book bags and shoes will find good homes with the newly arrived refugees. 

I arrive a bit early at the drop-off location, and it's already filling up — so many people are bringing in so many items. As I frantically text some reinforcements — friends and neighbors — to help organize the growing donations, more and more people drop off bags for the hundreds of asylum seekers arriving here in the past week. 

The community support is more than I ever imagined, with residents bringing precisely what is most needed: shoes (chancletas are a highly requested footwear), jeans, sweats, T-shirts, blankets, sheets, towels, and backpacks. A local wine bar owner drops off hundreds of dollars worth of new shoes, socks and bedding. 

People carefully explain what they've brought, and several ask me about providing ongoing support. It's touching — and daunting. Hundreds of pounds of items are piling up...
As more volunteers arrive, we begin setting up tables at the Free Store outside the center. There is, predictably, initial pushback from the facility even though we're on a public sidewalk.

However, we reach an understanding and are soon working together to get the goods to the people who need them. And hundreds of asylum seekers are provided clothing, bedding and hygiene products. The donated backpacks —  a hotly sought-after item — move faster than I anticipated.
Staffers come out to help translate. Spanish and French are the two most spoken languages, but one woman speaks Mandarin, and no one can assist her. She wants to go to Flushing but needs to know how. 

Site workers also help me pair specific items with those who made a request, and we strategize how to get the most-requested item — Wi-Fi access — to the people. Since there is no coordination between the city and several agencies working within the site, getting anything accomplished through government channels is impossible. 

There are some heartwarming moments — two women are ecstatic over a donated box of new makeup, a gentleman spies some glittery shoes he admires, and the woman requesting extra-small or extra-extra-small yoga pants finally grabs two pair. Someone else spies the AeroBed that was dropped off, and we Google translate how to inflate it — often with amusing results and a much-needed moment of levity.  

As soon as items hit the table (and sometimes before), they are nabbed by the center's residents. And a new bus of immigrants arrives in the middle of the distribution, while another bus parks down the block to take people to Albany. Many take their newly acquired packs, clothes, and goods and head to the bus in preparation for heading north — all thanking us before they board. 

The scene is sometimes chaotic, with altercations between city and state employees, and the police are called to intercede. Additionally, a few Medrite employees — the subcontractors the city hired — are agitated, and some unkind words are uttered. Still, no one stops the Free Store, and even when security arrives via NYC Emergency Management, they are supportive.

This was a hugely successful community event, thanks mainly to East Village residents and EVG readers. Many of the asylum seekers expressed gratitude and thanks for the generous help.
Future drop-off dates at Assemblymember Harvey Epstein's office at 107 Avenue B at Seventh Street are:

• Tuesday, June 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 
• Thursday, June 8, 3-5:30 p.m. 
• Tuesday, June 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Previously on EV Grieve:

Openings: Star Team on 9th Street

Image via @kyotaumeki

East Village native (and current resident) Kyota Umeki, a skateboarder and designer, debuted his skate shop, Star Team, Wednesday at 436 E. Ninth St. between Avenue A and First Avenue. 

He created the Star Team brand a few years back, and the shop features his clothing, boards and other accessories (check out his headphones). 

Quartersnacks posted a Q&A with him on Wednesday, where, among other topics, he talks about the vision he has for the storefront: 
I don't know what the shop will actually be like after it opens, but right now, I'm imagining a shop where the community will grow on its own. I want this store to be run like a real store. I want it to be proper. I want people to feel comfortable here. I'm looking forward to doing events and gatherings — not exactly "shows." The space is pretty small, so it's hard to think of bigger stuff to do, but it'd be sick to do drop events for homies and little gather-arounds every couple of weeks, like having other brands and clothing.
And how it started with the ribbon cutting ...

For now, Star Team will be open Monday-Friday from noon to 7 p.m. and weekends from 1-5 p.m. 

H/T William Klayer

Why 787 Coffee decided to close its 14th Street outpost

Deteriorating quality-of-life issues along 14th Street have prompted 787 Coffee to shut its doors here between First Avenue and Second Avenue.
In an Instagram message, 787 management called the move "very sad." At the same time, the shop has suffered five break-ins in the past four weeks, and they also cited an increasing number of unhoused people along the corridor, a longtime area of concern for residents (here and here).

In addition, management said some customers sitting outside were assaulted last week. 

"We make coffee as an excuse to connect, to collaborate, to create… but when we are afraid to even go to work, it defeats our values, our DNA," they said.
The shop opened at 319 E. 14th St. in late February 2021 and brought some welcome daytime activity to this north side of the block. 

The growing coffee brand has three other EV locations — 131 E. Seventh St. near Avenue A, 101 Second Ave. at Sixth Street and 159 E. 10th St. at Second Avenue.

Top photo is by Pinch, and the other two are by Joe

Your Funzi's Pizzeria signage on St. Mark's Place

Photo by Steven

Some classic-looking signage is up now at 36 St. Mark's Place, where Funzi's Pizzeria is set to open soonish here between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. (They are currently hiring.)

We're told that it will be an old-school slice joint with a few Italian dishes as well. 

And we're betting that Funzi's will break the curse of one-and-done quick-serve concepts at this address. (Reminder: Oh K-Dog & Egg Toast, Joe's Steam Rice Roll, Cheers Cut, Friterie Belgian Fries, Fasta and the $1.50 branch of 2 Bros. Pizza — all since 2015.)

2+ months after opening, 99¢ Pizza raises price of $1 slice to $1.50

99¢ Pizza debuted in mid-March at 418 E. 14th St. just east of First Avenue. As noted then, despite the name of the establishment, a cheese slice initially cost a penny more — $1. 

The cost of doing $1-pizza business may have caught up with them: EVG reader Tom notes that the $1 slice is now $1.50.

Subsequently, Combo #1 — two plain slices and a can of soda OR bottle or water increased from $2.99 to $3.99. Prices for Combo #2 and Combo #3 (hot dogs!) remain unchanged.

We'll see how the 99¢ Pizza shop at 246 E. 14th St. between Second Avenue and Third Avenue responds! They lowered the price of a slice from $1.50 to 99 cents as the cheap slice war heated up.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Thursday's parting shot

Photo by Derek Berg 

When life imitates art (on a moving truck). Second Avenue and Fifth Street today.

A slice of street art for Two Boots

A colorful new mural by Tats Cru — via the LISA Project NYC — went up today on the corner of Avenue A and Third Street outside Two Boots. (Thanks for the tip, Newman!)

Grab a slice and check it out... 

On Avenue A, a golf-related shop fore people who might like golf

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

It's a Cinderella story, out of nowhere: Whim Golf is shaping up to open at 66 Avenue A between Fourth Street and Fifth Street.  

Here's more about the company:
For people who might like golf. Founded in 2019, Whim Golf is an American fashion brand on a mission to democratize golf. Built to bridge the gap between art and sport, Whim designs timeless products, artful content, and immersive experiences that together build a community that shifts the narrative about who belongs in golf.

Or, as a 2022 feature in Golf Digest put it, "Taking the coolness from streetwear, the whimsy from fashion and the silhouettes from golf, [Whim Golf] is looking to refresh the sport's image."

And: "So the mission is twofold: make golf style everyday style, and increase golf’s visibility along the way."

If this sounds somewhat familiar, Whim Golf opened a pop-up location on the Lower East Side in the summer of 2019.

The Avenue A outpost will feature golf apparel and related accessories... as well as a putting green, which was under construction the other day when EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by...
... and talked with co-founder Will Gisel, who started the company with childhood friend Colin Heaberg. (They also own a creative agency called Whim.)
Whim Golf is expected to open soon.

The retail space has been vacant since Lancelotti Housewares left in the fall of 2021 after 25 years in business. A collectible sneaker shop had been in the works here, but the business never materialized. 

Concern about the future of the 188 Allen Street Gallery

Cheese Grille has apparently served its last grilled cheese sandwich as a quick-serve restaurant from 188 Allen St. between Houston and Stanton. 

The long-and-narrow space — in business for nearly 10 years — has been closed of late... and a for-rent sign hangs in the front window...
Google lists them as permanently closed. [Updated: Ownership says they are open for catering and private events.]

Meanwhile, a group of artists and some art fans are hoping the sidewalk dining structure can continue on as 188 Allen Street Gallery, an art space that has showcased a variety of artists since last summer (see here and here)...
The Department of Transportation has already issued a "Termination" notice for the structure.

NYC street artist SacSix, who has curated shows here as well as created murals on the storefront, appealed to the DOT in a recent Instagram post, inviting city officials here "to see how small business entrepreneurs can create incredible communities in unique spaces." 

Said an EVG reader in an email: "This gallery has been a godsend for our community bringing creative artists together to showcase their talent. For many new artists, this is an opportunity to showcase their works ..." 

Coming soon to this block of 5th Street: Duo Cafe and For You Laundry

Signage is up for Duo Cafe at the under-renovation west-side storefront at 223 E. Fifth St. between Second Avenue and Cooper Square. (Thanks to all the readers who sent in the tip!)

No word just yet on who is behind this venture, which will offer desserts and tea, per the signage. 

Also coming soon to this block (closer to Second Avenue): For You Laundry, providing the customary washing, drying and folding as well as dry cleaning...

Kuppi Coffee Company setting up shop on 1st Avenue and St. Mark's Place this summer

The Edgewater, N.J.-based Kuppi Coffee Company is opening its second outpost this summer at 131 First Ave. (aka 82 St. Mark's Place). 

The coffee shop has been sharing photos of the under-renovation space...


In 2018, Architectural Digest named Kuppi the "Most Beautiful Coffee Shop" in New Jersey, noting: "White-washed exposed-brick walls and hung flower boxes — brimming with greenery — bring the outdoors in at Kuppi Coffee Company ..." 

The previous tenant at the address, AO Bowl, closed last August after an off-and-on 18 months in business ... and blaming Sen. Schumer.

In 2019, workers gutted this single-level structure on the corner ... and divided the storefront into several retail spaces. The other tenant here is the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop.

The former occupant, Foot Gear Plus, closed in July 2018 after nearly 40 years in business.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Wednesday's parting shot

Photo by William Klayer 

A set late this afternoon by Twisted Wrist outside St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery on Second Avenue and 10th Street... (check them out some time...) 

6 posts from May

A mini-month in review (and belated HBD to Joey Ramone this past May 19)... 

• Inside the East Village 'respite center' for asylum seekers (May 30)

• At the new home of The Joyce, which aims to be a hub for the performing arts in the East Village (May 23) 

• This East Village resident is bringing a classic 82-year-old radio back to broadcasting life (May 18

• With Community Board approval, Sammy's Roumanian Steak House takes another step to returning to the Lower East Side (May 16

• Mayor Adams visits Tompkins Square Park (May 15

• After deadly collapse, city issues vacate order at the Little Man Parking garage on 9th Street (May 2)

Missed meal deliveries and a need for basics: the developing situation at the East Village respite center for asylum seekers

Photos and text by Stacie Joy 
Part two in our ongoing coverage of the asylum seeker
respite center in the East Village 

An asylum seeker asked me where he could get a job. He said his fellow asylum seekers are asking everywhere and are desperate to work — any kind of work. 

Two people showed me immigration paperwork that had them set to appear in Texas and Philadelphia, respectively, tomorrow. I use Google translate to help me with complicated translation — and they ask how far Texas is and if it’s possible to “get a ticket there.” 

Several people (most from Colombia) show me paperwork for BI SmartLINK. This immigration phone app can monitor them and provide case management, but they don’t have Wi-Fi or cellular service, so they can’t make their scheduled phone appointments. I asked some local businesses near the site — the former St. Brigid's School on Seventh Street and Avenue B — if they could share Wi-Fi passwords, but they all declined. 

I am also told that meals didn’t show up again yesterday, and folks are hungry. C&B Café donates some items: croissants, focaccia, donuts, sourdough — and the bags are empty before everyone gets something to eat. I contacted EVLovesNYC again to plan for another Sunday delivery — but their funds are dwindling. They believe they can do 100 meals for Sunday, and we talk about how to maximize meal planning on a budget. 

At this point, the site is being monitored 24/7 by officers from the 9th Precinct. None have been inside the site, and they tell me that the orders have come from high up the command chain, above the Precinct’s commanding officer — to monitor all the respite center sites, not just the one in the East Village. I ask if they can turn the flashing lights off, which they do. They seem mostly interested in being helpful but unsure exactly how to do so. 

I had spotted a sign warning about a “men’s shelter” (misspelled as a “men shetler”) opening up in Tompkins Square Park, at the playground near Seventh Street and Avenue B. I ask the officers if they expect protests, but they say no; they have no reason to believe there will be any problems. They just want to make sure everything is calm on the street.
As calm as things are outside, things are reaching a breaking point inside. During a meal distribution several days ago, State Assemblymember Harvey Epstein arrived for a scheduled facility tour. The site supervisor instructs the NYCEM (NYC Emergency Management) and Medrite (city subcontractor) teams to block and pin him to the wall. 

They keep him restrained even after they are made aware that he’s a local elected official representing the district the center is located in. Epstein explains that Mayor Adam’s senior advisor Diane Savino made the appointment for him, but no one seems inclined to allow him in, and he is escorted out. To date, he hasn’t been allowed to see the facility. 

On Monday, we take all the community-donated clothes and supplies and set up a Free Store outside the center. Nearly 100 of the asylum seekers line up to receive supplies, and in a touching twist, they all step aside and announce “women first,” and the women come and claim their clothes and supplies before the men. I am charmed by that.
What starts as a line soon devolves into a free-for-all as people swarm the tables. We received dozens and dozens of bags of clothing and donated items, and after about 30 minutes, we had just a few leftover items. I explain that we’ll be back again on Thursday with more stuff.
I get requests for chancletas, sneakers, sweatpants, underwear, jeans, T-shirts, cell phones. I try to write down special requests (women’s underwear size small, jeans with a 32 waist), but I am also told that many people won’t be there when I return. They are being shipped upstate, and it’s hard for me to know if they want to go or have no choice. 

One staffer lets me in to drop off the rest of the clothing, and I notice something optimistic: The coffeepot — previously deemed an unacceptable item — has finally been set up and is clearly being used by everyone. I smile; it’s a good sign.
If you’d like to help, donations of adult clothes (there are no children or infants at this location), bedding and towels, backpacks, and toiletries are welcome during four upcoming drop-off dates. 

Items can be brought to Epstein’s office at 107-109 Avenue B at Seventh Street on the following dates and times: 

• Thursday, June 1, 3-5:30 p.m.
• Tuesday, June 6, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 
• Thursday, June 8, 3-5:30 p.m. 
• Tuesday, June 13, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 

Previously on EV Grieve: 

Avenue A deli news in review

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

The East Village New Deli has gone dark at 115 Avenue A between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place. Workers have been gutting the space and hauling out the shop's equipment in the past week. 

Door signage notes that counter staff Joe and Munch are now working a few storefronts to the north ... the 14-month-old Avenue A Deli and Grill...
Avenue A Deli's manager said that Joe and Munch will be at his shop for the morning shift, 7 a.m. until around 4 p.m., making sandwiches and working the grill.
No official word just yet on what might be next for the East Village New Deli space. (Bring back Alphabets!)

Bagel Market out of commission for now

The gates have been down in recent weeks at Bagel Market, 238 E. 14th St. between Second Avenue and Third Avenue ... sparking speculation that the shop had closed after three-plus months in business

The closure is, ownership hopes, temporary. 

In an Instagram message, they said there was a leak from the unit above the kitchen, "and it destroyed our oven." And the next steps? "We have ordered an oven and negotiations with the landlord are still ongoing." 

Bagel Market's four other NYC locations remain open.

The previous tenant didn't have much better luck here. The Bagel Boss chainlet opened a location here in July 2021, and they closed several months later in October for, per management, "gas and electric problems" in the building. Bagel Boss never reopened here.  

H/T Pinch!