Thursday, February 8, 2024

Thursday's parting shot

EVG reader Ms. Wildflower share this photo from Fourth Street between Avenue B and Avenue C, noting: "Our block is notoriously disgusting. Looks like someone finally had enough!"

An evening of classical music at the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer

On Saturday (Feb. 10), the Most Holy Redeemer/Nativity Parish on Third Street hosts another evening of free music. 

Per the EVG inbox: 
Join us for a relaxing, family-friendly evening of classical cello, piano and vocal music at Most Holy Redeemer Church! 

Reverberant acoustics, a beautiful space, and your favorite masterworks by J.S. Bach, Claude Debussy, Gabriel Faure, Manuel De Falla, and more make for an unforgettable evening. 
The event, free and open to the public, starts at 7:30 p.m. at the church, 173 E. Third St. between Avenue A and Avenue B. Find more details here.

Exclusive: Lucy discusses the future of her iconic East Village bar

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

On Tuesday, I met with Ludwika "Lucy" Mickevicius at her namesake bar at 135 Avenue A. 

Lucy greeted me with a smile and a wave at the front door here between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street.

She contacted EVG to discuss what was happening with the bar (aka Blanche's Lucy's Tavern) she has owned since 1987. 

As we first reported on Monday, attorneys for the new landlord served her with a 30-day Notice of Termination with a demand to vacate the space by the end of the month. 

Her lease expired in May 2015, and she was on a month-to-month arrangement with the previous landlord.

She led me to a table where she had been reviewing some paperwork...
For starters, she showed me her new liquor license (it had expired in late November, on top of a DOH closure notice for not having a Food Protection Certificate for an employee).
The paperwork has been settled, but her future running the bar is anything but.

She told me that her previous rent was $8,000 per month, and the new landlord, as of late December (West Lake 135-139 Avenue A LLC), is asking for $25,000, though there might be some willingness to negotiate.

So what are the alternatives? Perhaps she would find a new location for the bar? Not likely, she said. 

Retirement? Maybe. She stressed, however, that she wasn't done here and would welcome a partner or investor. 

"Right now, I have no idea. How do I go on? I have no employees. I must find a bartender. You must teach them, and they must have a permit from the health department. Last time, they did not have a permit, and I got in trouble. Big trouble," she said.

Lucy said she would be ready for retirement if that's how it plays out at 135 Avenue A. But she only wants to continue on at this spot.

"I don't think about this now, a new location, because I'm not finished here," she said. "I would like to sell the business or have a reduced role, a partnership.

"I have paid the January and February rent, but I didn't open because I am afraid of the new rent ... we have alcohol, but maybe not enough, and I don't have money to buy the good alcohol, so people have different choices to drink," she continued. "I have beer — lots of Miller High Life — and regular alcohol, but not the good stuff."

After we talked for a while, Lucy let me look around the dark, quiet bar that hadn't seen a customer inside in three months... everything was as it had been through the 1990s and beyond...
Before making my way back into the dusk falling on Avenue A, Lucy talked about all her customers through the years.
"Here, drinking people come from everywhere. Canada, Australia, Argentina and Brazil. Albany and Chicago. Washington, Washington state, California ... and Texas," she said. "But most of all, people are from New York. The best people. You know, NYC — the best."
I left Lucy with her paperwork. I paused and turned around, wondering if this might be the last time I'd ever be inside the bar as we've known it all these years...

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

DA: Man who attacked Ray outside Ray's Candy Store sentenced to 10 years in prison

Photo by Stacie Joy

Luis Peroza, arrested and charged for the late-night assault of Ray Alvarez outside Ray's Candy Store on Avenue A on Jan. 31, 2023, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison this afternoon, Manhattan D.A. Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. announced. 

Peroza, 40, was also charged with two other attacks in the East Village on that night. This past Dec. 14, Peroza pleaded guilty in a New York State Supreme Court to three counts of Assault in the First Degree. 

Here's more from Bragg's office: 
According to court documents and statements made on the record, on January 31, 2023, at approximately 3 a.m., Peroza approached the 90-year-old owner of Ray's Candy Store, who was standing outside of the store on Avenue A. Peroza asked if the owner would purchase canned drinks from him, but the owner declined. As admitted in the defendant's guilty plea, Peroza then struck him in the head with a hard object, breaking his jaw, fracturing his facial bones and giving him a black eye. 

Approximately half an hour later, Peroza demanded money from a 33-year-old man as he left a deli on Avenue C. The man said he did not have money and, as admitted in his guilty plea, Peroza struck him in the face with a hard object, breaking his orbital bone and causing a severe laceration to his face. 

Several hours later, Peroza approached a 51-year-old man on Avenue B and, as admitted in his guilty plea, repeatedly struck the man in the head with a hard object, lacerating his face and head, knocking out a tooth, and fracturing his facial bones.

EVG was the first media outlet to report on the assault. The story later made headlines in the U.S. (via CNN) and the UK. 

Following his arrest on Feb. 4, 2023, Peroza was described as "a career criminal," with 10 prior arrests dating to 2001 for robberies, assaults, criminal mischief and petit larceny, according to The Daily Mail

The Daily News reported that Peroza served five years in prison after he was convicted of an assault in the Bronx in 2003. A source told the News that the suspect is "next-level crazy."

Police also arrested Peroza's alleged accomplice, 55-year-old Gerald Barth. As previously reported, Barth's erratic behavior earned him the nickname "Insanity Claus" in Tompkins Square Park after he donned a discarded SantaCon suit. He was charged with first-degree assault and two counts each of first-degree robbery and first-degree attempted robbery. 

According to the DA's office, Barth was found unfit to stand trial. Last August, Barth was transferred from the Department of Corrections to the custody of the New York State Office of Mental Health. His case will move forward if/when he is found fit, per the DA's office. 

With reporting by Stacie Joy
H/T Steven

Previously on EV Grieve:

The 9th Precinct's Sector D NCOs are hosting a Build the Block meeting tomorrow afternoon

The 9th Precinct is hosting a Sector Safety Summit tomorrow (Feb. 8) afternoon for East Village residents and business owners — this time for those who live in Sector D. 

This Sector encompasses the north side of Seventh Street to the south side of 14th Street from the west side of First Avenue to the east side of Broadway. (Find your sector here.) 

The meeting is tomorrow (Thursday) at 3 p.m. at the Regal Union Square on Broadway at 13th Street (The auditorium will not be showing a film, though you can stay and see "The Beekeeper" on your own dime.)

As for these Sector meetings: "This is an avenue for you to voice your grievances or concerns with issues in and around the neighborhood."

This is part of the NYPD's Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCO) initiative. The 9th Precinct is split into four sectors, with two officers assigned to each sector. Find a list of the 9th Precinct's NCOs here

Yuca Bar returns to service tonight after renovations

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy 

Yuca Bar is set to reopen this evening after a month-plus-long renovation on the NW corner of Avenue A and Seventh Street. 

The bar-restaurant serving Latin cuisine celebrated its 20th anniversary this past September, and ownership decided to renovate the space...going for, they said, a Miami-NYC-Tulum Caribbean feel.
The owners said they would freshen up the exterior in the spring ... as well as participate in the new outdoor dining program and create a structure that adheres to the just-released guidelines for the allotted April-November timeframe. 

Yuca Bar opens this evening at 5 for dinner (no daytime service yet). They will offer brunch this coming weekend, with the bar open for late-night service, and will have regular hours after all the renovations are completed. They plan to still work on parts of the space during the day. 

One last item: There had been some speculation about their lease and whether they would stay or if the landlord would raise the rent. Proprietors confirmed that they negotiated a new lease and plan to stick around for another 20 years (or more).

'Goodbye to the Brick and Mortar' at the Tompkins Square Library

The Tompkins Square Library branch currently features local illustrator Lily Annabelle's work in an exhibit titled "Goodbye to the Brick and Mortar," featuring an array of dearly departed storefronts. 

Here's more: 
When storefronts have become an integral part of a community’s identity, it is a curious journey exploring the dynamics between the way they were built to look and the way the community saw them, the way the owners wanted them to look, and the way they stay in our memories after their departure. 

Lily's "Goodbye to the Brick and Mortar" series is a celebration of the life and memories these neighborhood establishments generously gifted us. In illustrating memorabilia from different eras and piecing them back together, Lily skillfully tells a story that defies time, lets the old meet the new, and pays homage to the humans who have made a mark on the community. 
Featured storefronts include Odessa, CBGB, Mars Bar, and DeRobertis Pasticceria and Caffe. 

Annabelle's work will be featured through March 29. (She had a similar exhibit at the Hudson Park Library last year.) 

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. 

The library is at 331 E. 10th St. between Avenue A and Avenue B.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

RIP Merle Ratner

Photo from 2017 by James Maher for EVG 

Merle Ratner, a longtime East Village resident and passionate advocate, died last night. She was 67. 

Police identified Ratner as the victim in the collision on 10th Street and Avenue C. As previously reported, a commercial tow truck struck Ratner as she crossed the east side of 10th Street. A Fourth Street resident, she was said to be going to a friend's house for dinner.

ABC 7 reported that the Collision Investigation Squad questioned the driver and conducted a field sobriety test. He has reportedly not been charged while the investigation continues. 

Ratner grew up in the Bronx and lived in the East Village starting in the 1980s. She was a co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign. She also worked as a labor rights organizer at the International Commission for Labor Rights ... and served on the board at the Laundry Workers Center, which organizes low-wage immigrant laundry and food service workers. 

Here's more from Ratner in an EVG interview with James Maher in 2017: 
My family has a history — my grandmother, when she came from Odessa, was the first woman business agent at the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, and my mother was a member of Local 1707 Day Care Workers. I have a picture in my house of my grandmother; it must have been in the 1920s, with a long skirt with a bustle, the very traditional thing that women wore, holding a picket sign with her friend that said, 'Don’t be a scab.'" 
Ngô Thanh Nhàn talked with The Village Sun about his wife of 40 years. 

"She loved life and was always thinking about ways to build a society that supports people, not profit," he said.

The long-empty 6 Avenue B set to begin a new residential era as The B

Photo Sunday by Stacie Joy 

The long-vacant building on the NW corner of Avenue B and Houston Street is set to welcome its first residents in many years. 

As previously reported, workers have been gutting and upgrading the spaces here in recent months. And, per a Streeteasy listing, the all-new 294 Houston St. (FKA 6 Avenue B) will be ready for occupancy at the end of the month. 

Here's more about the building now branded as The B: 
The B ... is equipped with a virtual doorman and package room for your safety and convenience. This gut-renovated apartment building features engineered hardwood floors and marble tiling, an in-unit washer/dryer, central heating/AC, and brand-new stainless-steel appliances. Select apartments are available with private terraces overlooking E. Houston. 
Two units are currently available: two bedrooms for $4,850; and three bedrooms for $6,295. 

Here's a video tour of the three-bedroom apartment...


And as noted last month, G's Cheesesteaks will be the first retail tenant in the storefront in 15 years.

Jolene set to close soon on Great Jones

ICYMI: Jolene, the bistro-cafe at 54 Great Jones St. between the Bowery and Lafayette, will close soon.

Gabriel Stulman, founder of the West Village-based restaurant group Happy Cooking Hospitality, made the announcement last week. 

Per the media alert that we received:
I'm writing to break the news that Jolene will be closing soon. We have had to write a letter like this before, and it never gets easier — but the experience has only strengthened my belief that we learn as much from our experiences that don't succeed as the ones that do. 

We didn't go looking for the restaurant that is Jolene, it found us. My kids went to school with the grandchild of the building owner. Over drop-off one day, a connection was made that unlocked the doors. We loved the tiny space and the block with its proud fire station... 

... we're leaving with our heads held high and we hope that all the good mojo will make the next keyholders of 54 Great Jones a storied success. 
Stulman started here with The Jones, an all-day cafe that opened in August 2019... changing concepts to Jolene, named after the Dolly Parton song, in May 2021.

The closing had been rumored since an application landed on the Community Board 2 website (PDF here) last month for a new concept via Eric Kruvant and Darin Rubell, who operate Mister Paradise on First Avenue between Sixth Street and Seventh Street.

Before The Jones, No. 54 was home to the Great Jones Cafe, which never reopened after Jim Moffett, the longtime owner, died in July 2018 at age 59. The Cafe, a popular yet low-key spot, first arrived in 1983.

Report: East Village home with the Cape Cod-style cottage on its rooftop is in contract, dammit

Image via DroneHub Media 

Halt the fundraisers. 

The penthouse unit at 72 E. First St. — aka The Minthorne House — at First Avenue with the Cape Cod-style cottage on its rooftop is in contract after a mere two weeks on the market.

Jennifer Gould at the Post reports the price is close to $10 million (it had a $9.75 million ask).

Per Gould: "The sources add that the forthcoming owners are a local family."

That narrows it down!

One of the most unique East Village homes sold in the summer of 2017 for $3.5 million. Until then, Gale Barrett Shrady was reportedly the owner. The cottage addition was the handiwork of her late husband, artist Henry Merwin Shrady III. She called the charming cottage a "magical little spot" that served as her son's bedroom through college.

A pop-up no more, Apollo Bagels opening first outpost in the East Village on 10th Street

Photo yesterday by Steven

Pop-up hit Apollo Bagels will open its first outpost at 242 E. 10th St., just west of First Avenue. 

According to Grub Street's Chris Crowley, who first reported on the EV location, Joey Scalabrino and his business partner Mike Fadem first started making and selling bagels from their Williamsburg pizzeria, Leo, in 2020... before launching Apollo Bagels as a pop-up at Fanelli's in 2022. The two later hosted a series of bagel pop-ups in several cities, including Paris and Montreal. 

Here's more about the bagels and the new space via Grub Street:
The bagels are crispy and chewy on the outside, baked to a shade of deep brown, with little blackened patches. And, as one recent fan put it, they've got "a good fluff-to-crunch ration." Made of sourdough, they're less dense than they look, bubbly on the outside with an airy interior. 

The 800-square-foot storefront is divided by a long counter for ordering. Seating is outside only, and the menu will remain tight: Sandwiches included smoked salmon with capers, red onion, and dill; whitefish salad; and a summertime tomato with olive oil. (Bagels will also be sold by the half-dozen and dozen, straight from the oven, with the standard spreads like cream cheese available, as well.) 
Apollo had been teasing an East Village debut since late December...


Apollo will have some competition with Black Seed Bagels not too far away on First Avenue between 10th Street and 11th Street... and the two outposts of Tompkins Square Bagels are close enough.

No. 242 was most recently home to Pink's Cantina.

Monday, February 5, 2024

[Updated]: Woman killed by tow truck on 10th Street and Avenue C

Photo by Dave on 7th

Updated: Police identified the woman as longtime East Village resident Merle Ratner.

A tow truck struck and killed a 67-year-old woman carrying a bag of groceries and crossing 10th Street at Avenue C early this evening, according to police and media reports. 

The collision occurred around 7 p.m. on the east side of the intersection as the woman crossed 10th Street.

ABC 7 said that the truck driver from an automotive shop — making a left from the southbound lane of C — remained on the scene. 

The Collision Investigation Squad questioned the driver and conducted a field sobriety test. He has reportedly not been charged while the investigation continues.


As seen on Sixth Street near at Avenue C... And thnaks to our friends at the DeColores Community Yard on Eighth Street between B and C for the photo.

New landlord serves Lucy's with a termination notice on Avenue A

Lucy's is another step closer to a permanent closure at 135 Avenue A.

This past week, someone affixed a 30-day Notice of Termination to the front door (thanks to Lola Sáenz for the photos below).

According to the documents, the new landlord (West Lake 135-139 Avenue A LLC) is terminating the bar's lease effective Feb. 29...
As we previously reported, owner Ludwika "Lucy" Mickevicius' lease expired in May 2015, and she was on a month-to-month arrangement with the previous landlord. (The buildings were recently sold for $19.1 million.)

Lucy must "quit, vacate and surrender" the space between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street or face court action by the end of the month.

The bar (aka Blanche's Lucy's Tavern) has not been open since November when some paperwork issues forced what was to be a temporary closure.

It's still possible Lucy could decide to find a new location for the bar. Plenty of people would support and applaud that.

And for those who've asked, the legal document states the lease started at the address in December 1987.

City unveils the final rules for the permanent outdoor dining program

Workers remove the curbside dining structure from Phebe's on Jan. 27 

The final rules for the city's permanent outdoor dining program, set to launch next month, are now in the books. 

On Friday, city officials released the new guidelines, titled "Dining Out NYC." The significant change: Enclosed, year-round roadway dining structures will no longer be 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. 

According to city officials, if restaurants plan to offer diners open-air options, owners will have to remove their old outdoor dining setups and replace them by the summer. 

Per the city's release announcing "Dining Out NYC" ...
Final program rules include clear design requirements, siting criteria on where outdoor dining setups can be located in relation to other street features, like subway entrances, fire hydrants, and more, and the types of materials that can be used in outdoor setups. They also require that the setups preserve clear sidewalk paths and emergency roadway lanes — including water-filled, rat-resistant protective barriers for roadway setups —– and use easily moveable furniture and coverings. Ultimately, the final rules will create a lighter-weight outdoor dining experience with lines of sight, as compared to the fully enclosed shacks of the temporary COVID-19-era program. 
"This administration has found a way to continue outdoor dining in New York City while prioritizing cleanliness,' said New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch. "Under these rules, New Yorkers will be asking for a table, and the rats will be saying, 'Check, please!'"

 This link has guidelines for roadway and sidewalk dining.

Meanwhile, Kazuka at 107 Avenue A has brought the booths outside for some open-air hookah action here near Seventh Street... 

Untitled building now with more Untitled

A surprising number of readers pointed out the new Untitled signage on the three residential entrances of the recently branded building at 58-72 Avenue A between Fourth Street and Fifth Street.

The block letters arrived Friday on the newish awnings on the A, Fourth and Fifth Street sides...
The two-floor high "Untitled" sign arrived on the SE corner of Avenue A and Fifth Street back in the fall, setting off some speculation over the name. (Some people thought it had something to do with the bookstore Mast, the tenant in the corner space. It did not.)

Derby Copeland Capital bought the 6-story building for $64 million in the fall of 2022. The building is entering its second year of gut renovations, which has seen the conversion from prewar 1- and 2-bedroom units to 3-4-bedroom apartments with asking rents as high as $10,000 per month

The building's previous market-rate tenants were not offered lease renewals (with a 90-day notice), and now only a handful of rent-controlled and stabilized tenants are still in residence. (Read more about the situation via this Hellgate piece.) 

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Week in Grieview

Posts this past week included (with a photo yesterday from Tompkins Square Park by Stacie Joy)...

• East Village Loves NYC seeks a new commercial kitchen to help feed NYC’s food insecure (Tuesday

• Amid an influx of asylum seekers in the East Village, elected officials urge the city to open more reticketing centers (Monday

• Report explores the impact of Mount Sinai Beth Israel's potential closure on the local community (Wednesday

• On the Job: Talking with playwright Max Wolf Friedlich at the Connelly Theater (Thursday

• Ongoing building issues force Caffe Corretto to close after only 2 months in service on 12th Street (Tuesday)

• Happy 25th anniversary to Lavagna! (Thursday

• Everytable has closed its Avenue B outpost (and every other NYC location) (Wednesday

• Music venue wanted for former Rockwood Music Hall 2 space on the Lower East Side (Friday

• That penthouse with a cottage atop 1st Street and 1st Avenue is ... back... on... the... market! (Wednesday

• The piebald squirrel of Tompkins Square Park (Sunday

• Report: Kushner Cos. continues East Village exit plan (Friday

• More about the new taqueria opening in the former Chicken & the Egg space (Monday

• Today in vibrating severed hands (Sunday

• Dunkin' shutters on Cooper Square (Monday

• Looking at the Astor Place CVS renovation plans (Friday

• Yuca Bar remains closed for renovations (Monday)

... and keep your eyes open...    
Follow EVG on Instagram or X for more frequent updates and pics.

These East Village tenants held a dance party to call out their landlord's sewage treatment

This past Tuesday, East Village residents and their supporters gathered outside 256 E. 10th St. between Avenue A and First Avenue to call on their landlord for safe building conditions. 

The newly formed EV Scharfman Coalition, along with the Cooper Square Committee, was behind this "Scharfman, Cut The Sh*t!" Dance Party. NYC Comptroller Brad Lander and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein also spoke on behalf of the tenants.

Some background, per Cooper Square officials: 
Tenants of landlord Mark Scharfman are calling on their landlord to meet with them as they've requested, stop taking tenants to court for legally withholding rent during sewage flooding, treat them respectfully, and provide safe, sanitary living conditions. 

After three rounds of sewage flooding in one East Village building and similar issues in another building, several responses from the fire department, and requests for repairs and maintenance unanswered or seriously delayed, tenants have banded together to bring attention to the terrible conditions they've lived through as well as their experiences with their landlord and management company as some now face housing court because they legally withheld rent for unlivable conditions. 

Mark Scharfman, the owner of the buildings and a landlord associated with close to 150 buildings in NYC, many of which are managed under his Beach Lane Property Management Company, has been accused of tax fraud by multiple organizations, serious maltreatment of tenants, and more for years. In addition, Scharfman has been on the Public Advocate's Worst Landlord List, coming in at number 44 in 2021 and number 28 in 2020.
"The conditions that these tenants have suffered through, including fecal matter entering into their apartments, is beyond the pale," said Cooper Square Committee organizer Illapa Sairitupac. "Scharfman has an obligation to listen to his tenants and keep his buildings in good repair at the very minimum. We demand he take them seriously."

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Saturday's parting shot

Photo by Stacie Joy 

Zines for sale outside Tompkins Square Park today by Jasper Krents... find 'em online here.