Thursday, August 6, 2020

Thursday's parting shot

Here's Ola, the co-owner of B&H Dairy, bringing in some plants to place around the lunch counter's handful of outdoor seats at 127 Second Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place... photo today by Derek Berg...

A pop-up food pantry at the Most Holy Redeemer Church on Friday

The folks at the Most Holy Redeemer Church on Third Street between Avenue A and Avenue B shared this information about a free food and milk pantry tomorrow (Aug. 7)...

In collaboration with our friends at Catholic Charities of New York, we have arranged for some much-needed relief for our community! One truck will provide FREE nutritious groceries and the other truck will provide fortifying milk.

The distribution will be in front of Most Holy Redeemer Church, 173 E. 3rd St, August 7, from 10 a.m. - noon, and is on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last. No pre-registration is required. Please observe social distancing and wear a face covering.

We're looking forward to seeing our neighbors!

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.

New 5th Street coffee shop closes in less than 2 months; owner says the 9th Precinct's barricades 'greatly restricted' his foot traffic

Idlewild Coffee Co., 300 E. Fifth St. at Second Avenue, closed this past Friday after service — less than two months from opening day.

It was awful timing for the cafe. We first spotted signage for the shop in late February. The COVID-19 PAUSE arrived about one month later, forcing them to hold off on a grand opening.

Idlewild finally debuted on June 15 ... nearly two weeks after this block between First Avenue and Second Avenue went on lockdown on May 30 as the 9th Precinct, located mid-block, placed barricades and an array of officers at both ends of the street to protect the station house from the threat of protesters.

A note on the door for patrons points to the ongoing presence of the barricades as the main reason behind the coffee shop's quick closure...

The letter reads in part:

These are crazy times and there have been too many things completely out of our control that have affected business. The police barriers at the ends of the block which have greatly restricted foot traffic has probably been the biggest obstacle for the entirety of our opening, so hopefully for the sake of our more established neighboring businesses, the barriers will be completely removed at some point soon so that some sort of normalcy can return to the wonderful block.

Thank you so much for the warm welcome and all the positive feedback you've given us.

Last Thursday, a member of the Save Our Storefronts (SOS) coalition spoke with Idlewild owner John Harper, who said that he ran out of cash between the COVID-19 pandemic and the 9th Precinct's lockdown. He said 10 to 15 years of his savings went down the drain.

As far as we know, Idlewild didn't send out an opening announcement — other than an Instagram post. And we didn't know the shop had opened. Our previous attempts to walk on the block were rebuffed by officers on duty who said that only residents could access this stretch.

Here's a look at the barricades the other day...

The barricades are less restrictive than they were in June and early July... and pedestrians are now OK'd to access Fifth Street ...

The NYPD has barricaded Precincts citywide, as Streetsblog ... Gothamist ... and West Side Rag have previously reported.

In an op-ed published in The Village Sun on July 15, Stuart Zamsky, who owns White Trash a few doors away from Idlewild, addressed the ongoing presence of the barricades.

[M]erchants and residents on these blocks are having a hard enough time trying to survive. We should not be interrogated in order to gain entry to our homes and places of business. If police have ongoing concerns about the safety of their station houses, couldn’t they limit the enclosures to the precinct buildings themselves?

In interviews (with CBS 2 for instance), the NYPD has repeatedly said that the streets around the station houses will reopen when there is no longer a threat. As the closure of Idlewild Coffee Co. shows, the barricades remain a threat to local businesses.

Manhattan45, a dance music record store, arrives on 10th Street

In some positive retail news, Manhattan45 recently opened at 220 E. 10th St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

The small shop offers a finely curated selection of dance music from labels such as — cutting and pasting from their website! — Pinkman, Crosstown Rebels, Body N' Deep, Curtis Electronix, Rekids, Defected, Glitterbox, Hot Creations, Kompakt, Moustache, Nervous, Vault Wax, etc.

Manhattan45 is open 1-8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. You can find them online here ... and on Instagram here.

And they are directly across the street from Limited to One, the collectible record shop ... so you can make a vinyl afternoon of it on the block.

Oda House closes East Village location

Oda House, which served the rare-for-Manhattan Georigian cuisine as well as other Mediterranean staples, has closed on Fifth Street and Avenue B.

Saturday saw their last evening in service. By Sunday, neighbors spotted workers discarding tables and chairs and other equipment on the curb...

While there wasn't any official notice of this closure, Oda House did confirm via a Facebook message that the East Village outpost had shut down. The restaurant will continue on with its West 73rd Street location.

Oda House founder Maia Acquaviva, a plastic surgeon by trade, moved to the United States from the country Georgia in 2007 and was said to have rediscovered her culinary calling here. The restaurant opened on Fifth and B in May 2013.

Bowery Mission selling Avenue D facility

The Bowery Mission recently (as of July 15) put its Men's Center at 45-51 Avenue D on the sales market.

JLL Capital Markets is marketing the property, located within one of five designated Opportunity Zones in Manhattan south of 96th Street.

Some details via the JLL newsroom:

The property has two existing, conjoined structures that will be delivered vacant. 45 Avenue D is a six-story building that spans approximately 48-feet wide, totals 20,174 square feet, and contains an elevator. 51 Avenue D is a two-story building that spans approximately 44-feet wide and totals 6,141 square feet. Investors have the flexibility to renovate either one or both structures into a valuable residential asset.

Alternatively, investors can elect to demolish both structures to pave way for an approximately 92-foot wide, ground-up project that could be developed into a building with approximately 53,338 zoning floor area through New York City’s Inclusionary Housing Bonus Program (IHB).

In the event an investor decides to reposition the existing six-story structure and demolish only the two-story structure, there will be approximately 22,422 ZFA remaining as-of-right that can be further increased to approximately 33,164 ZFA through the IHB program for a ground-up project on the remaining 44-foot wide lot.

The Bowery Mission reportedly decided to sell this property between Fourth Street and Fifth Street, which has been part of its portfolio since 1994, to fund programming at its other locations, totaling eight in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Avenue D has seen several new developments in recent years, including the Adele ... the Niko East Village ... and Arabella 101.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


And from the Notes in the Lobby: After Hours Edition... this note in an East Village lobby is a little NSFW, so...

To the thieves in this building.

I will find out who you are.

Where I come from BITCH

we cut your fucking hands off

and mail it to your family.

You like stealing from hardworking people, huh?

The one who took less than 20 mins to take

my package, I hope you enjoy wearing my underwear.

[Etc. Etc. Etc.]

I WILL FIND YOU Degenerate.

I curse your hands and your blood line.

Thanks to Mark White for the photo! I think!

Tree damage at Village View

[Tree photos by Stacie Joy]

As noted yesterday, the high winds and rain from Tropical Storm Isaias brought down several tree limbs in Tompkins Square Park.

There was also tree damage in and around the Village View property between First Avenue and Avenue A, from Second Street to Sixth Street...

The city received more than 11,000 reports of downed trees and hanging limbs, The Wall Street Journal reported, noting that some of the calls may have been about the same tree condition.

Also, at 111 Fourth Ave. at 12th Street, there were published reports of sections of the facade falling from the co-op building... no injuries were reported...

East Village bar owner petitioning against Cuomo’s COVID-19 menu mandate has liquor license suspended for not serving food

[Photos by Stacie Joy]

Last week, Abby Ehmann, the owner of Lucky at 168 Avenue B, launched a petition asking Gov. Cuomo to roll back his mandate that bars must serve a "substantive" amount of food in order to stay open during the pandemic.

Yesterday, Cuomo announced that the state has suspended liquor licenses for 11 New York State bars — including Lucky — for "egregious violations of pandemic-related Executive Orders." (To date during COVID-19, the state has suspended liquor licenses for 94 bars.)

This is what the State Liquor Authority had to say about Lucky:

On August 3rd, investigators with the state's multi-agency task force interviewed the owner of the business, who admitted to serving alcohol to patrons without food, in addition to acknowledging the business does not have a kitchen or prepare food, which has been a requirement of all licensed taverns dating back to 1964. The licensee previously had been cited and disciplined, in 2019, a "non bona fide" for having no food available.

Suspension orders remain in effect indefinitely, with the maximum penalty including the permanent revocation of the license and fines of up to $10,000 per violation, according to the SLA.

Ehmann has been advocating for a "seating not eating" rule. As she stated on the petition, signed by nearly 2,800 people as of last night: "Rather than legislating what customers must order, I believe it would be safer and smarter to require customers be seated while consuming whatever they want. If no standing is allowed, the possibility of overcrowding is eliminated."

With the threat of the tropical storm yesterday, Ehmann did not open her bar, and was unaware that she had her license suspended until we contacted her for comment.

Ehmann told EVG correspondent Stacie Joy that she believes the state targeted her business. News of the petition has been covered in the Daily News, WCBS News Radio 880 and Eater.

She offered this update last night on what happened:

I have been very vocal in my opposition to this law. On Monday, Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. I received a visit from two representatives of the NY State Liquor Authority. Their only concern was if my customers — all eight of them — had ordered food with their alcohol. No other safety measures were inspected or questioned. Also, no other bars or restaurants in close proximity to mine received such visits, causing me to believe that I was intentionally targeted.

This is troubling, especially given how many of my bar and restaurant owner peers have expressed fear of retaliation when asked to join me in this battle.

I thought that I had received my first warning — a somewhat unofficial document consisting of a Xeroxed piece of paper with the headline NOTICE AND WARNING [see image below] as opposed to an actual ticket specifying my violations. But moments ago I discovered that my business is listed as one of those whose license has been suspended. NO notification. NO "three strikes." This is an outrage.

As for background, on June 22, outdoor dining returned to NYC. At the time, Cuomo did not specify that only restaurants could provide the service. Bars, who previously were selling drinks to go, could now set up tables provided they also continue to serve snacks.

However, with some bars not adhering to any kind of social distancing, Cuomo said on July 23 that to stay open, establishments needed to offer menu items beyond chips and popcorn.

"To be a bar, you had to have food available — soups, sandwiches, etc.," he said during a press conference. "More than just hors d'oeuvres, chicken wings, you had to have some substantive food."

Bar owners, already under a financial strain and working with skeleton crews, were left scrambling to create a menu and kitchen or face significant fines or the threat of closure — even if they never served food before the COVID-19 PAUSE.

In reporting on the petition Monday, Eater noted that Lucky had been selling Hot Pockets via a microwave. Per Eater: "In the past, Ehmann received a $2,000 fine from the SLA for not offering food on the bar's kitchen-less premises."

Despite the suspension and further loss of revenue, Ehmann said that she is doubling down on the food issue with her petition drive.

Previously on EV Grieve:
A petition to allow patrons to sit at a bar without having to order a meal

Fonda permanently closes on Avenue B

[Photo by Stacie Joy]

Fonda is the latest East Village restaurant to close amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The Mexican bar-restaurant at 40 Avenue B between Third Street and Fourth Street shut down after service on Sunday.

A Fonda rep shared this message with us:

Unfortunately, we are closed for good. Just like many other people in our business this crisis left us with no options! It was a very hard decision to make — especially because of our fantastic and incredible staff. We had a good 8-year run in the East Village and we are very thankful to the neighborhood.

Fonda's other locations in Chelsea and Park Slope remain open. This outpost opened in February 2012, stopping the revolving door of restaurants to come and go here.

91 3rd Ave. is for rent

For lease signs recently arrived at 91 Third Ave., the large storefront on the northeast corner of 12th Street.

Per the Newmark Knight Frank listing: "3,500sf on ground floor and an additional 1,800 sf in basement. Vented food uses accepted. Expansive corner space in the East Village surrounded by restaurants, bars, cosmetic and service tenants. Bustling neighborhood, steps from Union Square."

Rental rate available by request!

As previously reported, housewares shop Basics Plus was set to close in this storefront in the spring of spring 2019. However, the housewares shop that opened here in August 2014 ended up consolidating the space, and making do with a smaller footprint in the building.

Surprise! Surprise! was the previous housewares tenant, closing in April 2014 after 25 years in business.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Tuesday's parting shot

A post-Isaias walk in Tompkins Square Park... photo by Derek Berg...

Storm damage: Pedestrian injured by falling debris on Avenue A and 3rd Street

More damage from tropical storm Isaias along Avenue A at Third Street. A broken branch crashed down on the sidewalk bridge early this afternoon, sending some of the plywood to the street level where a man was struck in the head by the debris. He was bloodied, but conscious. EMTs took him to a hospital.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy shared these photos showing the aftermath here along the storefronts at Ageloff Towers ...

Local merchants, including Leti, the owner of Downtown Yarns, Frank from Two Boots and workers from the Essex Card Shop, helped secure the area with caution tape...

... which Oscar from Supper on Second Street generously provided...

[Updated] Tropical storm Isaias brings down tree limbs in Tompkins Square Park

[Photo by Steven]

Updated 4 p.m.: City workers have closed the Park for now. Updated 7 p.m. Most entrances were back open.

The heavy rains and winds from tropical storm Isaias brought down a number of limbs in Tompkins Square Park early this afternoon... most notably from the grand Elm near the entrance on Seventh Street and Avenue B...

[Top two photos by Steven]

... and a look at other areas of the Park...

... there were multiple other reports of downed branches around the neighbor, including behind this building on Avenue A at Fifth Street...

... and at the East River Park running track ... (thanks Wendy Rubin for this photo!)

There's also a report of a sidewalk bridge collapse with injuries on Avenue A and Third Street. Will update when more information is available.

CM Carlina Rivera calls for Parks Dept. to review fate of Cox statue in Tompkins Square Park

Local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera is calling on the Parks Department to address the future of the Samuel S. Cox statue in Tompkins Square Park.

In a letter dated Thursday, Rivera asks Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver to address the community about the plans for the statue, created in 1891 and standing at this location since 1924.

Per the letter:

Historians and numerous New Yorkers have highlighted that Cox’s history — beyond his work regarding pro-labor policies at the United States Postal Service — includes very disturbing examples of white supremacy, particularly as it relates to emancipation and Black civic participation in the mid-1800s.

Today’s demands for social justice that are being raised across this country must be met with a holistic review of the (mostly) men whom we honor with place names and statues in our public spaces.

I am sure most New Yorkers would agree that these landmarks should not remain as a public reminder to many of our neighbors that, for much of United States history, they were not considered nor treated as equals to white Americans. As many historians have suggested, such statuary is better situated in non-public settings, such as museums, where they can remain as an educational tool for future generations choosing – operative word — to view and understand our nation’s racist legacy. Encountering the Cox statue while visiting Tompkins Square Park is not a choice.

I hope that you will consider speaking with the local community immediately, specifically Black residents of the Lower East Side, to consult with them on the Cox statue’s fate.

The Cox statue has been under 24/7 NYPD supervision since July 25. It was tagged overnight with ACAB and "black power" on July 16-17. One of the officers in the Park told us that they will be on duty outside the Cox statue "for the foreseeable future." It is unclear if there was a threat against the statue to prompt police protection.

Cox (1824–1889) was a longtime member of Congress who spearheaded legislation that led to paid benefits and a 40-hour workweek for postal employees.

In a post titled "Why Is New York City Still Celebrating Statues of Racists?" from 2014 for the History News Network, Alan Singer, a historian and professor at Hofstra, wrote about Cox's history: "[He] fancied himself a champion of the United States Constitution but somehow his interpretation of the Constitution always seemed to deny rights to Blacks. On June 2, 1862, a year after the Civil War had begun but six months before the Emancipation Proclamation, Cox argued in Congress that the United States was made for white men only."

Earlier this summer, the city announced it was removing the statue of Theodore Roosevelt — long considered a racist symbol — from the American Museum of Natural History's entrance.

The death of George Floyd has led to the removal — by protesters in some cases and city leaders in others — of statues across the country because of the racist ideals they represent.

204 Avenue A disappears; the all-new 202 Avenue appears

[The former 204 Avenue A]

Workers have completed the demolition of the long-empty 4-story building at 204 Avenue A between 12th Street and 13th Street...

As previously reported, this city-owned property, along with the one at 535 E. 12th St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, will make way for affordable housing.

When the new construction is complete, No. 204 will rise to seven stories, yielding 10 co-operative units for fixed-income housing. (There are 11 one-bedroom rental units planned for the 6-story No. 535.)

No. 204 and 535, part of the HPD’s Tenant Interim Lease Program, have been vacant since 2008. "Due to deteriorating structural conditions," tenants from both buildings were relocated at that time. The former tenants of each building will be able to purchase the co-op units in the newly constructed building at No. 204, which will include ground-floor retail.

Meanwhile, the scaffolding and construction netting was removed yesterday right next door at 202 Avenue A (H/T dwg!)...

Workers added a horizontal and vertical enlargement of the existing 4-floor structure, doubling the total square footage from 5,334 to 10,920.

There will be 10 residences here, including a duplex penthouse with a private terrace.

Here's a look at the rendering of the all-new 202 — called the Topanga — via Lenart Architecture ...

Highpoint Property Group bought No. 202 in a deal that closed in late 2017 for $6.75 million, according to public records.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Affordable housing planned for city-owned buildings at 204 Avenue A and 535 E. 12th St.

202 Avenue A has been gutted on its way to doubling in size to become the Topanga

Lucy's will reopen next month

[Photos yesterday by Steven]

Blanche’s Lucy’s Tavern — aka Lucy’s — will be closed now until later next month here at 135 Avenue A between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street.

A sign on her front door notes a September return (and we're not sure if this means Sept. 20 or maybe September 2020 in general)...

Lucy's reopened back on May 30 after the PAUSE for take-home drinks ... before going on hiatus again until late June.

Proprietor Ludwika "Lucy" Mickevicius, who has worked here for nearly 40 years, typically closes up late in the summer to visit her native Poland. (We're not sure if this is the case again this year.)

We look forward to seeing her again. Like many other businesses, Lucy's has struggled to stay afloat in recent months. Upon returning in late May, she told Bedford + Bowery that she already owed $50,000 for rent and water, though her landlord had offered to only charge her half of June's rent.

Fish ahoy! The Chippery debuts on 1st Avenue

The Chippery, which specializes in fish and chips, debuted over the weekend at 85 First Ave. between Fifth Street and Sixth Street.

As noted back in January, this is the first Manhattan outpost for the New Jersey-based chainlet, which currently has four locations in the Garden State.

The quick-serve establishment offers a variety of fried seafood platters and sandwiches. You can find their menu here.

Last evening Goggla tried the house speciality (fish and chips!) and a side of jalapeño poppers ... and gave both dishes high marks...

Thanks to everyone who pointed out the opening, including Jonathan Michael Fung!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Monday's parting shot

A moment in time on First Avenue and Sixth Street today via Derek Berg...

Make a splash: Hamilton Fish Pool reopens Wednesday

[EVG photo at Hamilton Fish Pool]

This summer, the city is only reopening 15 public pools via a phased-in schedule. On Wednesday, Hamilton Fish Pool — the only one servicing this area — will open for a limited month-long run over on Pitt and East Houston.

Here are details via the Parks Department website:

• Pool hours will remain the same: 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., and 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Sessions may be split further at the discretion of the pool managers to accommodate more patrons.

• All pool patrons will be required to wear a face covering to enter the pool facility. Face coverings must be worn in locker rooms, bathrooms, and on the pool deck. They are not to be worn in the water.

• Please maintain at least six feet of social distance, except between members of the same household. If a pool reaches capacity, we may provide patrons with a time of day to return to the line.

• During general swim hours, aquatic programs including Lap Swim, Learn to Swim, Senior Splash & Swim, and Water Exercise classes have been cancelled for the summer.

The pool closes for the season on Sept. 7.

The Dry Dock Pool on 10th Street and Avenue D and the Tompkins Square Park mini pool will not open this summer.

Tompkins Square Library reopens today for grab-and-go service

The Tompkins Square Library on 10th Street between Avenue A and Avenue B is one of 22 NYPL branches reopening today for grab-and-go service. (This follows eight city branches returning on July 13.)

What does grand-and-go entail? Per the NYPL website:

Our new grab-and-go service allows you to pick up items you've reserved and return materials you currently have checked out, all while safely maintaining distance from others.

What's new: The pickup process is contactless. Once the items you've reserved are ready for pickup, they will immediately be checked out to your account. This way, all you have to do when you get to the library is grab your items from the holds shelf — then go! There will be no need to stop by the circulation desk for checkout. The same goes for returns — rather than visiting the desk, there will be a designated bin where you can return any items you currently have.

Note: The process of reserving an item is the same as always. You can place a hold on an item online or over the phone, which will put your request into a queue until a copy becomes available. The wait time will vary depending on how many others have reserved the item and how many copies we have. Once your item is read, you will be notified via email, and then you can head to the branch to pick up your item. Learn more here about how to reserve items and what to expect when visiting one of our grab-and-go branches.

And the branch's hours:

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday: Noon to 7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Masks are required for entry.

Meanwhile, the Tompkins Square Branch will continue to offer their online programming.

The Seward Park Branch on East Broadway also reopens today.

Porsena has closed for good on 7th Street

[Photo from Saturday night]

After 10 years on Seventh Street, Porsena has closed. Saturday night saw its final service out on the socially distant curbside seating.

We heard rumors that Porsena was shutting down over the weekend. Management confirmed the news yesterday in a message to us:

We are all sad. It was a sort of a quick decision when we realized our landlord would never work with us in any way. We couldn’t continue to owe more money. So so sad as Porsena definitely deserved to survive.

Sara Jenkins opened her low-key pasta-focussed trattoria here between Second Avenue and Cooper Square in 2010. It garnered positive reviews and found a loyal following. The Porsena Extra Bar debuted next door in 2012.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy took a last look inside on Saturday evening...

As The City recently reported, "many New York restaurants are within months — or even weeks — of running out of the resources needed to stay alive."

The NYC restaurant industry is being crushed by the triple whammy of high rents, ever-changing new city regulations on outdoor dining and disappearing customer base.