Monday, August 31, 2020
[Outside the former Gem Spa via Steven]
A mini month in review...
• Friends and neighbors come together to help Chef Lek at Lui's Thai Food (Aug. 18)
• A visit to East Village Acupuncture & Massage (Aug. 14)
• Checking in with Chico (Aug. 10)
• East Village Loves Queens expands: Meet East Village Loves NYC (Aug. 10)
• New 5th Street coffee shop closes in less than 2 months; owner says the 9th Precinct's barricades 'greatly restricted' his foot traffic (Aug. 5)
• East Village bar owner petitioning against Cuomo’s COVID-19 menu mandate has liquor license suspended for not serving food (Aug. 5)
Punjabi Grocery and Deli at 114 E. First St. between Avenue A and First Avenue enjoyed an uptick in business over the weekend... where some social media reports showed a line to enter the small shop (there currently is a two-person limit inside).
The inexpensive eats favorite reopened on July 10 after being closed for four months during the COVID-19 PAUSE.
As previously reported, there have been concerns through the years about Punjabi's future. The never-ending East Houston Reconstruction Project finally wrapped up at the end of 2018 — just six years behind schedule.
For nearly nine years, the construction zone eliminated parking spaces for cab drivers, who are a sizable share of Punjabi's business, making it nearly impossible for them to stop in for a meal or break. Those who did stop faced getting a ticket. Plus, there has been an overall decline of cab drivers in the Lyft-Uber era.
So Punjabi Grocery and Deli fan Jessica Morgulis launched a crowdfunding campaign back on Friday. Nicolas Heller, aka @NewYorkNico, helped amplify the campaign to his more than 400,000 Instagram followers.
As of this morning, the campaign had reached $38,000 of its $50,000 goal.
Meanwhile, cab drivers will still have challenges stopping by ... the taxi relief stand that finally arrived in July 2019 along Houston Street has been removed to accommodate the ongoing construction for a 9-story residential building next door...
This build has been a slow-go to date. The plywood arrived in May 2018, and workers are still in the foundation stages.
As for Punjabi's food, it's better than ever. Here's part of Scott Lynch's recap from two recent visits for Gothamist:
The trays holding everything from vegetable curries to fried samosas to sweet gulab jamun were all stocked full and fresh, the selection as extensive as ever, the prices still astonishingly low.
I ate way too much both times and everything was spectacular. This is all skillfully prepared food, loaded with flavor and much more spicy than I remembered. And, at $7, the combo platter of nicely chewy long grain rice topped with your choice of three vegetable curries—I went with the thick pureed spinach, the barely-sweet squash, and the lively "black chickpeas" — remains one of the best deals in town.
Previously on EV Grieve:
• How you can help Punjabi Grocery & Deli stay in business
• Never-ending construction continues to hurt Punjabi Grocery & Deli
• Taxi Relief Stand arrives on Avenue A; Punjabi Grocery & Deli relieved
• Concern again for Punjabi Grocery & Deli on 1st Street
• At long last a taxi relief stand for East Houston and 1st Street outside Punjabi Grocery & Deli
A for-real end of an era at 626 E. 14th St., where Sun's Laundry has closed... several EVG readers told us that family members gathered here on Saturday to officially say goodbye to the business that Robert Lee opened with his father in this storefront between Avenue B and Avenue C in 1959...
In recent years Mr. Lee had reduced the business hours to two to three days a week as he contemplated retirement. The shop closed at the start of the COVID-19 PAUSE, and only recently reopened so patrons could retrieve any remaining items.
A nephew, Robert Gee, told Gothamist that the decision to close was made for the family with the COVID-19 crisis.
For Lee, 84, and his wife, Wai Hing Lee, 76, who works alongside him, commuting to the shop from their home in Elmhurst, Queens, was too big of a risk during the pandemic.
"With stay-at-home, there's no need for work clothes," said Gee. "And even earlier than that, the rise of business-casual attire in the workplace has had an impact on the Chinese laundry business because there’s less dry cleaning and less pressed blouses needed for work."
Building resident (since 1981) Carol Kostik told Gothamist: "It does feel like the end of an era with times changing in New York, but Mr. Lee has earned his retirement many times over, so we all wish him well."
Thank you to @NycAuntie for the photos!
Been meaning to note that workers recently removed the sidewalk bridge and construction netting at 57 St. Mark's Place between First Avenue and Second Avenue ... revealing the building's refurbished exterior ...
Unitas: St. Mark's Place Institute for Mental Health is the current occupant.
The building now also features a plaque commemorating a tenant here from 1978-1983 — Club 57... the influential venue in the basement of the Holy Cross Polish National Church (at the time) ...
Speaking of Keith Haring... as you may have seen in recent days, Sotheby's will auction more than 140 of his works in an online sale this fall. Proceeds from the auction, titled "Dear Keith: Works from the Personal Collection of Keith Haring" will benefit the LGBTQ Community Center of New York.
Veeray Da Dhaba debuted last week here at 222 First Ave. between 13th Street and 14th Street.
A trio of NYC restaurateurs joined forces to open this spot that promises the "authentic roadside cuisine of Punjab"
The Instagram post below has more info ... you can find their menu here for takeout and delivery. They are open daily from noon to 10 p.m.
View this post on Instagram
Sonny Solomon - a native of Punjab & backed by 25 years of experience at critically acclaimed restaurants in NYC, Hemant Mathur - the renown Michelin star chef, and Binder Saini - native of Punjab & former Executive Chef of Kurry Qulture (winner of the Best Indian Restaurant in Queens), create a delectable menu promising to entice and offer a glimpse into Punjab’s authentic taste and culture. To indulge, call (212) 777-1420 or visit veeraydadhaba.com. #punjabifood #indianfood #unionsquare #eastvillage #sohonyc #noho #grubstreet #eatlocal #eaterny #veeraydadhaba #indianchef #punjabi #west village
A post shared by Veeray da Dhaba (@veeray_da_dhaba) on
Veeray Da Dhaba is the third promising new food business to open on First Avenue between 11th Street and 14th Street in recent weeks... joining Lhasa and Petit Chou...
Tai Thai's time has come to an end at 78 E. First St. just east of First Avenue.
Per the EVG tipline, new owners have taken over the space, now going by Prim Thai Restaurant ... we're told the new staff is friendly and the food is quite good ... there's a $9.95 lunch special. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. for takeout and delivery — and there are a few sidewalk seats. (646) 799-9642. Find their menu via Seamless here.
[Photo from Aug. 22]
Updated: 99 Favor Taste was able to reopen in late September!
According to the paperwork, the restaurant at Second Avenue owes $34,986 (!!!) for the August rent along with a balance of the July rent and real-estate tax for a sum totaling more than $52,000.
Last week, the ongoing sidewalk construction moved to the front door of the restaurant, blocking entry to the space...
The restaurant, which offers traditional Korean-style barbecue and Chinese hot pot meals at multiple NYC locations (and free birthday meals), opened in the East Village in July 2017. Several of the other 99 Favor Taste outposts are open.
Sunday, August 30, 2020
As noted the other day, Amelia and Christo's 2020 offspring have mostly left the confines of Tompkins Square Park... and have ventured out... though the juvenile red-tailed hawks don't seem to be too far away .. there were several sightings this weekend... the top photo is from First Street at Second Avenue. Thanks to Zak Kerkoulas for the photo (and h/t Elayne Kling!).
... and EVG reader James Chambers shared this photo from 13th Street and Avenue B yesterday ...
Goggla, our go-to source for the red-tailed hawks, said that migration season is coming soon... so we may be seeing a few more hawks passing through the area. Amelia and Christo's juveniles will likely leave for destinations unknown as well. We hope that they stick together — they seemed to be such pals.
[Dining on 7th Street Friday evening]
Posts from the past week included...
• Local elected officials wants answers on the status of officer accused of police brutality on Avenue D (Monday)
• A visit to Anyway Cafe (Thursday)
• Turntable Lab closes its 10th Street storefront (Tuesday)
• Longtime counterman ponders life after B&H (Wednesday)
• Speculating about the future of John Varvatos in the former home of CBGB on the Bowery (Monday)
• Plans call for 11-story condoplex at former site of Church of the Nativity and La Salle on 2nd Avenue (Friday)
• Sales launch for condos at site of deadly 2nd Avenue explosion (Thursday)
• RIP Walter Lure (Sunday)
• NYPD searching for suspects in 2 elevator muggings along 1st Avenue (Saturday)
• This week's NY See panel (Thursday)
• What's going on with the local OddFellows spaces? (Monday)
• Academy Records is back open (and happy Record Store Day) (Saturday)
• The Other Music documentary is now available on streaming services (Tuesday)
• The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space reopens today on Avenue C (Tuesday)
• Kitchen Sink removes part of its roof to accommodate more outdoor dining (Monday)
• Tuome reopens on 5th Street for takeout and delivery (Friday)
[Avenue A all stars]
• (Re)openings: Borrachito on A; Lost City Oyster House on C (Thursday)
• Yuba has closed on 9th Street (Tuesday)
• Clearing out Third Rail Coffee (Wednesday)
• A look at the larger Amor y Amargo on A; plus Soda Club signage arrives on B (Monday)
• Report: Judge denies temporary restraining order for Cloister Cafe (Monday)
... and on Friday, members of the local band Hennessey hosted a clothing sale in Tompkins Square Park with all proceeds going to the Sixth Street Community Center...
[Photo by Derek Berg]
Follow EVG on Instragram or Twitter for more frequent updates and pics.
International Bar has added curbside seating (three tables) here at 102 First Ave. at Sixth Street... and the East Village-based Billy the Artist is adding some color and style to the seats... (thanks to Steven for the work-in-progress photos!)...
The International is open daily from 1-11 p.m. They are serving some tasty ham-and-cheese sandwiches (with country-style ham and podlaski cheese purchased from East Village Meat Market on Second Avenue...) they also offer Superiority Burger's semi-ish-legendary Saturated Party Subs Saturdays and Mondays (and maybe Sundays and Tuesdays).
Updated 5 p.m.
And a final look at the finished product...
The sign reading "End Toxic Masculinity" is now hanging on Avenue A at the St. Mark's Place entrance to Tompkins Square Park... this is the latest in a series of topical messages seen in and around the Park this summer...
The unknown artist modeled these after the "Keep This Far Apart" social distancing signs that the Parks Department unveiled in early April ...
[Image via NYC Parks]
Saturday, August 29, 2020
Aside from being Record Store Day, today is also the rescheduled Independent Bookstore Day ... at Book Club, 197 E. Third St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, they have signed copies of "You Have Arrived at Your Destination" by Amor Towles ... as well as some giveaways...
EVG contributor Stacie Joy notes that Book Club is giving away some free books today...
In other local bookstore news, Mast Books is now open seven days a week on Avenue A at Fifth Street. Hours: noon to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with a 6 p.m. close on Sunday and Monday.
The NYPD has released information about a suspect wanted in connection to a robbery on an elevator last Saturday afternoon.
According to the NYPD, the man followed a 44-year-old woman into an elevator on First Avenue and Third Street (presumably Village View). As the doors closed, the man pulled out what looks like a screwdriver and demanded her wallet.
He reportedly took $100 from the wallet and handed it back to the woman.
🚨WANTED🚨for a ROBBERY @ 1st Avenue and East 3rd Street #EastVillage #Manhattan @NYPD9pct on 8/22/20 @ 4:14PM 💰Reward up to $2500🕶Seen him? Know who he is?☎️Call 1-800-577-TIPS or DM us!📞Calls are CONFIDENTIAL! #YourCityYourCall @NYPDShea @NYPDDetectives @NYPDChiefofDept pic.twitter.com/TOe8yeortL— NYPD Crime Stoppers (@NYPDTips) August 27, 2020
In separate incident on Wednesday, a man tore off a gold necklace — valued at $2,000 — from the neck off an 86-year-old woman while she waited for an elevator at Peter Cooper Village on First Avenue. The Daily News has more details here.
🚨WANTED🚨for Robbery August 26, 2020 at 1:46PM, 1st Ave/Cooper Rd, Manhattan @NYPD13PCT.💰💰 up to $2500👀Seen him?Know who he is?📞Call 1-800-577-TIPS or📲DM us!☎️Calls are CONFIDENTIAL! #YourCityYourCall #NYPDDetectives #nypdshea #nypdchiefofpatrol #nypdcab #manhattanda pic.twitter.com/P2GzmS7HNW— NYPD Crime Stoppers (@NYPDTips) August 27, 2020
Academy Records reopened yesterday here at 415 E. 12th St. between Avenue A and First Avenue. (Owner Mike Davis had been buying and selling via Instagram throughout the summer.)
They sectioned off the shop into a smaller version of itself (you can see in the video clip below)... while "putting the best stuff out," including some new releases, reissues and best sellers.
Also, masks are mandatory... and there's hand sanitizer at the door... as well as some disposable gloves. For now, the shop will just let three people in at a time.
... and a look inside the shop...
Today is also the makeup date for Record Store Day.
You can check out what Stranded Records, 218 E. Fifth St. between Second Avenue and Cooper Square, and Limited to One Records, 221 E. 10th St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue, might be offering. (Ditto for Manhattan45, which recently opened at 220 E. 10th St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.)
A-1 Record Shop, 439 E. Sixth St. between Avenue A and First Avenue, has been offering curbside pickup this month.
Sadly, Turntable Lab's storefront on 10th Street won't be taking part. However, they have online exclusives.
Friday, August 28, 2020
East Village-based singer-songwriter (and bar owner) Jessie Malin released a new music video this week ... "Todd Youth" pays tribute to his longtime friend and bandmate, Todd Youth, who died in 2018... the video features some familiar faces (H.R. from Bad Brains and Jimmy G. from Murphy's Law, among them) in recreating part of the Rolling Stones' clip for "Waiting on a Friend" on St. Mark's Place.
Earlier today, someone tried to make off with one of the outdoor dining tables at Van Da (try the banh beo!) on Fourth Street just west of Avenue B... the moment captured and shared on the Vietnamese restaurant's Instagram Stories ... while the photo was captured, the would-be table thief was not, chased off by a staff member...
From the EVG tipline... a second outpost of Famous Cutz is now open (as of yesterday) at 156 First Ave. between Ninth Street Street and 10th Street.
The barber shop's original location is around the corner at 305 E. Ninth St.
The address was for years, until last July, A Repeat Performance. Proprietor Sharon Jane Smith thought it was time to close up the bric-a-brac shop after nearly 40 years in business.
Smith's friend, jewelry designer Lisa Linhardt, took over No. 156 after a renovation last fall. But the COVID-19 PAUSE "was too much for such a new storefront." Linhardt Design continues to operate out of its manufacturing facility on 48th Street.
Plans call for 11-story condoplex at former site of Church of the Nativity and LaSalle on 2nd Avenue
[Photos yesterday by Steven]
We now know what Gemini Rosemont Development has planned for the east side of Second Avenue between Second Street and Third Street.
According to freshly filed work permits, the company is looking to erect an 11-story building (120-feet tall) filled with 87 condos and 10,014 square feet of retail.
In addition, there will be a 1,884-square-foot office (likely medical) on the first and second floors. Fogarty Finger Architecture is the architect of record. (H/T Upper West Sider!)
In recent months, Gemini Rosemont bought the former La Salle annex at 38 Second Ave. and Second Street. The $14.5 million purchase of the four-story building was the third of three contiguous parcels between Second Street and Third Street acquired by the firm this year for development.
Gemini Rosemont closed on 42-44 Second Ave. and 46-48 Second Ave. (the former Church of the Nativity) in March for $40 million.
Demolition permits have already been filed for three buildings.
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
[Photo at Nativity from Jan. 10 by Felton Davis]
Tuome, 536 E. Fifth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B, returned to service yesterday for the first time since the PAUSE in March.
For now, the Michelin-starred restaurant is open for takeout and delivery Tuesday-Saturday 5-9 p.m.
Thomas Chen, an accountant turned cook/chef, opened Tuome — billed as serving "contemporary American cuisine with Asian influences" — in August 2014. He worked his way up through the kitchen ranks at Eleven Madison Park before Tuome.
Tuome joins Lavagna and Minca Ramen Factory in dining offerings on this stretch of Fifth near B. On Sept. 3, Ace Bar will reopen with curbside drinks and food.
Thursday, August 27, 2020
Text and photos by Stacie Joy
The faint strains of music reach me as I cross over Second Avenue at Second Street to visit Anyway Cafe, 34 E. Second St., the subterranean Russian restaurant known for its infused house-made vodkas and cozy artist-friendly atmosphere that offers free live background music for diners.
The cafe, which opened in late July after the COVID-19 PAUSE, has been in this location for more than 25 years, a time that has seen music lovers gather here to eat Russian-French fusion small plates and sample the creative vodka-based cocktails.
At Anyway, I talk with its audio engineer, Charlie Martin, who previously worked as chief audio and booking agent at CBGB as well as producing and engineering content for Queen Latifah, the Clash and others, to view some of his archival Anyway Stories. He’s been recording and filming the various musical acts showcased at Anyway Cafe over the years and is eager to share samples, which we view on his phone.
We listen to tonight’s Latin music and classics by Yael & Gabriel (Yael Dray-Barel and Gabriel Hermida) as more patrons arrive on this Friday evening to the new (covered) curbside seating, painted by Charlie Hudson, and spacious by social distancing standards. Meanwhile, plates of pelmeni, caviar and crepes arrive for diners as well as their signature martinis. Manager Natasha Stolichnayana even brings out some of her famed horseradish vodka.
[Natasha with a bottle of horseradish-infused vodka]
You can keep up with Anyway Cafe on Facebook. Anyway Cafe is at 34 E. Second St. at Second Avenue. (212) 533-3412.