Thursday, January 31, 2019

Thought #19

Thought #19

Here it is again
with cold above
and warmth within
those long frozen fingers
taking hold once more
of months ahead
time to close the barrier door
make sure the dog is fed
no way to surpass all
that is to come but
time to read and write
that novel Knit or weave
clothes you will need
time to sit and ponder
what will you do this year
then as if unexpected you
see that first green shoot
birds arrive with spring
then all alive again.

peter radley


EVG reader Tara Cox shared the above photo showing the Con Ed power plant on 14th Street at Avenue C early this morning ... and Vinny & O took these in Tompkins Square Park...

Today's forecast per ABC7: "Thursday will be windy and bitterly cold with ineffective sunshine and a high only in the teens, but it will feel like -10 at times as winds continue to gust up to 30 mph."

Longtime East Village residents open Foxface, now serving sandwiches at Theater 80

[All photos by Stacie Joy]

Late last year, East Village residents Ori Kushnir and Sivan Lahat opened Foxface, a small sandwich operation inside the William Barnacle Tavern at Theatre 80 on St. Mark's Place.

The space — featuring a narrow sliding window facing the sidewalk with a small counter inside the door — became available after Feltman's moved out last fall after two-plus year peddling hot dogs from here.

The situation seemed ideal for Kushnir and Lahat, who are married and live in the building here at No. 80 between First Avenue and Second Avenue. A few of the ingredients were even grown in the garden behind the building.

After several weeks of limited hours, the two are now opening Foxface (as of yesterday) for business five days a week (see below for schedule).

Here's Ori on how Foxface came about:

We first moved into the building exactly 15 years ago, and have watched [owner Lorcan Otway] revive the theater and the bar after the Pearl Theatre left.

This past October we had just come back after spending five years in Japan where we had some fun with pop-up restaurants, and we'd been toying with the idea of opening something in New York when Lorcan told us that Feltman's was leaving to focus on his retail business.

We didn't know exactly what it was that we'd do there but the appeal of the commute and operating a mom-and-pop shop in the neighborhood was such that we just told Lorcan we'll take the space. We went ahead and renovated the kitchen, developed an initial menu of sandwiches and started serving food to the street and into the William Barnacle Tavern while working on seating arrangements, a nice wine list and other improvements.

We try not to make too much of a point about our background, the ingredients we use, etc., as we feel the food should speak for itself, but I will say that we must be the only place on St. Mark's Place using hot sauce made from chili peppers grown on the block, so their commute is as short as ours.

On the reception so far:

The first few weeks have been great, despite the cold weather. We opened quietly ... but feedback has been very positive and it's a joy watching people loving your food, coming back for more, and sending their friends over. The local business community has also been amazingly supportive — shout out to Abraço, and to the very friendly team at the Holiday.

On the menu:

We're trying to serve five sandwiches every day, with one or two new ones introduced every week, and a soup or stew during winter. I think the Smoking Fox (smoked boneless rib, coleslaw, pickles, homemade spicy sauce) is going to be there permanently as people love it, but otherwise we'll just keep changing with the seasons.

View this post on Instagram

Peter Peter - Egg, kabocha, gruyere, brie, pumpkin seeds.

A post shared by Foxface (@foxface_nyc) on


Foxface is located inside Theatre 80, 80 St. Mark's Place between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

Hours — Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 12:30-3p.m.; 6 p.m. until sold out. Saturday and Sunday: 1 p.m. until sold out

You can find their daily menu and other updates via the Foxface Instagram account at this link.

Thanks to Stacie Joy for all the photos!

A waste of space: 10th Street still waiting for the garbage trucks to move on

In the past three-plus months, residents and business owners on 10th Street haven't heard much, if anything, from city officials about the garbage trucks that have been parked on the block just west of First Avenue since September.

"Nothing has been done and garbage trucks continue to park on 10th Street," said resident Michelle Lang, who noted one minor improvement — there are sometimes just three trucks here instead of seven. "But the quality of life and safety concerns that the wall of garbage trucks create remain."

As I first reported on Sept. 18, the DSNY is using part of 10th Street for up to seven trucks. The DSNY no longer has use of their garage at 606 W. 30th St., and are relocating their fleet elsewhere.

This move — apparently done without consultation with Community Board 3 — sparked numerous complaints this past fall from residents and merchants alike who have called out the problems with the smell, noise and negative impact on business.

Before Theater for the New City moved into its current home at 155 First Ave. near 10th Street in the late 1980s, the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) used the building for storage. As Off the Grid noted in a 2012 feature, "When the Theater for the New City purchased the former First Avenue Retail Market building there was stipulation that they had to still share part of the space with the Sanitation Department for a time."

Pinks, the bar-restaurant at 242 E. 10th St., is the business most directly impacted by the parked trucks.

In a recent email, owner Avi Burn said that the trucks still provide "a pretty nasty backdrop for customers looking out the windows."

And he doesn't really feel as if the issue is still on anyone's radar.

"It's on their radar like a nagging house fly would be on someone's radar," he said. "I don't believe anyone truly cares but they are forced to respond to us when we make noise about it. Yet, no solutions have been presented to us."

On Jan. 11, the Mayor’s Office held a meeting with Sen. Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, CB3 District Manager Susan Stetzer, a representative from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office and representatives from the DSNY, the Department of Transportation and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit.

As I understand it, the meeting was, in part, to find a solution to the parking issue. The elected officials were said to be upset by the lack of movement with finding a new location for the fleet. In the end, the DSNY agreed to further explore alternatives and move the trucks, but they have not finalized a timeline.

A rep for Sen. Hoylman told me this: "We are awaiting information from the DSNY and will continue to work together to forge a solution."

Previously on EV Grieve:
Questions and concerns as the sanitation department begins using 10th Street to park garbage trucks

More trash talk about those garbage trucks parked on 10th Street

Local elected officials continue to press city for alternatives to parking garbage trucks on 10th Street; muggings now a concern

Eating in the East Village via Eater

[EVG photo of B&H Dairy, named in multiple Eater listicles]

Eater dropped a comprehensive East Village dining package yesterday that includes multiple categories, including:

10 Best Cheap Eats

22 Bars for Every Vibe

Where to Dine With a Group

Where to Celebrate a Special Occasion

22 Japanese Restaurants to Try

Maybe you'll find a new place among these picks ... or agree with the selections, or disagree entirely and write your own category like, say, 22 Bars for Every Vibe That Aren't These 22.

Coming soon: Camellia on 3rd Avenue

Just a little to the north, on Third Avenue between 15th Street and 16th Street, signage is up for Camellia, which, per the signage, will serve a variety of ramen, gelato and drinks... no word on an opening date (the website listed on the signage isn't active yet).

Camellia takes the place of a Subway (sandwich shop) that shuttered a few years back.

Thanks to Nick Solares for the photo!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Momentary afternoon whiteout in Tompkins Square Park

The snow squall warning ended at 4 p.m. (according to the alert on my phone).

Updated 5 p.m.

Here are two photos from the Great Whiteout of 1/30/19 courtesy of Goggla...

Plywood arrives on 7th Street and 2nd Avenue; excavation expected in 2 weeks

Workers yesterday finished erecting the plywood around the empty lot on the northwest corner of Seventh Street and Second Avenue, the site of the deadly gas explosion that leveled the three buildings here in March 2015.

A worker on the scene told EVG correspondent Steven that the excavation for the new 7-story condoplex will commence in about two weeks...

The Morris Adjmi-designed residential building with 21 condos and ground-floor retail will include a commemorative plaque that honors Moises Locón and Nicholas Figueroa, the men who died in the gas explosion on this site.

My previous post at this link has more about defendants and their latest court date.

Meanwhile, the other lot here, the former 123 Second Ave., remains inactive. That lot sold for $6 million in the fall of 2016, and the new owner has said he's not in any hurry to develop the property.

Shaky Cohen's Nexus Building Development Group paid $9.15 million in June 2017 for what was 119 and 121 Second Ave.

Trader Joe's will end home delivery in Manhattan on March 1

An EVG reader was at the Trader Joe's location on Union Square the other day when she overheard two employees say there would be no more home deliveries from the store beginning on March 1.

"Horrified and dependent on deliveries — four flights of stairs — since they day they opened in NYC (in 2006), I went to the manager's desk because I hoped I heard it wrong," the reader told me via email.

"But no, it was apparently right, according to someone who seemed to have all the details. She said the cost of the delivery service is too great and is affecting pricing overall," the reader continued. "They tried every alternative and can't make it work without raising prices, which is their priority. So, deliveries are done — all locations, not just Union Square — effective March 1."

I reached out to the Trader Joe's HQ for more info.

Kenya Friend-Daniel, the company's national director of public relations, confirmed the news.

"When we originally introduced delivery, we had one store on 14th Street in Manhattan and options for outside delivery services were limited," she said in an email. "Today, there are seven Trader Joe’s stores across Manhattan, with more on the way; and there are now a number of services available for transporting food and people."


"Instead of passing along unsustainable cost increases to our customers, removing delivery will allow us to continue offering outstanding values — quality products for great everyday prices, and to make better use of valuable space in our stores," she said. "This was not a decision we made lightly. We value our customers and all that they do to come shop with us."

Oh speaking of more Trader Joe's on the way... will one of those happen to be coming to 432-438 E. 14th St.?

"I have nothing to confirm at this time," she said.

Hakata Zen is now closed for renovations on St. Mark's Place

[Photo by Steven]

The gate is down at Hakata Zen at 31 St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. The sign says there's a renovation, with the hope of reopening as soon as possible.

The Hakata Zen website is offline, leading to some thoughts that we're in for a concept switcheroo here. That might not come as a surprise, given the recent turnover here.

As previously noted, the restaurant at No. 31 was a Hakata Hot Pot/Zen 6/Sushi Lounge combo since March 2016. A year later, it became Noodle Cafe Zen presents Sushi Lounge & Hakata Hot Pot. (This is ALL on the midterm FYI. This post recaps the switcheroo-ing.)

Eventually the space just became Hakata Zen.

Meanwhile, the Zen 6 over on Sixth Street became the vegetarian szechuan spot Spicy Moon.

Updated: A commenter says a broken pipe is to blame for the closure...

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

St. Mark's is deader: St. Mark's Comics is closing after 36 years

[Photo from 2015 by Stacie Joy]

After 36 years on the block, St. Mark's Comics has announced that it will close at the end of February.

The announcement came via social media early this evening (rumors started circulating earlier in the day)...

In a brief phone conversation this afternoon, longtime owner Mitch Cutler said that a variety of factors, from increasing rents to changing consumer shopping habits, played a role in his decision to close up shop here at 11 St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue.

"There are a number of things that contributed to [the closing]. I have been working 90 hours a week for 36 years, and I no longer have the wherewithal to fight them — all of these various reasons," Cutler said. "It is challenging to have a storefront business in New York City for a number of reasons ... it is challenging to keep and maintain a retail storefront and there are enough impediments now that — like I said, I'm exhausted and can't fight them anymore."

For now, he expects the shop to remain open through February. "Something could change, but that is our expectation," he said.

He hasn't given too much thought about post-St. Mark's Comics life and the future. "I suppose after I've slept for two weeks I will begin to consider what that is."

Perhaps an online comics business?

"We have not ruled anything out, but we have also not planned for that. There are conversations, but they are in the earliest of the early stages."

For now, he's focusing on a store-clearing sale that begins tomorrow.

[Photo from 2015 by Stacie Joy]

Cutler said that he told his staff about the closing over the weekend, and has just started informing shop regulars today. The reaction so far?

"Universally it has been very sweet and very touching. People are telling us how much they'll miss us and how upset they are that we're going. We have known many of these people for a very long time," he said. "We are trying to keep it a celebration and not a funeral. It gets emotional some time, but we are trying to keep it happy."

Previously on EV Grieve:
A visit to St. Mark's Comics

Concern again for Punjabi Grocery & Deli on 1st Street

Roads & Kingdoms, a web magazine covering food, politics and travel, filed a long read last week on Punjabi Deli and Grocery, the First Street staple that has seen its business diminish in recent years due to a variety of factors.

The piece provides background on owner Kulwinder Singh, who bought the space just west of Avenue A in 1994.

The East Village today is a wildly different neighborhood than it was when Singh started his business, crowded with high-end restaurants and bars, its streets torn up for seemingly endless construction and development projects. In even less time, New York cabbies have seen their livelihoods upended by ride-share apps such as Uber and Lyft. Still, Singh’s Deli has remained a constant in a city, neighborhood, and industry unsettled by monumental change. Those changes could now pose a serious risk to the Deli’s future.

There's a recap of the issues that Singh has faced, such as the never-ending East Houston Reconstruction Project, which finally wrapped up at the end of 2018 — six years behind schedule.

The construction zone eliminated the parking spaces for cab drivers, who make up a sizable share of Punjabi's business, making it nearly impossible for them to stop in for a meal or break. Those who did stop faced getting a ticket. "Business was so bad, it was tough to pay rent," said Singh.

Pedestrians didn't have much better luck trying to enter the shop through the construction maze, as this EVG photo from 2015 will remind you...

A temporary taxi stand finally arrived around the corner on Avenue A in June 2015, though there isn't any word on the permanent one slated for East Houston/First Street.

One positive: the last of the construction equipment that had been stored along First Street — for nine years — was removed by the end of the year...

As for cab drivers...

[O]ver the last eight years, Uber and other ride-hailing apps such as Lyft have disrupted the yellow-cab industry. ... Increasing financial burdens and debt, and the diminishing value of a taxi medallion —which drivers spend years paying off — has led to stress and depression among the city’s yellow-cab community, who have struggled to make a living as they compete for customers with ride-sharing apps at their fingertips. In 2017, the number of registered ride-hailing cabs was four times larger than registered yellow cabs.

Both yellow-cab and ride-hailing drivers frequent the deli, and it is business is usual, though the factions are evident. Ride-hailing drivers have no fixed routines, or breaks, and often stop by after long shifts behind the wheel. Singh has seen the effect this has had on professional drivers first-hand. He says ride-hailing apps incentivize drivers to remain logged-in and to work continuously, sometimes putting in 10-hour shifts without breaks, which takes a toll on their mental and physical health. Thanks to greater competition, yellow-cab drivers now feel pressure to take longer shifts too.

So while there's some positive news that the East Houston Reconstruction Project is complete (so we think!), Punjabi will once again have to contend with an active construction zone. This development wasn't mentioned in the Roads & Kingdoms piece.

A 9-story residential building (with ground-floor retail) is going up in the lot right next door at No. 118, as I've been reporting ...

Construction has gone on — with DOB-mandated Stop Work delays — for nine months now, and there's not much to show for the effort. Based on these previous months, this is promising to be a lengthy job that could potentially further diminish Punjabi's business (sidewalk bridge, construction equipment, etc.).

The Roads & Kingdoms piece exits on a somber note...

Singh still has five years on his current lease, but as the deli inches toward its third decade, its future is less certain than ever. This institution that, for decades, has transported an immense diaspora back home may soon be yet another file in the archive of a lost New York.

Several readers forwarded me this article, with encouraging words to support Punjabi Grocery & Deli to help keep them from vanishing.

Previously on EV Grieve:
How you can help Punjabi Grocery & Deli stay in business

Here's what the new condoplex at 118 E. 1st St. will look like

Resident concerned over cracks caused by excavation work in lot next door

Taxi Relief Stand arrives on Avenue A; Punjabi Grocery & Deli relieved

Commodities is under new ownership on 1st Avenue

Tipsters galore have shared the news that Commodities Natural Market at 165 First Ave. has a new owner, as the sign posted on the front door notes...

EVG correspondent Steven met the new owner, Ashok Patel ...

Patel said that the store's current healthy focus will remain, though its name will change to Commodities Health Foods in the near future.

Michael Hughes opened Commodities here between 10th Street and 11th Street in 1993. Hughes and his wife Audra opened an outpost in Vermont in 2015 (there are now two there). Leading up to that Vermont debut, Michael's brother Ed took over the East Village shop.

In any event, the arrival of new ownership will likely put to rest those persistent rumors that circulated last fall about the store closing, based in part on the under-stocked shelves... apparently patrons asked this question of the staff enough to lead to these signs at checkout ...

[Photo from last fall via Steven]

Meanwhile, no word on what the new owner has in mind for those wily sparrows that flew in a few months ago when the front doors were open for a delivery...

Employees have tried to shoo them out, but it hasn't worked.

H/T Linn, Bill, Daniel and dwg!

Wara looks to open in early February on 1st Avenue

As noted earlier last month, Wara, a Japanese izakaya restaurant and dinner theater, is coming soon to 67 First Ave. at Fourth Street.

The storefront now boasts some subtle Wara signage...

Wayne Yip, who owns Jebon Sushi at 15 St. Mark's Place and Clay Pot at 58 St. Mark's Place, is behind this venture.

Wara will include a Batsu theater, in which a comedy troupe takes part in slapstick challenges "to avoid electric shocks, paintballs, a giant egg-smashing chicken, and many more hilarious and jaw-dropping punishments!"

Jebon currently hosts the shows. According to the Batsu website, tickets purchased for dates after Feb. 8 will be at Wara.

The Korean cafe Space Mabi closed here without any notice to patrons in November after a year in business.

A Midwinter closing on 2nd Avenue

A quick closure to note outside the usual coverage area. An EVG tipster shares the news that Midwinter Kitchen closed after service on Sunday at 327 Second Ave. at 19th Street. The owners left this message for patrons on the restaurant's website:

We have had three formidable years here at Midwinter Kitchen. It has been such a privilege to bring our farm to table project to life in this community. Even more inspiring for us has been the experience of sharing the fruits of our labor with all of you. Your participation, appreciation and loyal patronage has been a true blessing to us.

Sadly the reality of a profoundly labor intensive farming and restaurant operation are at odds with the current economic climate and it is with a very heavy heart that we have decided that Midwinter Kitchen and Midwinter Farm will close their doors as of January 27, 2019.

The restaurant took its farm-to-table mission seriously, serving food from its very own Midwinter Farms in Ancram, N.Y.

Midwinter took over for Mezcla, a short-lived Latin bistro.

Before this, Capucine's Restaurant managed to stick around the address for 33 years before they were rent hiked in 2013.

Monday, January 28, 2019


Checking in on those sidewalk repairs on First Avenue near 10th Street ... just outside Gizmo...


Hopefully there was room left for you to leave your initials or foot prints...

Thanks to Steven for the photos!

La Plaza's temporary closure for new fencing postponed; farewell to the Winter Flowers

La Plaza Cultural, the community garden/green space on the southwest corner of Ninth Street and Avenue C, was expected to close to the public after this past Thursday.

However, word circulated yesterday that work on the installation of the new fence got pushed back by about a month due to a contract issue. For now, La Plaza will remain open to about Feb. 24.

As noted back in the fall, to accommodate the new fence, garden volunteers removed the Winter Flowers, the handmade sculptures that Rolando Politi created from recycled materials starting in 2000.

The sculptures, which numbered nearly 350, adorned the top of the fence along Ninth Street and Avenue C, and was one of the more unique public art installations in the neighborhood.

This photo is from the fall...

And back to the current state of La Plaza...

Politi published a book of his work titled "Winter Flowers" ... this flyer has more details...

You may email Politi here to order a copy.

Local residents and activists founded La Plaza in 1976. It was renamed in honor of Armando Perez, a community activist who was murdered in 1999, in 2003.

Previously on EV Grieve:
A fall day to remove the Winter Flowers from La Plaza Cultural

Ravi DeRossi plans vegan diner in former Bar Virage space

Ravi DeRossi is looking to expand his vegan empire with a new concept — the Dollface Diner.

The East Village-based restaurateur is on the February CB3-SLA committee docket (the meeting is Feb. 11) for a new liquor license for the former Bar Virage space on the northeast corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street.

To date, just the preliminary application is on file at the CB3 website, so there aren't many details yet on what to expect.

We reached out to DeRossi for more details on the concept, which was first mentioned during a #EatForThePlanet with Nil Zacharias podcast in the fall of 2017.

At that time, DeRossi described Dollface as a 24/7 vegan diner, a "family-friendly space" with pastries, ice cream, milk shakes and egg creams. (In the same podcast, he discussed plans to take this concept, along with Avant Garden Sandwich Co., a plant-based sub-sandwich shop, national.)

If the Dollface application gets approval, then this will make DeRossi's fourth establishment along Seventh Street, joining Ladybird, Fire & Water and Avant Garden.

Meanwhile, he's currently changing concepts at Cienfuegos, which is undergoing a revamp to a plant-based Texas BBQ joint called called Honeybee's at 95 Avenue A and Sixth Street.

Bar Virage closed in late December after 20-plus years in business. No reason was cited for the closure.

Photo by Steven

Construction fencing set for incoming condoplex at 14 2nd Ave.

Workers have set up construction camp at 14 Second Ave. between First Street and First Street Green Art Park ... the first signs of the condoplexing ahead for Treetops, the name of the 10-story residential building that will rise here...

New owner Daniel Vislocky (of development firm Station Companies) told Curbed last month that he "expects prices to be in the $2.8 million to $3.5 million range" for the building's units, where residents will have access to ground-floor storage and a gym.

Vislocky also said that he'd be working with a consultant to take the appropriate steps to remedy the Stop Work Orders dating to 2000 and 2009, which was long before he owned the property.

This site has been vacant for years, last housing Irreplaceable Artifacts. There's a lot of back story, which the links below cover...

Previously on EV Grieve:
Workers remove artifacts from the vacant 14 2nd Ave., fueling speculation of new development

Development watch: 14 2nd Ave.

Vacant lot at 14 2nd Ave. sells for $7 million; will yield to 10-floor condoplex

More about Treetops, the name of the condoplex coming to 14 2nd Ave.