Saturday, September 21, 2019

Last weekend for the LUNGS Harvest Arts Festival

The 8th annual LUNGS Harvest Arts Festival concludes tomorrow in the neighbor's 50-plus gardens, which are hosting a variety of performances, concerts, workshops and other related events. Today's highlights include a Secret Garden Treasure Hunt that spans 10 gardens.

Check the LUNGS website here for the garden-by-garden schedule after the rally for East River Park.

Trash PSA on Avenue A

EVG reader Annabelle shares this from the southwest corner of Avenue A and Ninth Street... apparently the mayor's solar-powered Big Belly trash can is out of service (Day 21 per the sign).

Despite the obvious problem with the Big Belly, people continue to stack trash on top on the pile of trash...

Staff from Doc Holliday's is behind at least some of the signage...

Today is the march and rally to Save East River Park

Reminder: Today (Saturday!) is the march and rally tomorrow to protest the city's plan to bury East River Park with eight feet of landfill starting this March as part of protecting the east side against future storms and rising seas.

The march begins at noon in Tompkins Square Park. Demonstrators will march through the neighborhood across the Sixth Street footbridge to East River Park. At 1:30 they’ll rally at the Labyrinth (north of the Williamsburg Bridge) followed by a parade down the promenade to a burial site beneath a tree with a 10.5 foot circumference.

Community group East River Park Action is behind the march and rally.

According to Patch, local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who has been called out in posters for the march, has advocated "for staged construction to avoid a full park closure but has not outright opposed the plan." She holds a key vote when the plan comes before City Council this fall.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday's parting video clip

Several East Village school children make their way along St. Mark's Place to join thousands of other protesters as part of the Global Climate Strike today.

New York City Public Schools granted its 1.1 million students permission to skip school to join the march, which began at Foley Square and then proceeded to Battery Park.

Video by Vinny & O.


Brooklyn's DIIV are back on Oct. 4 with their first album since 2016.

The video here is for the single titled "Blankenship."

Reports: 89-year-old woman attacked in her home, robbed of money for husband's tombstone

In case you missed this widely reported story yesterday: An 89-year-old woman who lived in the Jacob Riis Houses on Tenth Street and Avenue D was attacked and robbed.

According to published reports, the suspect followed Maximina Osorio home from a nearly grocery store on Saturday morning. According to police, the man then forced his way inside her home, where he punched and shoved her to the ground. He blindfolded Osorio and demanded the money that she been saving for her late husband’s tombstone.

Per NY1:

Osorio says the man knew exactly what he was after: $5,000 she spent two years saving to buy a headstone for her late husband's grave. Police say the frightened woman told the thief the money was in her bedroom, in a drawer.

Osorio and her husband, Salvatore, were married for 50 years.

She says she had mentioned to people she was finally ready to buy the headstone and that may have been why the thief targeted her.

Police are now looking for this man who weighs about 160 pounds, 5'8" tall, with a full beard.

He was last seen wearing blue jeans, hoodie, t-shirt, white sneakers, and a Philadelphia Flyers baseball cap.

With the money gone, Osorio says she has no choice but to start saving all over again.

Police say the man had an accomplice, but are focused on the suspect pictured below...

Reminders: March and rally for East River Park tomorrow; 'Bury the plan not the park'

[Photo by Stacie Joy]

As previously reported, community group East River Park Action has organized a march and rally tomorrow (Sept. 21) to protest the city's plan to bury East River Park with eight feet of landfill starting this March as part of protecting the east side against future storms and rising seas.

Here's part of the advisory via the EVG inbox...

“We support a plan that will provide much-needed flood protection. At the same time it should expand the park and reduce greenhouse emissions in response to the climate crisis,” says Howard Brandstein, director of the Sixth Street Community Center and a rally organizer.

The flood plan will have devastating consequences for residents in NYCHA housing and other low-and-middle income apartments bordering the park.

“Dust and other pollution from construction will affect air quality. Neighborhood residents already have high levels of asthma and 9/11-related upper respiratory illnesses,” says Lower East Side resident Pat Arnow, who is an organizer of the protest. “NYCHA buildings are undergoing heavy resiliency construction now. Some of their areas look like a war zone.”

The closure of the park for at least three and a half years will rob residents of critical green space, ball fields for team sports, and areas for community gatherings.

“An earlier HUD-funded plan, designed with the community over four years, was summarily scrapped by the city last year,” says Brandstein. “This plan was far more comprehensive. It provided flood control and resiliency without destroying the park, which has long been an oasis for our diverse Lower East Side and East Village neighborhoods.”

The march begins at noon in Tompkins Square Park. Demonstrators will wind through the neighborhood across the Sixth Street footbridge to East River Park. At 1:30 they’ll rally at the Labyrinth (north of the Williamsburg Bridge) followed by a parade down the promenade to a burial site beneath a tree with a 10.5 foot circumference. (Find more info here.)

ICYMI: This is all part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), a coastal protection initiative jointly funded by the city and the federal government aimed at reducing flood risk due to coastal storms and sea-level rise. ESCR is the first element of the city’s "Big U" plan to protect Lower Manhattan from surges like those seen during Superstorm Sandy.

As part of the project, city officials, starting next spring, plan to close East River Park for three-plus years, elevating it with 8- to 10-feet of soil and chopping down trees, etc., from Montgomery Street to East 13th Street.

City officials have said that this is a better course of action compared to the previous plan that was in the works with community input before Mayor de Blasio's team changed course last fall. Among other things, city officials claim that the new plan will shave nearly six months off of the projected timeline and will be less disruptive for residents living in the area.

[Illustration via East River Park Action]

The project is now undergoing a third-party review by a Dutch consultant hired by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the City Planning Commission is expected to vote on the plan in the next step of the public review process before it heads to City Council for a final vote this fall.

Previously on EV Grieve:
• Last week to comment on the city's plans to close East River Park (Aug. 27)

• An annual reunion in East River Park (Aug. 4)

• City Planning Commission will hold its hearing on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project tomorrow (July 30)

• Next steps in the plan to rebuild East River Park (July 19)

• This week's public meeting about stormproofing East River Park (July 16)

• A visit to East River Park (July 10)

• Here are the next meetings for you to learn more about stormproofing plans for East River Park (June 3)

Night fever: The East Village Vintage Collective celebrates 4 years on 12th Street

The East Village Vintage Collective is celebrating its fourth anniversary tomorrow (Saturday!) night at the shop, 545 E. 12th St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy popped by on Wednesday to see EVCC proprietor Maegan Hayward ...

... and check in on preparations for the disco-themed anniversary event tomorrow from 7-11 ...

[EVVCer Alex lends a hand]

The place started as a pop-up shop in August 2015. Along the way, the East Village Vintage Collective became a full-time endeavor and a fun and welcome place to shop.

Previously on EV Grieve:
A thrift-store podcast with Maegan Hayward of the East Village Vintage Collective

Report: Cops blame cyclist for being assaulted on his bike

A cyclist who says he was knocked off his bike while riding on First Avenue is infuriated over the NYPD's response to his assault.

Gothamist has the story of Wilfred Chan, 28, who was riding north on First Avenue Wednesday afternoon when a man, standing in the gray pedestrian median of the crosswalk at Fourth Street, forced him off his bike.

"As I was approaching, we made eye contact, and I noticed he was staring pretty intensely at me," Chan said. Chan initially had been cycling in the bike lane, but says he swerved out into the car lane to avoid pedestrians standing in the bike lane. "I was going 20 MPH so it didn't make sense to be in the bike lane," he added. "I was comfortably keeping pace with traffic, and I had the green light."

As he passed the intersection at Fourth Street, Chan says the man stepped out from the crosswalk and kicked him off his bike. He swerved left into the orange barrier between the car and bike lanes, crashed, flipped over and landed in the bike lane on his head. As a result of the fall, he was bleeding from a gash on his forehead; he injured his elbow; and his bike was mangled, with the front wheel and handle bars twisted.


By this point, a crowd of bystanders had gathered, several of whom had witnessed what happened to Chan. When the man tried to leave, Chan says some onlookers tried to keep him there, and a fight broke out, with several punches thrown. At this point, it attracted the attention of some nearby NYPD officers from the 9th Precinct.

Chan says he told them what had happened, but was met with immediate skepticism and aggressive questioning. According to Chan, the officers accused him of changing his story because he wasn't sure if the man kicked his bike or put his foot in front of the bike.

"They immediately started gaslighting me," Chan said. "They had an idea already of what happened, and anything I said did not matter. They approached with a demeanor of deep suspicion and skepticism at everything I said, I felt like I was the one being interrogated rather than the person who kicked me off my bike."

Parting thoughts...

"To me, the main point is just the utter and willful inadequacy of the police as a system for keeping the city safe for cyclists," he said. "We face terrifying threats every day just trying to get from point A to B and the city has repeatedly shown it does not give a fuck. The cops' attitude to me totally confirmed this — the fact that I was on a bike meant I had no rights. That if I got hurt, even if someone attacked me, it was my fault."

Read the full post here.

EVG photo of First Avenue and Fourth Street from earlier this summer.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Reader reports: The NYPD forcibly stops a Citi Biker on Avenue A for his own safety

The Dip is coming to St. Mark's Place

Signage is up at 58 St. Mark's Place between First Avenue and Second Avenue for a new quick-serve food operation — The Dip...

The Dip will serve dipped beef sandwiches, per their Instagram account. (No photos yet!) The Dip website remains under construction. So we don't know too much else about the place just yet.

Chi Ken, the Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken Store, was set to take this long-vacant space in early 2017, but that venture never materialized.

Hakata Hot Pot and Sushi Lounge closed here at the end of February 2016. (Hakata Hot Pot combined with sister restaurant Zen 6 the next block to the west at 31 St. Mark's Place. BTW that place remains shuttered these past nine months.)

The well-liked Natori closed at 58 St. St. Mark's Place in November 2012.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Thursday's parting shot

A scene from the TF in Tompkins Square Park via Vinny & O...

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.

A visit to ANNA on 5th Street

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Dress shopping is not my strength, but ANNA owner/designer Kathy Kemp and stylist/collaborator Rebecca Kaye are welcoming, stylish and intuitive — just like the boutique they helm.

The shop’s clothes are designed and made in NYC, and Kathy jokes that the boutique is especially for people like me who don’t like to shop.

ANNA moved to its new digs this past spring at 304 E. Fifth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue. Kathy kept the old charm of the space (exposed brick, original window, old wood door) and also updated the interior with a spacious curtained dressing room and some nooks that hold jewelry and accessories.

The shop smells delicious — a custom scented candle that is also sold at the store helps create a mood. Comfy window seat up front for guests, plus pretty lighting and a hand-painted artwork complete the experience.

She and Rebecca talk to me about the history of ANNA across its various locations, what the store looked like in the 1990s when it was on Third Street near Avenue A, and what it’s like to be back home in the East Village ready to celebrate 25 years in business.

[Kathy Kemp, left, and Rebecca Kaye]

Here's Kathy with more...

What is the history of ANNA?

ANNA started when I moved to NYC from Philadelphia in 1995. I had approximately $3,000 saved and no plan. A friend gave me the advice to “do what I love” — I had always loved sewing, shopping and street style and had been sewing my own things for myself and friends for years so I decided to open a store for couple of years just see what it was like.

Anna is my middle name and also the name of my grandmother who taught me how to sew. I’ve always liked that name, so symmetrical and also a palindrome. And familiar to everyone. I’ve always tried to have something for everyone.

Can you share of few memories of opening your first location on Third Street in 1995? Your rent was $600 and the previous tenant was a bike shop that wasn’t really a bike shop?

I randomly chose a space on Third Street between Avenues A and B because I liked its square shape and large window. It seemed very modern. Also, it was super cheap so I could afford it. I was lucky to land in the middle of so many writers, stylists, artists and all-around beautiful people.

Before cell phones, everyone walked around in all kinds of weather to procrastinate, socialize, and just to check out what was new so people were always stopping by. I remember painting the floor a few days before I planned to open. The racks were already up and there were clothes hanging on them. People were coming in and skipping over the wet paint to buy clothes. I didn’t actually get to finish painting the floor until the second year.

The space was previously a “bike shop” that wasn’t really a bike shop but it did have a big pile of broken bikes in the middle. The bike pile covered a giant hole in the floor that went all the way down to basement! Besides that, and the smashed-up bathroom, it was perfect. Just needed a floor, some paint, and lots of cleaning. I remember thinking the walls and window looked like the inside of a dirty bong...especially the window, it was completely brown and pretty much opaque.

There was graffiti spray painted all over. The only thing I remember about the graffiti was word “trems” on the ceiling. I wish I had taken photos and would love to see some of anyone has any. For years people came in asking if the store was a bike shop and I’d direct them to the tire shop down the block where the bike shop guys moved. It was always the same dialogue:

“Is this the bike shop?”
“Well, do you sell bikes?”
“No, they sell bikes at the tire shop down the street.”
“OK, thanks. Do you sell cigarettes?”

After the tire shop closed the operation moved to the phone booths on the corner. Someone would pretend to use the phone and leave a small paper bag package. Shortly after someone else would “use the phone” and pick up the bag. Never saw anyone using this phone booths to actually call someone. They were pretty dirty.

What prompted the move from Third Street to 11th Street?

We moved because we were outgrowing the space on Third Street and the 11th Street space was larger. The 11th Street space ended up being too much store for us and the basement was creepy.

You left 11th Street in 2017 for Christopher Street in the West Village. Why did you decide to move there?

Christopher Street was a store called Albertine, owned by my friend Kyung Lee. I’ve always loved that street and store and admired Kyung and what she was doing and always wondered what it was like over there.

The ANNA clothes sold well there. Lots of ANNA people live in the West Village and were happy to have us, and most East Village people crossed over for us. The tourists over there are definitely different. There are lots of families AirBnB’ing and most shoppers are looking for trends, something we don’t get involved in. Tourist shoppers in the East Village are generally looking for something new and different.

How do you feel about being back in the East Village? Does the East Village still feel like the East Village to you?

We are so happy to be back in the East Village for our 25th anniversary! I feel lucky to have landed on one my favorite blocks with great neighbors. David Brockman, who owns Honeymoon Vintage, called me to tell me about the space before it became available for rent. We had bumped into each other on the street and I mentioned that I was looking. He really helped me out because he wanted ANNA back in the neighborhood.

These days it feels like Fifth Street is like the Nolita of the East Village. White Trash has been a destination for so long. I remember the shop and Stuart Zamsky, the owner, from when I first opened on Third Street. Tamam, the shop right next to us, is a beautiful home-goods wonderland owned by three artists who buy and design gorgeous textiles and prints. Both of these stores are no BS, authentic New York stores filled with treasures you can’t get anywhere else.

Yes, there are too many [chain stores] but less than most other places and, as a neighborhood, it still has a lively, local feel. When my son was younger, every time we left and came back, he’d sigh, “back to civilization.” I’ve always felt that way, too. It’s still a neighborhood where people support those who do their own thing.

I’m not sure if I can be objective about what it is right now compared to what it was. We just had the busiest spring we’ve had in years. People came from all over dressed in their favorite ANNA clothing to tell us how happy they are to have us back. We’re feeling like things are OK these days.

Can you speak a bit about your typical client, if there is one? What, if any, are the differences between East and West Village patrons?

The customer base has grown so much over the years that it’s hard to describe who my “typical customer” is. These days we ship around the world and often have mothers and daughters shopping together. I hear of therapists and patients wearing ANNA and people meeting all over because they’re wearing the ANNA clothes. I see people all over the city in my clothes and get an occasional thumbs up.

So I guess we managed to be global and underground at the same time. We’ve had our share of press but the clientele has grown mostly because of word-of-mouth. It’s been said that ANNA is the kind of store you only share with your best friends.

We also hear that ANNA is the perfect store for people who hate to shop because it’s more like stopping by a friend’s studio or hanging out in a stylish friend’s bedroom. One thing all of the customers have in common is that they’re open minded enough to go into a small store and try on the clothes.

These days, also, people who care about sustainability and quality. Everything is sourced, designed, and produced in NYC and nothing goes to waste. We sell all the samples and leftover pieces in our half-price bin and return any plastic hangers to the production place. I’m proud to say that we have no trash at the end of the day. I’m also proud to say that so many friendships and collaborations have started at the store.

You mentioned you have five years left on your lease, what’s next for the shop?

We are interested in doing more prints. Rebecca and I are working on one now and in the future, I’d love to do more with neighborhood artists, maybe art shows and/or prints.

As for future plans, things have a way of presenting themselves spontaneously here at ANNA, especially in the East Village. We’ve been talking about MANNA—ANNA for men for years and who knows what else will happen?


You can keep up with the shop on Instagram here. ANNA's hours are noon until 7 p.m. every day.

Construction watch: Houston House

The broker bunting recently arrived outside the Houston House, the condoplex nearing completion on East Houston just west of Avenue D. (The official address is 298 E. Second St.)

It has been awhile (17 months!) since we last checked in on this site. Here's a refresher via Lee Properties Group:

The project is 18,000 SF, 9 stories and will include 7 full floor condominium units, all with private outdoor space, roof terrace, and a duplex townhouse.

It will be New York City’s first high-end yet deeply sustainable building inspired by a Cross Laminate Timber modeled superstructure and Passive House standards. The building will feature triple-paned German-engineered, floor-to-ceiling windows, custom Italian millwork, Energy Recovery Ventilators, bike storage, and doorman.

And the rendering...

According to the recently unveiled Houston House teaser site, the 3- and 4-bedroom residences start at $2.8 million. Nest Seekers International’s Ryan Serhant will be doing the condo selling here.

This property was most recently the Houston Street Beer Distributors.

[Photo from August 2016]

This parcel fetched a little more than $7 million in the fall of 2015, per public records.

Previously on EV Grieve:
298 E. 2nd St. latest development site up for grabs

East Village now minus 2 beverage distributors

Something brewing (demolition) for former beer distributor on East 2nd Street

'Mom-and-Pop Storefronts,' now on display at the Theater For The New City Gallery through Oct. 27

[Image via Instagram*]

"Capturing the Faces & Voices of Mom-and-Pop Storefronts" is currently on view at the Theater For The New City Gallery, 155 First Ave. near 10th Street.

The photography and oral history exhibition comes courtesy of East Village-based photographers James and Karla Murray and the East Village Community Coalition.

Here's more via the EVG inbox...

Experience activism and community through the lens of photographers, as they display their work from two free 2019 workshops with acclaimed photographers and award-winning authors Karla and James Murray.

In two sessions at the East Village Community Coalition, James and Karla taught participants how to use photography and oral history to raise public awareness, build community, and encourage advocacy. Participants learned to create their own powerful photographs of neighborhood storefronts and to connect with the proprietors through personal interviews.

The opening reception was on Monday night. The work will be on display through Oct. 27. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

You can find articles on the exhibit at Untapped Cities ... amNY and 6sqft.

Art by Jose De Freitas and Jenny Hallak of @bodegalatin.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

EVG Etc.: NYPD searching for suspects in series of violent muggings on LES

• Cops looking for four suspects in connection with a string of violent robberies on the Lower East Side, with one occurring on Third Street and First Avenue (ABC-7)

• Mystery buyer purchases controversial Rivington House for $160 million (The Real Deal ... previously on EVG)

• Men wanted for theft at Still House, the jewelry store at 309 E. Ninth St. (Town & Village)

• CB3 committee OKs plans for a mixed-use development with inclusionary housing on the site of a fire-gutted Lower East Side synagogue (Curbed)

• The city plans to install a self-filtering pool in the East River on the Lower East Side (Patch)

• One more weekend to take in the 93rd Annual Feast of San Gennaro (The Lo-Down)

• The classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" in 35mm at the Village East on Sept. 23 (Official site)

Some sprkl for Gem Spa

East Village-based musician-artist Paul Kostabi has added his signature character Sprkl characters on the gates at Gem Spa...

Gem Spa is the latest Second Avenue business to get some sprkl ... joining Block Drugs and Cacio e Vino.

As for Gem Spa, the Schitibank signage that arrived ahead of last Saturday's cash mob will remain up here at St. Mark's Place until the end of the month, per Jeremiah Moss.

Community gardeners to rally at city hall tomorrow over remaining issues with new license agreement

Community gardeners across NYC will rally at City Hall tomorrow (Thursday) morning as they continue to be at odds with the Parks Department over a new license agreement to operate their volunteer-run green spaces.

The gardeners had a similar action planned last month,
but called it off after city officials extended the deadline for submitting relicensing documents to Sept. 20. The city also said they would adopt several of the gardeners' recommendations.

Despite the extension and updates, Charles Krezell, head of Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens (LUNGS), said that two sides are still at odds over several key points that he says are crucial to protecting community gardens and their stewards.

"The license negotiations are not going anywhere right now," Krenzell said in an email. "We met with Parks [officials] on Sept. 5 and they were not willing to concede anything new. We continue to ask gardens to not sign the license."

In April, community gardeners received a new four-year license agreement that they say substantially changes the relationship they've enjoyed with the city since 1978.

According to the New York City Community Garden Coalition, the 2019 Community Garden License Agreement and GreenThumb Gardeners’ Handbook contain additional requirements that are burdensome for both parties, and "which will hinder the community outreach and engagement that are hallmarks of community gardens in New York City."

Krenzell yesterday outlined what he and other gardeners consider the main sticking points:

• The liability issue:

"Gardeners and other volunteers have to assume working at their own risk in the gardens, releasing the city from any possible liability issues. The public is supposedly covered by the city but none of this is spelled out. The license imposes requirements on gardens to clear city-owned sidewalks, which could be construed to leave gardens liable for any injury resulting from sidewalks obstructed by snow, ice, garbage and the like. Gardeners tend to voluntarily keep sidewalks clear out of consideration for their members and visitors, but should not be bound to perform garbage and snow removal. There are three set of rules and regulations that gardens are now required to follow. They are confusing and, in some cases, contradictory. The regulations are not enforceable with the current staff at GreenThumb, leading to arbitrary and selective enforcement."

The permissions:

"Each garden is required to hold two public events a year. The new rules now stipulate that the events must be approved in writing by the Parks Department — even though Parks has nothing to do with the events themselves. This takes away the spontaneous spirit of the gardens and requires more paperwork. We are also afraid it will lead to fees for permits down the line, as per the Parks Department regulations."

The records:

"Garden records can be can be audited at any time. There is very little money in most garden accounts and some are just kept in personal accounts. This is looked upon as a push toward making each garden group become a nonprofit, having to file tax forms and more paperwork."

Officials for the Parks Department have downplayed any garden drama.

"These renewals happen every four years and always have small changes based on experiences from the previous four year cycle — this cycle is no different," Crystal Howard, assistant commissioner for communications at the Parks Department, previously told amNY.

The Parks Department has told groups that they won't be permitted to continue operating without signing the new licensing agreement.

The rally starts tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood's community gardens are currently hosting evenings during the eighth annual LUNGS Harvest Arts Festival.

Previously on EV Grieve:
City extends deadline for community garden licensing; Monday's City Hall rally cancelled

Community gardeners to rally at City Hall Monday over new license agreement

Concern over new GreenThumb regulations for community gardens

Kolkata Chai Cafe aims to bring authentic South Asian vibes to 3rd Street

[EVG reader photo]

It's opening day for Kolkata Chai Cafe at 199 E. Third St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

The small shop, run by two Bengali-American brothers, will be serving today from 4 to 10 p.m. ... with a menu featuring a variety of masala chai and several snacks ...

The owners, siblings Ayan and Ani Sanyal, share their story on the shop's website:

Our parents left Kolkata in 1987 and landed in Massachusetts to fulfill the American dream. Growing up as first-generation Indian Americans — our concept of home was ever-shifting. In 90s America, we listened to hip hop, ate pizza and begged our parents for a pair of Vans sneakers. Every other summer or winter, we’d spend a couple of months in Kolkata. An earth-shattering contrast, there, we would jump in monsoon puddles, eat mangsho-jhol, play cricket in the streets and drink chai everyday.

Food was always better on the streets than it was inside the house. The street wallahs possessed almost magical skills — we claimed they had special sauces and spices that they told no one about. There was a lore to street food. It was democratizing, generational and spoke to all socio-economic levels. We went to the same spots where our mother used to get bhel puri during her college times — where the chef’s father used to serve our grandfather.

Kolkata Chai started with a simple idea: How do we extend the authenticity, respect and tradition behind a cup of masala chai to NYC?

Chai has been repeatedly bastardized and appropriated in the U.S. We’re putting it all on the line to make sure our culture and traditions are represented accurately and honestly. We hope to see you along this journey.

This is the first permanent retail space for the two, who have been catering and offering their Kolkata masala chai via pop-up venues. (In opening this spot, the brother have said they've avoided common "South Asian food tropes.")

Moving forward, Kolkata Chai Cafe will be open Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

As for this address, it was home to the taco stand Snack Dragon until 2014 ... and later, the Vector Gallery — aka the Official Gallery of Satan (2016-2017).

East Village Tavern is now DayTripper on Avenue C

Vinny & O shared this photo from yesterday, showing workers removing the East Village Tavern sign from this southeast corner of Avenue C and 10th Street.

Last month, the bar changed ownership, and the space became DayTripper...

East Village Tavern 2.0 opened as a Mexican restaurant and sports bar in July 2018.

The previous East Village Tavern closed in November 2016 after eight years in business. Bar management blamed a disagreement with landlord Steve Croman for the closure. (A Croman rep reportedly said that the owners were behind on rent.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Tuesday's parting shot

Thanks to EVG reader Annabelle for this photo this evening on Avenue B between Sixth Street and Seventh Street... bring your own sheet music.

Police searching for suspect who robbed the Dunkin' Donuts on 14th Street near Avenue B

Police are searching for a suspect who allegedly robbed the Dunkin' Donuts on 14th Street just west of Avenue B last Thursday morning around 9:30.

In its recap of the crime, the Post reported that the suspect failed to open the register. The man then "grabbed five or six donuts and stuffed them in a paper bag."

On his way out the door, the suspect "repeatedly punched" an employee in the face who had tried to intervene.

Report of a car fire on East Houston

We heard from two readers about a possible explosion this morning on East Houston between Avenue C and Avenue D.

Turned out that a car parked along the eastbound lanes near Pitt caught fire. Thankfully there weren't any reports of injuries.

The Post had a dispatch on it:

No one was in the blue four-door vehicle at the time, and there were no injuries, officials said.

They said liquid was leaking from the car before the fire and that the incident is not being considered suspicious.

Three FDNY units and 13 firefighters responded to the scene and put out the blaze, officials added.

Meanwhile, on Sunday night, several readers reported that a cab caught fire on 13th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. The aftermath from yesterday...

[Photo by @barrett_roland]

RIP Gigi Watson

Gigi Watson, a longtime East Village resident, died on Friday. I don't have a lot of information at the moment. Her nephew shared the news via Twitter...

James Maher interviewed her for our Out and About in the East Village feature in October 2014. It was a classic. Here it is again...

Name: Gigi Watson
Occupation: Writer, Artist, Cartoonist, Former Club Worker and Owner
Location: 3rd Street between 1st and A.
Time: 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24.

I’m a native New Yorker. I grew up in Ridgewood, on the border between Brooklyn and Queens, which now they can’t decide whether it’s Brooklyn or Queens. It was basically a German, Italian and Jewish neighborhood. The first thing you asked when you met another kid was what was your nationality.

There were places that we didn’t go. Bed Stuy and Red Hook, these were not places to go. In Red Hook, they used to find a dead body every single day. My train was the L, which used to be a horrible, horrible train. The L train connected with the G train, which was murder central. If someone paid me a million dollars in cash and said, ‘Here, get on the G train’, I’d say, ‘No thank you.’

My first apartment in Manhattan was a sublet on Christopher Street in the West Village. I moved in 1979. I then moved to the East Village in 1982, on 2nd Street between A and B. You had to have two or three jobs at the same time just to survive. That’s being a real New Yorker. My rent was so expensive. If I didn’t have two jobs, there would be no way I could cut that rent.

The first club I worked at was Bonds International Casino on Broadway and 45th Street. I was working behind the scenes in the office with guest lists, counting money. We had Blondie, The Clash, Blue Oyster Cult, Motley Crue, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who sucked. We had all kinds of punk rock bands. That’s where I developed a fear of crowds because the owner, John Addison, sold double the amount of tickets. We had 2,500-seat capacity and he sold 5,000 tickets per performance, and everybody showed up and was hammering on the door, ‘We want the show, we want the show.’ That place was fabulous.

[After Bonds] I worked at an after hours, where I worked the door. Cocaine was fantastic in the 1980s. That went right along with being at the front door. ‘Here, thanks a lot for letting me in,’ and I’d get a gram in my hand. That meant thank you. The stars I met — Nick Nolte, Grace Jones, Robin Williams, Paul McCartney. The list goes on and goes. Cause they would want to party late too.

I first worked in the cashier booth in Crisco [Disco], which is a famous haunt. We must have taken in at least between $8,000 and $10,000 on a Saturday night. It was a lucrative place.

After that I worked at Page 6. I was working the VIP room one month. Liza Minnelli was there snorting her brains out. Rick James comes in and puts a pile of coke on the table. All of a sudden you hear, ‘Freeze.’ So Rick James gets up, ‘Oh, I ain’t going to be arrested, I gotta get out of here, how do I get out?’ I said, ‘Mr. James there’s only one way out and that’s the way you came in.’ He walked out without a problem. It was the people that worked there that got busted because they didn’t have a liquor license.

After that I opened up my club, Trash. I was working at the time at Club 82, which was another after hours on 4th, and the manager there, John Matos said said to me, ‘Gi, why don’t you start your own club? How much do you need?’ We went shopping for furniture and I got all the stuff. I wanted neat 1960s furniture that was gaudy and cool looking. I wanted to do all the murals inside the club. I made the VIP room. I painted a big huge spider web so when you walked in, it was spinning. They would look up and sway from side to side. It was a cool place to be.

But that didn’t last very long because all the people who were great to look at had no money. Punk rockers do not have any money. Nobody had fucking money. Nobody had money for rent, forget about anything else.

Then one day a Hells Angel — this big Angel came in and went up to somebody at the bar and said, ‘Hey faggot’ and pushed him on the shoulder. The guy was a really cool looking punk rock guy and he was intimidated. Once the Angels come in, then it’s their club, and then it’s no longer my club or Trash. One brought many. Nobody would go there anymore. They were too afraid to go through the door. So that’s how Trash ended. That was about the time that punk rock itself was sort of waning.

Punk rock to me means anti-establishment. Punks saw that people conformed all over the place. It’s somebody with real talent to be unique and wild and out there. People used to come and sketch what I was wearing. The more beat up it is the better. They now have distressed leather. What fucking distressed? If you keep it on long enough, believe me it’ll become distressed. I always wanted to look different. I don’t want to look like anybody else. I want to look like me.

What's left of the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place

If the headline was a question, then the answer would be not much.

A look through the handy blogger portals on the plywood reveals the scattered remains of the northeast corner of Third Avenue and St. Mark's Place... the buildings that previously housed Korilla BBQ, the Continental and McDonald's are gone. (No word on what finally happened to the Continental's 6-shots-of-anything-for-$12 signage that was still intact as of last Thursday.)

[Photo yesterday by Derek Berg]

And with the demolition of the buildings, the RIP ST. MARKS message on the west-facing wall of 5 St. Mark's Place is now fully visible from across the street...

As you likely know, a 10-floor office building with ground-floor retail is due here. The total size of this new building has yet to be determined. Real Estate Equities Corporation (REEC) wants to transfer the air rights from the landmarked Hamilton-Holly House at 4 St. Mark's Place to add more square footage, a move that has had its critics.

In June, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to support the plan, and has issued a report to the City Planning Commission to allow the proposal under a specific zoning resolution.

The City Planning Commission will likely sign off on the project next as part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. City Council will have the final say on the Morris Adjimi-designed building. Those meeting dates have not yet been made public.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Demolition permits filed for northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place

End is nearing for the businesses on the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place

New building plans revealed for 3rd Avenue and St. Mark's Place

Concern over potential air-rights transfer for new office building on St. Mark's Place and 3rd Avenue

Developers of 3 St. Mark's Place are looking to increase the size of their proposed office building at 3rd Avenue to 10 floors with air-rights deal

The lobbyists behind the air-rights transfer and zoning variance for 3 St. Mark's Place

Final demolition phase for 1 St. Mark's Place; more questions about lobbyists attached to project

Report: LPC approves transfer of air rights across St. Mark's Place

Live at 1 St. Mark's Place this summer; views of 51 Astor Place are free

Construction watch: 75 1st Ave.

The steel frame of the future condoplex at 75 First Ave. is now visible rising next to the Rite Aid here between Fourth Street and Fifth Street...

Work on the 8-floor, 22-unit residential building picked up earlier this year after nearly 14 months of inactivity.

The completion date on the plywood rendering is now listed at summer 2020.

This slowly-developing development broke ground in September 2016.

Previously on EV Grieve:
2020 vision: New completion set for Rite Aid-adjacent condoplex on 1st Avenue

Unpacking what there is at the Moxy East Village, now open on 11th Street

The Moxy East Village opened for business last week (Sept. 12) here on 11th Street between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue...

The 286-room Marriott brand has four eating and drinking venues by TAO Group: Cathédrale, a French-Mediterranean restaurant from Chef Jason Hall, Little Sister, an underground lounge, Alphabet Bar & Café, and a rooftop bar opening in spring 2020.

Cathédrale has already held several events, including the 2019 Us Weekly Most Stylish New Yorkers party on 9/11 that included Lil’ Kim, La La Anthony and various cast members from the Real Housewives.


Here's a description of each via the EVG inbox, and there is a lot to unpack here (condensed for space reasons) ... brace!:

Alphabet Bar & Café, situated in the lobby, serves as the social heart of Moxy East Village, comprising a bar, terrace, co-working lounge, and meeting studios that seamlessly transition from day to night. The seating includes plush sofas and swinging chairs; a Skee-Ball game provides a hit of nostalgia for the arcade era.

An interactive real-time graffiti installation lets guests use a tablet to draw their own tag or sketch a bit of street art, like a latter-day Basquiat or Haring, and see it projected on the wall [Ed note: Will the Peninstrator strike?] . ... Alphabet Café serves an all-day menu of custom artisanal brews by Intelligentsia Coffee, freshly baked goods, composed salads, and seasonal panini and tartines.

The centerpiece of Moxy East Village is Cathédrale, a French-Mediterranean restaurant conceived by Tao Group Hospitality Chef/Partner Ralph Scamardella, in collaboration with Executive Chef Jason Hall. As diners descend from the lobby — via a staircase that resembles a fire escape between two East Village buildings — they'll feel like they're discovering an abandoned architectural treasure.

That's thanks to the show-stopping Rockwell Group-designed main dining room, a triple-height space covered by Italian artist Edoardo Tresoldi's dramatic wire mesh sculpture that looks like the apparition of a grand domed ceiling. His ethereal sculpture for the ceiling of Cathédrale pays homage to the interior of the Fillmore East ...

Located on the lower level, adjacent to Moxy East Village, Little Sister is an intimate, seductive, sophisticated lounge — an update from the underground clubs that defined East Village nightlife in the 1990s.

Its clandestine, cavern-like feel is enriched by jewel-toned velvet sofas and plush banquettes, embossed leather accents, a glowing copper DJ stand, and a mirrored-copper bar illuminated by an overhead bank of backlit whiskey bottles. Wood-clad, barrel-vaulted ceilings evoke a hidden underground chamber where whiskey might have been stored in the bootlegger era. Legendary doorman Wass Stevens, will conspire to create an exclusive, in-the-know vibe at the ropes.

Opening in Spring 2020, the rooftop bar is designed to resemble a coveted New York City backyard garden, with strung garden lights, abundant foliage and colorful patio furniture. A retractable roof allows the bar to be used in all seasons.

Behind the bar, liquor bottles will be displayed in stacked plastic milk crates — not unlike those you'd spot on an East Village sidewalk. On one wall, interlaced with crawling ivy, will be a mural that overlays a map of the area with images from the neighborhood's musical and artistic history.

A few other details...

The hotel has also produced a series of short videos titled "Off the Beaten Path," featuring neighborhood legends and characters who will talk about the East Village's past, present, and future that guests will be able to enjoy on the in-room TVs, online, and on the @MoxyEastVillage Instagram.

In addition, the hotel has forged exclusive partnerships with neighborhood institutions. It will be the preferred hotel partner for Webster Hall, providing VIP concert access to select guests. The prestigious art school Cooper Union will have their student's work shown on a dedicated channel on the in-room TVs and will exhibit select student works and host panels at the hotel while providing guests access to events on campus.

The foundation work got underway here in August 2017. Workers demolished the five residential buildings that stood here in the fall of 2016.

Previously on EV Grieve:
At the rally outside 112-120 E. 11th St.

6-building complex on East 10th Street and East 11th Street sells for $127 million

Preservationists say city ignored pitch to designate part of 11th Street as a historic district

Permits filed to demolish 5 buildings on 11th Street to make way for new hotel

New building permits filed for 13-story Moxy Hotel on East 11th Street across from Webster Hall

[112-120 E. 11th St. photo from May 2016]