Thursday, March 31, 2022

Thursday's parting shot

So long to some open-air pay phones along Avenue C... workers were seen uprooting them earlier today.

Last year, workers removed pay phones on Avenue A. (No sign of LinkNYCs in their place!) 

Thanks to Heather Dubin for the photo!

6 posts from March

A mini month in review ... with a photo from March in Tompkins Square Park by ... 

• Massive film collection from the former Mondo Kim's is heading to Alamo Drafthouse downtown (March 23

• Rest easy, citizens of 12th Street — the large animal invader has been slain (March 22

• Gaia Italian Café Shop is coming to the East Village (March 17

• Let's take another look at the eerie remains of the long-abandoned 6 Avenue B (March 10

• Another visit to Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen (March 3

• How Veselka is helping with Ukraine relief efforts (March 2)

Mid-afternoon mannequin break

Photo by Steven 

As seen outside the now-closed Himalayan Vision at 127 Second Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place. 

As of about 3:30 p.m. today, there were a few discarded mannequins left, but people were quickly scooping up the various parts. 💖💖💖

Workers at Anthology Film Archives set to strike this evening

Workers at the Anthology Film Archives have decided to hold a one-day strike. 

Tonight from 6:30-9:30, workers will set up a picket line outside the theater on Second Street at Second Avenue. The activities include a selection of "anti-capitalist shorts" screened outside.

According to the letter posted to the @AFAworkers account, AFA staff voted unanimously last year to unionize with UAW Local 2110, whose members include employees at cultural institutions such as BAM, MoMA and the Guggenheim. 

As the letter states, "AFA's negotiating position and current contract offer are untenable." 

Read on for more details. Tonight's screenings at the 52-year-old theater include two showings of Ted Fendt's "Outside Noise."

H/T Leo

Help for an East Village teacher who lost everything in an apartment fire

Jean Finnerty, a teacher and co-founder of the Children's Workshop School on 12th Street, lost everything when her apartment caught fire on Tuesday. 

Maria Velez-Clarke, principal at CWS, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help Finnerty replace her personal items and find long-term housing. 

Per Velez-Clarke: 
Over the years, Jean has served as a leader in our school and has taught nearly all grades at the school, and this year is serving as our health and wellness physical education teacher. She has mentored and supported thousands of children over the years and works to nurture the next generation of public school teachers as the student-teacher coordinator at CWS. 
You can find the GoFundMe here.

H/T Salim

Farewell to Holyland Market on St. Mark's Place

Photos yesterday by Stacie Joy 

Holyland Market is now certified closed. 

As we first reported on March 14, the Israeli grocery at 122 St. Mark's Place between Avenue A and First Avenue was closing at the end of this month after 18 years in business. 

Moving forward, owner Eran Hileli (pictured below) will focus his time and attention on his blossoming hummus business — the 4-year-old Holy Hummus, now available at 700-plus stores in the United States, including locally at Westside Market and Union Market. He said he is introducing 12 new products/flavors, including spicy w/red s'chüg, roasted pepper, roasted garlic, za'atar flavored and green s'chüg.

EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by the shuttered shop yesterday ... as Hileli continued to clean out the space...
In a previous interview with Stacie, Hileli said he had challenges finding help and felt burned out after working through the pandemic. He was also unable to find a buyer for the market. 

While we're happy that Hileli has found success with his hummus (and it is delicious), we hate to lose yet another unique shop in the neighborhood — and in NYC. 

As The Times of Israel recently noted
Expats could score their favorite products from home at Holyland, down to lavender-scented Pinuk hair conditioner and the Friday edition of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, in a store that felt like it could be located in Tel Aviv or Ashkelon — a Middle Eastern parallel to New York City’s beloved bodegas.

Demolition grinds on at 38-48 2nd Ave.

Last Thursday, we shared photos that Idan Cohen took from inside the remains of the deconsecrated and shuttered (as of July 2015) Church of the Nativity at 44 Second Ave. between Second Street and Third Street. (Revisit that post here.) 

Demolition has picked up at the remaining two structures on the parcel — the church (top pic) ... and the former church rectory (below).
The former La Salle annex on the corner of Second Street was demolished in the fall.
And a few shots via Steven of the demo work... as seen from Second Street...
As previously reported, Gemini Rosemont Development has plans for an 11-story mixed-use building on this soon-to-be-empty parcel. (We haven't spotted any renderings out in the wild just yet.)

In 2020, 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 plots that they acquired. The Los Angeles-based commercial real estate investment company closed on 42-44 Second Ave. and 46-48 Second Ave. (the former Church of the Nativity) in March 2020 for $40 million.

Previously on EV Grieve:

Openings: Avenue A Deli and Grill

Photos by Stacie Joy 

Avenue A Deli and Grill just opened here at 123 Avenue A between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place. (Previous posts here.) 

EVG contributor Stacie Joy stopped by and met the owners (on the left and middle, with the chef on the right)...
Avenue A Deli and Grill offers a variety of wraps, sandwiches, burgers, salads, smoothies, juices, etc. 

... and because people always ask about breakfast... here's a look at some of their offerings... with a breakfast platter starting at $6... and omelets (with toast and home fries or hash browns) ranging from $6.50 to $9 ... they also have several breakfast sandwiches starting at $3... 
The deli is open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. Phone: (212) 982-1253.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Wednesday's parting shot

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the linocut style of David Barthold ... a recent arrival on Houston and the Bowery... 

A visit to Le Phin, the new Vietnamese cafe on 10th Street

Text and photos by Stacie Joy 

Curious about Vietnamese phin coffee? 

I sure was, which was why I was holding off on my daily caffeine ration before visiting Lê Phin Café, a sunny, delicately appointed new Vietnamese coffee shop at 259 E. 10th St. between Avenue A and First Avenue to talk with owners Khuyen Thi Kim Le and Duc Manh Nguyen (the wife-and-husband owners go by Kim Le and Dan Nguyen). 

Kim recently published a piece about phin on coffee-publication site Sprudge, so I had an idea of what to expect, and since the labor- and time-intensive phin takes a while to create, we had time to chat about the café, Vietnamese coffee and local reaction to the highly caffeinated drink.
How did Lê Phin come to be? Was there a quintessential moment for you to realize the dream of opening your own business? 

Ten years ago, after I got admitted to grad school, I was still trying to figure out my move from Vietnam to the U.S. I would have never imagined myself opening a coffee shop! 

I remembered trying to squeeze a few bags of coffee and a phin into my carry-on before the trip, hoping to bring a little bit of home with me into the next chapter of my life. 

Over the next few years, through all my ups and downs, all the moves, all the struggles, the habit of having a cup of phin coffee every day has probably been the single consistent and familiar thing that I could keep in my life, comforting me through those moments of diaspora blues. 

It is hard to explain such a strong attachment to something so simple, all from the daily life I used to have back home. I guess that emotional attachment is where it started, or at least where the first sparks started for me. 

After my graduation in 2015, while still trying to figure out what to do next, I made a trip home to Vietnam and one of my relatives invited me to visit his coffee farm in Bảo Lộc. That was the first time I got to see the whole process. The work that goes into the single cup of coffee that I had been drinking without understanding much up until that point. Tasting those fresh, high-quality beans was eye-opening to me. But more important, I was overwhelmingly surprised by how little the farmers in Vietnam make, despite their hard labor. 

The light bulb kind of went on at that moment. After that trip, I came back to the U.S., started researching and learning more and more about coffee and coffee production. I got my certificates and eventually became a coffee-quality grader and also started a small business exporting Vietnamese green beans to Japan. Then Covid hit. 

My exporting business halted right when I was planning to test my own roast in the United States market. I was struggling quite a bit before finally deciding to open my own coffee shop. It is a completely different business than curating and exporting beans, but it takes me back to where it all started, that comforting feeling from my daily cup of phin-brewed coffee. I want to share that joy and comfort with more people, and for me that was a great place to begin again.
Why was the East Village a desirable location to open your café? 

I have always loved the East Village and spent a lot of time hanging out here. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant at first to settle here, since there are already so many coffee shops in the area. I was not sure if I could handle the competition!

I spent four or five months wandering different neighborhoods, looking at quite a few locations for my shop, from Brooklyn to Queens through Manhattan. But whenever I asked myself, Where would I want to spend a cozy morning sharing all those random stories over a cup of coffee with friends from all walks of life? 

I could not think of anywhere else than this neighborhood. The multicultural and unique characters you come across, this artistic essence, this dense urban feel yet welcoming vibe that reminds me of home, all of that made me decide to take a leap of faith and settle here.
What have you found to be the most challenging part of opening your own shop? The most rewarding?

My husband and I spent many months looking for a location and many more months renovating this place after we signed the lease. Almost every day of that preparation period felt challenging. We put our entire savings into this but we did not have much, so we did a lot of things by ourselves, from floor plan and interior design to finding suppliers and contractors. 

Almost everything was new and every little thing could go wrong, sometimes it felt like I could never get the shop ready for opening. But it finally did open. And then I guess the most rewarding part was to be welcomed by everyone, more than we could ever imagined: Our neighbors come by every day with a smile, customers come back bringing a friend, random people spend an afternoon at our shop and start talking to each other, sharing all little these stories. This place has quickly become a little oasis for not just us but many of our old and new friends, and that brings me joy every day. 

Did you model Lê Phin on any of your favorite places/cafes? 

Not really. We did not hire an interior designer and basically just gathered the items that we liked, all preloved furniture, and tried to put them next to each other in a way that seemed to make sense. 

The only thing is this yellow accent color that we used for our shop, which is a shade that you can easily see everywhere in Vietnam, especially in the older, French-influenced buildings. 

What has been the reaction from patrons to date? 

People have been very excited about our special drinks. I started having some repeat customers come to the shop and order phin pour-over coffee, straight black — no milk. It proves that the phin is really capable of brewing a delicious cup of coffee.

What’s next for the two of you? Any future expansion plans? 

We would like to take the time to make sure everything runs smoothly first. Since the shop is getting more attention, our primary focus now is to train our new staff and maintain the quality and service.
The café is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Venus Over Manhattan opening a gallery on Great Jones

Venus Over Manhattan, the 10-year-old Upper East Side gallery, is opening a new space at 55 Great Jones St. between the Bowery and Lafayette 

Founder Adam Lindemann told Artnet: "We're expanding our program to give more attention to younger artists, and younger seems best suited to downtown. But we will want to maintain the historic part of the program, which is fundamental to our mission."

The gallery opens on April 8 with a show by Ana Benaroya titled "Ana Benaroya: Swept Away." 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

A look at the just-finished mural 'Ukraine: A History in Solidarity'

Photos by Steven

Yesterday, Ukrainian-born artist 
Misha Tyutyunik finished his mural at the Citizens Bank branch on Ninth Street and Second Avenue.

Here's a look at the final work...
He started the piece, titled "Ukraine: A History in Solidarity," on Saturday... which included a public participation segment. Read our previous post for more details.  

Spring, and the Tompkins Square Park mini pool looks closer to being summer ready

Photos by Steven 

Except for the leaves. But workers have removed the large branch that had crashed down into the mini pool last September

Now, just three months remain until city pools open for the season. And yes — Tompkins Square Park has a mini pool for children and their guardians...

Everytable bringing its fast-casual concept to Avenue B

Everytable, the Los Angeles-based fast-casual concept focused on healthy meals, has big expansion plans for NYC... and Avenue B is one of the 100 new outposts the company plans on opening in the next five years. 

Coming-soon signage is now up here at No. 229 between 13th Street and 14th Street. 

You may have read about the Everytable business model, which uses sliding-scale pricing depending on the neighborhood's median income. 

Here's more about the company, founded in 2013:
Everytable’s business model drastically reduces the costs of the standard restaurant model. Chefs at our local kitchen turn fresh, wholesome ingredients into delicious meals, which we sell through our small, grab-and-go storefronts. 
From start to finish, everything is designed to be super-efficient, and the savings are reflected in our prices. We have locations in food deserts, underserved communities with little or no access to nutritious food, and in affluent areas. To ensure that everyone can afford our meals, we price them according to the neighborhoods we serve.
Everytable also offers a "pay it forward" program, which allows people to purchase meals for someone in need. No word on an EV opening date. 

This storefront was previously East Village Fruit & Vegetable, which closed in 2018.

Coddiwomple makes closure permanent

Photos by Steven 

The Coddiwomple outpost is now officially closed at 213 First Ave. between 12th Street and 13th Street. 

The quick-serve sandwich shop had not been open for several weeks... and the closure sign arrived over the weekend...
Coddiwomple just debuted here in mid-January... the third location for the brand with the tagline: "Travel By Sandwich™️ Internationally inspired sandwiches made with local ingredients."

The other two locations appear to be closed as well.

Former Eileen Fisher space for rent on 9th Street

The former Eileen Fisher storefront at 314 E. Ninth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue is now available ... the for lease sign arrived this past week. (Thanks to Steven for the photo.)

No sign of the listing online just yet.

The shop had been closed since late August for "building maintenance." 

Management made the closure official last month. A note on the door for patrons read: 
After much thought, we have decided to close our 9th Street Eileen Fisher store. 

We thank you for being part of this special community and will miss you.
This was Fisher's first location, opening in 1987. Her brand grew to 50-plus shops around the country and sales in various department stores.  

Storefront reveal at the taller 21-23 Avenue B

We have a new storefront reveal at 21-23 Avenue B. (Thanks to Salim for the pics!

As previously reported, workers have been adding two new floors and combining the two four-story structures between Second Street and Third Street. 

The retail spaces have been on the market via landlord Icon Realty. One slot is $12k a month, and the other asks $24k. (The larger space says "Restaurant Use Accepted. Venting in Place, Gas Line in Place.)
The newly created apartments upstairs will reportedly include six five-bedroom homes and eight two-bedroom units.

Monday, March 28, 2022

Monday's parting shot

As seen on Seventh Street today ... photo by Derek Berg...

A 2-day cold-weather break for the 1st Avenue fruit vendor

Photo by Steven 

In case you were going by First Avenue and Sixth Street today or tomorrow for some fruit and vegetables... the vendor is taking a break with the cold temps.

The vendor just returned last Monday after a late-winter hiatus.

Essex Card Shop is now in its reconstruction phase on Avenue A

An "Under Construction" banner went up on Friday at the fire-damaged Essex Card Shop at 47 Avenue A.

This marks the next phase of the reopening for the longtime East Village business that a fire destroyed on Jan. 10.

In an email, Saba Aslam, the daughter of owner Muhammad Aslam, told me they are finishing some interior demolition. The Aslam family has a meeting with the contractors in early April to better understand how long the reconstruction process will take.

The photos below, via Saba's sister Mehnaz, show the current state of the interior...  
We also asked Saba about Jayant "Jay" Patel, the shop's longtime manager: "Jay is safe and well. He is living with his family in New Jersey!"

Meanwhile, supporters of the business have helped it raise more than $90,000 in a GoFundMe campaign

You can check out our previous posts on Essex Card Shop, located in the retail space of the Ageloff Towers between Third Street and Fourth Street, for more background on what has transpired to date.  

Bike-lane upgrade underway on Houston

Work continues along East Houston Street as the DOT is upgrading the existing bike lanes on Houston Street between Second Avenue and the FDR...
Workers last week milled the eastbound lanes of Houston between Second Avenue and Avenue A. The crew will continue on toward the FDR starting this evening, per the posted warnings...
Here's what is happening with the improvements in the days/weeks ahead: 
  • Resurfacing of Houston between Second Avenue and the FDR
  • Installing parking protected bike lanes on Houston between Forsyth and the FDR 
  • Installing delineator-protected and curbside bike lanes on Houston between Second Avenue and Forsyth .. and between Ludlow and Essex
  • Creating painted pedestrian islands along Houston between Ludlow and Avenue C 
  • Installing new bicycle parking on Houston at Orchard and Avenue D 
Plans for protected bike lanes along this corridor date to the fall of 2020 ... and put into place to provide cyclists a safer passage on city streets with the closure of the East River Park Greenway until 2026. 

This Houston Street work comes four months after the $1.45-billion East Side Coastal Resiliency (ESCR) project shut down bike access along the East River starting at Montgomery Street. 

The city installed new bike lanes for Avenue C late last summer.