Thursday, December 31, 2020

6 posts from December

 A mini month in review...

• East Village Loves NYC prepares 1st holiday feast; tops more than 70,000 meals made for hungry New Yorkers in 2020 (Dec. 23)

• A Visit with Frank "Frankie Christmas" Bianco (Dec. 22

• Theater in Quarantine presents a world premiere from an East Village closet (Dec. 14

• Permits filed to demolish the former B Bar & Grill on the Bowery (Dec. 8

• Straight shooters: Marvel Studios brings 'Hawkeye' to 4th Street for Disney+ series (Dec. 8

• Fire engulfs southeast corner of 7th Street and 2nd Avenue; Middle Collegiate Church destroyed (Dec. 5)

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...

[Updated] Morning-after look at the damage caused by the broken water main on 1st Avenue and 7th Street

Emergerncy crews are on the scene this morning... making repairs to the ruptured water main on First Avenue and Seventh Street — the second such break in a week

The break was first reported at 8:30 last night. There wasn't much info on the cause of the break via officials, as local news outlets reported. 

Multiple residents/sources (received several WTFs via Instagram DMs) along Seventh Street said the water continued to gush from the street past midnight. 

Here are a few photos showing the aftermath this morning on Seventh Street between First Avenue and Avenue A...
The curbside dining structure outside Ladybird appeared to have received the most damage from the stream of mucky water...
Ladybird, like all of Ravi DeRossi's East Village restaurants, is currently on hiatus.
Meanwhile, northbound traffic on First Avenue is being diverted at Sixth Street... (you'd be saving time to turn on Fourth Street, should you be out driving...)
Hard to tell at this hour the extent of the flooding. E7, the deli that debuted yesterday on the northeast corner of First Avenue and Seventh Street, is open this morning. 787 Coffee and Abraço are both open on Seventh Street. There were reader reports of flooded basement apartments along Seventh Street.

Will update when more information becomes available. 

Updated 7 p.m. 

Wow — the roadwork was completed this afternoon...  and the Avenue is back open...
... and businesses are open along Seventh Street, including Los Tacos, Pylos and Trash & Vaudeville... and there was a service at St. Stanislaus ...
And as for all the reports of brown water...

E7 Deli & Cafe receives 2020 welcome

E7 Deli & Cafe had its grand opening yesterday on the northeast corner of First Avenue and Seventh Street (118 First Ave.) ... several hours before the water main rupture flooded parts of the nearby streets...
The deli seems to have escaped any serious damage — the shop was open this morning, festive balloons intact.

E7 sells sandwiches and salads and has your usual corner-deli fare. Perhaps a welcome addition given that two corner delis have closed on First Avenue this year — at 10th Street and 12th Street.

No. 118 First Ave. had been vacant since Golden Food Market closed here in the summer of 2017 after 35 years in business. Before their lease wasn't renewed, an LLC with a West 11th Street address bought the building in the spring of 2017 for $5.8 million, per public records.

Golden Food Market owner Ali Fardos now runs East Village Organic a few storefronts away.

A tapas-wine bar was in the works for No. 118 in April 2018, but those plans never materialized.

On 2nd Avenue, B&H Dairy wraps up a trying year, ponders its future

The hits kept on coming in 2020 for B&H Dairy, the 83-year-old lunch counter at 127 Second Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place. The vandalism. The break-ins. The mound of garbage. The wind-damaged canopy. (A crowdfunding campaign is helping them get through this rough patch.)

In a story published yesterday, Gothamist reporter Jake Offenhartz talked with co-owner Ola Abdelwahed, who admitted "that the last few months have left her closer to giving up than she ever thought possible."

The latest indignity came, she said, with the city and state's constantly changing guidelines for outdoor dining:
The final straw came a few days before Christmas, when city inspectors ordered B&H to dismantle their newly-erected sidewalk structure, due to its proximity to a curbside tree. (The bus lane on 2nd Avenue means B&H can't take advantage of on-street dining). 
By that point, they'd already relocated the outdoor area twice to meet the city’s demands, while investing thousands of dollars in new wiring that will, in theory, eventually allow them to connect an outdoor heater. "When the man stopped by and told me about the tree, I almost had a heart attack. No one ever mentioned the tree, all of a sudden they remember the tree," Ola told Gothamist on a recent morning. "I give this place so much heart and emotion to continue the tradition, and the city wants to destroy us."

 

Nowon will close temporarily starting New Year's Day

Citing potential health concerns for its staff and patrons, Nowon will close temporarily starting tomorrow, New Year's Day.

Chef Jae Lee's hit Korean restaurant opened late last year at 507 E. Sixth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B. They ended up having only four months in business before the PAUSE took effect in March.

Nowon re-opened for takeout and delivery in April ...  they also teamed up with Frontline Foods to provide meals for health-care workers.

Below is the Instagram post about the short-term closure. (And Nowon will be serving a New Year's Eve special featuring Korean dumplings and rice cake soup.)

So long Milon

Updated 2/15: While the Milon sign remains in place for now, Panna II has opened for dinner service inside the space

--

As we wrap up the year, there's another restaurant closure to note. Milon, the Indian-Bangladeshi restaurant that first opened here on First Avenue at Sixth Street in 1982, has quietly gone out of business, according to multiple sources.

That might not come as a surprise to anyone who's walked by here in recent months. The gate has remained down since the PAUSE went into effect in March. In addition, there isn't any room for outdoor seating. 

Back in the summer, Royal Bangladesh on the lower level quickly grabbed up the curbside seating space, as you may have noticed in the middle of First Avenue after high winds. They've been serving from the back garden of late. (Their hours seem a little unpredictable.)

Upstairs neighbor Panna II eventually reopened for takeout and delivery and later indoor dining at 25 percent. They temporarily closed again when Cuomo's second indoor dining ban went into effect early December.

We had been waiting for confirmation from someone affiliated with Milon. (The phone has been disconnected.) The closest we got was an EVG regular who spoke with a worker spotted entering the locked-up space. 

Robert Sietsema at Eater provided history of Milon, Panna II and Royal — who've competed for costumers and the highest electric bill for decades at 93 First Avenue in this post from 2016.

As for Milon's decor:
It takes awhile for your disbelieving eyes to adjust, because the space is hung with thousands of tiny colored lights. Some are Christmas lights, but others are stars, hearts, and red-hot chiles. These descend from the ceiling, as do dozens of banners for seemingly every nation on earth, like a United Nations on acid.

While Milon and Panna II had been catering to the Instagram crowd in recent years, locals still find the restaurants a comfort on evenings away from the weekends. Some have feared that the indoor-dining ban could mark the end of the so-called Curry Row. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

[Updating] 1 week later, there's ANOTHER water main break on 1st Avenue and 7th Street

One week after workers repaired a broken water main on First Avenue at Seventh Street, another rupture has occurred tonight, flooding the street all over again... It took workers two-plus days to clean up the broken pipe last week... which forced several businesses to temporarily close and residents to lose their water service.

Here's a clip via EVG reader Raquel Shapira ...


As you might expect, northbound traffic on First Avenue is being rerouted. The city had also just reopened Seventh Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue on Monday for the first time since the devastating fire on Dec. 5.

Updated 9:45 p.m.

Photos via a tweet by Jake Offenhartz at Gothamist shows the water rushing across Seventh Street to Avenue A...
Updated:

More footage from along Seventh Street near A, where the water continues to flow from the point of the break... flooding the outdoor dining spaces (again)...

Residents have reported the city has shut off the water to the buildings in the immediate area... and several residents on Seventh Street were spotted leaving their apartments with suitcases...

Updated: 

As of 11 p.m. the water main had not been shut off for unknown reasons, and water continued to flow along Seventh Street toward Avenue A... Jackflashnyc shared these photos...
Top photo via
@jeremoss

EVG Etc.: Appreciating Pinc Louds; Visiting Punjabi Grocery and Deli

Photo on First Avenue yesterday by Derek Berg

• How Pinc Louds helped fill this year's live music void (Gothamist ... read our interview with Claudi from the summer here

• A visit to Punjabi Grocery and Deli on First Street (NBC 4

• Mayor extends Open Storefronts program to restaurants and bars through September 2021 (Eater)

• Tracking the rise in violent crimes this year (The New York Times)

• Ticket info to stream the live Patti Smith birthday show tonight (Veeps)

• The Gem Spa online auction now extended through Jan. 7 (Official site

• A feature on Daniel Root, an East Village photographer specializing in capturing the city before first light (amNY ... read our interview with Root here

• At NYCHA buildings, outstanding repair requests disappear (The City

• Tips for wintertime bike riding in NYC (Gothamist

• Call to end New Year's Eve forever! (The New Yorker)

Holiday greetings for NYC

ICYMI ... this message arrived on East Houston at the Bowery a few weeks back... courtesy of @PureGenius ...

The Poetry Project's 47th annual New Year's Day Marathon will be a livestream extravaganza

A different vibe for this year's annual New Year's Day reading at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery on Second Avenue at 10th Street. 

Here's what to expect via there EVG inbox...
Join 250 poets, artists and performers at The Poetry Project's 47th Annual New Year's Day Marathon. 11 p.m. (ET) New Year's Eve – 11 p.m. (ET) New Year's Day.

This year's gathering combines poetry readings with hypnosis, DJ sets and music videos, ritual offerings, celebrations of place and history, cooking segments, short films, archival media and more.

The Marathon begins New Year's Eve (Dec. 31) with an 11 pm-to-midnight countdown, a broadcast of live performances, and a special feature from the clocktower of St. Mark's. And continues all through New Year's Day (Jan. 1) up until 11 p.m. with an continuous assemblage of performances recorded for this year's Marathon.

The event will be be available online FREE via The Poetry Project's Facebook Live and The Poetry Project YouTube live accounts.

RSVP here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Tuesday's parting shot

Photo today on St. Mark's Place by Derek Berg...

EVG Etc.: Checking in with Arlene's Grocery; rallying around Army & Navy Bags

Photo in Tompkins Square Park by Derek Berg

• Christmas at Middle Collegiate Church, destroyed by fire on Dec. 5 (The Associated Press)

• Checking in with Arlene's Grocery, struggling to survive during the pandemic (Gothamist

• City still confusing restaurants about outdoor dining rules (Gothamist

• More lawsuits over Cuomo's indoor dining ban (The Real Deal

• New York lawmakers approve sweeping eviction moratorium (Politico

• Fashion boutique Café Forgot's year-long residency has come to an end on Sixth Street (Instagram

• Holidays with red-tailed hawks Christo and Amelia (Laura Goggin Photography)

• The new photo book, "The Drag Explosion," explores the downtown scene of the 1980s-1990s (NBC News

• Tonight at 6:30, a virtual book talk — "East Village: Lens on the Lower East Side" (Zoom info here

• How loyal customers rallied around Army & Navy Bags on East Houston Street (The New York Times)

...and speaking of loyal, Adam Sandler gives a shout-out to the struggling Cozy Soup 'N' Burger on Broadway at Astor... where he filmed a scene for "Big Daddy" ...

A rent increase is forcing Avenue C Studio to close its doors

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

After 11 years at 55 Avenue C, Avenue C Studio is closing its doors this week. 

Bonnie Sue Stein, executive director and producer of GOH Productions, the nonprofit that develops and manages programs in dance, puppetry and theater, talked with me about the studio's closure. 

GOH Productions shared this space with East Village Dance Project and Movement Research since its opening in January of 2011. Later, after EVDP relocated to Abrons Art Center in January 2018, Moving for Life became a new tenant. 

Stein says the rent became an issue, that the building (it's an HDFC) was flexible for several months during the COVID-19-mandated closure. However, the nonprofit was served a 30-day notice on Nov. 30. They must vacate the space by Thursday. 

She mentioned having a great relationship with the building prior to the pandemic, though the HDFC now seems to want a different tenant, like an office. They also would like to double the rent.

I asked Stein about the genesis of the space and its history.
So this was a dream we had…with Martha Tornay [of East Village Dance Project] we searched the Lower East Side for a space to call our own. I used to shop at Olivio's at 55 Avenue C for yarn, underwear and fresh icies in the summer at his storefront. I saw he was closing and asked if he knew whether the building would be interested in a dance studio and youth program. We lived nearby, and envisioned a neighborhood studio, where local kids could come after school and dance their hearts out.

In 2010, Avenue C Studio was born, partnering in the early years with Movement Research who shared the office and studio, made the space come alive with dancers [aged] from over 80 to under four years old. Each dancer gave energy to the space and the space returned the magic. Within those walls, on that floor, in front of those mirrors, irreplaceable gorgeous memories formed. And will live on.  

Like a new chapter, a death, a loss. I know now I am feeling sad and brokenhearted, but when I see the studio dancing in my mind's eye, I know I am not alone.

In more positive news, all of the organizations will live on, albeit in other locations. EVDP is still at Abrons, Moving for Life has moved uptown. GOH Productions will have a limited office space at the Mary Spink Library on Third Street. 

The floors and mirrors from the studio, which were being removed and packed up when I arrived, are going to Movement Research at 122CC (formerly known as PS 122) on First Avenue at Ninth Street.

Have you been pining away for MulchFest 2021?

On the third day of MulchFest ...

MulchFest 2021 is officially underway (as of Dec. 26). Through Jan. 9, you may drop off your Christmas tree in Tompkins Square Park (see the photo above by Steven). 

Then! 

On Saturday, Jan. 2 and Jan. 9, the Parks Department will be mulching up the trees In Tompkins from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ... where you may take away a bag of weapons-grade mulch for your own garden, tree bed, potted plant, nightstand, green smoothie, etc. 

Weather permitting, the Sanitation Department will also collect and compost (non-decorated) trees left curbside from Jan. 4 through Jan. 15. 

Report: Chain stores decrease citywide

The Center for an Urban Future's 13th annual survey of NYC's national retailers finds the largest overall decline in the number of chain stores, and the third consecutive year-over-year drop in national retailer locations. 

Given the pandemic and forced closures for months, news of the decrease may not be a huge surprise.

Here's some analysis via the report
More than 1,000 chain stores across New York City — or a little less than one out of every seven chains that were open this time last year — have closed their doors over the past 12months, underscoring the immense difficulties facing retail businesses large and small during the pandemic. 

Overall, the number of chain stores in New York City declined by 13.3 percent — with 2 percent closing temporarily and 11.3 percent not indicating whether the closures are permanent or temporary. This is by far the largest yearover-year decline in chain stores since the Center for an Urban Future began our annual analysis of the city’s national retailers 13 years ago, eclipsing last year's 3.7 percent drop and the 0.3 percent decline in 2018. 

While every borough experienced notable declines in chain stores, Manhattan had the biggest losses, with the number of chain store locations in the borough shrinking by 17.4 percent (of which 2.8 percent were closed temporarily). In fact, Manhattan accounted for nearly half of all chain store closures (520 out of 1,057) citywide. 
Other details closer to home: The 10003 zip code, which includes parts of the East Village as well as Union Square and Fifth Avenue, has the third-highest number of chain store locations at 140 (down from 171 last year) in NYC. 

Meanwhile, the 10009 zip saw a 29-percent decrease from 2019, shrinking to 22 from 31. And in 10002 on the Lower East Side and Chinatown, there was a 16-percent drop, from 51 to 43. 

It wasn't all closures for chains. Popeyes added 11 locations in the past year, including the one on First Avenue between Second Street and Third Street. 

You can find the 40-page report at this link

Monday, December 28, 2020

A holiday variety show — and benefit — for Pangea

Tonight, the East Village-based TWEED TheaterWorks is hosting a remote holiday variety show, which will serve as a benefit for Pangea, the restaurant-performance venue at 178 Second Ave. between 11th Street and 12th Street.

Here's more about what to expect ... info via the EVG inbox:
One of our producing partners the past six years has been TWEED TheaterWorks ... with TWEED's artistic director Kevin Malony who produced a remote holiday variety show called 'TAINT ... an alt-holiday show featuring performances by many of their favorite artists who have graced the intimate Pangea stage. 

The streaming premiere of 'TAINT will be tonight at 8 and will run for an hour. For those who can’t attend the premiere, a video on demand link will be sent on Dec. 29 and be available through Jan. 10.
 
You can find ticket info at this link

Pangea has had its share of challenges this fall — aside from the loss of revenue with the pandemic-related closure of its supper club. On the morning of Oct. 30, Pangea management walked into the restaurant to discover that Con Ed had shut off their gas in the middle of the night. (A nearby resident was said to smell gas on the block. Although Con Ed didn't detect a leak, they shut down the gas service anyway.)

So in the past two months, Pangea's ownership has been been entangled in the time-consuming bureaucratic process that includes scheduling inspections by the DOB and Con Ed. This also led to a loss of business, including the seasonably warm Halloween weekend.

However, Pangea owners Stephen Shanaghan and Arnoldo Caballero took action, and bought electric cooking equipment and, with the help of a new chef, created a menu to fit their circumstances. In addition, they recently introduced a takeout dinner menu.

Here's more from a recent email to Pangea patrons from Shanaghan and Caballero:
Our biggest obstacle now is the weather turning colder and the new mandate closing indoor dining ... Since our heat is gas powered, we are concerned that electric space heaters may not be sufficient if we get a real dose of winter.

On a positive note, we have implemented a new takeout dinner service (for pick up only). In the past, takeout was not a viable option for Pangea. We have a two-person line in the kitchen. Pre-pandemic we were not able to offer takeout while hosting a busy 50-seat cabaret room and a 40-seat front dining room. Now it will be our only source of revenue. 
During December, takeout orders are discounted 20 percent. Pangea also has several tables for outdoor dining.
They're also continuing to crowdfund to ensure a post-pandemic future here on Second Avenue.

Pangea has a long history in the neighborhood. Read our interview with Pangea owners Stephen Shanaghan and Arnoldo Caballero here. 

Today is the last day for Sweet Generation on 1st Avenue

ICYMI from Dec. 24After nearly six years at 130 First Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place, Sweet Generation is closing its bakery ahead of a move to a larger location in Brooklyn.

And today is their last day, when they'll be open for curbside preorder pickup only ... taking orders by phone: (646) 964-5777. (And they have flash sales via their Instagram Stories.) 

Sweet Generation partners with several nonprofit organizations and local high schools to create an internship program that teaches baking, food safety, customer service, work readiness, and entrepreneurship to teens and young adults from low-income communities.

Owner Amy Chasan posted a photo of their spacious new facility in Bushwick...

3 for-rent signs along a once popular stretch of 7th Street

A rather sad state here on Seventh Street just east of First Avenue ... where for rent signs (now all via the same broker) hang in three consecutive storefronts that previously housed bustling quick-serve restaurants.

Most recently, Caracas Arepa Bar closed in early November at 91 E. Seventh St. The original location at at 93 1/2 E. Seventh St. suffered extensive fire damage in September 2016, and the owners were never able to reopen in the space, which has remained vacant

In the middle, the first outpost for Luke's Lobster's closed in October 2019.

Both Caracas Arepa Bar and Luke's carry on at other locations. These small spaces on Seventh Street seem ideal for other new businesses just starting out. 

As Luke's founders Luke Holden and Ben Conniff wrote in October 2019: "It's time for 93 E. 7th Street to help launch someone else's dream, and we can't wait to visit and support it."

ICYMI: Medan Pasar is now open and serving Malaysian cuisine from this 7th Street space

Another ICYMI recap from Dec. 24: Medan Pasar is now serving Malaysian cuisine from 102 E. Seventh St. between Avenue A and First Avenue.

They are currently open for takeout or delivery starting at 11:30 a.m. Find their menu here. Or call them at (646) 756-4006.

The Instagram account @eastvillagefoodfinds highlighted their Nasi Lemak with Beef Rendang in a post last week: "Full of flavor, some nice kick and a stick-to-your ribs meal overall — perfect for keeping you warm in these cold months." 

Closings: The Dip, Williamsburg Pizza

A for-rent sign now hangs outside the western storefront at 58 St. Mark's Place between First Avenue and Second Avenue ... officially marking the end of the Dip's tenure here. (Thanks to Steven for the photo.

The quick-serve restaurant that served a variety of sandwiches went dark in the fall ... and they didn't respond to requests about their reopening status. 

The Dip opened in November 2019, and barely had four months in business before it had to shut down for the PAUSE in March. Still, they made an impression in their short time here... people seemed to like their specialty dish — the French Dip sandwich. 

The other retail space at the address is also vacant. The Clay Pot closed next door at the end of the summer. 

Meanwhile, on 14th Street, Williamsburg Pizza looks as if it won't be reopening here between Second Avenue and Third Avenue...
This outpost has been closed since the PAUSE... and the space was emptied out in the past week ... the pizzeria's other four locations remain in service...
This outpost of the popular pizzeria only opened in December 2019.