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Chinatown

From Bowery Boogie:

Breaking: ‘Cup & Saucer’ Ending Service on Monday After Decades on Canal Street

Posted on: July 12th, 2017 at 12:39 pm by

Say goodbye to that classic 1940s Coca-Cola sign at the corner of Eldridge and Canal Streets. Word on the block is that the fabled luncheonette, Cup & Saucer, is hanging it up. It’s closing shop after decades serving the neighborhood, thanks to a steep rent hike.

And there’s no time for you to process this information, either, as the last day of business is Monday.

Every few years, rumors surface detailing a demise that was continuously eluded. Especially after the building reportedly sold several years ago, creating much uncertainty whether the business would actually survive. Co-owner John Vasilopoulos told Metro in 2015 that he hoped the new owner would maintain the 5-year lease arrangement of the predecessor to keep afloat. Then there was the recent upstairs fire back in January, which no doubt threatened the operation. This time, however, it appears the talk is true. A tipster who frequents the establishment daily was informed by staff of the closure. Apparently, they started telling all the regular customers today.

We don’t really know what to say. The Cup & Saucer is a no-frills Lower East Side treasure that serves all strata of the community. “Giving the people of New York quality food, fast delivery, and great customer service,” as its website prominently touts. On any given morning, you find construction workers, commuters, travelers, and locals mingling at the countertop.

It’s been under the same ownership for nearly thirty years. Partners Nick Castanos (also a cook) and John Vasilopoulos took over the business in 1988, yet local lore suggests the corner kitchen dates back some 77 years. The duo also owns a diner in Ridgewood, Queens.

Our tipster surmises that the luncheonette also fell victim to the effects of failed development (i.e. the Canal Tower) and the encroaching Chinatown Bus situation that’s multiplying along Canal Street between Forsyth and Allen.


Visual Documentation of the distinguishing interior features of the now-bygone The Cup & Saucer Luncheonette (from Untapped Cities.com)

Iconic NYC Diner “The Cup & Saucer” Closing Down After Nearly 70 Years

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This business is now bygone, and 3rd generation owner Paul Eng gave it its eulogy via the vanishing New York blog…

From Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York:

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fong Inn Too

 VANISHING

Fong Inn Too is the oldest family-run tofu shop in New York City and, quite possibly, in the United States. Founded on Mott Street in Chinatown in 1933, it closes forever tomorrow–Sunday, January 15.

Paul Eng

Third-generation co-owner Paul Eng showed me around the place. Upstairs, a massive noodle-making machine churns out white sheets of rice noodle, sometimes speckled with shrimp and scallion. Downstairs, a kitchen runs several hours a day with steaming woks and vats of tofu and rice cake batter, including a fragrantly fermenting heirloom blend of living legacy stock that dates back decades.

Eng’s family came to New York from Guangzhou in the Guangdong province of China (by way of Cuba), like many of Chinatown’s earliest immigrants. His grandfather, Geu Yee Eng, started the business, catering mainly to the neighborhood’s restaurants. His father, Wun Hong, and later his mother, Kim Young, took over after World War II and kept it going, branching out from tofu to many other items, including soybean custard, rice noodle, and rice cake.


Brown rice cake waiting to be cut

The rice cake is the shop’s specialty. It has nothing to do with the puffed rice cakes you eat when you’re on a diet. This cake is fermented, gelatinous, sweet, and sticky like a honeycomb. It comes in traditional white as well as brown, a molasses creation of Geu Yee Eng, and it is an important food item for the community.

A few times each year, the people of Chinatown line up down the block for rice cake to bring to the cemeteries, leaving it as an offering to their departed relatives.

“It’s a madhouse,” says Paul. “They come early to beat the traffic and fight each other for the rice cake.” No one else makes it–Fong Inn Too supplies it to all the neighborhood bakeries. “Once we’re gone, it’s gone.” Customers have been asking Paul where they will get their rice cake for the next cemetery visit. “I tell them I don’t know.”


Cutting the white rice cake

The Engs have sold their building and Fong Inn Too goes with it. Business has been hard, though Paul’s brothers, Monty and David, have done their best. Their father passed away earlier this year. Their eldest brother, Kivin, “the heart of the place,” also passed. Their mother tried to keep it going, but “her legs gave out,” and she had to stop. The closing, Paul says, has been hardest on her. “This place is like a child to her.”

Paul is the youngest of his siblings and, while he worked in the store as a kid, he doesn’t know the business anymore. Like many grandchildren of immigrants, his life is elsewhere. As for the fourth generation, there’s no one available to take over.


Paul Eng

“I’m in mourning,” Paul told me–for the shop, for family, and for his childhood home.

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from Bowery Boogie:

Posted on: October 26th, 2016 at 5:00 am by

chinese-tuxedo-historic

Suit up for more nightlife on Doyers.

The photo above seems the likely inspiration behind the forthcoming nightclub of same on Doyers Street. Chinese Tuxedo was as advertised, a tuxedo shop across the street from the imposter. Note the Third Avenue El off to the side, casting shadows onto the corner of Doyers and the Bowery. (There’s a Chase bank branch there today.)

The return of the moniker is a bit more controversial. A defanged Chinese Tuxedo bar-restaurant is pegged for a nebulous November debut at 5 Doyers Street. And there is a teaser website.

tuxedo3

You’ll recall that the Chinatown community is none too pleased with this newest nightlife entrant. And with good reason. Lack of trust. Buckingham and Lam tried to get one over the neighborhood in April 2015 by going directly to the State Liquor Authority for beer-wine without informing Community Board 3. This after the advisory body had already denied full liquor outright. (The strategy being that full OP could follow after getting the gateway license.) However, CB3 would ultimately approve the slimmed-down version of same; the binding stipulations reportedly call for no upgrade to liquor for 18 months.

tuxedo2

It’s worth mentioning that there were also rumors back in January that ownership was looking to sell the business altogether. Gives you an idea of the potential stability.

Here’s another peek inside. Chinese Tuxedo opens next month.

tuxedo1

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From The New York Adventure Club e-newsletter:

Crime In NYC: A History Of Vice And Murder (Sat)
Corrupt politicians. Crooked cops. Gangsters so terrifying that they’re known only as “Murder, Incorporated.” These are the men and women that have made New York City’s underworld the stuff of legend. But there is so much more to this legend than you’ve ever heard.
$15-25. Corner of Centre & Chambers Sts . Ticketed event through the New York Adventure Club.…

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From Videology Bar & Cinema:

The Lost Arcade

Wednesday, August 31st @7PM

Eventbrite - 'The Lost Arcade' Q&A with Director Kurt Vincent & Producer Irene Chin after the film!

“Kurt Vincent’s new documentary introduces Chinatown Fair, made famous by Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Letterman – but made a haven by loyal young gamers.” The Guardian

“Part scrappy, part sweet and wholly enjoyable, The Lost Arcade is a love letter to a vanished piece of New York, and a little wish for the future.” New York Times

“”The Lost Arcade” is an engaging minor movie, but it touches on something that’s being lost in the age of technology that’s much bigger than video-game arcades.” Variety

Chinatown Fair opened as a penny arcade on Mott Street in 1944. Over the decades, the dimly lit gathering place, known for its tic-tac-toe playing chicken, became an institution, surviving turf wars between rival gangs, changing tastes and the explosive growth of home gaming systems like Xbox and Playstation that shuttered most other arcades in the city. But as the neighborhood gentrified, this haven for a diverse, unlikely community faced its strongest challenge, inspiring its biggest devotees to next-level greatness.

Dir. Kurt Vincent. 79 min. 2015.

 At Videology Bar & Cinema
  • 308 Bedford Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11249
  • 718-782-3468
  • info@videology.info

 

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Corrupt politicians. Crooked cops. Gangsters so terrifying that they’re known only as “Murder, Incorporated.”

These are the men and women that have made New York City’s underworld the stuff of legend. But there is so much more to this legend than you’ve ever heard. Why is it that New York had such a violent past? What drove these people to a life of crime? This is the story of a broken and corrupt system and the clever individuals smart enough to exploit it.

On this walking tour, we’ll explore Lower Manhattan where we’ll discuss the evolution of orphan street gangs into the mafia, con men and bank robbers so rich they rubbed elbows with the Vanderbilts, gun fights that would make the Wild West blush and the politicians that encouraged it. We’ll visit the old Five Points District, Chinatown, the Bowery and of course the Lower East Side. Let us show you how New York’s crime history began.

ticketed event: Sat Aug. 13th 11am-1pm ticket prices: $15.00-$25.00

Corner of Centre & Chambers Sts

Centre Street and Chambers Street
New York, NY

Electronic ticketing though Big Maven

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from the New York Times:

Outside 85 and 83 Bowery in Chinatown. Along with nine other buildings, they were part of a $62 million investment in 2013. Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Stacked on the chipped tile floor of the vestibule at 85 Bowery were 59 boxes, each addressed to John Doe or Jane Doe.

Modern moneyed New York had arrived at a rickety remnant of the 19th-century city via express mail. Inside the boxes were lawsuits filed by a developer who wants the tenants out of 85 Bowery and the building next door, 83 Bowery.

The Chinese immigrants living in the apartments, some of whom needed their American-born children to read the notices, live in the path of an all-cash, $62 million investment made in 2013 to buy these two buildings and nine others along the Bowery. Once, the buildings were skid row flophouses, but many were converted to apartment buildings and other uses in the late 1970s.

Now that vestibule at 85 Bowery, along with much of Chinatown and large swaths of the Lower East Side, is a crash point for the demands of a growing city: the dwindling number of rent-regulated apartments and a sturdy population of working people of modest means, roaring real estate values and relatively few zoning limits.

Compared with the thickets of regulations governing the East Village and other parts of Lower Manhattan, these are real estate prairies.

Photo
Inside 83 Bowery are dozens of boxes — addressed to John and Jane Doe — with documents on lawsuits against the residents, brought by investors who have bought the Chinatown tenement and are seeking to evict them. Credit Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Just up the Bowery from Nos. 83 and 85, at the corner of Hester Street, a new hotel has risen on land not long ago occupied by two walk-up apartment houses and a movie theater. By one count, a dozen hotels have gone up in Chinatown since 2008.

But a lawyer for the owners of Nos. 83 and 85, who include Joseph Betesh of the Dr. Jay’s clothing chain, said they were not bought to empty them. Structural problems were discovered after they took possession, said the lawyer, Joseph Goldsmith.

“This is something that was thrust upon them,” Mr. Goldsmith said.

The staircase at 85 Bowery is tilted, and engineers say that has resulted from joists separating from the walls. The city has ordered parts of both buildings vacated but has not declared either an immediate hazard, said Alexander Schnell, a spokesman for the Buildings Department.

In the second-floor apartment of 83 Bowery, where Shu Qing Wang, 42, lives with her husband and their two sons, space is rationed with precision. The household’s shoes hang in a plastic organizer on the wall by the front door. Three-legged stools are tucked under the kitchen table. A barred window looks onto a shaft that is perhaps four feet wide.

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from FlavorPill:
Editor’s Note
Chinatown Soup and Think Olio are combining forces to bring professors and experts alike to the downtown arts space for crafted conversations about art, literature, history, religion and more. For the first edition of their new series Unknown Genius, the focus is Jazz Age Nancy Cunard. Heiress to the shipping fortune, champion (and lover) of African-Americans, hard-drinking sybarite relentlessly on the move to be wherever the party was, the fashion-forward Cunard was a meal ticket for gossip columnists. But the wild tales mask a prodigious talent on display in Parallax, her book-length poem published by Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press in 1929. This ambitious work is a revelation, taking its place alongside Eliot’s Waste Land and Hart Crane’s The Bridge.
Kaitlyn Hamilton
About the teacher:
Charles Riley II, PhD, is an arts journalist, curator and professor at the City University of New York. He is the author of thirty-one books on art, architecture and public policy. Upcoming books include Echoes of the Jazz Age and Sacred Sister (in collaboration with Robert Wilson).
Held: Tuesday, March 8
From: 7:30pm – 9pm
At: Chinatown Soup
Cost: $8 early bird; $12 day of event

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