Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday's parting shot

A moment on Broadway near 11th Street earlier today... photo by Derek Berg...

A talk with retail food workers during the COVID-19 outbreak

If it's of interest... Vogue has a feature online about grocery store and restaurant employees working during the coronavirus outbreak.

East Village businesses are well-represented: Layne Rawlings of East Village Organic on First Avenue; Viviana Robles and Gabriela Maldonado of Westside Market on Third Avenue and 12th Street; and Liz Quijada, the co-owner of the cafe Abraço on Seventh Street.

And in the photo above, there's Lesya Pshyk, who works at the East Village Meat Market. "I’m responsible to help the people of New York, but I’m also worried about my children and my mother sitting at home. I’m very positive; that’s the main thing. I think everything is going to be alright."

Find the full article here.

Photo via Twitter by Sinna Nasseri

Veniero's is closing after today for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak

Today (March 28) is the last day for walk-in service at Veniero's Pasticceria & Caffe, 342 E. 11th St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

And today then, cakes, cookies and pastries at the circa-1894 bakery are 50 percent off (IN STORE ONLY).

Venirero's is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today.

Thanks to Lola Saénz for these photos!

Updated 11:54 a.m.

The closure extends to all facets of the business, including deliveries...

The return of the psychic hotline?

In case you were wondering how some neighborhood psychics were adapting to the current business landscape...

Friday, March 27, 2020

This week in East Village street scenes

[By Ben Lebovitz]

Second Avenue (above) ...

St. Mark's Place...

[By Christopher Pelham]

East River Park...

[Photo by Stacie Joy]

C-Town on Avenue C...

[By Dave on 7th]

First Avenue at Seventh Street...

[By Robert Miner]

The Bowery at Fourth Street...

[By Derek Berg]

The In Between Days of our lives

Back to 1985 with "In Between Days" by the Cure...

The Union Square Trader Joe's is back open

The Union Square Trader Joe's location, along with the wine shop next door, reopened this morning on 14th Street.

EVG regular Pinch reports a line to get in as well as a shipment of groceries.

This location, as well as several others in NYC, closed for a "thorough cleaning and sanitization" after an employee "either tested positive for COVID-19 or is receiving treatment for a suspected case," according to a statement on the Trader Joe's website.

The TJ's website reports that an employee of the wine shop who tested positive for COVID-19 was last present in the store on March 22.

No more hoops for now at the Tompkins Square Park basketball courts

[Photo by Daniel]

Workers came in yesterday and removed all the rims from the Tompkins Square Park basketball courts...

[Photos by Steven]

This comes after reports of too many people playing basketball this past weekend — without anyone practicing social distancing. (One reader witnessed someone spraying a ball with Lysol.) The reader also noted the presence on Sunday afternoon of the NYPD midcourt...

EVG correspondent Steven spotted one resident, out for a bit of exercise, not minding the absence of a hoop...

"Now I never miss."

East Village Organic now closed for the next week

The market on First Avenue between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place expects to reopen on Friday, April 3, after closing after the business day yesterday.

Here's part of a more detailed message via their Instagram account:

East Village, we love you so much. But this week the best way to serve you each is to close.

We also became aware that two confirmed cases of COVID-19 spent time in our little shop.

We've decided to take a week to air it out, monitor the health of our brave little staff and regroup.

No one is handling this perfectly, but we're hoping that we're handling it well enough.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thursday's parting shot

Today's shot comes courtesy of East Village-based photographer Josh Charow, who took this down on Rivington Street...

RIP Edd Conboy

A memorial is on the corner of 10th Street and Avenue A for Edd Conboy.

According to social media posts, Conboy, a licensed therapist and director of social services at Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, died last Friday of a stroke. He would have been 70 on Tuesday.

The inscription on the mirror reads in part, "u are not alone, We all reflect your spirit." The mirror is on a block marked COVID-19.

Thanks to Melissa Mennillo for the photo.


Spotted on Fourth Street between Second Avenue and the Bowery. A trap? A kindhearted gesture?

Thanks to Casey for the photo!

A message from Nixon Figueroa and Ana Lanza, Nicholas Figueroa's parents

On March 26, 2015, Nicholas Figueroa was having a late lunch with a friend at Sushi Park, 121 Second Ave., when an explosion rocked the building. The blast killed Figueroa and Sushi Park employee Moises Locón, 27, injured more than 20 others, and leveled 119, 121 and 123 Second Ave.

He was a December 2014 graduate of SUNY Buffalo State with a degree in criminal justice. He was 23.

His parents, Nixon Figueroa and Ana Lanza, shared this message on the fifth anniversary of his death:

Now it has been five years since we lost our son.

We would like to thank everyone who has been so supportive, especially family and friends who help us to cope with our grief.

Our son was so full of life. All he wanted was to help people in all the ways he could, particularly by listening and being there for them. He would go out of his way to help a friend. It didn't matter what time it was. If you needed someone to talk to, he would be there.

His absence leaves an empty space because he was a motivator. He had a big heart for people and for life. He was smart and you could talk to him about anything. He was such a good listener. His soul is irreplaceable because he showed us there is more to life. He saw good in everyone and wanted to help.

If he were alive today, he would tell people to love life to the fullest. Enjoy every moment. Life is too short. He knew that, and that's why he was so full of life. He would tell us to take this time and be very grateful for your family and friends. And for all that you have.

Read more about Nicholas here.

Thank you to EVG reader Daniel.

Updated 8 p.m.

Late today, Mr. Figueroa visited Second Avenue and Seventh Street and placed flowers on the corner ...

Grant Shaffer's NY See

Here's the latest NY See panel, East Village-based illustrator Grant Shaffer's observational sketch diary of things that he sees and hears around the neighborhood.

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the deadly 2nd Avenue gas explosion

[Google Streetview from 2013]

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the gas explosion that killed two men, injured more than 20 others, and leveled 119, 121 and 123 Second Ave.

The links below have more about what has transpired here in the past five years as well as details about the lives of the two men who died that day — Nicholas Figueroa, 23, and Moises Locón, 27.

In January, landlord Maria Hrynenko, contractor Dilber Kukic and unlicensed plumber Jerry Ioannidis were found guilty of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and related offenses for their role in the blast. They were each sentenced to four to 12 years in prison. Hrynenko is out on bail as she awaits an appeal of the case. The other two remain in prison.

Hrynenko, who took over ownership of the buildings after her husband Michael died in 2004, and her cohorts rigged an illegal system to funnel gas from 119 Second Ave. to 121 Second Ave. to cut corners, according to prosecutors.

In the spring of 2017, Shaky Cohen's Nexus Building Development Group paid $9.15 million for the empty lots at No. 119 and No. 121 that Hrynenko owned.

A Morris Adjmi-designed building, which will include 21 condo units as well as ground-floor retail, has quickly gone up on two of the three lots that were 119-123 Second Ave.

[Photo yesterday by Steven]

The property will include a commemorative plaque that honors Figueroa and Locón. In October 2017, city officials unveiled new street blades that co-name the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street after the two men.

Previously on EV Grieve:
[Updating] Explosion on 2nd Avenue and East 7th Street

How displaced residents are faring after the 2nd Avenue gas explosion

Moving on — and feeling lucky — after the 2nd Avenue explosion

Updated: 2nd Ave. explosion — landlord, 3 others charged with 2nd degree manslaughter; showed 'a blatant and callous disregard for human life'

RIP Nicholas Figueroa

RIP Moises Locón

A family continues to feel the loss on 2nd Avenue

Exclusive: 2nd Avenue explosion sites have a new owner

LPC OKs condoplex for gas explosion site on 2nd Avenue and 7th Street

Dedicating Moises Locón Way and Nicholas Figueroa Way on 2nd Avenue at 7th Street

Report: Probation for plumber indicted in deadly 2nd Avenue gas explosion

Michael Hrynenko, Jr., awaiting trial for his role in the 2nd Avenue gas explosion, dies at 31

Trio responsible for the deadly 2nd Avenue gas explosion sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison

Convicted gas explosion landlord Maria Hrynenko out on bail; contractor, plumber remain behind bars

And read our interviews with two longtime residents who lost their homes in the explosion — Mildred Guy and Diane McLean.

[Updated] Checking in at Il Posto Accanto

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Updated: Bea and Julio decided to close after service last night for the duration of the outbreak.

When I arrive to pick up a to-go lunch order at Il Posto Accanto, 190 E. Second St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, I am ready to ask owners Bea and Julio (officially Beatrice Tosti Di Valminuta Pena and Julio Pena, or President Petunia and Babycakes as they call one another) how they maintain such optimism in the face of this pandemic.

However, taking one look at their faces, I can see it’s not the right question. Bea tells me they thought they’d have been busier, that they are not receiving many orders at all. Julio tells me he plans to keep the restaurant open at least until Sunday, but he doesn’t know for how long after that.

They both plan to go day by day and hope if they have to shutter that it will be temporary. They worry about their staff, and their comfort level and fears — most have families to support, and admit that they haven’t been paying themselves, that all money is going to their workers. No one is sure how rent will be paid.

After The New Yorker released a story on the restaurant Tuesday, longtime customers have been calling to brainstorm ideas for keeping the place open.

One customer plans on ordering food for 20 of his friends and having everything delivered so they can host an online shelter-in-place virtual Il Posto supper, complete with wine. Another customer encourages delivery via DoorDash, and pushed the restaurant to open an account.

Julio talks about the difficulties he’s faced with delivery services and the fees they want to charge. Right now, the restaurant uses DoorDash and Try Caviar, but if you are local and want a delivery you can call them directly and, as Bea says, “a valiant gentleman will deliver your food to you on bike if you are on the East Side approximately 10 blocks north or south of the restaurant.”

Julio says if you want an order for pickup, you can phone it in and he’ll make sure you get it in whatever way is most comfortable for you. He can leave it outside the door for no-touch pick up, or have it just inside the door waiting. He can run your credit card if you prefer not to pay cash.

Bea’s been making homemade hand sanitizer from 190-proof Everclear and spraying it on everything (except the food), even packages arriving from UPS and FedEx. She also sprays my hands, carefully avoiding my camera lens, and offers some to the DoorDash courier who arrives to pick up the veal saltimbocca with prosciutto sage white wine sauce and crab coquettes with pea shoots and spicy aioli order.

She even absently sprays some on her phone as she chats with her childhood friend, still in Rome, trapped in her home since the quarantine started there. Listening to them talk it feels like a preview of what we can expect here.

“I’m very happy Americans have discovered cooking at home, even if this is what it takes,” Bea tells me as she packs up my sciue spaghetti with tomato sauce and basil to go.

You can keep up with the restaurant on Instagram for updates and daily specials, and view our 2018 story on the East Village mainstay here.

Development deal for former Church of the Nativity includes the La Salle space next door

As we reported on Tuesday, Gemini Rosemont, an L.A.-based real-estate investor, bought the former Church of the Nativity property on Second Avenue for $40 million.

According to public records, the deal includes two parcels — 42-44 Second Ave. and 46-48 Second Ave.

As several readers have pointed out, including Upper West Sider, the transaction is for the former church and part of the former La Salle property next door at 44 Second Ave. ...

For now, the corner building at Second Street, 38 Second Ave., is not part of the unspecified new development expected here.

La Salle, which dates to 1856 in this neighborhood, relocated to St. George Academy on Sixth Street in 2008.

The original La Salle Academy on Second Street was leased to a for-profit private school. The Second Avenue properties were apparently used as the school annex, providing additional classrooms and office space.

The Church of the Nativity closed after a service on July 31, 2015, merging with Most Holy Redeemer on Third Street.

As previously reported, the Cooper Square Community Land Trust had explored buying the former Church of the Nativity to use as low-income housing.

As for the future of 42-48 Second Ave., the Gemini Rosemont website notes that they look to rent to "tenants in high growth and tech centric industries."

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wednesday's parting shot

A moment on Second Street via Jose Garcia...

Today in photos of creepy stone heads left in Tompkins Square Park

Those seashell eyes!

Spotted by Derek Berg...

Checking in on what's open for takeout and delivery

Recent additions to our list of what's open for takeout and delivery include:

Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter, 94 Avenue C at Sixth Street, is open for takeout and delivery from noon to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. They have an app for ordering either pick-up or delivery.

And right next door...

• Alphabet City Beer Co., 96 Avenue C. They've expanded their grocery items, adding fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy products. Open from noon to 7 p.m.

Despite health crisis, critics persist

[Photo by Steven]

Spotted at the Grafton, 126 First Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place. The Irish pub is temporarily closed during the coronavirus outbreak, as the sign explains in a smaller font size than some would like.

Checking in on Compare Foods

[All photos by Stacie Joy]

EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by Compare Foods, 71 Avenue D at Sixth Street, yesterday.

Here's her report:

For those who have been in search of toilet paper, Compare Foods has you covered! A huge supply of all different types of tp. No price gouging either. Also available huge sacks of rice. Store is well stocked with merchandise.

On the downside, the social distancing here was less than ideal... and not on par with what we've seen at other supermarkets.