Thursday, February 2, 2023

Early morning assault outside Ray's Candy Store leaves Ray with a black eye and facial wounds

Photos by Lola Sáenz 

Word is circulating about an assault outside Ray's Candy Store that left Ray Alvarez, the shop's 90-year-old proprietor, with a black eye and a gash on his temple.

Here's what we've been told via several sources: Early Tuesday on the overnight shift, Ray and his employee Gabe walked outside the shop at 113 Avenue A around 3 a.m. for some fresh air. At that point, two men — apparently known to regulars along Avenue A — approached Ray and Gabe here just north of Seventh Street. 

The men were apparently trying to sell seltzer water. After declining the offer, the men angrily left. One of the men quickly returned, produced a metal pipe with a ball attached to the end, and struck the pair, hitting Gabe in the chest and Ray across the left side of his face. The man then ran off.

The blow left Ray, who fell to the ground bleeding, with a black eye and facial wounds... 
So far, Ray has not sought any medical treatment and continues to work. Last night, he officially filed a report with the 9th Precinct. Two officers stopped by Ray's to take his statement and begin an investigation.

Ray, who turned 90 last month, opened the shop in 1974. We can't recall anything like this happening to him before...  [Updated: See comments — I forgot about the time Marlene (aka Hot Dog) slammed the sidewalk gates on Ray's head.]

What's going on with Pop's Eat-Rite on St. Mark's Place

Workers recently removed the Pop's Eat-Rite signage outside 123 St. Mark's Place. 

The quick-serve plant-based burger joint had been closed the past year, prompting occasional queries from several EVG readers. So we reached out to Robert Ceraso, owner and creative director of the Endless Hospitality Group, about the status of Pop's, which debuted in September 2020

For starters, he said that this was always meant to be a temporary pop-up between Avenue A and First Avenue ... "utilizing the space during the pandemic and getting our employees back to work following the shutdown." 

However, Pop's did build a following during its time here. 

"We have been talking to some landlords in the neighborhood about a smaller space to re-open Pop’s. We think that it would be better served in a smaller space with fewer seats inside and more of a focus on to-go and delivery," said Ceraso, whose other East Village establishments include the Wayland, Good Night Sonny and the Wild Son. "People still ask about it all the time, and we would love to get it back open as soon as possible."

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Det. Jamie Hernandez honored after 34 years with the 9th Precinct

Photos by Stacie Joy 

Yesterday morning, East Village and NYPD community members came together to honor Det. Jamie Hernandez, who was retiring after 34 years at the 9th Precinct.
Hernandez, who headed up Community Affairs, took part in a walkout ceremony at the station house on Fifth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue...
... where he was joined by his family...
... members of the 9th Precinct...
... and representatives of the neighborhood's religious community...
Deputy Inspector Ralph A. Clement, the 9th's commanding officer, presided over the ceremony...
Here's part of the longtime detective's farewell...


 Hernandez, who told residents he'd be taking an extended vacation, then rode off in a unique NYPD cruiser...

Wednesday's opening shot

It flurried! A little, very little. (Why we'd even mention this.) ... Seventh Street outside Tompkins Square Park this morning...

Packing up Café Cortadito

Café Cortadito has closed its doors at 210 E. Third St., just east of Avenue B, after service this past Saturday. 

As we first reported, Ricardo Arias and Patricia Valencia, the husband-and-wife owners of the popular Cuban restaurant, were facing a rent hike from $8,000 to $15,000 per month. 

On Monday, EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by to find the owners packing up the space. 

On the positive side, they have identified a new location not too far away... though the owners haven't signed a lease just yet. Stay tuned.

280 E. Houston St. prepped for new building construction

Workers have extended the plywood and set up a construction zone along 280 E. Houston St., where a new 11-story building will rise here between Avenue A and Avenue B. 

For the foreseeable future, pedestrians and cyclists will both be using the roadway to pass this property...
There are a few pieces of equipment on-site, though it doesn't appear to be a full-blown operation just yet...
As a reminder, here's what in store... still no word on the number of units... 
In October, aThe Real Deal first reported, landlord Samy Mahfar and investors picked up the property from members of the Hirsch family for $36.8 million.

Per TRD's report, "the Hirsch family obtained demolition permits and did enough foundation work to qualify the site for the 421a property tax abatement before it expired in June."

In the fall of 2021, workers demolished the one-level strip of storefronts here (Dunkin'/Baskin-Robbins, Subway, China Town restaurant, etc.) adjacent to the 13-floor residential building formerly known as Red Square. 

Openings: Bobby’s Night Out on Avenue C

Bobby's Night Out recently debuted on the NW corner of Avenue C and Ninth Street. 

East Village resident Bobby Gonzales is behind the establishment, which he described as "Tavern-style but more of a bar with great food." The menu includes a variety of tacos and burritos, including vegan options. 

Despite the "Night" element of the name, the space at 145 Avenue C opens at noon... and features a daily brunch service until 5 p.m. There are several projectors and big screens in the space, though he said they go up at night — leaving a lone TV behind the bar — "so people can engage with each other."

Hours: Noon to 4 a.m.

Gonzales, a native of New Mexico, operated La Flaca — billed as "New York's premier New Mexican bar and restaurant" — during a 10-year run (2010-2020) down on Grand at Suffolk. 

Esperanto quietly closed in this space sometime in 2021 after 22 years in service.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Tuesday's parting boots

As seen along Second Avenue near Fifth Street today... photo by Derek Berg...

6 posts from January

A mini month in review... 

• Soul mates: Meet the members of East Village-based band Sauce City (Jan. 21

• Report: The Regal Union Square multiplex to close after bankruptcy filing (Jan. 19

•  The remaining structure of the fire-damaged Middle Collegiate Church will be demolished (Jan. 13

• After 29 years playing in the East Village, I finally decided to see "Stomp" before it closed (Jan. 9

• The future of the unlicensed weed vendors (Jan. 3

• A happy birthday mural for Ray on Avenue A (Jan. 2)

Report: The former Charas/P.S. 64 is headed to auction this March

After another round of legal rulings, the former P.S. 64/Charas/El Bohio Community Center is headed to a foreclosure auction in March. 

According to The Real Deal, a court-appointed referee last week set an auction for the property at the Hilton New York Midtown Fifth Avenue on March 22. (As previously noted, the 135,000-square-foot building is zoned for "community facility use." Any conversion to a condoplex or residential housing would require a time-consuming zoning variance.)

Late last year, Judge Melissa Crane "agreed with a report from a court-appointed referee that Madison was owed $89.9 million for principal, interest and other charges." 

Singer disputed the interest and charges, arguing that the report lacked a "breakdown by month of the Prime and LIBOR rates, making it impossible to verify the accuracy of the calculations." 

Crane quickly shot down that argument. "The note explains the method for calculating the relevant interest rate in its first paragraph," she said. 
Singer vows to keep fighting despite the scheduled auction, citing new evidence he was "finally able to obtain," The Real Deal reported. 
"We expect our rights will be fully vindicated and we will ultimately prevail and be allowed to have the building be a benefit to the community," he said.
In recent weeks, workers — under emergency orders via the DOB — have been sealing up the building's Ninth Street and 10th Street sides between Avenue B and Avenue C. The former school and community center had been easy to access in recent years, attracting a variety of urban thrillseekers and partygoers. The broken windows and poorly secured doors also exposed the building to the elements — not to mention pigeons and other wildlife.

The property that Singer purchased from the city in 1998 for $3.15 million fell into foreclosure last year. Through the years, Singer wanted to turn the building into a dorm (more here), though those plans never materialized. (At one point, the Joffrey Ballet and Cooper Union were attached to the project.)

In October 2017, then-Mayor de Blasio's statement at a Town Hall put forth the idea that the city would take steps to reacquire the building. 

Some residents want to see the space used again as a community center, as it was during its time as Charas/El Bohio Community Center. Singer evicted the group on Dec. 27, 2001.  

Honoring Det. Jamie Hernandez after 34 years of service to the East Village

Photos by Steven

After 34 years with the 9th Precinct, the East Village community is bidding farewell this morning to Jaime Hernandez, detective first grade who heads up Community Affairs here.

This morning at 11, Hernandez is taking part in a walkout ceremony at the station house on Fifth Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue...
Village Preservation selected Hernandez as a Village Awardee in 2020, noting that he "has built a highly regarded reputation throughout his career as someone who builds bridges, listens, and works closely and collaboratively with the communities he serves."

Jaime has been a finalist for a Village Award for several years now, but he always had other commitments and been unable to accept, including one year he missed because he had just donated a kidney to his daughter.

Fire shutters the recently opened Gjelina on Bond Street

A fire yesterday just before noon has temporarily shuttered Gjelina, a popular L.A. import that just opened at the start of 2023 at 45 Bond St. 

The FDNY responded to a report of a fire here between the Bowery and Lafayette around 11:30 a.m.

According to the @FDNYalerts account, the fire was in the ductwork between the first and second floor... with firefighters on the scene for several hours before announcing the "under control" ... The Citizen app reported that two firefighters sustained minor injuries during the blaze. No other injuries were reported. Gjelina, a vegetable-centric restaurant that opened in Venice, Calif., in 2008, debuted here at the start of the year with a breakfast-lunch service. Grub Street noted that Gjelina was "already Manhattan's hottest lunch." 

The restaurant's Instagram account noted — via its Stories — that it was closed for now...
A look inside the restaurant last evening didn't reveal much, if any, damage — at least from the front.

Signage alert: Saint Pizza on Avenue B

Photo by Stacie Joy

Signage arrived last week for Saint Pizza at 223 Avenue B between 13th Street and 14th Street.

We mentioned last month that a pizzeria was taking over the former Subway (sandwich shop) here.

Hopefully, it will offer a solid slice/pie for after a visit to Mona's across the street.

Will post more details about the operators when that info becomes available.  

Monday, January 30, 2023

Monday's parting shot

From a sold-out Webster Hall on 11th Street, the first night of the co-headlining tour with the Charlatans and Ride... at Brooklyn Steel tomorrow (1/31) if you like.

Another call to unlock the restrooms in Tompkins Square Park

Photos by Stacie Joy 

The public restrooms remain closed to the public in Tompkins Square Park. 

We've seen various homemade signs about reopening the restrooms here since the Parks Department locked them up in early November

Today, Jimmy was taking up the cause...
Parks officials have said that a malfunctioning boiler and a broken pipe in the basement of the Park's fieldhouse are to blame for the closure.

As we've noted, perhaps the Parks Department is just waiting ... as they are expected to rebuild the fieldhouse. According to the Parks Department website, the contractor's contract is now registered with the city.

A youthful exchange of ideas with Dr. Cornel West at Performance Space New York

Photos and reporting by Daniel Efram 

This past Saturday afternoon, Dr. Cornel West gave an interactive talk with children and their families for Performance Space New York's ongoing "We the Youth — Keith Haring Lecture Series" about ideas and social issues that are often left off of school curriculums.
The kids made profound remarks about wondering how to love during difficult times. 

The professor, activist and philosopher responded with his thoughts on humanity, respect and love — not to mention his weakness for popcorn, which was occasionally fed to him by his generally well-behaved but sometimes restless young audience.
ALOK is the next guest in the "We the Youth — Keith Haring Lecture Series" on April 10. Find more details here. The event is free for everybody under 18 and those who accompany them. Performance Space New York is at 150 First Ave. at Ninth Street.

Signage alert: O'Flaherty's on Avenue A

Photos Friday by Stacie Joy 

Signage and a sidewalk awning arrived Friday for the new home of O'Flaherty's, the art gallery coming to 44 Avenue A at Third Street...
As we first reported, artist-curator Jamian Juliano-Villani was moving her gallery into this space after a year at 55 Avenue C at Fourth Street (we covered the opening here, culminating with a barn burner of a show late this past summer).

The gallery opens on Feb 16, featuring a performance series and film screening by @gelitin_official in association with Austrian Cultural Forum New York and Federal Ministry — Republic of Austria: Arts, Culture, Civil Service and Sport.
This space has been empty ever since Upright Citizens Brigade Theater closed UCBeast amid financial challenges in February 2019. The comedy venue opened in September 2011, and UCB took over part of the expanded Two Boots empire — the video store on Avenue A and the Pioneer Theater around the corner on Third Street.

We'll have more on this opening in the days ahead.

Openings: Gen Korean BBQ House

Gen Korean BBQ House opened earlier this month on the SW corner of Third Avenue and 14th Street. (First mentioned here.) The California-based brand has has a few dozen locations out west. This is the first East Coast outpost.

With daily hours of 11 a.m. to 4 a.m., Gen Korean BBQ House is among the city restaurants serving food late following the worst days of the pandemic when many spaces closed early (once they were allowed to reopen). 

As Eater noted here last week: "On a recent Saturday night after 2 a.m., there were around 40 people hovering over tabletop grills in its dining room, which has more than 40 communal tables."

The restaurant took over the former 5 Napkin Burger space as well as the storefront next door that served as the 5 Napkin Express, then Taman Falafel. Those businesses closed at the start of last year

The return of 99-cent pizza?!

Signage is up for a 99-cent pizza spot at 418 E. 14th St. just east of First Avenue along a stretch known for street vendors selling items of dubious quality and origins. 

If this price holds, then it would mark the return of a 99-cent pizza joint. Thanks to inflationary food costs, in late 2021 and early 2022,  the neighborhood's discount slicerias uniformly raised prices by 51 cents and became $1.50 pizzerias.

The storefront was previously a spa specializing in eyebrows and waxing.

Essex Squeeze has closed its 5th Street outpost

Photo by Steven

Essex Squeeze has been dark in recent weeks... and now comes word that the juice-coffee shop has permanently closed here at 300 E. Fifth St. just east of Second Avenue.

Sources tell EVG contributor Stacie Joy that the closure was "due to a rent increase and lack of business."

The cafe, run by LES natives and childhood friends Cedric Hernandez and Charles DeLaCruz, opened its first outpost in Essex Market in 2020. There's also a location in Dekalb Market Hall in Brooklyn.

The EV location opened in March 2022.

This space was previously Idlewild Coffee Co., which closed after just two months in business during the summer of 2020. The owner blamed the presence of the 9th Precinct's police barricades at the time for greatly reducing his foot traffic.

Idlewild took over from another coffee shop — Southern Cross Coffee, which shut down in September 2019 after two and half years in service.