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continuously operating businesses

from Lost City:

04 September 2012

Lascoff Drugs Closes After a 113 Years

I thought upper Lexington Avenue had a special force field surrounding it (i.e.—influential rich people) that allowed an inordinate number of old businesses to survive. But, alas, I was wrong. If the bluebloods couldn’t save the iconic Upper East Side pharmacy Lascoff Drugs, what can they save?
Lascoff closed last July after 113 years in business. I don’t know how I missed that. I guess lately I’ve unconsciously learned to avert my eyes when beautiful landmarks shutter. I just can’t bear the pain.
Lascoff, along with Bigelow and one or two others, was one of New York’s great, classic pharmacies. It opened in 1899, when McKinley was President, and was the first licensed pharmacy in New York State, according to the New York Times. It was a store so majestic and solemn, you felt like you were entering a church when you went in. High ceilings, high shelving, a balcony, ancient Pharmacuetical relics, and silence. No music. You could find many old and classic brands there that you couldn’t locate elsewhere. And the vertical sign on the corner building was one of the grandest in the city.
The enterprise was founded by J. Leon Lascoff. He was born in Vilna, then in Russian Poland, and came to New York in 1892. His first drug store was at Lex and 83rd. He then moved across the street and then, in 1931, moved to 82nd and Lex—Lascoff’s final location. He died in 1936. His son Frederick took over the business and ran it until his death in 1970. During Fred’s time, the store had a reputation for odd cures. It sold leeches to boxers and catnip oil to lion hunters. He once sold a mixture of phenol, valerian, asafetida and iodoform to a colleague who had complained that his own pharmacy didn’t smell enough like a drug store.
After Frederick died, the business fell out of the family. It was purchased by Phil and Susan Ragusa. I assume they were still running it when it closed.

2 comments:

upstate johnny g said…

Aaarrrgggghhhhhh!!!!!!!! Another icon, another living link to the past, another glorious example of how time travel is almost possible, is closed. My girlfriend and I popped by Lascoff one morning this past summer and even though it was a weekday, they were closed. We didn’t quite get it, because we’d been there before and business seemed healthy enough. Brooks, we have you to thank for turning us on to Lascoff’s in the first place with your great posting about that neighborhood. We would go to Lascoff’s and then pop over to the Lexington Candy Shop to have a real burger and a Coke made with actual Coke syrup and carbonated water, mixed with a spoon by the fountain guy. Your Yorkville guide opened all of this up to us. Thanks.

Do you have any idea what will become of Lascoff’s?

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From The New York Times:

A Glasses Menagerie

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From Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York:

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Noho Star & Temple Bar

VANISHING

On Lafayette Street since 1985, The Noho Star still has an old-school vibe that attracts low-key neighborhood people along with New York luminaries like Chuck Close, Wallace Shawn, and Lauren Hutton. The restaurant’s sister spot, Temple Bar, opened in 1989.

Now both are about to vanish.

The owners recently filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) with the New York State Department of Labor, indicating plans to lay off Noho Star’s staff of 54 workers and close the restaurant on December 31.

Under “Reason for Dislocation,” it says “Economic.” The same listing is given for Temple Bar–all 13 employees laid off and the place closed December 31.

Noho Star and Temple Bar were both opened by George Schwarz, a 1930s German-Jewish emigre who began his New York restaurant empire in 1973 with Elephant and Castle in Greenwich Village, followed by One Fifth (since closed). He then acquired and revived the great Keens Chop House when it closed in 1978. From there, he and his artist wife, Kiki Kogelnik, opened Noho Star and Temple Bar. They also bought the building.

Schwarz died not a year ago, in December 2016. His friend Bonnie Jenkins, long-time manager of Keens, is Vice President of the closing restaurants. (Jenkins prefers not to comment on the closures at this time.)

There are no indications that the shutter is coming for Keens or Elephant and Castle.


Eggs Idaho

Only in the past few years did I finally find my way to Noho Star. In a neighborhood of dwindling options, it’s one of the last comfortable places to get a decent meal, i.e., a place that attracts a mixed-age crowd and doesn’t play loud music (or any music) while you eat. It’s a place where a person can dine alone, reading The Times (on paper) or The London Review of Books (as recently witnessed). It’s a place where you can think.

I will miss it.

from The Comments Section:

 

MKB said…

The Noho Star in turn replaced a dusty and old office supply store (where you could still buy V-Mail stationery as late as the Seventies) and NYC’s worst restaurant. That restaurant was so bad junkies and narcs (back in the day when a narc disguise was a serape and a wig) were the main customers. Why was I there? It was also the cheapest and right around the corner from my place on Mott.
I am so very sad that the Noho Star will be no more. Lots of memories.

October 10, 2017 at 4:30 PM

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From Spoiled NYC:

The Sound of Silence: A Tribute To Webster Hall

Subscribe to spoiled NYC’s official newsletter, The Stoop, for the best news, eats, drinks, places to go, and things to do.

For 131 years, Webster Hall has hosted some of the world’s biggest musical acts. Today it closes its doors– at least until it reopens under new ownership, sold in a deal worth an estimated $35 million.

The space, with a maximum capacity of 2,500 people, served as a nightclub, concert venue, corporate events space, and recording studio.

It will reopen in either 2019 or 2020 as the newly christened Spectrum Hall, its space restricted to concerts and sporting events.

I received the phone call in early May. A friend of mine told me management had served all Webster Hall employees with termination notices.

True, it had been a couple of years since I’d set foot in the venue, but a part of me heaved a pained sigh for yet another victim of the city’s changing landscape, for the many dances I’d shared with fellow miscreants who streamed into the place, their wrists ablaze with the shades of kandi bracelets and multi-colored fluffies.

I remembered the faces of the girls I kissed as vividly as I recalled those of the men I kissed– or shyly didn’t kiss. I recoiled at the memory of the crappy wage I made at the time, of the overpriced drinks, the even more overpriced water bottles, a precious commodity in a space that scorched with summer heat even in midwinter.

The people I met there ran the gamut, from frat bros with cockeyed grins, to scene kids with more gumption than me, roadsters who surveyed groups of three or more, code switching and peddling ketamine all the while.

Mirrored behavior existed on the far more spacious dance floor at Amazura Concert Hall in Queens or the even more cramped Electric Warehouse in Brooklyn, and the East Village had long given way to millennial kink, this host of music, bodies, motion, and silent exchanges in bathroom stalls.

“Webster had that old-time New York grunge that made you feel like you were part of the 19th century, in the sense that “fun” could easily involve trying to locate your stolen purse/phone,” says Michael Yates, formerly of Harlem and now living in Los Angeles.

“I’ll miss it. I’m sure the new version of the inside will look fantastic and modern and have a pleasant aroma. Old style Webster Hall was my first immersion into NYC’s EDM scene at the time. It was a place that was magical in the dark, probably because it would look awful when illuminated by sunlight.”

websterhall Having our friend @Halsey visit for an intimate show in the The Studio at Webster Hall tonight before we close for renovations in August. Stay tuned for more surprise shows leading up till then!

The venue, Yates continues, is a “perfect example” of New York City’s infrastructure.

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Monday July 24

 

6:30 PM  –  8:00 PM

Nuyorican Poets Café, 236 E 3rd St

Since it opened in 1854, McSorley’s Old Ale House has been a New York institution. This is the landmark watering hole where Abraham Lincoln campaigned and Boss Tweed kicked back with the Tammany Hall machine; where a pair of Houdini’s handcuffs found their final resting place;and where soldiers left behind wishbones before departing for the First World War, never to return and collect them. Many of the bar’s traditions remain intact, from the newspaper-covered walls to the plates of cheese and raw onions, the sawdust-covered floors to the tall-tales told by its bartenders.

McSorley’s is also home to deep, personal stories – including that of Geoffrey “Bart” Bartholomew, a career bartender of 45 years, and his son Rafe who grew up helping his dad at the landmark bar. Join Rafe to talk about his new book on the topic, where he explores McSorley’s bizarre rituals, bawdy humor, and eccentric tasks, including protecting decades-old dust on treasured artifacts and defending a 150-year-old space against the worst of Hurricane Sandy.

Free. Reservations required.
[This event is not accessible.]

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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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From silive.com:

Schaffer’s Tavern: Winky says ‘it’s time’ for last call; sets closing date

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From Untapped Cities:

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from Eater New York:

Le Perigord Shutters After 53 Years to De-Unionize

Owner Georges Briguet plans to reopen it as a new restaurant later this year

Update: Local 100 organizer Mike Feld tells Eater that he’s been negotiating with Briguet since last year, and the owner’s been clear that he’s not happy with the increases.…

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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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