Saturday, August 17, 2019

Saturday's parting sinkhole



Second Avenue between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place...

City extends deadline for community garden licensing; Monday's City Hall rally cancelled



The city has extended an olive branch of sorts to community gardeners.

As reported yesterday, community gardeners across NYC planned to a rally on the steps of City Hall on Monday against what they're calling a new one-sided license agreement to operate their volunteer-run green spaces.

This morning, Bill LoSasso, director of the NYC Parks GreenThumb, sent the following letter to the GreenThumb gardeners:

As you know, we are in the process of relicensing GreenThumb community gardens operating on NYC Parks property. As we near completion of that process, we are extending the deadline for submission of the relicensing documents until Friday, September 20, 2019, and also making several updates to the Gardener's Handbook to better support our network of gardens and gardeners.

Please review the details in the attached letter. Your GreenThumb Outreach Coordinator will be happy to speak with you about any questions that you might have.

I hope that your gardens are doing well and in full bloom, and I look forward to seeing many of you again soon. Enjoy your weekend!

As a result of the extension and updates, Monday's rally has been cancelled. Here's a statement to us via Charles Krezell, head of Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens (LUNGS):

We are very happy that GreenThumb has extended the license agreement deadline to Sept. 20.

We hope to continue negotiating in good faith. We all love our gardens and want to continue to have a
good relationship with GreenThumb and the Parks Department.

In light of the new deadline we are canceling the Rally scheduled for Monday at City Hall.

We are very grateful for the vigorous support of our community gardeners. We continue to recognize that our strength is in unity; and our goal is to continue to help New York grow.

H/T Stacie Joy!

✌️



This arrived this past week at the St. Mark's Place entrance to Tompkins Square Park...



Thanks to Vinny & O for the photos. ✌️

Last Saturday for Summer Streets


[Photo from last Saturday]

The last Summer Streets for the, um, summer takes place today (Aug. 17!) from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. ... as the 12th annual Summer Streets celebration wraps up another Saturday where people can enjoy the nearly seven miles of NYC roadways that are closed to vehicles for running, walking, biking, complaining, etc.



You can find more details about today's pit-stop activities at this link.

Once again, it's worth noting just how far Summer Streets have come from its early days on Broadway...

Friday, August 16, 2019

A 'Heartworm' of gold



Today sees the release of the 22nd (!!!!!) Oh Sees record, a 73-minute, two-record opus called Face Stabber. The video here is for "Heartworm," one of the punkier tracks on the record.

See them live out at the Warsaw in October. They're a great live band.

Get your Gem Spa t-shirts or photos of Madonna — at Gem Spa!


[Photo from last evening]

Starting this evening (Friday!), Gem Spa will have a limited supply of Gem Spa t-shirts for sale at the shop here on Second Avenue at St. Mark's Place.

In recent weeks, they've been filling orders for people who purchased them via PayPal. Now they'll have an extra supply on-hand. (The t-shirts come with a Kiehl’s lip balm that the company donated.)

As we've been reporting, the venerable shop has been struggling of late, in part due to its temporary ban on selling cigarettes and lottery tickets and various landlord issues.

Parul Patel, who is running the shop for her father Ray, the owner since 1986, decided to sell the t-shirts to help raise money for the shop.



Meanwhile, longtime St. Mark's Place resident David Godlis is pitching in to assist the longtime corner shop. He's donating prints of this photo of Madonna outside Gem Spa in 1984 during filming of "Desperately Seeking Susan" ... you can order various sizes of the photo at Gem Spa...


Previously on EV Grieve:
Will you buy a Gem Spa T-shirt?

What is happening at Gem Spa?

A visit to Gem Spa

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


[Dias y Flores Community Garden on 13th Street]

---

Updated 8/17: The city has extended a deadline for the licensing agreements, and made several changes to the Gardener's Handbook. As a result, the rally has been cancelled. Scoop here.

---

Community gardeners across NYC are taking to City Hall on Monday morning to rally against what they're calling a new one-sided license agreement to operate their volunteer-run green spaces.

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."

Here's part of a media advisory via Loisaida United Neighborhood Gardens (LUNGS):

Under the new license, GreenThumb becomes an enforcement agency rather than a garden-friendly helpmate. This new license imposes new regulations, restrictions and obligations on garden groups.

It was written by lawyers with no sense of the historical and cultural significance of the gardens and their communities. Now we are being told that we are being allowed to garden on city property and if we don’t like the new license we don’t have to garden.

Gardeners have voiced great concerns. At a Town Hall in May, gardeners voted unanimously to not sign the license. In the past 40 years there has never been widespread opposition to garden licenses.

We have tried to negotiate changes to the license; we want to continue to work toward a better license. But the City is threatening garden groups with a lockout. We have grave concerns about these items in the new license:

• There are three sets of regulations that gardens are required to follow, these regulations are inconsistent, contradictory and confusing.
• Liability issues remain unresolved. The term “Licensee” in the agreement is not defined, what does it mean for the person signing the license on behalf of their community garden?
• Gardens are required to hold two free public events a year but must obtain written permission far in advance from GreenThumb to hold these events.
• Many of the new rules will be impossible to effectively enforce given the size of GreenThumb’s staff. This can only lead to arbitrary, discriminatory enforcement. Gardens will be lost because of developers’ greed not garden infractions.

A recent meeting between the Community Garden Coalition and city officials did net some progress, such as gardeners will once again have the option of allowing dogs into their spaces.

Officials for the Parks Department 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, recently told amNY.

And:

She said changes include "making the gardens more accessible by keeping them open to the public during the weekend; allowing gardens to host more fundraising events so they can sustain themselves; and increasing safety by asking gardens to coordinate with Green Thumb ahead of planned events."

Monday is the deadline for signing the new license. Patch reported that the Parks Department has told groups that they won't be permitted to continue operating without one. (Patch also noted that nearly 180 gardens have already signed the agreements "out of 353 gardens expected to sign.")

The City Hall rally on Monday starts at 10 a.m.


[Spreading the word one van at a time]

Previously on EV Grieve:
Concern over new GreenThumb regulations for community gardens

Pylons for offset crossings arrive on 1st and 2nd Avenue intersections


[At 9th Street]

The city has finally finalized the offset crossings on several intersections along the First Avenue and Second Avenue bike lanes. (The markings had been in place; the plastic pylons arrived this week.)

News of the offset crossings was first announced on May 21. This after the city resurfaced First Avenue and repainted the bike lane.

As Streetsblog reported in May, the arrival of offset crossings in the East Village comes two years after the driver of a box truck reportedly made an illegal left turn turn — across multiple lanes of traffic on First Avenue at Ninth Street — and slammed into cyclist Kelly Hurley, who later died from her injuries.

Per Streetsblog:

In the aftermath of her death, advocates implored the agency to rethink its use of “mixing zones” — which force cyclists and drivers to negotiate the same space at the same time.

After Hurley’s death, Upper West Side architect Reed Rubey came up withan alternative design, which was subsequently endorsed by Manhattan Community Board 4.

Rubey’s efforts partly inspired DOT’s chosen solution: the offset intersection, which it piloted at select locations in 2017 and 2018. In September, DOT’s “Cycling at the Crossroads” report showed that cyclists felt significantly safer at intersections with offset crossings [PDF].

Other offset crossings with newly added pylons include on First Avenue at Seventh Street...



... and First Avenue at Fourth Street ...



Quoting Streetsblog from earlier this week: "Last year in New York City, car drivers caused more than 225,000 crashes, resulting in injuries to more than 60,000 people — and the deaths of 10 cyclists, 120 pedestrians and 96 motorists." So far in 2019, 19 cyclists have been killed by cars or trucks on city streets.

Emmy Squared closed this weekend for a 'routine refresh'



In case Emmy Squared was in your weekend plans. The pizzeria specializing in Detroit-style square pies on First Avenue at Fifth Street was closed yesterday... and will remain that way through the weekend for a "routine refresh."



Emmy's Instagram account states they'll be back open on Monday.

The East Village location opened in July 2018. Emmy Squared owners Matthew and Emily Hyland also operated Violet, serving a completely different style of pizza, on Fifth Street between Avenue A and Avenue B.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thursday's parting shot



In Tompkins Square Park, Christo, the male red-tailed hawk, busts a squirrel for being sneaky.

Photo by Steven.

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 and NYC.

EVG Etc.: More 14th Street busway drama; an oral history of Lucien


[Early morning on 7th Street]

• City Council bill seeks to punish landlords who abuse vacate orders (Curbed)

• The LES residents challenging the city’s East River Park stormproofing plan (The Indypendent)

• An analysis shows that the city’s largest landlord, the NYCHA, evicted 838 families from NYCHA apartments. The next top evicting landlords evicted 189 and 166 apartments, respectively. (CityLimits)

• Where is the Small Business Jobs Survival Act? (Gothamist)

• Arthur Schwartz, the lawyer behind temporarily halting the 14th Street busway, now plans to sue over the removal of M14 stops (Patch) ... Schwartz calls calls transit advocates "White Hooded Zealots" (Gothamist ... Daily News)

• An oral history of Lucien (Garage/Vice ... previously on EVG)

• Roger Clark visits Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery on Houston (NY1)

• Creating the look and visual language of "Russian Doll," set in the East Village (IndieWire ... previously on EVG)

• Police looking for suspect who robbed a 78-year-old man in the Lillian Wald Houses (CBS 2)

• The deadline for the affordable housing lottery at Essex Crossing’s 140 Essex St. is Aug. 20 (The Lo-Down)


[EVG photo]

• An appreciation of the Argentinean fare at Buenos Aires on Sixth Street (Forbes)

• Have you tried the insect pizza at Luzzo's on First Avenue? (Rachael Ray)

• Jon Spencer discusses his solo career (GuitarWorld)

• ICYMI: The excellent "Long Day’s Journey Into Night" in 3D is back (Metrograph)

• An interview with the Ramones by Legs McNeil and John Holmstrom from August 1986 (SPIN)

• Diversions: Treasure trove of video of the musical acts — Grace Jones! Iggy! Eno! — who appeared on this Dutch TV show in the 1970s-80s (Dangerous Minds)

Upscale nail salon casualty on 13th Street



Côte, "a luxurious nail care destination," has closed its outpost on 13th Street between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue, per EVG reader Laura K.

No word from ownership about the closure... no note for patrons. The place was just suddenly gone.

This was the first NYC location for the L.A.-based business, opening here in August 2017.

In case you are feeling the spirit of Halloween this August



The Spirit Halloween pop-up shop is now open on Third Avenue between 13th Street and 14th Street (just like last year).

What to expect inside the shop? The Spirit website has everything for you to not look like your favorite "Stranger Things" characters. For instance:




Thanks to Goggla for sharing the Spirit photo!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Wednesday's parting shot



Summer Streets, early Wednesday morning edition... thanks to Vinny & O for the photo...

'Season of the Witch' benefit at Bowery Electric to raise funds for the ACLU



An impressive array of NYC-based women musicians are coming together tomorrow (Thursday) night at the Bowery Electric for a benefit concert for the ACLU.

Per the invite:

Season of the Witch was put together by Dylan Hundley of Lulu Lewis and Diane Gentile of Diane and the Gentle Men to help raise funds for the ACLU to fight abortion bans. An all-girl night with some of the most respected female musicians in New York, Season of the Witch will help start a year-long call to action for women in music.

The band are: Cait O'Riordan (original and longtime bassist of the Pogues), Karyn Kuhl of New Jersey's popular Karyn Kuhl band, Linda Pitmon on drums from the Baseball Project (a band with Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate plus members of R.E.M.) Special guest singers include: Christina Martinez (Boss Hog), Cynthia Sley (Bush Tetras), Ann Courtney (Mother Feather), Dina Regine, Dylan Hundley and more!

Find more info about the show at this link. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. The Bowery Electric is at 327 Bowery between Joey Ramone Place and Third Street.

I Am a Rent-Stabilized Tenant



East Village resident Susan Schiffman has been photographing the apartments of rent-stabilized tenants living in the East Village for her Instagram account, I Am a Rent Stabilized Tenant. She shares some of the photos here for this ongoing EVG feature.

Photos and text by Susan Schiffman

Tenant: Jenny, since 1978

Why did you come to the East Village. How did you find your apartment?

I was here in the summer and I lived on Bleecker Street with a bunch of hippies. They told me “don’t ever go past Third Avenue. There are speed junkies in railroad apartments.” I was scared.

I went back upstate to where I am from — North Tonawanda. I came back down to buy astrology books in the East Village. We didn’t have the internet then and I couldn’t find the astrology books anywhere else. The Astrology Center was on Sixth Street next to the Cauldron, the macrobiotic restaurant. I was checking out the neighborhood and thought “this place is groovy.” You had Pete’s Spice and Natural Food stores. I didn’t have any of that upstate. It was 1971.

I came back down to the East Village and I had my daughter with me. I am a single mom. I got a job working on this street. My father and my brother build sailboats. My grandmother and grandfather are pastry chefs. I had the culinary thing and the woodworking thing. The town where I grew up is where they created the first hand-carved carousels. My grandfather lived across the street and he would take me in there to go on all the rides.

I started a woodworking job. I needed a place to stay. My boss said go talk to Mr. Kuperberg. I went over there and said “Mr. Kuperberg, I have a kid, I have no money, I need a place to stay.” He gave me the keys. When I came in the apartment it was all chocolate brown and lime green. Two dancers from "Fiddler on the Roof" lived here. Before I moved in the apartment was two separate apartments with the bathroom in the hall.

I opened up a shop on Sixth Street and I built handmade wooden instruments. I was with the NYS Council on the Arts. I moved uptown and was working at a furniture store called Impressions in Wood. I made gift items for Macy’s and Gimbels. Then I came back down to the East Village.

By this time I had had a couple of close accidents with the table saw. I thought this is the time to give up the sawdust and I’m going to open a coffee house across the street. There were 12 restaurants in the neighborhood in 1978 — I counted.

When I opened my restaurant, I wanted to have a piano and a little cafe. Joel Forrester is a famous jazz pianist. He came over to play. People kept asking me to make food and at the time I didn’t really know how. Eventually it grew into a 70-seat restaurant. There were lines out the door. We made our own tofu and aduki steamed buns.

I had that big restaurant and then the 80s came. Pluto was just going into Scorpio: everybody was getting AIDS; people were going into rehab; self-help books filled the shelves at Barnes & Noble. All of the astrology books went out.

Pluto was in Leo when I was born, it was all about rock and roll then, Mick Jagger, etc. When Pluto was in Virgo everybody was eating natural foods and starting companies that reflected those interests, including macrobiotics. Then Pluto is in Libra, we have Studio 54, disco and then we go into rehab, Pluto went into Scorpio right after Libra.

An astrologer came here and he said you know “Pluto’s coming and he’s going to sweep everyone, just take them away." And it happened, everybody got AIDS, people disappeared. Keith Haring had been in my restaurant every day.

I was going to buy the building for $100,000 but I would have to kick everybody out to make it work. I just couldn’t do it, I’m a spiritual person.

Somebody came here, bought the building, chased all of the old ladies out and said “I’m going to raise your rent five times or I’ll make your life miserable." So he made my life miserable. Unbelievable. He stuffed rags down the sewage system so the sewage would back up in my restaurant. He was doing so much construction. There were rats running around. I decided I’m done.









What do you love about your apartment?

I’m still here. It’s been 41 years. An astrologer told me “your lights are fixed, you will never move.” I wonder how many more years can I climb the stairs? In astrology we can look at your 4th house and we can see what your home is going to be like. You come in here and you say “neat. She’s neat.” That’s Saturn in the 4th house, no messes. On a good day it’s sunny. That’s Leo in the 4th house.





I like the Southern exposure. I like the brick. I look over the buildings on Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti album cover. I was there too, when The Rolling Stones made their “Waiting on a Friend” video on this block.

This is a real creative vortex. I’ve seen a lot of people create around here. One friend told me the East Village is a fertile crescent — it’s the vortex, the center of the universe. It’s really true. You get the most amazing people.



If you're interested in inviting Susan in to photograph your apartment for an upcoming post, then you may contact her via this email. And read about her in the new issue of The New Yorker!

Crane crew spotted at the former P.S. 64 on 10th Street


[Reader-submitted photo]

Several EVG readers yesterday reported a boom lift and at least one worker giving attention to the northeast-facing facade at the former P.S. 64 on 10th Street between Avenue B and Avenue C...



This is the spot where city inspectors examined back on Feb. 6 and, a week later, issued a Full Vacate Order. This marks the first activity that neighbors have noted at the long-vacant property since then.

Developer Gregg Singer bought the property — the former P.S 64 and CHARAS/El Bohio community center — from the city during an auction in 1998. The building has been empty for years. (Singer reportedly has an office on the premises.)

The vacate order is dated Feb. 13. According to the DOB (in their ALL-CAP STYLE):

AT VARIOUS EXPOSURES OF EDUCATIONAL FACILITY, ORNAMENTAL FACADE ELEMENTS ARE IN A STATE OF DISREPAIR WITH VISIBLE CRACKS, GAPS, AND DETERIORATION. THESE ORNAMENTAL ELEMENTS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO FALL INTO THE STREET AND YARD. IN ADDITION, INTERIOR FIRE PROOFING ARE MISSING THEREBY EXPOSING STRUCTURAL STEEL MEMBERS. THESE CONDITIONS HAVE MADE THE ENTIRE BUILDING AND YARDS UNSAFE TO OCCUPY.

City inspectors eventually determined that the building was safe, but did issue a violation to Singer for failure to maintain the exterior facade for cracks observed on the corner of the building at the third floor, as Curbed reported.

Singer told Curbed at the time: "It’s all political. This is part of a concerted effort to put pressure on us. I was just at the building. There's definitely cracks — that we were already aware of — that will be pointed and repaired, but there’s no immediate danger."

Perhaps this work yesterday was to rectify the vacate order.

Singer has wanted to turn the landmarked property into a dorm called University Square, which continues in a holding pattern while the DOB maintains a Stop Work Order — dating to August 2015 — on the building.

On Feb. 7, local elected officials gathered outside the building and urged the city to reclaim the property for community use. Singer has stated that he will not give up the building.

H/T Jason!

Your McDonald's renovation report



The McDonald's on First Avenue between Sixth Street and Seventh Street closed last Tuesday for renovations that are expected to last three weeks.

Workers have already cleared the sidewalk bridge. And yesterday, part of the new McD's facade went up as the top photo via Steven shows.

McD's facade watchers — currently one person — are said to be anxiously awaiting the final facade reveal.

In 2015, workers removed the (at least) 7-year-old "Dollar Menu" signage...



... to make room for a big Big Mac and large container of upside-down fries...



Meanwhile, the owners of Organic Grill nearby on First Avenue are offering currently displaced McDonald's customers a deal... if you don't like your meal. then it's free...

View this post on Instagram

Hey Lower East side residents! Our blocks ( 6th and 7th st ) on First ave are officially McDonald’s Free for the first time in at least 20 years! Not for long though, just while the store undergoes complete renovation. For the time being, let’s celebrate! If you know someone who used to eat there, please let them know: 🛑🛑🛑🛑I invite all of them to try The Organic Grill food. If they don’t like it, they don’t pay! Fair? Deal?🛑🛑🛑🛑Let me know . You are more than welcome to repost it ! #nycveganrestaurants #veganeastvillage #organicgrill #organicgrillnewyork #eastvillagevegan #plantbasednewyork #veganeatsnyc #veganeatsnewyork #nycveganfood #nycveganfoodie #veganfoodnewyork #veganfoodnyc #vegansofnewyorkcity #vegansofnewyork #veganfoodnewyork #vegansofnyc #veggieburgernyc #veggieburgernewyork #veganburgernewyork #veganburgernyc #nycvegan #vegansofnyc #newyorkvegan #veganrestaurantsnyc #veganrestaurants #vegannyc #veganbrunchnyc #organicrestaurantsnyc #veganbrunchnewyork #vegbrunchnewyork #nycveganbrunch #newyorkveganbrunch #vegansofnewyork

A post shared by ORGANIC GRILL (@organicgrill) on


As for the "McDonald’s Free for the first time in at least 20 years" line... I know we talked about this before — this McDonald's location has been around since the 1980s. (If someone wants to chime in with more exact info...)


[McD's in the 80s pic via Jeremiah Moss]

Camellia closed for renovations on 3rd Avenue



Blog friend Nick Solares tells us that Camellia, the newish ramen-gelato combo dispensary on Third Avenue between 15th Street and 16th Street, is currently closed (as of last week) for renovations.

A note for patrons states that they are updating/remodeling the dining room, and "will be back better than ever very soon!"



An Instagram post promises new menu items as well.

Camellia opened earlier this year in space that was, in part, a Subway (sandwich shop).

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tuesday's parting shot



Creating Instagram-worthy ice cream photos on a budget. A reader-submitted photo tonight from an East Village corner deli.

Noted



Send your Thoughts and Prayers to the GOP on Third Street at Avenue A... payphone art via Winston Tseng, whose MAGA-related satire has been spotted around here in the past.

Medina's worldly chef brings Mediterranean street style to Second Avenue



Text and photos by Linda Dyett

In less than a week since it debuted, Medina's Turkish Kitchen – its front door and windows open to the street, with sample dishes prominently displayed on a sidewalk table – has already added a mood of welcoming hospitality to this block of Second Avenue between 10th Street and 11th Street. It isn't much of a stretch to say that just walking past is almost like being transported to a Southern European seaside city and finding yourself in front of an unpretentious neighborhood brasserie.

A friend from Sweden and I were passing by on opening night, on our way to one of the many Asian restaurants now dotting the neighborhood. But the delicate scent of what turned out to be roasted red peppers, along with the smiles of the welcoming staff, were irresistible. So we sat down at one of the sidewalk tables and ordered from the eight-page menu. Yes, lots of choices there.

Midway through dinner, Medina's overseer-chef, Aydin Zeikrovski, stopped at our table to say hello. Always the nosy reporter, I asked him about his previous restaurant experience. That was in Denmark, he said, where he'd lived for 11 years. I too lived there for many years, and suddenly we were speaking Danish together. And then he turned to my friend Monika and started speaking Swedish with her. Turns out he'd lived briefly in Sweden too. (He's quick with languages, evidently.)

Having lead the wily, event-filled, quick-on-his-feet life of a contemporary émigré, Aydin is largely responsible for Medina's mood and food. He's originally from Ohrid, a lakeside city of historic monuments and cobblestone streets in North Macedonia, where he was raised by his Turkish mother, Albanian engineer father and Turkish grandmother.

It was that grandmother, a chef, who taught him to cook. One of his distant cousins is also a chef – René Redzepi, founder of the celebrated, world-famous Copenhagen restaurant, Noma. Gastronomy has got to be in this family's DNA.

In 2003, at age 14, Aydin moved to Denmark, home to many transplants from the former Yugoslavia. There, he continued his education, eventually graduating with a marketing degree. But he never abandoned cooking.

While at university, he ran and was the chef at a fast-food eatery in Copenhagen's gritty, lively Nørrebro neighborhood (similar in spirit to New York's East Village and Lower East Side). The house specialties were home-cooked-style chicken and salads, prepared with healthy ingredients. So successful was this little restaurant that it expanded with several branches around town.

In 2011, Aydin made another move, to New York. Here he's become a U.S. citizen, husband, father of two, and consultant to the foreign and domestic travel industry. And now – partnering with his father-in-law – he's running Medina's, which happens to occupy the 700-square-foot space that most recently housed the Dinah Hookah Lounge, before that was a Dunkin' Donuts, even earlier on was a pizza-by-the-slice spot — and going way back in time, had been a paint store.

"Meat and salads are the most important elements in Turkish meals," Aydin says. His ingredients are high-quality, and all the condiments (even the salt) are organic and imported from Turkey. The appetizers include those Mediterranean standards, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, baba ghanouj, and tabouleh. But not to be missed are the amazing Sigara Boregi—fried filo dough stuffed with feta cheese — and the home-made seasoned fries accompanied by a secret sauce.

Aydin is proudest of the gyros platters. One of them is made from sliced lamb and rib eye sourced from a 25-acre organic farm in Pennsylvania and seasoned with herbs and spices. And then there are the kebabs. I ordered the beautifully flavored chicken shish kebab, marinated in dried red and white peppers, curry, and olive oil sauce. Other choices include rib eye steak, fried calamari, mixed grill, bronzino and salmon.

Dessert? There's baklava, of course, as well as rice pudding, Turkish custard, and a dish that may be new to many – bubbling-hot, oven-baked Kunefe: shredded filo dough filled with mozzarella-like Turkish string cheese and doused with honey mixed with homemade cane sugar syrup. (I can readily imagine consuming Kunefe as a one-course meal accounting for a full day's worth of calories.)

Beverages include Turkish and American coffee, Turkish tea, ayran (the frothy yogurt drink), and growing selections of beers and wines. The Sapporo-like Efes comes out of Turkey's oldest brewery. Macedonian wines may soon appear on the menu.

Don't be surprised if the menu expands even further to — who knows? — dishes from Denmark. Aydin and his staff are open to and eager for suggestions from diners and passersby. (If you happen to stop by to see Aydin in the days ahead, he's now out of town until early September.)



Linda Dyett is an East Village-based freelance writer and editor who’s been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Monocle, New York magazine and — back when glossy magazines were still magazines — Allure, Glamour, etc.

DOB fines crane operator $110,000 for boom collapse last month at the Riis Houses


[Photo on July 30 by @FDNY]

Officials at the Department of Buildings yesterday stopped all work citywide by United Crane and Rigging, the company reportedly responsible for the July 30 boom collapse at the Jacob Riis Houses, 749 FDR Drive and Sixth Street.

According to their report, the operator hoisted a load of steel beams that weighed 700 pounds more than the crane's permitted lifting capacity. The collapse forced the temporary evacuation of more than 100 families as well as the closure of the FDR.

United was also involved in a fatal accident this past April 13 at 570 Broome St., in which the counterweight of a crane fell to the ground and killed a worker.

Here's more from a news release via the DOB:

The agency’s order will remain in effect until the firm replaces the personnel who supervised the crane work at this and 21 other locations, and puts in place an independent monitor who will make monthly safety-compliance reports to DOB regarding United’s work.

DOB’s investigation of the FDR Drive incident revealed that the crane’s operator lifted a load of steel beams that weighed more than 4,400 pounds, exceeding the crane’s permitted lifting capacity of 3,700 pounds. The total load weight caused the crane’s boom to bend and partially collapse. The collapse of the boom caused the operator to lose control of the load, which struck the roof and side of the building before falling to the ground. The load of steel was intended to be placed on top of the building to support future mechanical equipment.

Accordingly, DOB issued five violations today to United that carry penalties of $110,000. The violations include failure to designate a qualified and competent Lift Director; failure to make proper notifications to DOB regarding the work that was being performed; inadequate safety measures on site; failure to safeguard the construction site to protect workers and the public; and failure to have proper construction documents on site.

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein reacted to this news...


The city has been upgrading buildings in the Riis complex in recent months as part of the Sandy Recovery Program Restoration.

In a blistering open letter to incoming NYCHA director Greg Russ on Friday, local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera urged the agency to ramp up its oversight of contractors carrying out federally funded reconstruction work.

As she wrote, the crane collapse was "the latest in a string of failures for an agency with an entrenched culture of mismanagement, documentation of wasted resource and a seeming disregard for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who live in public housing."



[Click on image for more detail]

You can read more about the Rivera letter at the Post and Curbed.

The serious renovations happening at China Star



Renovations continue inside the China Star, the family-owned takeout-delivery spot at 145 First Ave. near Ninth Street. The restaurant has been closed since the middle of July.

EVG regular Lola Saénz shared this progress shot from late last week...



...here's another shot via EVG correspondent Steven...



China Star owner Jay Yang told Lola that he was about two weeks out from reopening.

You can read our interview from October 2017 with Jay and learn the backstory of the China Star at this link.