Thursday, February 29, 2024

Thursday's parting shot

Photo by James Chambers 

A (disarming?) piece by Captain Eyeliner with help by Billy Barnacles on 13th Street at Avenue A...

6 posts from February

A mini month in review... (with a photo from Avenue A on that day it snowed) 

• Longtime East Village sewing business Gizmo needs a new home (Feb. 26

• Village East by Angelika is serving up the Veselka documentary (Feb. 23

• DA's office mulling charges against tow truck driver in the death of longtime East Village resident Merle Ratner (Feb. 15

• Exclusive: Lucy discusses the future of her iconic East Village bar (Feb. 8

• Man who attacked Ray outside Ray's Candy Store sentenced to 10 years in prison (Feb. 7

• On the Job: Talking with playwright Max Wolf Friedlich at the Connelly Theater (Feb. 1)

A visit to the Unprofessional Variety Show

Photos and text by Stacie Joy

The Unprofessional Variety Show is a quarterly cabaret in the back room at the Parkside Lounge on Houston and Attorney.

East Village resident Maya Seuss launched the ongoing variety act in February 2022. (Read more from Maya below.)

I checked out the most recent show on Feb. 17... which featured East Village residents

Here are a few scenes from the evening... 
Afterward, Maya shared more with me about the first Unprofessional Variety Show, which took place on her birthday in February 2022. Jack Waters and Peter Cramer, two of the first performers, run Le Petite Versaille Garden on Second Street near Avenue C and Allied Productions

"Allied Productions exemplifies one of the things I love about this neighborhood, which is the diverse legacy of experimental queer and radical art and performance," Maya said. "At the Unprofessional Variety Show, I try to make the programming truly intergenerational. I love introducing younger performers to the legendary performers from the neighborhood."

She continued....

"I moved to the neighborhood after being accepted into Umbrella House, and becoming part of the Lower East Side community has truly changed my life. My Umbrella House neighbors always come to my show and even perform, such as when musician Mamie Minch accompanied my ant character, who sang a folk song celebrating collectivity, and who could forget the cameo by Sibohan Meow, our local cat woman and caretaker of critters? I'm honored to have an opportunity to contribute to the rich creative history of this neighborhood."

The next Unprofessional Variety Show happens on May 18 at the Parkside.

This 'Job' has been extended for 3 weeks at the East Village's Connelly Theater

Photo of Max Wolf Friedlich from January by Stacie Joy 

You now have three more weeks to catch a performance of "Job" at the Connelly Theater

The 80-minute psychological thriller was set to close on Sunday at the venue, 220 E. Fourth St., between Avenue A and Avenue B. 

However, the run has been extended through March 23. The two-character play, starring Peter Friedman and Sydney Lemmon, concerns a crisis therapist and a big tech company employee, one who has been placed on leave after becoming the subject of a viral video. We'll leave it at that! 

"Job" enjoyed a well-reviewed five-week engagement last fall at the Soho Playhouse. This time around, the notices are just as positive (for example, "one of the best shows playing in NYC right now"). 

Playwright Max Wolf Friedlich grew up in NYC and doing theater in the East Village — at the Kraine, NY Theater Workshop, Bowery Poetry Club, Under St. Marks, etc., as he previously told EVG's Stacie Joy.
We asked Max for his thoughts on the extension.

"We're over the moon to have extended for three more weeks at the Connelly. We're so grateful audiences continue to respond to the play," he said. "On a personal note, I hope our longevity — and the success of other independent Off-Broadway productions this season — demonstrates to the theater world that young people are excited about bold, modern plays written for and marketed to them." 

Find tickets here

Previously on EV Grieve

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Wednesday's parting shot

Photo by Heather Dubin 

A moment on Avenue A and Seventh Street today... in between rain showers...

You can watch last night's Community Board 3 meeting right here

Several people have asked us about last night's full Community Board 3 meeting at P.S. 20, in which Zach Iscol, commissioner of the NYC Emergency Management, provided an update on the agency's asylum-seeker operations and community engagement efforts on Seventh Street and Avenue B. (We wrote about the meeting here and here.)

We embedded the video of the meeting below. Iscol starts speaking (and answering questions) at the 23-minute mark...


Construction watch: 280 E. Houston St.

The all-new 280 E. Houston St. has come into view in recent weeks... it looks as if workers are up to the fifth (??) floor of the 12-floor building here between Avenue A and Avenue B...
The development takes the place of a one-level strip of storefronts (Dunkin'/Baskin-Robbins, Subway, China Town restaurant, etc.), which workers demolished in late 2021 adjacent to the 13-floor residential building formerly known as Red Square. 

In October 2022, as The Real Deal first reported, landlord Samy Mahfar and investors picked up the property from members of the Hirsch family for $36.8 million. Per TRD's report, "the Hirsch family obtained demolition permits and did enough foundation work to qualify the site for the 421a property tax abatement before it expired in June [2022]."

The site was originally going to yield a 6-story building. 

The new building encompasses
 224,809 square feet of space — for residential, commercial and community use. The residential portion will total 211,028 square feet for 157 apartments, per DOB records. The retail section will feature 12,000 square feet, while the community facility is 1,300 square feet.


For the construction team, in case of an emergency, posted signs instruct that there will be "3 long blows of the air horn"... and the crew should move to the Dunkin' a few storefronts away (photo by Stacie Joy)... 

Boris & Horton fans work like a dog to save cafe

Photo last week by Stacie Joy 

The owners of Boris & Horton announced yesterday that their ambitious crowdfunding and subscription plan was a success, and the city's first dog-friendly cafe will remain open. 

On Feb. 16, daughter-father co-owners Logan Mikhly and Coppy Holzman announced that the cafe was closing on Feb. 26 after six years of anchoring the NW corner of Avenue A and 12th Street. An outpost that opened last year in Williamsburg was also shutting down.

Bottom line: They weren't making enough money, and as Holzman told NY1, "it's expensive to maintain top safety measures for a dog-friendly restaurant required by the Department of Health." 

However, the unwavering support of the cafe's fans turned the tide. They devised ideas to keep the business going, such as selling subscription boxes filled with dog treats and merchandise from Boris & Horton's line of dog treats and toys ... plus mugs, t-shirts, baseball caps, etc.

Boris & Horton hit their $250,000 goal from Friday to midnight Sunday.

First, though, both outposts will temporarily close. Late last week, the co-owners said some of the money would go for capital improvements, including replacing the air conditioning at the Avenue A space and giving it a deep clean. They also plan to hire management to streamline B&H operations. 

From an Instagram post yesterday announcing the news:
Thank you so much to everyone who supported this campaign. We're thrilled that both locations will be reopening in the coming weeks, and we'll be sharing more details on what to expect very soon. We're humbled and grateful, and we can’t wait for what's to come.
Boris & Horton opened here in February 2018 and expanded into the storefront next door later that year. 

Previously on EV Grieve:

Deli marks the end of the revolving door of bars on the corner of 4th Street and 2nd Avenue

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

The long-vacant bar space on the SE corner of Second Avenue and Fourth Street is undergoing a gut renovation.

A worker at the scene told us that a deli-market is in the works for the storefront (an actual deli-market and not a smoke shop)...
The worker did not know about an opening date.

In 2021, the English-style pub Queen Vic became just Queen ... before evolving into Watering Hole. The for-rent sign showed up in September 2022. 

Queen Vic had a decent run, opening in September 2010,  which ended the revolving door of bars here with awnings, including 2x4, Ambiance and Evolution.

Koko Wings has apparently closed on 1st Avenue

Koko Wings looks to be done at 192 First Ave. between 11th Street and 12th Street. 

The quick-serve restaurant specializing in Korean fried chicken has been closed in recent weeks. Google lists them as "temporarily closed." No one responded to our requests for comment. 

Meanwhile, the retail space is on the rental market via Meridian Capital Group. The asking rent is $13,500. 

Perhaps in an early sign of distress this past summer, Koko Wings began advertising a price drop and that tipping was not necessary (photo from July by Steven)...
Koko Wings debuted in December 2019... this was already a wing-friendly corridor along First Avenue with Dan and John's and Atomic Wings... then Buffalo Wild Wings opened early last fall ... plus, there's Wingstop around the corner on 14th Street between Avenue A and First Avenue.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

An artist talk and celebration of iconic storefronts at the Tompkins Square Library branch

Early Thursday evening, local illustrator Lily Annabelle will discuss her current exhibit — "Goodbye to the Brick and Mortar" —  at the Tompkins Square Library branch.

Here's more about the artist talk, co-moderated by reps from Village Preservation and the East Village Community Coalition:
Lily's work is a celebration of the life and memories of neighborhood establishments and pays homage to the humans who have made a mark on the community. Enjoy a moderated discussion with Lily, as well as panelists from storefronts depicted in the exhibit: Ess a Bagel, Kim’s Video and Music and 2nd Ave Deli.
Time: 5-6:45 p.m. this Thursday at the branch, 331 E. 10th St., between Avenue A and Avenue B. You can RSVP for a spot here.

Annabelle's work, 
featuring an array of dearly departed storefronts, will be featured here through March 29.

Playground reminders in Tompkins Square Park; city to update Community Board 3 on asylum seekers tonight

Photos by Stacie Joy 

Updated: You can watch a playback of the CB3 Board meeting on YouTube here. Zach Iscol starts at the 23-minute mark.

Signs stating "No adults except in the company of a child" — written in multiple languages — were recently posted on the playgrounds along Avenue B and Seventh Street in Tompkins Square Park...
In recent months, some residents have expressed concerns about the migrants waiting for a new shelter assignment outside the former St. Brigid School on Seventh Street and Avenue B. They have been congregating on the SE corner of Tompkins Square Park, including inside the playgrounds. (This past fall, Mayor Adams began limiting adult migrants' stays in shelters to 30 days before they have to leave and reapply at this so-called East Village reticketing site.) 

The influx of men standing around has caused some residents to no longer visit the playgrounds with their children. It was also made clear that the men were often unaware that they couldn't be inside the playgrounds.

Making matters worse, the city removed the three portable toilets from Tompkins Square Park on Jan. 9, forcing anyone visiting the 10.5-acre property to figure out where to relieve themselves. (The restrooms in the field house are closed until the fall for renovations.) According to residents, the playgrounds have become popular public toilets, with some equipment serving as cover. 

While the signs look official, it's unknown who left them on the playground gates. 

The two playgrounds in this park area received a year-long, $2.7 million upgrade, unveiled in October 2019.

Meanwhile, as we reported last weekZach Iscol, commissioner of the NYC Emergency Management, will appear before Community Board 3 tonight. Per the invite, he "will update the community on the agency's asylum-seeker operations and community engagement efforts within the confines of CB3." 

Iscol is expected to speak at 7 p.m. (The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m.) Only CB3 board members can ask questions. (The deadline for residents to submit questions was this past Friday.)

The meeting will be in person at PS 20, 166 Essex St., just south of Houston, and streamed on YouTube here.  
Previously on EV Grieve: 

Signage alert: Ben's Deli gains a Grill on Avenue B

Photo and reporting by Stacie Joy

The renovations at Ben's Deli on Avenue B, an establishment here for 40-plus years, took a significant step forward yesterday with the arrival of new signage. 

The business name has been expanded to include a "& Grill" in the name, marking a new chapter in its history. (While the signage sentiment in the EVG newsroom was wholly positive, we are waiting for EV Signage and Font Troll to weigh in...)

The market between Second Street and Third Street temporarily closed this past September for renovations, including new shelving and lighting  ... an expected move after longtime owner and Avenue B legend Ben Gibran sold the business earlier last year to a cousin, Sammy Ksem. (Don't worry — Ben still hangs out here. See below.)

Ben's Deli, which played a pivotal role in season one of "Russian Doll" on Netflix not to mention a Kim Petras video, is expected to be back open in the weeks ahead, which is rather vague, though you try to get Con Ed and the Department of Buildings scheduled for the necessary approvals. 

Last evening, the sign was lit, so to speak... 
Ben was outside in The Office (aka his Astro van). When I asked him if he liked it, he said, "Yes, looks good, right? Nice. Very nice." Then, he fired up a cigarette and continued watching a nature video on his iPad.

The Chippery has not been open lately

Several EVG readers have noted with some concern that The Chippery has not been open during its usual business hours in recent weeks at 85 First Ave. between Fifth Street and Sixth Street.

Google notes that they are "permanently closed," though there isn't any mention of a shutter on the restaurant's website or social media properties. We contacted them for comment and were told someone would get back to us.

Coming-soon notices arrived here in January 2020 ... making this the first Manhattan outpost for the New Jersey-based chainlet, which currently has four locations in the Garden State.

Despite the pandemic, the restaurant specializing in fish and chips opened in August 2020 and drew praise from people who tried their various fried seafood platters.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Monday's parting shot

Photo by Stacie Joy 

A tribute to Flaco, the Eurasian eagle-owl, outside Club Cumming on Sixth Street.

Revel vehicle wipes out Frank's curbside dining structure after hours on 2nd Avenue

A Revel car demolished the curbside dining structure outside Frank on Second Avenue near Fifth Street during a collision that occurred late last night/early this morning. 

The restaurant was not open at the time, and the structure was empty. There weren't any reports of injuries. (Thanks to Stuart Zamsky for the first two photos.)
Police at the scene this morning did not have any further information about the collision and what led to it.

Derek Berg took this photo around 7:45... when the NYPD towed away the Revel, presumably an electric vehicle from the ride-hailing service...
Updated: A Revel spokesperson confirmed the details in this post, but declined to provide any further comment. 

Updated noon:

Photo by Steven...

Longtime East Village sewing business Gizmo needs a new home

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

Rosa Malmed and Hossein Amid were set to begin a new chapter for Gizmo by officially signing a new lease today for their longtime sewing supply shop. 

Instead, the heartbroken wife-and-husband owners are now forced to move their ample merchandise and supplies into storage as they continue a search for a storefront.
In recent months, the shopkeepers had been preparing to leave their home of 32 years at 160 First Ave. between Ninth Street and 10th Street at the end of this month. They were eyeing two East Village storefronts. 

They had all but inked the deal and received their keys at their new shop location at 319 E. 14th St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue when they were alerted by the agent that the building had been sold and no lease would be granted to them.
They had a written agreement, a three-month deposit, and a breakdown of costs (real estate taxes, water, rent, etc.) They were due to sign the new lease and pick up the keys today. 

"The East 14th Street location was smaller, but we thought it would be perfect for Gizmo's next step. We toured the location, spoke to the broker, submitted the pertinent paperwork, and were approved for a lease," Rosa said. "The lease was drafted and reviewed by both parties. We set a date for the lease signing, which would give us less than a week to vacate our current location and move in, a tight timeline but something we thought would work." 

The two will now move everything to a storage unit on Second Avenue and hunt for a suitable space to continue their business. 

Thursday is the last day here.
We previously reported that the rent at 160 First Ave. had increased to the point that Gizmo could no longer afford to stay here. 

Hossein also said it wasn't just rent; the landlord (Baumrind & Baumrind) wanted them out. They were not offered a new lease. 

In addition, after a recent leak, which caused damage to fabrics and sewing machines, they were not offered any assistance from the landlord.
When I asked Hossein what would become of the space after Gizmo leaves, he said, "I don't know, a smoke and vape shop?"

During our conversation, Rosa teared up several times about Gizmo, which they opened because she needed more room for her alterations business.
"For over 30 years, it has been an absolute joy operating our small business. This neighborhood welcomes Gizmo and our family with open arms," she said. "We have enjoyed every second of being part of the fabric of the Lower East Side. Above all, we want to thank the neighborhood and our patrons for an amazing tenure, and we hope to see you all again as we evolve to a new location."

While the merchandise will go into storage, Hossein plans to keep offering sewing machine repairs.

"Hossein has made house calls and will continue to do so," she said. "That will not change. Hossein will do his best to continue servicing the machines."
Rosa asked community members if they knew of any space in the neighborhood that might work for Gizmo, specifically: "A small storefront, with easy accessibility for differently-abled patrons. We would love to stay on the Lower East Side!" 

Contact info for them: (212) 477-2773 or email:

And here are some scenes from Gizmo during its closing days...   

On 5th Street, Etérea announces a March 30 closing date

Etérea, the vegan Mexican restaurant in Overthrow Hospitality's portfolio, will close at 511 E. Fifth St. between Avenue A and Avenue B at the end of March. 

In an Instagram post, Overthrow said the restaurant that opened in April 2021 "has not achieved the level of success we had hoped for." 

They also cited the death of Etérea Chef Victor Hernandez, who suffered a stroke on Dec. 26, as "a void that cannot be filled."


Starting March 4, Etérea will only be open for dinner, Wednesday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m. The last day is March 30. 

Overthrow will be unveiling a new concept for the space this summer.

Openings: YGF Malatang on 3rd Avenue; Conor's Goat on Avenue A

YGF Malatang has debuted at 92 Third Ave. between 12th Street and 13th Street.

Per the brand's Instagram account: "The restaurant specializes in malatang, a type of hotpot very popular in the streets of China, often confused with ramen. But make no mistake, malatang is a totally different concept."

The chain is said to have more than 6,000 outposts in China, Japan and Korea ... this is the first in NYC.

Signage out front explains how it works... and what you'll pay, roughly...
Hours: Daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Conor's Goat is now open at 23 Avenue A between Houston and Second Street. (First mentioned here.)

The Irish pub from Mike Droney, whose credits include the now-closed Gleason's Tavern on West 41st Street, serves various bar food, including a Cubano sandwich, tomato soup with grilled cheese, and French dip beef sliders. 

The hours are below...      
The last tenant in this space, Brooklyn Bean Roastery Cafe, closed in July 2021 after 15 months in business. And previously, we had Yerba Buena, which shut down at the end of 2017.

Conor's Goat image via Instagram