Monday, October 16, 2017

Chelsea Deli & Bakery

VANISHED

Peter writes in to say: "The much-loved Chelsea Deli and Bakery on the southeast corner of 23rd and 8th has just closed for good. It had been there since at least 1999, when it was called Breadstix."


google streetview

And before Breadstix, it was known as S.G.S. Donuts -- I still have a dim memory of that great old sign.


Photo from Peter

It was a friendly and affordable spot. Unpretentious and easy. Exactly the sort of place that doesn't last anymore.

The reason for the closure? Peter says, "Mandy, behind the counter, told us there weren't enough customers lately to pay the rent."

Yesterday was their last day.


Photo from Peter

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Moe's Meat Market

VANISHING

I wrote a piece for the Times this week about the closing of Moe's Meat Market, a butcher shop on Elizabeth Street turned into an artist's studio and gallery in 1977. Back then, Bohemians and working-class Italians mixed on a street once affordable, now taken over by luxury.



Moe’s Meat Market, in Little Italy, hasn’t been a meat market for 40 years. But the floor is still tiled in black and white, the walls covered in porcelain-enameled tin sheets. When the artist Robert Kobayashi, known as Kobi, bought Moe’s and the rest of its building in 1977, he moved in with his wife, the photographer Kate Keller, and installed his studio in the storefront, leaving the walls intact. As a sculptor who worked with tin, maybe he felt an affinity for the sheet metal. Maybe he just appreciated the history.

Read the rest at The Times




the basement wine press


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.






Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Left Bank Goes Online

After being pushed off West 4th Street by a rent hike (and replaced by a cafe that's now gone), and then having to leave their next location due to high costs of business, Left Bank Books has a new life online.



You can't smell the books. You can't touch the books. But at least you can still find and buy the books.

Plus: There's a note in the About section that says the owners "hope to re-open in the Village sometime in the near future."

Fingers crossed.



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Friedman's Moves In

Now and then, against my better judgment, I walk by the shell of the once great Cafe Edison to see how the renovations are coming along.

This week, it looks like its replacement, Friedman's, is close to opening.



There's neon framing the windows where the Friedman's signage has appeared.



They've painted over the once famous powder pink and baby blue walls, turning them beige. Which seems appropriate -- it's going from the best matzo balls and blintzes in town to a gluten-free existence.



While the hotel owners originally claimed they would replace Cafe Edison with a "white-tablecloth" restaurant and a "name chef," they later announced that mini-chain Friedman's Lunch would be going in. "Just like the Cafe Edison," reported the Daily News in 2015, "the new restaurant is not some flashy, white-tablecloth type space... It’s a modest, family business." The real-estate broker on the deal told the paper, “It’s old-school, hearty good food. We must have gotten 50 offers but the landlord didn’t want big chains or celebrity chefs. They wanted something warm. This is going to be everything the Edison Cafe was--just a few decades later."

But there's no Mom and Pop Friedman here. The name is a tribute to Milton Friedman, the modern-day father of neoliberalism, that radical free-market capitalist system that is driving the hyper-gentrification of cities around the globe.

You can't make this stuff up.

If you want to read more about this place, and the fight to save Cafe Edison, you can read more here.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Matt Umanov Guitars

VANISHING

After nearly 50 years in business, Matt Umanov Guitars has announced they'll be closing.



On the shop's website, Umanov writes:

"After fifty-three years of having been in the business of helping so many guitar (and all the other fretted instruments) players have the tools with which to make music, forty-eight of those years at my store here in Greenwich Village, in the great City of New York, it is finally time for me to close this chapter of my life, relax some, travel some, play with the grandkids, all that kind of thing, though I wouldn’t quite call it 'retirement'; I’ll still be around."


(Thanks to Jarrod for the tip.)

Umanov, a native of Brooklyn, opened his first shop on Bedford Street in 1969 and moved to this spot on Bleecker in 1982.

In 2013, he told New York Business Journal: “Bleecker was the shopping street for Italian immigrants in the Village. We had two fish stores, five bakeries, children’s stores and furniture stores." Most of those shops have vanished, and now Umanov will go with them--though he owns the building.

"Back in 1992," Business Journal reported, "Umanov was given the opportunity to acquire the building. He seized the day and bought it. 'It enabled me to stay in business. Without buying it, I could never afford the rent,' he acknowledged."


photo via GVSHP

In today's goodbye note, Umanov concludes: "I think that what I’ll miss the most will be having what someone called 'my clubhouse,' where so many of you have come over the years to look, to buy, to get their treasured instruments back into working shape, to hang out and shoot the breeze. I’ll miss the unpredictable, terrific array of all of you coming in and being who you are, fascinating and wonderful every one, made my day, every day."




Mayfair Barber Shop

VANISHED

When I'm in the neighborhood, along 8th Avenue in the lower 40s and upper 30s, I like to visit the Mayfair Barber Shop. If I need a haircut, I get a haircut. If I don't, I just commune with the place.

This past Friday, I attempted a visit, only to find the Mayfair gone.


2013

I was shocked (though by now I shouldn't be) and heartbroken. I had that familiar sense of disorientation--was it here or there?

An expanding coffee chain has taken its place, sanitary and generic, its windows full of people staring into screens. This is what change looks like in the city today, all moving in the same direction of sameness.


today

This corner of 39th and 8th has long been a holdout of the old city, containing the barber shop, next to a combination cobbler/tailor, a Halal fried chicken joint, a liquor store with a good neon sign, and an adult video store.

The loss of the Mayfair has me worrying for the whole thing.


2013

It was a gorgeous little barber shop that had been there for decades, somewhere between 50 and 75 years, according to different sources.

As I described it in a previous post: When you step into the Mayfair, the air is cool and smells of Pinaud. Two barbers vie for your business, directing you to their chairs. You follow the one who reaches out, almost taking your hand. His hair is as white as his smock.

As he works around your head, he explains, "You gotta eat the black grape. It's better for you. The white grape is okay, but not as good. Dark food is best. Better than white food. I like the dark grape in juice. I drink the Welch's."


2013

Distraught by the loss, I hurried into a neighboring shop and asked what happened. The shopkeeper told me, "The rent was too high."

He sent me to John's Barber Shop, underground, in the subway station at 42nd and 8th. In that quiet, subterranean space, I found one barber of the Mayfair, sitting and waiting for some hair to cut.