Friday, June 30, 2023

Fire damages B-Side bar on Avenue B

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

Updated July 3: There's now a GoFundMe for bar employees here.


The FDNY responded to a report of a fire just before 1 p.m. today at 204 Avenue B between 12th Street and 13th Street. 

The department's Twitter account deemed the fire under control in 45 minutes.

Sabina Brunetti, the co-owner of B-Side, the bar in the building's retail space, said they had a new air conditioner installed. A worker was using a torch for welding, and the insulation went up in flames. B-Side was not open at the time.

The fire marshal deemed the blaze accidental. 

The four-story, three-unit building is now under a full vacate order. There weren't any injuries, thankfully, and all the tenants (plus a dog) got out safely. For now, the residents have a place to stay, but there isn't an estimate to how long repairs will take. The apartments were said to be badly damaged.

Meanwhile, the bar will also be out of commission for an unknown amount of time.

B-Side was closed at the start of the year for an extensive deep clean and renovations, including a new ceiling.
"We put so much blood sweat and tears into the space — it's really emotional. Our regulars are like family," a visibly upset Brunetti said. 

She was especially concerned for her staff, some of whom do not have other jobs. She also is worried about the tenants whose homes were damaged, including the landlord who lives right above the bar.

Despite the setback, she vowed to return.

"We absolutely plan to rebuild," Brunetti said. "Again and again."

6 posts from June

A mini month in review (with a photo of Slashers in Tompkins on June 10 by Robin McMillan)...

• Ink on A can use some help (June 26)

• Iconic gay dive bar the Boiler Room is closing later this year ahead of a move to a new East Village space (June 20)

• Police: Woman dies after jumping from 3rd Street residential building (June 18)

• Despite the city's endless bureaucracy, East Village residents continue to aid asylum seekers at the former St. Brigid School (June 8)

• Decades-spanning ghost signage disappears from this East Village building (June 5)

• Why 787 Coffee decided to close its 14th Street outpost (June 2

Revisiting a classic 'New Amsterdam'


Something different for this Friday-at-5 segment.

This video premiered on June 23 ... "New Amsterdam" composed by Moondog and performed by Calefax Reed Quintet... and filmed and edited by East Village resident H. Paul Moon. 

You can read more about the making of the video here

As you'll see, the East Village has a supporting role, including St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, First Park and First Street Art Park. 

In addition, there's a scene where Moondog biographer Robert Scotto — a West Village resident — sits on the stoop of the composer's former address at 179 E. Third St. between Avenue A and Avenue B. 

This piece from Untapped Cities has more about Moondog, born Louis Hardin in 1916 ... aka "the Viking of Sixth Avenue" ... 
Moondog was a fixture of two different worlds in New York City. He was both a respected musician who worked with big names in genres ranging from classical to jazz to rock music, as well as an enigmatic street performer.

This morning in lending a hand

Photo by Derek Berg 

Wash day for the Samuel S. Cox statue at the Seventh and A entrance to Tompkins Square Park...

Sunday is the last day for Khiladi NYC on Avenue B

After nearly four years at 175 Avenue B and 11th Street, Khiladi NYC will close after service this Sunday (July 2). 

Owner Sruthi Chowdary made the announcement on Instagram yesterday afternoon ...
July 2nd will be our last service, please come join us in bidding a farewell to this beautiful/challenging journey of ours. It hasn’t been an easy 4 years, COVID threw the world in a chaotic mode and our journey was definitely influenced by it! The most beautiful part of it all is how we were able to build a community around it and how that community came through during the thick of it! 

People, food and music will always be the core of our being, but sometimes good things have to come to an end too. Stay tuned to see what the future holds for us! 
The restaurant, which served Southern Indian fare, debuted in August 2019 to positive reviews. 

It wasn't always easy here. Someone broke into the restaurant, which had been helping feed area families as part of the Neighborhood Food Swap during the COVID-19 crisis, in late May 2020

This past March, a neighbor accidentally drove into Khiladi's curbside dining structure ... in the morning before the restaurant was open for the day... and destroyed the seating area...
The space is now on the rental market via KSR.

Top photo via the EVG archives

Farewell to the Champagne's of storefront signs in the East Village

Photos, past and present, by Stacie Joy 

As we first reported on May 8, the always confounding but excellent Fine Wine & Champagne's signage would be coming down in the weeks ahead here on the NE corner of Avenue A and Fourth Street. 

And yesterday, workers removed the neighborhood's greatest sign featuring an unnecessary apostrophe.
The decades-spanning Nizga Liquors is under new ownership... the new shop is going as LES Fine Wines & Spirits. (IMO, to keep with tradition, the name should be LES Fine Wine's & Spirit's.) 

We're not sure about new signage. As we understand it, the private-equity firm that bought the block-long residential building last September for a reported $64 million wants uniform signage/awnings for all the storefronts here between Fourth Street and Fifth Street. 

However! The two sections of the Champagne's signage — now safe in storage somewhere — are up for grabs. (Hello, MoMa permanent collection!) Rich, the manager, said he that he might auction them off for a "good cause" or they may be available for sale. Either way, stop by the shop or DM on Instagram for details. (Several people have already inquired, he said.) 

Otherwise, you can lovingly gaze at the sign as seen during the filming of "Hawkeye" with Hailee Steinfeld and Jeremy Renner on the corner in December 2020..

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Thursday's parting shot

This may explain that hellish feeling you have inside the porta potties in Tompkins Square Park! 

Thanks Eden for the photo!

Six Feet Under Sound with The Acute

Photos by Stacie Joy

The other day, East Village-based duo The Acute were recording tracks for the band's first full-length release, titled Rongorongo.

Band members Viveca Butler and Stephen Cacouris were at Six Feet Under Sound, an off-the-grid recoding studio (no social media or website) named for its proximity to the New York City Marble Cemetery on Second Street. 

The band worked with tech director and sound engineer Joe Hogan (below) ...
No word just yet on a release date for the new record. Meanwhile, you can check out the premiere of The Acute's latest video here.

The Acute is also on a bill Saturday evening (8!) at the Parkside Lounge, 317 Houston at Attorney. No cover. Details at this link.

Films on the Green coming to Tompkins Square Park and Seward Park

The Films on the Green series continues on in NYC ... and the annual free French film festival is making its way into two downtown parks starting tomorrow evening (show times roughly 8:30)...
Here's more about the film playing in Tompkins:
"Three Nights a Week" ("Trois nuits par semaine") 

With Pablo Pauly, Romain Eck, Hafsia Herzi, drama,1 hour, 43 minutes
France Baptiste's world is turned upside down when he meets the enigmatic drag queen, Cookie Kunty, and falls headfirst into the dazzling and vibrant world of drag. Initially drawn in by a photography project, he finds himself completely immersed in this new Parisian scene, leading to a passionate and tumultuous relationship with Quentin, the man behind the captivating persona. 

You can find the full citywide lineup here. Or this linkThe films are free (no tickets required) and are in French with English subtitles. 

Films on the Green is produced annually in New York City parks by Villa Albertine, the French Embassy and FACE Foundation. 

City pools open today (but not the Tompkins Square Park mini pool)

Photos Tuesday by Steven 

Dozens of outdoor city pools reopen for the season today (Thursday, June 29). 

First, let's start with what won't be open — the Tompkins Square Park mini pool, which is looking science fiction-y...
The mini pool is closed for the next two summers as part of the field house renovations in Tompkins Square Park

While the pool doesn’t appear to be part of the construction, it’s all about the plumbing, which we're told is a disaster. 

And every year, we hear from people who had no idea there was a mini pool in Tompkins Square Park. The mini pool is open for children and their parents-guardians. Just there — under the arrows by the basketball courts...
As for what is open...the Hamilton Fish Pool on Pitt and East Houston and the Dry Dock Pool on 10th Street and Avenue D.

Outdoor hours are from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m. daily, with a break for pool cleaning between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Find more info about city pools at this link

The outdoor pools are in service through Sept. 10.

Is 334 Bowery now officially a doomed location for restaurants?

Xeo Cantina has been dark for the past month+ at 334 Bowery between Great Jones and Bond.

There's nothing about a closure on the restaurant's website or social media... they are no long on Resy. No one responded to our queries about their status.

Xeo, described as serving "Vietnamese food with Tequila," opened last June
It was the latest spot to try the space... Gia Trattoria closed after just four months in December 2021. Oddly enough, there was already a restaurant called Gia Trattoria from different operators at this address several years earlier. 

To recap: Between November 2014 and June 2015, when the storefront was divided into two spaces, we had Forcella, Espoleta, Gia Trattoria, Slice of Naples, SRO and Bowery Pizza come and go over six months. 

This space was later Gino Sorbillo, the first U.S. pizzeria from "the Neapolitan celebrity super-chef" of the same name. The "temporarily closed for renovation" sign arrived here in early January 2021 after a November 2017 opening — so not a bad run considering everyone else's tenure.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Wednesday's parting shot

Photo by Derek Berg 

Earlier today when it started to rain in Tompkins Square Park...

Do you remember the Unicorn Frame Shop?

Via the EVG inbox... 
I recently acquired a 16th-century print in a frame from the Unicorn Frame Shop in New York City. I am attaching a photograph of the label on the back of the frame. The telephone number looks quite old. It reminds me of telephone numbers from my youth in Jersey City in the 1950s. It may be older.
The correspondent was hopeful someone here might recall the shop, which was at 505 E. 12th St. between Avenue A and Avenue B (the current home of Dhom). 


Last summer for the current configuration of the multipurpose courts in Tompkins Square Park

It appears the city will start the pavement reconstruction of the multipurpose courts in September after all.

We first reported on this date back in February... though, during a CB3 committee meeting this spring, a Parks official said the work would start here along Avenue A and 10th Street after the Dance Parade in May.

However, the Parks Department website still lists September... Quartersnacks yesterday also noted the September start date.

We covered the city's presentation to Community Board 3's Parks, Recreation, Waterfront, & Resiliency Committee back in September. Find that recap, which includes schematics, here

The Parks Department will reconstruct the multipurpose courts, adding various amenities, including a two-lane seal-coated walking loop, and new asphalt.

According to Max Goodstein, a landscape architect with the Parks Department, there's a lot of "asphalt structural damage," and it "needs to be replaced and repaired. And the only way to do that is to take all the asphalt down to the sub base and put new asphalt down." 

Other additions: new benches, a kickball court, a high-low fountain that kids and adults can use simultaneously, and three new basketball backstops at the eastern end, replacing the ones that always seem to be damaged. 

And subtractions: the space used for dugouts during softball games are being removed for bench seating. Officials say the space won't be used for softball again.

And the impact on skating here?

Some thoughts via Quartersnacks ...
It will be a shock to the system in terms of the park's Feng Shui, but skateboarders have adjusted to way worse changes.

The fate of the ramps, rails and boxes can obviously be decided later in the summer, though it stands to reason the contractors are going to toss them once construction begins unless we opt to save and relocate them. (Not 12th & A because that shit won't last a day there.)

A few people have asked, "Can we do anything?!" a la the Save Tompkins campaign from summer 2019, but this is not a fundamental restructuring of how the park is used by the public like it was when they wanted to cover it in soft Astro Turf. The pavement hasn't been redone in ~30 years, and petitioning the city to not fix a deteriorating sports field when the time has come is like petitioning them to not fix a pot hole.
The last resurfacing here is estimated between 1992 and 1995.

Work is expected to last a minimum of three months.
Meanwhile, reconstruction of the Tompkins Square Park field house began in May ... for the anticipated 18-month project.

Previously on EV Grieve:

Retail moves: Westerlind relocates to East Houston Street

Earlier this month, Westerlind opened in its new home at 77 E. Houston St. between the Bowery and Elizabeth. 

The outdoor apparel and gear boutique, which stocks various brands, moved here from Spring Street in Nolita. 

The new space on Houston will feature a pop-up collaboration through Aug. 13 with like-minded brand Varsity Headwear

Part of this retail footprint previously housed Rag & Bone, which closed late last year. The corner space at 73 E. Houston St. remains for lease.

Roasted NYC slated for this 2nd Avenue storefront

Photo by Steven

Signage is up now for Roasted NYC, a coffee shop for 128 Second Ave. between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place. 

Here's what to expect via the shop's Instagram account: " ... we will be providing you with a real coffee experience, not a corner store coffee. Elegant incredibly flavored coffee with latte art, pour overs and some of your finest roasts." 

Roasted NYC takes over the space from the weed-related NYC Kind Cafe ... which took over for the short-lived Paint Puff "N" Peace last year.

Coffee seems to be a hot item around here now. Poetica Coffee opened on the SW corner of Second Avenue and St. Mark's Place in April. Kuppi Coffee Company is in the works for 82 St. Mark's Place just west of First Avenue. And mainstay Porto Rico Importing Co. is right around the corner on St. Mark's Place. (OK, and MUD is near enough on Ninth Street near Second Avenue.) 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Tuesday's parting signage shot

Photos by Stacie Joy 
Signage went up today at the new home of East Village Buyers at 39 Avenue A between Second Street and Third Street. 

The high-end consignment shop specializing in sneakers, jewelry and other collectibles moved here in April... given that the awning inspection and approval process was onerous (and expensive), owner Gabe Shaulov decided to do the lettering himself. 

Meanwhile, he put in an X-Men vs. Street Fighter machine... free for people to enjoy while their friends shop.
Bonus tip: Don't go up against Gabe in X-Men vs. Street Fighter — he will win.

For those who rocked: Legendary East Village venue Fillmore East closed on this date in 1971

Archival photo courtesy of Amalie R. Rothschild 

On this date (June 27!) in 1971, the Fillmore East closed its doors after a legendary three-year run at 105 Second Ave. near Sixth Street. 

The sibling to Bill Graham's Fillmore West in San Francisco brought performers such as Led Zeppelin, the Doors, B.B. King, Roberta Flack, the Byrds, the Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Jefferson Airplane, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez and the Who to the East Village starting in March 1968. 

For the last show (an invitation-only performance), there were reportedly three billed acts — headliners The Allman Brothers Band plus The J. Geils Band and Albert King ... and special surprise guests Edgar Winter's White Trash, Mountain, The Beach Boys and Country Joe McDonald. 

The concert was simulcast live by WPLJ and WNEW ... with running commentary from DJs Dave Herman, Vin Scelsa, Scott Muni and others. You can check out the audio here (courtesy of Dave on 7th!).


Today, part of the address is an Apple Bank. There is a Fillmore East plaque out front that arrived in 2014 courtesy of The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (now Village Preservation) and Two Boots.

You can read about the history of the building and the 2,700-seat venue right here. And find a listing of every band who played the Fillmore East here.

Weeping for this lost tree on Avenue A

The city has cut down the lone tree along the west side of Avenue A between Houston/First Street and Second Street. 

The New York City Tree Map identified this as a weeping willow. [Updated: It was actually a corkscrew willow — thanks to the reader for this ID!]

Last Friday morning around 10:30, according to witnesses and a report on the Citizen app, a white, unmarked box truck violently lurched into the tree, causing a sizable gash across its trunk...
Some time yesterday, the tree was cut down (the first pic is from a tipster) ...
A tipster shared a clip of surveillance footage showing the truck running into the tree. 


The driver of the truck did not get out and inspect any damage, and drove off, per a witness.

There was some hope from nearby residents that the tree — with its unique corkscrew trunk — could stay put.

Volunteers and donations sought for asylum seekers in the East Village this week

Photos and text by Stacie Joy 

Here is information about the next distribution for asylum seekers temporarily staying at the former St. Brigid School on Avenue B and Seventh Street ... featuring an interfaith coalition with participating religious institutions including: 

• St. Brigid/St. Emeric/Most Holy Redeemer 
• Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish 
• Graffiti Church 
• Middle Middle Collegiate Church 
Residents can drop off clothes and goods starting today ... plus tomorrow and Thursday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the St Brigid's rectory, 119 Avenue B between Seventh Street and Eighth Street. 

The distribution will be on Thursday, June 29, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Volunteers are welcome to attend and help. (A bonus if you speak French or Spanish.)

In-demand donations include adult clothing, blankets and bedding, backpacks, and shoes (especially chancletas). (Please note: no children or infants are at this location.)
Previously on EV Grieve:

On St. Mark's Place, Funzi's Pizzeria is a throwback modeled after grandmother's house

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

Funzi's Pizzeria, now in soft-open mode at 36 St. Mark's Place, aspires to be an East Village throwback here between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. 

Hospitality vet Kevin Cox is behind the venture, which he calls "a passion project."
You've likely seen him hanging out in a lawn chair on the Funzi's patio in recent months...
Cox refers to this outdoor space as St. Mark's TV, "where you can watch real New Yorkers of all shapes, sizes, ages, fashions, etc. And there are no commercials. All while eating fantastic pizza."

Funzi's is named after Cox's youngest of three sons... seen here during a recent visit...
Cox calls the place "an ode to the East Village in the 1970s and 1980s," the design is inspired by everything he loves, especially a family member. "This is my grandmother's house — I tried to rebuild it," he said.

Other Funzi inspirations include artists, thrifting, weird inside jokes, and fine attention to detail. 

That detail is evidenced in the signage, hand-painted by artist Joe Lotto, the custom woodwork and stucco by Giovanni Martini, and chain-stitched uniforms by Jose Ballena.
Cox boasted that the Funzi's team "has arguably the best culinary prowess of any NYC pizzeria." Head chef James Jaworski previously worked at Nolita hotspot Pasquale Jones, then Brooklyn-based L'Industrie and Baby Luc's. He is joined by Chefs Aminu Tedla and Alberto Estévez — also vets from Pasquale Jones. 

"We are all happy that we were able to get the band back together to launch Funzi's," Cox said.
Cox hired some of his front-of-house after meeting them on the Funzi's patio... a few days after they purportedly crashed the Met Gala...
As for the pizza, the soft opening best-seller has been the burrata tomato/Rosso pie, with a crisp thin crust, herbaceous sauce, and "no slice flop."
Also available is a chicory pie with dandelion greens, cream, housemade pesto, and bacon lardons with a lemon squeeze finish. Cox and Jaworski refer to this as a green pie.
There is a vegan pie available, but no gluten-free options just yet.
For dessert, there's an ice box cake, whose flavors include a housemade lemon curd with coconut whipped cream and crushed wafers and a banana pudding flavor with a crème anglaise. 

During this soft opening, hours are in-flux... usually opening at 5 p.m., earlier on weekends...
If you're on Instagram, you can find Funzi's here.