Friday, May 31, 2024

The 'Shadow' returns


It's The Damned from 1985 with "Shadow Of Love." 

And tonight, the Hammerstein Ballroom hosts The Damned's Black Strawberry Ball, which reunites the UK band's iconic 1980s lineup for the first time since 1989. 

Previously on EV Grieve

6 posts from May

A mini month in review... with a photo in Tompkins Square Park by Derek Berg 

 • These East Village residents are still cooking up a unique book of recipes (May 20

• After a fire upstairs, a gutted TabeTomo hopes to reopen on Avenue A in August (May 17

• Don Juan's Barber Shop closing after 25 Years following rent hike (May 13

• Coming together in Tompkins Square Park to remember Al 'Hammerbrain' Landess (May 12

• Bella McFadden's iGirl storefront opens Saturday on 3rd Street (May 9

• When a Dodge Charger drove down the sidewalk on 2nd Street during a high-speed chase (May 4)

St. George Church reopens a refurbished Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen on 7th Street

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen reopens this morning in the basement space it has used for the past 50 years at 33 E. Seventh St. between Second Avenue and Cooper Square. 

The kitchen, which serves as a fundraising arm of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church on the block, will now be run by a new team of parish volunteers. The space will continue to offer a variety of traditional Ukrainian cuisine as well as coffee and tea.
Yesterday, I met with Rev. Father Johan Lubiv, OSBM, the administrator of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church for the past four years, to discuss Streecha and what has transpired here recently.

Last week, Dima Kovalenko, who the church hired to be its chef and run the kitchen nine years ago, announced on Instagram that Streecha had closed and that the "property owner" had other plans for the basement space. (Kovalenko, meanwhile, found a backer and will be opening a pop-up space under a new name nearby offering a similar fare.) 

Father Johan explained some of the misunderstandings. "I said to Dima to say, 'I am not working at Streecha, but Streecha continues to function.' This is misleading information that Streecha is closed," Father Johan said. "The name belongs to the parish and the community. Streecha means 'people's meeting place.'" 

He said St. George hired Kovalenko to run Streecha, though he claims he had "turned it into a private business, and that is not what this space is for."

Father Johan talked about his time in the East Village, where he made some changes to St. George Academy, also known as St. George's Ukrainian Catholic School. He also said he is especially interested in helping people from Ukraine who have psychological issues stemming from PTSD from the Russian invasion. 

As for Streecha, he said he wanted to refurbish the community spot on Seventh Street. 

"We received many propositions about how to renovate. We needed renovations," he said. "Last year, I started cleaning, and I have been thinking about these changes for more than a year. I am happy to see the space clean." 

The newly reopened Streecha will be run by three volunteers — women parishioners from the church. It will feature the same menu items and prices, with funds going to St. George.

Father Johan and Deacon Methodius Soroka provided a tour of Streecha yesterday. 

"It took 20 volunteers three days to clean the space," Father Johan said. There are new lights, paint, and equipment with newly arranged tables and chairs.

Streecha will be open Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

As in the past 50 years in the East Village, Father Johan said, "We welcome all people."
You can follow Streecha on Instagram here ... or Facebook here.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Thursday's parting shot

Photo of tonight's sunset overlooking Tompkins Square Park courtesy Cecil Scheib...

Block Association asking for removal of the 32-foot tall 5G tower at 129 Avenue C

Photo from April 27

The Avenue C Block Association is urging the city to remove the 32-foot tall 5G tower that arrived in late April at 129 Avenue C between Eighth Street and Ninth Street. 

According to the group's recently launched petition
This tower is unnecessarily large and obtrusive and presents a jarring contrast with the low-rise tenement streetscape of the neighborhood. Avenue C has a narrow sidewalk, which is already crowded with pedestrian traffic, strollers, wheelchairs, trash cans, and numerous sidewalk cafes. The tower was installed only twelve feet away from the residential apartment building directly behind it, and negatively impacts the view of the street, and the historic urban landscape of the East Village. There has to be a better way to deliver technology in Manhattan that is less brutal in design. 
The group also points out the "potential adverse or long-term health effects of living or working in close proximity to these towers." 

Find the petition to city officials here

As amNY reported in 2022: 
The new structures are operated as a public-private partnership by consortium CityBridge, and are a revamp of the old 10-foot kiosks the firm set up under former Mayor Bill de Blasio starting in 2015 with free Wi-Fi, USB charging ports, a tablet, a 911 button, and calling capabilities. 
The first 32-foot tower arrived in the East Village in August 2022 on Second Avenue at First Street ... then another on Avenue A at 12th Street. One was in the works for outside 184 E. Seventh St. at Avenue B, though there has been opposition to this one. 

There has been political opposition to the 5G towers... read more about the advocacy that Village Preservation is doing here.

The East Village, full of bars, gets an anti bar

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy

Don't expect to find a list of mocktails at Kosmic Community Anti Bar, now in soft-open mode at 115 Avenue C between Seventh Street and Eighth Street.

Owner and East Village resident James Lockwood (below middle with business partners Tyler Garrett and Apostolos Filippas) said they are "not big on mocktails," instead opting for a full coffee bar with drink specials including Italian sodas, hibiscus vanilla teas, yerba mate, fruit presses and juice options.
We spotted the Kosmic Community sign going up last Friday, and Lockwood gave us a tour of the space (the former Mug & Cup). It includes a retro sitting area complete with a phone booth and back garden...
In the future, Lockwood plans to offer some live music ... and possibly a food menu.

But first things first: The official grand opening is coming in about a month. 

For now, the daily hours are 10 a.m. to midnight, possibly later on weekends "if people want to stay." 

Dear Rufino has apparently moved on from 2nd Avenue

Dear Rufino has closed after several months of operating in the front retail section of 221 Second Ave. between 13th Street and 14th Street.

The space has been empty for the past two weeks... and mentions of the EV location have been scrubbed from the taqueria's Instagram account. Meanwhile, the quick-serve restaurant opened a new outpost at the Worldwide Plaza on West 50th Street.

Dear Rufino, a venture from the same owners as Zona Rosa located on Lorimer Street and Metropolitan Avenue, made its debut in the EV earlier this year, taking over the food operation from Chicken & the Egg.

Sincerely, Ophelia, the speakeasy in the back of the address remains in operation. 

IHOP lops off its sidewalk dining shed

IHOP's blue plywood sidewalk shed is dead. Long live IHOP's blue plywood sidewalk shed! 

Pinch notes that the pancakery removed its pandemic-era sidewalk setup on 14th Street between Second Avenue and Third Avenue this past week.

The outdoor space evolved over time, starting with plastic sheets before the plywood-painted IHOP blue arrived ... looking festive during the December 2023 holidays below...
As previously reported, restaurants can now apply to participate in NYC's new outdoor dining program.

Key dates, per the city

• Aug. 3: Deadline for food service establishments with existing temporary outdoor dining setups to apply to continue operating until NYC DOT approves the application. 
• Nov. 1: A temporary program outdoor dining setup that applied before Aug. 3 must comply with the new Dining Out NYC design requirements by the earlier of (i) 30 days after NYC DOT approves the Dining Out NYC application or (ii) Nov. 1. 

We're still hearing from people who are confused by all this and wondering when the existing structures will need to come down. 

Under the new DOT-enforced regulations, enclosed, year-round roadway dining structures are no longer permitted. The revised regulations stipulate that roadway cafes must now be open-air, easily portable, and simple to assemble and dismantle. Additionally, these establishments are restricted to operating only from April through November.

Openings: Sunday Dreamin on 2nd Avenue

Photos by Stacie Joy

Sunday Dreamin opened its doors at 80 Second Ave. back on May 16.

The cafe between Fourth Street and Fifth Street offers a variety of burgers and pasta dishes. It also serves coffee and tea and has a beer-wine license. 

EVG reader Danimal shared this assessment: "Had dinner here with the missus, and it was delicious. Got a burger and a pasta dish, and both were great. It's pretty much a bistro/cafe with reasonable prices. Casual vibe, could do without the neon signs but great otherwise. Something the block really needed!"

It is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner until 10 p.m. It is also Open for weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

If you're on Instagram, you can find their account here. The website is at this link.
No. 80 was recently Cacio e Vino, which went dark in late November.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Wednesday's parting shot

Photo today by Derek Berg 

On Second Avenue at Fifth Street this morning... from the naked eye and based on the trajectory, it appears the unseen rep for the private garbage hauler got the optimum angle of trash bag release between 41 and 43 degrees.

A Williamsburg view of Manhattanhenge

William Klayer shared this photo of Manhattanhenge from last night... looking at 14th Street from Williamsburg. 

As a reminder: The Full Sun on the Grid occurs tonight at 8:12. 

Fear not, though — photo ops will return along the grid on July 11-12. Details here.

Café Maud is the name of the new establishment in the former Dallas BBQ space

Photo by Jose Garcia 

In breaking signage news, workers were spotted putting up the letters outline this afternoon for Café Maud on the NE corner of Second Avenue and St. Mark's Place. 

Readers and residents have been curious about the name of hospitality vet Curt Huegel's new concept at 132 Second Ave. amid the renovations over the last year-plus. (His portfolio includes concepts such as Bill's Townhouse, Campagnola, Printers Alley, and, closer to home, Jackdaw on Second Avenue at 13th Street.) 

Café Maud's placeholder Instagram account refers to the place as a "neighborhood cafe & bar." 

Huegel appeared before Community Board 3 in June 2022 and received approval for the concept. (He didn't respond to our previous request for comment about what's in store for this space.) 

Dallas BBQ closed in December 2022 after anchoring the corner since the mid-1980s. Staff said the building's landlord would not renew the chainlet's lease.

No word about an opening for the café-bar.

Mount Sinai submits updated plan to close Beth Israel on July 12

According to published reports, Mount Sinai sent the New York State Department of Health a new plan to close Beth Israel, sticking to the previous timeline to shutter the 799-bed teaching hospital on First Avenue at 16th Street on July 12. 

Mount Sinai Health System CEO Brendan Carr said, per a letter dated May 17, that the health system will open an urgent care center at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary compound (also once on the chopping block) on 14th Street and Second Avenue to lessen the impact of the closure, as Politico reported

The facility would provide a broader range of services, including x-rays, ultrasounds, and CT scans, than a typical urgent care center, like the two on 14th Street at or near Third Avenue.

"In looking at the current patients using the 16th Street emergency department, I believe that this expanded urgent care will address many of the concerns and needs of current patients," Carr wrote in the letter.

The latest plan also promises to help Bellevue Medical Center expand its existing emergency department to absorb and care for at least some of the patients displaced by a Beth Israel shutdown.

In December, the Department of Health ordered Mount Sinai to immediately stop the Beth Israel closure.

Despite the updated closing plan, 16 local elected officials voiced their opposition in a signed joint letter released yesterday...
"Our offices have received notice that the Mount Sinai Health System has resubmitted their application to close Beth Israel Hospital on July 12 of this year. This elimination of services on a hasty timeline without adequate community engagement remains unacceptable, and we urge the Department of Health to return this application. Mount Sinai must engage in a robust and collaborative process to fulfill its obligations to the community in ensuring access to high-quality health care is protected in lower Manhattan." 
The Save Beth Israel and New York Eye & Ear Campaign also has concerns about the revised plan. Their letter can be found here.

The Times recently reported that patient care is suffering at Beth Israel, where cuts have meant the hospital can't care for critically ill new arrivals. 

Mount Sinai officials say Beth Israel lost $1 billion in the last decade, and only $29 million remains in cash reserves.

Beth Israel was founded 143 years ago on the Lower East Side, moving to its current location in 1929.

Hit play 'Job' heads from the East Village's Connelly Theater to Broadway

"Job," Max Wolf Friedlich's 80-minute psychological thriller, enjoyed an extended run at The Connelly Theater earlier this year. 

Word came yesterday that "Job" is transferring to Broadway for 10 weeks at the Hayes Theater on West 44th Street starting on July 15. (Find ticket info here.) 

Peter Friedman and Sydney Lemmon will reprise their roles in the two-character play that concerns a crisis therapist and a big tech company employee in Silicon Valley, one who has been placed on leave after becoming the subject of a viral workplace video. 

It was great fun to see this in the East Village ... and a production that promises to prompt some post-play discussion. 

This is also the first play to jump from the Connelly Theater to Broadway in its long history.

Previously on EV Grieve:

TImes Square-friendly business is now up and running on Union Square

NYC Convenience Gifts, a Times Square-friendly business, is now open on the SE corner of 14th Street and Fourth Avenue. (First mentioned here.)

Step into NYC Convenience Gifts and discover a treasure trove of NYC-licensed products, each a unique piece of the city's charm. They have everything from mini license plates to magnetic bookmarks, mugs to hats. And that's not all — the place also offers a range of vaping products and ice cream and luggage...

... and that's just what we saw from the windows. 

Speaking of windows, the army of handless "Children of the Corn"-ish mannequins give us the creeps...
The last tenant, the oddly configured Walgreens, closed here in February 2022

It's a vast space, and we wondered what might eventually move in... the Walgreens was renovated and expanded into the space above the quick-serve restaurants on Fourth Avenue back in 2010... (this far-flung layout is what we meant by "oddly configured.") 

Previously on EV Grieve:

Soft openings: Sip + Co. on 9th Street

An outpost of Sip + Co. has debuted at 433 E. Ninth St. between Avenue A and First Avenue. Monday marked the first day of the soft opening.

This is the cafe's second location; the first opened on West 58th Street in 2021. 

The cafe serves various sandwiches, pastries and coffee drinks. 

Founder Chin Keung Mong also operates Hard to Explain, the sake and wine bar on 10th Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue. 

The owners plan for a grand opening on Saturday. Details here.

No word on hours just yet.

No. 433 was most recently housed Westville Bakery (Superiority Burger later used the space as an auxiliary prep area.)

Thanks to Steven for the photo!

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tuesday's parting shot

Photo by Deborah Kadetsky 

First Manhattanhenge op of 2024... this was the Half Sun on the Grid Edition from 14th Street in Union Square.

The Full Sun on the Grid occurs tomorrow at 8:12 p.m., weather permitting. 

More background here.

Budding 9th Street sinkhole is now Citizen app famous

Photo by Steven 

The in-progress sinkhole outside 315-317 E. Ninth St. between First Avenue and Second is gaining some notoriety, garnering a coveted mention on the Citizen app today ... joining the ranks of the true bold-face names...

May 28

The rainy Memorial Day must have prompted some spring cleaning... above, someone hastily tried to hide the evidence of a Christmas tree, stripping its branches and stuffing the remains into a box on 13th Street between First Avenue and Second Avenue. (Thanks for the pic, Liberation!

Meanwhile, someone attempted to dock this discarded (and surprisingly fresh) tree on the NE corner of Sixth Street and Second Avenue (thanks to the reader for this tip!)...

[Updated] Former chef of Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen returning to a new East Village space as a pop up

Photo of Dima Kovalenko from 2018 
Reporting by Stacie Joy 

Updated 5/31: Streecha reopens today under new management. In this postRev. Father Johan Lubiv, the administrator of St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church for the past four years, discusses what has transpired here recently.

The post below was updated to reflect new information received from St. George.


Dima Kovalenko, the former chef of Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen, plans to open a pop-up concept in the East Village.

Last week, Kovalenko, who has been there for nine years, learned that the nearby St. George Ukrainian Church, which Stretcha supported in its decades-long existence, had other plans for the basement space. (Public records list the Order of St. Basil the Great, Inc. as the property owner, though the church is the landlord.) 

While the church's announcement surprised Kovalenko, several potential investors came forward to help him after the news broke last week. 

Kovalenko, who said he is leaving on favorable terms, told us that visitors to the pop-up will enjoy the same menu featuring "good quality and affordable food using all my recipes." He said he'd announce the new location soon.

Kovalenko said his new space will contribute funds to Ukrainian organizations to help with the ongoing war relief efforts.

In addition, several church members who volunteered to help make the vareniki (Ukrainian dumplings) will continue working with Kovalenko in the new space.

"The vareniki team is the reason I'm doing this," he said in a phone call on Sunday. 

After a brief renovation, St. George will continue to use the space at 33 E. Seventh St. between Second Avenue and Cooper Square as Streecha Ukrainian Kitchen, which open Fridays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Aside from the Streecha pop-up, Kovalenko hopes to open a restaurant in the neighborhood.

Previously on EV Grieve

Closings: Yakiniku West on 9th Street

Yakiniku West, a restaurant specializing in cook-it-yourself Japanese BBQ, has closed at 218 E. Ninth St. between Second Avenue and Third Avenue. (Thank you to EVG reader jba for the photo and tip.) 

Management did not offer a reason for the closure and thanked patrons for their loyal support through the years. 

The longtime business reopened in November 2020 — two-plus years after a devastating fire at the address. Fire officials reportedly deemed the blaze an accident due to wiring on the ceiling of the first level. 

The closure coincides with the building arriving on the sales market earlier this month with a $7.85 million ask. No. 218 includes two apartments upstairs.

Reaching the top at the all-new 12-story building at 280 E. Houston St.

Top photo by Stacie Joy

Workers have reached the top at 280 E. Houston St., the 12-story mixed-used building that bulked up quickly between Avenue A and Avenue B. 

EVG reader Jim Knapp shared the photo below last week showing the newly arrived American flags atop the structure...
As noted, 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.

Jim also shared this photo showing the property in the late 1980s before Red Square arrived at 250 E. Houston St.
The parcel previously housed a single-level strip of storefronts that several years ago either relocated closer to the residential building at No. 250 E. Houston St. (Kapri Cleaners and the FedEx Office Print & Ship Center) or closed (Dunkin'/Baskin-Robbins, Subway, Mattress Firm and China Town).

The elongated trapezoidal lot housed a gas station until about 1987. This post from 2016 includes a photo of it.

Prep work (plywood, pedestrian barriers, etc.) started in February 2023. According to the rendering, the completion date is now February 2025.

Monday, May 27, 2024

At the annual Loisaida Festival

Photos by Stacie Joy 

Yesterday, the 37th edition of the Loisaida Festival unfolded under sunny blue skies, as attendees celebrated the rich heritage of the Lower East Side during this annual Memorial Day weekend event. 

This year's theme was "A Cultural Mosaic." 

Here are a few scenes from along Avenue C/Loisaida Avenue, where festival-goers enjoyed live music (we saw Pinc Louds!), theater, food, a dancing F train and much more...