Friday, July 31, 2020

6 posts from July 2020

[Recent skyview from 1st and 1st]

A mini month in review...

• Closing Day at Gaia’s Italian Café (July 28)

• One month on, a look at curbside dining in the East Village (July 23)

• Odessa is closed for now, but will it reopen? (July 22)

• The final days at I Need More, the late Jimmy Webb's rock 'n' roll boutique on the LES (July 18)

• Let's stroll through Tompkins Square Park on this June 1, 1967 (July 8)

• 6 E. 2nd St., home of Ramones history, is for sale (July 6)

By the 'Month'

Dehd, the Chicago-based indie-rock trio, just released a new record titled Flower of Devotion.

The above video is for the track "Month."

Ben & Jerry's peace out of St. Mark's Place

The East Village is without a Ben & Jerry's once again. The family-owned location on St. Mark's Place between Second Avenue and Third Avenue is now officially closed. The signage came down this afternoon...

Steven took the top two photos... Lola Sáenz shared this shot...

... and via Derek Berg...

A rep for this location said that the final blow was the break-in/looting here on June 1.

This Ben & Jerry's opened at 24 St. Mark's Place in January 2018.

As noted before, there was a Ben & Jerry's outpost at 41 Third Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street for 22 years before its closure in September 2010.

H/T @mishamc!

Previously on EV Grieve:
7 years later, a Ben & Jerry's is returning to the East Village

RIP Carol Porteous-Fall

Carol Porteous-Fall, a longtime East Village resident, eco-activist and yoga enthusiast, died on July 20 after being diagnosed with leukemia in the spring.

An online memorial service is set for tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 1 at 3 p.m. You may find the memorial tomorrow at this link.

A GoFundMe campaign that was established by her friends in the spring is now being used to settle her estate and provide her son Lateef with some aid.

Carol had been a friend to this site, and contributed on occasion.

She wrote this about herself on LinkedIn:

I’m excited about music, yoga, psychology, social justice, dancing, reading, watching, community gardens, cultures, riding my bike around the city, and more ... just by experiencing life from various vantage points, really, and getting to know all kinds of people.

John's of 12th Street is back in action

[Photo from earlier this month]

After being sidelined for two-plus months for building "mechanical issues," John's of 12th Street reopens this afternoon.

Moving forward, they'll be open for takeout and delivery from 4 to 10 p.m. They'll have outdoor seating available — starting tomorrow, Aug. 1 — from 4 to 9:30 p.m.

John's, which first opened in 1908, is at 302 E. 12th St. just east of Second Avenue. Find the menu here.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

CB3 hosting virtual town on workplace rights

Community Board 3 is hosting the following virtual town hall on Monday evening (Aug. 3) at 6:30:

Know your Workplace Rights During COVID-19 and the Reopening of NYC with Commissioner Lorelia Salas, NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection

You can register to take part and find more program details via this link.


Spotted outside the former Hells Angels Clubhouse on Third Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue ... homemade signage that reads:

Make 3rd Street the Hell's Angels again

The Hells Angels left here in March 2019. The building, as we just noted, is in the midst of a gut renovation to apartments.

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 perhaps the rest of New York.

Today is the last day for Bluestockings on Allen Street; new LES location in the works

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

Updated 8/8: Bluestockings has a new home here.

As previously reported, Bluestockings, a volunteer- and collective-run bookstore, activist space and fair-trade café, is closing its 21-year-old Allen Street location.

Today (Thursday!) is the last day in business. From noon until 6 p.m. you can support the space by shopping its sidewalk sale and buying books, priced $1 to $5, or filling a bag for $10. Also for sale: fixtures, posters, shelves and equipment.

I stopped by to say goodbye during the sidewalk sale yesterday ...

I was allowed inside to take a last look at the now-empty store, which has been here at 172 Allen St. between Stanton and Rivington since 1999...

"We are negotiating for a new space, only a few blocks away and hope to stay in the neighborhood that fought for us," says Collective member Red Schulte. "We so appreciate our community that has stayed with us through thick and thin. We are committed to the Lower East Side and will stay here for as long as we’re wanted."

[Red Schulte]

They request that you wear a mask when you shop and pay via credit card or Paypal. Online sales will continue on at this link even after this location closes.

SOS: Local business owners discuss their COVID-19-related rent challenges

Save Our Storefronts (SOS), a coalition of East Village merchants and community members, is calling on New York State to enact commercial rent relief.

In this video, released yesterday, local business owners document the challenges they are facing with commercial rents during the COVID-19 pandemic...

Visit for more information on the campaign, including the petition that's in circulation.

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and State Sen. Brad Hoylman are drafting a bill on commercial rent relief legislation, which they plan to introduce soon, to help create a path to small business and nonprofit recovery based on sharing the burden of the crisis.

According to a Hospitality Alliance survey, only 19 percent of New York City businesses paid June rent and only 26 percent of landlords waived any rent.

Van Đa returns to service this evening on 4th Street

Van Đa, which serves regional Vietnamese food at 234 E. Fourth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, reopens this evening after taking time off during the COVID-19 PAUSE. (The restaurant collaborated with chef Hannah Wong for a weekend takeout service here in the spring.)

For now, Yen Ngo, owner of the Michelin Bib Gourmand Van Đa, will be offering curbside dining, takeout and delivery Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m.

You can find the new summer menu here.

Parlor says goodbye to the East Village after 25-plus years

Parlor, the hair salon at 102 Avenue B, has officially closed after 25-plus years here between Sixth Street and Seventh Street.

Moving forward, Gwenn LeMoine⁠, Parlor's owner and founder, will be working from her Brooklyn location.

Here's part of a message on Parlor's Instagram account:

We are so grateful for our Avenue B guests, and to provide more context, back in January of this year, I made the decision to bring both salons under one roof. Once the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, my decision was further solidified. In order to ensure the safety and health of our guests and team, our work lives became more streamlined and manageable by planning to reopen only one location.⁠⠀
This decision is also about our passion for developing the next generation of talented stylists. The salon environment is essential to this process, and having all team members, new apprentices and seasoned stylists, at one location will allow this side of our salon to prosper and our team’s education and craft to grow. Our Brooklyn location, due to size, has the ability to pull everyone back together in one place and at the same time provide a more comfortable work environment for our team.⁠⠀
After a quarter of a century of living in the East Village, raising my children within its community and growing Parlor to where it is now, I plan to continue to grow our craft and those that love it for a couple more decades, but it will be across the East River on Atlantic Avenue in what they are now calling Greater Downtown Brooklyn.

[Image via Instagram]

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

RIP Annette Averette

Sad news from the Sixth Street Community Center today: Annette Averette, a longtime neighborhood activist, died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer.

Here's more information via the EVG inbox...

Annette was Howard Brandstein’s partner at Sixth Street Community Center for over 25 years. Together they developed programs in community supported agriculture, youth and environmental advocacy that continue to support our LES neighborhoods. In 2009, Annette founded our Organic Soul Cafe where she served as chef and manager.

Prior to working at Sixth Street, Annette was Executive Director of the LES Anti-Displacement Project, where for seven years she provided vital assistance to tenants fighting to secure their homes.

Thank you to all who have extended your support during this difficult time. Annette is legendary and her spirit will remain with us forever. There is so much more to say about Annette-Her wisdom, political activism, legal and financial savvy, great cooking and, above all, her beautiful and caring soul. We will miss her deeply.

Tomorrow (July 30) afternoon, the Sixth Street Community Center (638 E. Sixth St. between B and C) will be honoring her memory from 4-7 p.m.

Checking in with East Village artist Ethan Minsker

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

I’m meeting up with camouflage-suited East Village artist, writer and filmmaker Ethan Minsker at Tompkins Square Park to talk about his quarantine projects, what collaborating with his daughter is like (she’s busy playing in the playground during the interview under the supervision of Ethan’s mother), and what keeps him sane during the COVID-19 lockdown.

How did your new short film, “New York I Love You But You Are Bringing Me Down” come about?

I was asked to do a solo art show at Howl! Happening Gallery and, along with [gallery director] Ted Riederer, we came up with the concept of building a city out of recycled materials like the display of the city in the Queens Museum.

There’s always this thing in New York City about missing the old New York. I thought about the LCD Soundsystem song “New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down.”

If you listen to the lyrics it perfectly sums up my love and irritation with this city. I had already been working on the project for more than a year and ran out of space in my own apartment so I shuttled many of the buildings over to my mother’s on the West Side and filled up her spare room. Then when quarantine happened, I focused on building one city block with the buildings above the street and the subway station below.

I also got laid off, so it gave me a lot of time to finish the piece.

Your daughter is featured in the film, and you and your family have been quarantined together in your East Village apartment. How has that affected your artwork?

I’ve been collaborating with my daughter on art projects since she was an infant. When quarantine started, we just continued our process. Clearly, it’s tough to be stuck in a small apartment with your wife and your kid.

At times we’re just trying to keep ourselves from going insane. It’s good to have art projects to focus on. It’s one of those things where everybody has to make their own space in separate rooms for at least part of the time. The quarantine has made me really focus more intensely on what I do creatively.

The streets were empty. I wanted to make something that reflected the city pre-pandemic and at the same time connect with my friends. I asked my friends to send photos of themselves standing as if they were waiting for the subway or walking down the street. I printed those out, attached them to plastic water bottles, cut them out, and stuck them in the artwork.

How did you source the materials you used for your film?

Everything is from recycled material. Cardboard from boxes that were shipped to the apartment. Oatmeal containers for water towers. Plastic bottles for the windows and the caps for tires. I used Christmas lights and all the paint that I had. Basically, it’s made from trash in my place.

At this moment in time you can look around your apartment and probably repurpose tons of things for art. For the video I just kept shooting as I created, using apps on my phone to do the animation and hand drawing in [Adobe] After Effects.

Where does the set live now?

It’s in my living room. It’s like having a roommate. A really big roommate. My wife hates it. If I had a studio, I would make even bigger work.

Has there been any silver lining for you, as an artist, during the pandemic quarantine?

I want to acknowledge that this is a very sad time. I am sad and that is OK. We can be sad together. For me the purpose of all these projects is to fend off depression. So don’t feel pressure to make art, just do what you can to stay happy.

Anybody who has a day job and does something creative always has this thing: “If there were just more time…” Now we have all the time in the world, and I’m not going to waste it.

Every morning I get up and I work for about five or six hours on projects, take a break and have some lunch and hang out with my daughter, do some more work on the projects and at 7 p.m. I interview artists. Even though we’re isolated we can still build a community virtually. I’ve learned a lot from the interviews, especially when it comes to art practices and art scenes around the world. I call it Isolation Nation TV. And I act as the host. It’s a routine, it’s a workout — a creative workout.

What’s next for you? Any future projects on the horizon?

At the moment I am promoting my feature film, “Man In Camo.” It just came out and is available everywhere you can rent and buy movies. It’s an artist’s statement, a self-portrait documentary about my need to create and champion others. The handcrafted animation took me five years to make.

It’s my life flashing before your eyes. I highly recommend checking it out. It won’t be like anything you have seen before. And tell a friend!

You can keep up with Ethan on Instagram and Vimeo.

Gutting the former Hells Angels clubhouse on 3rd Street

The renovations at 77 E. Third St. have entered the serious gutting phase here between First Avenue and Second Avenue...

Approved work permits note "minor partition work" in the various apartments. (From the street level, the work appears to be more than minor.)

As previously reported, No. 77 — the former Hells Angels clubhouse, now owned by Better Living Properties — will be converted into 22 one- and two-bedroom units with an expected price point of $3,500 a month following a $2 million renovation. There was also a report that the ground floor will house two retail spaces.

The last of the members moved out of No. 77 at the end of March 2019. The Hells Angels had this six-story building in their possession since 1969.

The Hells Angels reportedly ended up in Throggs Neck, a neighborhood in the southeastern portion of the Bronx. Last week, two members and an accomplice were charged in the fatal shooting of a rival gang leader.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Photo exclusive: Take a look inside the former Hells Angels clubhouse on 3rd Street

After 50 years on the block, the Hells Angels appear to be selling their 3rd Street clubhouse

The Hells Angels have left the East Village

Le Sia has closed on 7th Street

[Photo from July 10]

Le Sia is another restaurant that will not be reopening. There hadn't been any noticeable activity inside the dining room, which served a Chinese crawfish boil, in recent months.

Eater received confirmation that the owners — citing the crush of COVID-19 — have shut it down. Per Eater:

While some tabletop grill and hotpot restaurants across the city temporary closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the East Village location of Le Sia remained open for takeout and delivery through late March. The restaurant sold its popular crab and crawfish by the pound, but that business wasn’t enough to keep the restaurant afloat, Chen says, as the East Village has been "empty."

The well-liked restaurant debuted in January 2018 here at 11 E. Seventh St. near Cooper Square.

Le Sia was previously closed for two-plus months for renovations, reopening in early February. Their Ninth Avenue location remains in business.

As previously noted, the space was home to Surma Books & Music for 98 years until June 2016. Third-generation owner Markian Surmach cited a decline in business and the expense of property tax and other charges related to owning the building. Public records show that the Surmach family sold the property to Icon Realty for $5.75 million at the time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tuesday's parting shot

Photo on Fifth Street and Second Avenue today by Derek Berg...

Sidewalk bridge arrives ahead of the demolition of the former Church of the Nativity

[Photos by Felton Davis]

Workers arrived this morning to erect a sidewalk bridge outside the former Church of the Nativity and the adjacent building here on Second Avenue between Second Street and Third Street.

Demolition permits were filed back in March for these now-empty structures.

As previously reported, Gemini Rosemont Development purchased three contiguous parcels, including the former La Salle Annex at Second Street, on this block for an unspecified future development. Gemini Rosemont closed on 42-44 Second Ave. and 46-48 Second Ave. in March for $40 million. They paid $14.5 million for the La Salle property at No. 38 this month.

The total lot area of the assembled site is 14,075 square feet, according to city records. The combined development site can accommodate an as-of-right buildable area of 75,908 square feet and up to 101,210 square feet of residential area under the city's Inclusionary Housing Program.

The NYPD was also on the scene this morning as the sidewalk bridge and scaffolding work begin...

Makeshift living quarters have grown here outside the former church in recent months. The Department of Sanitation was expected to clean up the discarded furniture and other items here. They had not arrived as of 11 a.m.

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

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

Previously on EV Grieve:
Educator: Turning the former Church of the Nativity into luxury housing would be a 'sordid use' of the property

The fight to keep Church of the Nativity from becoming luxury housing

Report: Archdiocese of New York announces affordable-housing projects; fate of 2 East Village churches unknown

Closing Day at Gaia’s Italian Café

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

People, including me, are lined up and prepared to wait in the 95-degree heat on Sunday for a chance at scoring a last takeout meal at Gaia’s Italian Café.

Located for more than nine years at 251 E. Houston St. between Norfolk and Suffolk, Gaia Bagnasacco's eponymous restaurant is closing for many reasons, none of which its owner cares to discuss.

COVID-19 has not made anything easy on small businesses — ditto for the ever-fluctuating rules and regulations from the city. But there are also literal signs of a dispute with the upstairs neighbor (featuring "Vote Trump" messages), and indications that the disagreement hasn’t been helpful.

The restaurant posted this message on social media: "please be aware that the Gaia Italian Cafe due to end of the lease, eviction and to two year of harassment will close, our last day of operation is on July 26th" leaving open the possibility it will reopen elsewhere.

When pressed, Gaia would only say that she is keeping her options open, including looking for a possible take-out/to-go-only spot.

Gaia, famed for her Milanese cooking and her at-times fiery temper (she’s gotten into some scuffles online with reviewers on Yelp and Facebook) as well as in person. On this Sunday, people are lined up to, as one patron jokes, "Have her yell at me one last time before feeding me the most delicious home-cooked meal ever."

Some people have come bearing gifts, including rubber duckies, which Gaia collects.

Fellow restaurateurs, such as Yudai Kanayama from Izakaya, have come to show support.

[Yudai Kanayama]

Despite the heat, humidity and line — no one seems to be complaining.

After a long wait, I nab one of the last plates of house-favorite spinach and ricotta gnocchi in tomato sauce and a rare smile from Gaia. Worth it.

Gaia recommends keeping an eye on her website and social media presence for any potential future updates.

iSouvlaki debuts on 12th Street

Today marks the official debut of iSouvlaki at 139 E. 12th St. at Third Avenue.

James Paloumbis, whose credits include Merakia on West 22nd Street and Gossip Coffee in Astoria, is behind iSouvlaki, described as a fast, casual grill.

Per a rep:

Highlights from the menu include meritha (assorted platters), loukaniko souvlaki and pork tylikto. There are a variety of Greek salads and vegetarian options available. An assortment of Greek desserts are featured, including sour cherry yogurt and halva. Greek beers and small bottles of wine can also be purchased.

For now, they're offering takeout as well as a few sidewalk tables. Delivery starts on Aug. 11. And the hours: Monday through Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., with an 11 p.m. close on Friday and Saturday. Their website goes live on Monday. You can call them — 212-401-5747 — in the meantime.

Previously on EV Grieve:
iSouvlaki Greek Grill on tap for 139 E. 12th St.

A quick entrance and exit for O Ramen & Dim Sum M on 9th Street

After just two weeks, O Ramen & Dim Sum M has closed up for now here at 350 E. Ninth St. just west of First Avenue.

Word along the block: Business was nearly non-existent, and the owners decided to shut down for a few months. They'll apparently try again when the food market might not be so brutal.

The previous tenant, beQu Juice, closed here last November after nearly six years in business.

Thanks to Steven for the photo!

Monday, July 27, 2020

More details about the slashing outside the Black Ant on Friday night

The NYPD released more images and surveillance video of the suspect wanted in connection with a slashing outside the Black Ant on Friday night. There's also up to a $2,500 reward for information that will help in the investigation.

As previously reported, the man, said to be drunk, showed up as the restaurant on Second Avenue between Third Street and Fourth Street was closing and demanded to be served. Tensions escalated after staff wouldn't serve him.

The man reportedly then whipped out a knife while fighting with staff and other patrons. Spencer Grammer and her friend were among those jumping in to help.

Grammer, an actress known for her voice work on "Rick and Morty," was slashed on the arm while her friend was stabbed in the back. Both were treated and released from Bellevue for their injuries.

Grammer, an East Village resident, said this in a statement to USA Today: "My friend and I did what anyone else would do in the same situation. Several others, predominantly women, were also attempting to prevent the altercation from escalating."

Urine in trouble if you pee here?

Dave on 7th notes new signage on Seventh Street between Avenue A and Avenue B:

Any person urinating in public will be prosecuted

Area under surveillance

(Don't tell anyone, but it's a fake sign. Urinating in public is a misdemeanor. Per Administrative Code Section 16-118 — Public Urination are eligible to plead guilty and pay a $50 fine by mail. This program is available to persons charged with this petty offense only, and only if no other summonses are issued to the individual at the same time.)

City temporarily removes makeshift living quarters from the NW corner of 2nd Avenue and 7th Street

[Photo Saturday by Steven]

Workers from the Sanitation Department on Saturday reportedly removed the encampment beneath the sidewalk bridge on the northwest corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street.

The action came on the same day that the Post criticized Mayor de Blasio for his non-action on such encampments — despite his calls to remove them around the city.

The Post spoke with people who were upset by the makeshift living quarters that had increased in size here between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place in recent weeks:

“It makes me feel uncomfortable. It makes our city dirty and noisy,” said neighborhood resident Olga, 78, who’s lived in the East Village for 33 years.

“There was one woman who was making pee-pee and caca by the bus stop. It was very dirty and disgusting. Nobody wanted to use the bus stop.”

The owner of an eatery across the street also said the situation appeared to be spiraling out of control.

“They started camping out there when the weather got warmer and recently it got bigger,” the restaurateur said.

“Some of them have mental issues. They drink a lot and fight with each other. They throw bottles.”

Although the Post posted a video showing city workers cleaning out the sidewalk on Saturday, people had returned by yesterday...

[Photo by Steven]

In recent years, this corner has been a gathering spot in the summer for travelers/crusties. In October 2018 (pre-sidewalk bridge), for instance, the NYPD set up a light tower here to deter anyone from congregating and camping out.

This corner is the site of the deadly gas explosion in March 2015.

Workers are currently wrapping up construction of a six-story, 21-unit condoplex for 45 E. Seventh St.

In recent months residents-readers have also expressed concerns about encampments popping up on other Second Avenue locations, including outside the former Starbucks on Ninth Street, the northeast corner at Sixth Street, the northeast corner at Fourth Street, the northeast corner at Third Street (at the former Bean) and along the former Church of the Nativity between Second Street and Third Street.