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storefronts

from kenneth in the (212): Chelsea Institution East of Eighth Abruptly Goes Out Of Business

Just as I was breathing a sigh of relief that Elmo was in fact just closed for renovations comes word that another longtime “gay” eatery in Chelsea, East of Eighth, has abruptly closed, with its owner citing Republican talking points as the reason.


DNAinfo reports:

In an email, restaurant owner David Feldman said East of Eighth “could not keep up wit [sic] the higher wages and overtime regulations.”

“The staff was unwilling to cooperate with the recently enforced regulations,” he wrote. “Business was great but couldn’t withstand the challenges of operating a single unit restaurant.” Employees speculated that Feldman was planning to file for bankruptcy, but he didn’t address that in his email.

East of Eighth was known for the photos of drag performers that lined its walls, along with drawings of patrons and employees, Warren said. Several works of art created by drag performer Hedda Lettuce were on permanent display at the restaurant, according to her website. An employee of Feldman’s catering company (Benjamin Catering), which he simultaneously shut down, said the restaurant had been around for more than two decades. “It’s very unfortunate — it’s definitely going to be missed,” she said. “It was a neighborhood gem, essentially.”

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From Untapped Cities: Historic East Village Food Tour (buy tickets online here)

On Sunday August 21st at 12pm, join James and Karla Murray, authors and photographers of the critically acclaimed books, Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New YorkNew York Nights and Store Front II-A History Preserved on this walking and tasting tour of some of their favorite East Village food establishmentsDiscover the food, history and diverse culture of the East Village while tasting delicious specialties from at least 6 different tasting stops.

Many family-run businesses started out as traditional mom-and-pop stores passed down from generation to generation, and defined their neighborhoods. Not only are these modest small businesses falling away in the face of modernization, gentrification, and conformity, the once unique appearance and character of New York City’s colorful streets suffers in the process.

On this tour you will learn about the diverse German, Italian, Jewish and Ukranian history of the East Village and try some fresh homemade Italian mozzarella, drink an authentic New York City egg cream or have a freshly roasted cup of coffee, taste a hot Ukranian potato pierogi with toppings, sample a freshly baked Jewish sugar cookie, enjoy an authentic New York hot dog and tropical drink and taste a freshly baked Italian cannoli.

Enough food will be sampled so that for most people lunch afterwards is not needed.”…

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from the NYTimes: “After 75 Years, The Cheese Stands Alone

“At a bend in Hudson Avenue, across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, there is a manhole cover that once lay just outside my grandparents’ grocery store. It is the last trace of a block of long-gone shops and stores straight out of an Edward Hopper painting. …

My grandfather Giovanni Tambasco opened his store at 96 Hudson Avenue shortly after bringing his wife, Raffaela, from Italy in 1924. He had chased work all over the continent since coming to America in 1906 — laying railroad track in California, excavating the New York State Barge Canal, cutting glass in a Brooklyn factory — and it was time to settle down. The couple lived in a room in the back of the store. Raffaela minded the counter; Giovanni stocked the bins and shelves twice a week, wheeling a cart to Wallabout Market at the crack of dawn. With its Flemish-style buildings and teeming Farmer’s Square, Wallabout was the busiest produce market in America. Nearly everything there came from truck farms on Long Island and the rural fringes of Brooklyn and Queens (we were all locavores then). From an importer off Flushing Avenue, Giovanni bought olives, oils and cheese.

 The store’s patrons were Poles, Lithuanians and Italians who labored in nearby factories and the Navy Yard. The Fifth Ward, as the area was then known — “Vinegar Hill” was not revived until the 1980s — was gritty, tough and dangerous. This was a place nobody boasted about, where the mark of arrival was to leave. The main drag, Sands Street, was a gantlet of sailor bars and brothels that only outsiders found charming (“as vivacious as a country fair,” Carson McCullers called it). Gas tanks sat alongside tenements. The smokestacks of the huge Hudson Avenue steam turbine plant loomed overhead. When its great boilers were purged, a drift of fly ash and soot would soon settle over the neighborhood. “Pull in the wash!” the women cried. Children donned newsprint hats and listened to the cinders fall on them.

My grandparents’ store made it through the Depression only to fall victim to war. In 1941, work began on the Fort Greene Houses, a massive and ambitious public housing project. Built for families living in the slums south of the Navy Yard, most of its units went instead to servicemen and defense workers. This should have brought a flood of new customers to 96 Hudson Avenue, but two Bohack stores had just opened, one right around the corner. The newcomers preferred the self-serve supermarkets, brightly modern and stocked with a “complete line of nationally advertised groceries.” My grandparents’ store was small and dimly lit, so local it had no name or sign.

What ultimately doomed the store was the closing of Wallabout Market. The Navy Yard needed more room, and the market lay in the most obvious path of expansion. Wallabout closed in early 1941. Its replacement, Brooklyn Terminal Market, was in far-off Canarsie.…

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from dna.info:

111-Year-Old East Village Art Supply Shop Closing by End of Summer

By Allegra Hobbs | July 12, 2016 12:40pm

 New York Central Art Supply, which has sold art supplies at 62 Third Ave. since 1905, will close within the coming months.

New York Central Art Supply, which has sold art supplies at 62 Third Ave. since 1905, will close within the coming months. View Full Caption

New York Central Art Supply

EAST VILLAGE — A 111-year-old art supply store will shutter for good by the end of the summer as its beloved Third Avenue storefront — once patronized by such artists as Andy Warhol and Willem de Kooning — changes ownership, the owners announced on Monday.

New York Central Art Supply will vacate the 62 Third Ave. storefront by the end of September, according Doug Steinberg, whose family has owned the shop since its launch in 1905 — and while the sale of the building has been the impetus for the closure, he said, the business has for years been struggling to stay afloat as the way artists shop for supplies has changed significantly.

“The building being sold just puts a hard date on what was an inevitability — even if the building wasn’t being sold, the business was still not healthy enough to survive,” he said.

“People shop online, people shop at chain stores — we’re just seeing the volume of traffic that comes into the store way down from what it used to be.”

The shop last year hosted a “warehouse sale” in preparation for restructuring the business to compete with such art supply giants as Blick Art Materials, Steinberg said at the time, dispelling rumors the shop would be closing.

The store must be vacated by the end of September, said Steinberg, and it will hold on for as long as the remaining inventory holds out. Until the closure, shoppers can stock up on art supplies on the cheap, with 20 to 50-percent discounts storewide, said Steinberg.

Steinberg first announced the closure on Monday in a letter posted to the shop’s website.

“Our amazing customers over the course of the last 111 years, from fledgling students to modern masters, have made this business unique and rewarding for each of [us] here at Central over the years,” reads the letter, signed ‘The Steinberg Family, The Norins Family & the entire New York Central team.’

Meanwhile, the owners will be “entertaining any offers to acquire our inventory and intellectual property,” according to the letter — and Steinberg confirmed it is unlikely there will be another incarnation of the supply shop, noting renting would be too expensive and it would be difficult to keep enough merchandise to run an online store.

“There really are no alternatives,” he said.

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from Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York: “Rebel Rebel Shuttered”:

Earlier this month, I first reported on the impending closure of Rebel Rebel records on Bleecker Street, pushed out by rising rent. According to owner David Shebiro, the landlord opted to let the luxury clothing chain Scotch & Soda expand into the record shop’s space.Now it’s gone.

The windows are covered in newspaper. A photograph of David Bowie, the inspiration for Rebel Rebel records, salutes passersby. A #SaveNYC sign hangs in apparent futility — as City Hall continues to ignore our pleas and do nothing to protect the cultural and locally commercial streetscape of New York.

For his farewell note, Mr. Shebiro quotes from Bowie’s “Future Legend”:

“And in the death
As the last few corpses lay rotting
on the slimy thoroughfare
The shutters lifted in inches in Temperance Building
High on Poacher’s Hill
And red, mutant eyes gaze down on Hunger City
No more big wheels

Fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats
And ten thousand peopleoids split into small tribes
Coveting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers
Like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love-Me Avenue
Ripping and rewrapping mink and shiny silver fox, now legwarmers
Family badge of sapphire and cracked emerald
Any day now
The Year of the Diamond Dogs

This ain’t Rock ‘n’ Roll
This is Genocide”

“Love Me Avenue” has been replaced in red by “Bleecker Street.” And at the end, a final note: “BEWARE OF CORPORATIONS.”

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mitchell’s Neon Returns

There’s good news for the vintage neon Mitchell’s Liquors sign on the Upper West Side. After reporting earlier this month that the sign was removed, to be junked, I heard earlier this week that it would be returned.Stephen wrote in: “I thought you’d appreciate that it appears the neon sign will be returning. They have remodeled both the inside and the facade and there are definitely new holes placed where neon tubes should go. Can’t wait to see it completed!”

He sent in the following photo of the new sign in progress:

I also heard from William, who wrote: “I passed Mitchell’s Wine and Liquor today and the neon sign seems to be going back up! I saw the letters on the ground and they were drilling new holes in the facade to mount them. I also spoke with the workers who said it was, in fact, being reinstalled.”

And behold!

West Side Rag shares the following shot of the new sign–a replica of the old. And Rob writes in, “The new sign is maybe not as elegant, and I haven’t seen it lit, but it sure looks good.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Tekserve

Last month, I first reported that Tekserve would be vanishing. Then we heard that they’d be looking for a new location, with plans to “morph with the times.” Alas, those plans have changed.Tekserve will shutter.

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Artist Anthony Zito shared this snapshot of an old-style painted sign with the words “Russian Souvenirs” above a crammed-with-goods little shop “Remnants of A Different New York” on his Instagram account. With antiques, everything has a story….it’s got to be even more true for NYC buildings and storefronts which clearly have some age on them. It’s at 227 E. 14th St. Forgotten NY in “Mad About 14th” has some some more pictures and a conversation with the owner-operator. Unfortunately, when I last passed by, the shop was dark, and a “For Rent” sign was in the center of the front window.…

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