Man steals Chanel purse from woman at Gramercy restaurant

Mar14 Chanel vanity case

Chanel vanity case

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man who swiped a $4,600 Chanel purse from a woman who was eating dinner at Gramercy restaurant Farmer & The Fish.

The victim, a 39-year-old woman, was at the restaurant at 245 Park Avenue South at East 20th Street on Friday, March 8 at about 7:30 p.m. when she got up to go to the bathroom. She told police she left her purse, a Chanel vanity case, on her chair, and when she came back it was gone.

Mar14 chanel purse theft

Theft suspect

The vanity case style of bag ranges in price from $3,600-$8,900 on Chanel’s website.

The suspect believed to have taken it was seen on surveillance footage. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

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Shoplifter threatens employee at Flatiron Coach store

Mar14 Coach robbery

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are looking for a man who shoved an employee at the Coach store at 79 Fifth Avenue after he was caught trying to shoplift.

It was on Thursday, March 7 at 6:10 p.m., when the man strolled into the store at East 16th Street and picked up a $295 bag and an $1,100 jacket. When he tried to leave without paying, an employee confronted him. The man then shoved him out of his way and said, “Do you want to get punched or do you want to get stabbed?” The thief then fled out a rear door with the luxury label items.

The suspect is described as black, 25, 5 ft. 11 ins. and 160 lbs. He was wearing a black coat and hat and white sneakers. Because of the alleged threat, he is being sought for robbery, rather than theft.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-TIPS (8477). All calls are confidential.

Updated: 5 Stuy Café applies for wine and beer license (application withdrawn)

dec1-5-stuy-cafe

5 Stuy Cafe (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Update at 12:15 p.m.: Cooper Cafe has withdrawn its application and will not be at Community Board 6’s Thursday meeting, CB6 has told us.

By Sabina Mollot

The operators of 5 Stuy Café have applied for a wine, beer and cider license and the application will be among one of several to be discussed at a Community Board 6 meeting on Thursday evening.

Liquor and beer and wine licenses are granted or denied by the State Liquor Authority, but community boards have an advisory role.

The Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association mentioned the upcoming meeting in an email blast to tenants on Monday evening. It will be held by the CB6 Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee on Thursday, February 28 at 7 p.m. at the board office at 211 East 43rd Street, Suite 1404.

Meanwhile, Stuy Town general manager Rick Hayduk told Town & Village that after learning about the application, he would be requesting that it be withdrawn until the details are vetted by StuyTown Property Services. The café is run by a third-party operator called Cooper Café LLC.

Susan Steinberg, the president of the ST-PCV Tenants Association, said the association has not taken a position on alcohol being served at the café.

“We acknowledge the many tenants who have requested the option of having a glass of beer or wine with their food,” said Steinberg. “We also acknowledge the many tenants who are concerned about the possible consequences (increased noise and commotion) that might arise as a result of the wine and beer license. An applicant who comes before the Business Affairs and Street Activities Committee of Community Board 6 will need to assure Board 6 and the public of their procedures to contain noise and nuisance. (Disclosure: I am Vice Chair of that committee; I can ask questions but will have to abstain from voting.)  Assuming the application is approved, if management is unable to contain behavior after a few months, the TA will come down hard.”

Kellogg’s opens café in Union Sq.

The DIY cereal station is open for business. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Venerable cereal company Kellogg’s opened a cereal-centric café on the north side of Union Square in mid-December. The cafe was previously open as a pop-up in Times Square but that location closed in August in preparation for the debut of the bigger space downtown.

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Letters to the Editor

June8 Toon Mr Met

Save our supermarket

The following is an open letter to Stuyvesant Town Property Services CEO/Stuy Town General Manager Rick Hayduk,

As a 41-year long resident of Stuyvesant Town, I am writing to ask you to reconsider Blackstone’s determination to raise the rent against the Associated Supermarket on 14 th Street, causing them to leave our neighborhood.

It is most distressing that almighty profit once again outweighs the value that that market has had in our neighborhood for 25 years.

When I first learned that the store would open there, I was dubious. However, they have been able to run the store and the multiple complications connected with that with a minimum of disruption to us… despite the load in of product, the removal of garbage and the acceptance of bottles from street collectors.

The store’s employees are like family to us… we have seen them get their first job, pay for college, get married, take maternity leave and return, and have a decent job for these many years.

That has been an invaluable commitment on the store owners’ parts, creating a special feeling for those of us who have shopped there.

I know this letter won’t change your mind or the direction your negotiations take.

But I hope it makes you a little less able to look yourself in the mirror.

Sincerely, 

Lynne Hayden-Findlay, ST

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Hoylman takes aim at ‘high rent blight’

Various empty storefronts in State Senator Brad Hoylman’s District, the subject of his recent study, “Bleaker on Bleecker” (Photo collage courtesy of Brad Hoylman)

By Sabina Mollot

State Senator Brad Hoylman, whose district includes Stuyvesant Town, Gramercy, Chelsea and Greenwich Village, recently conducted a study that found a high percentage of vacant storefronts in the district, with some retail corridors about 10 percent vacant and on Bleecker Street, a vacancy rate of 18.4 percent.

This is no breaking news to area residents of course; but the senator’s study “Bleaker on Bleecker,” which focuses on what’s been dubbed “high rent blight,” has led to his offering a few proposals to combat the problem.

In particular, the phenomenon of landlords of choosing to keep a space vacant “suggests waiting for Marc Jacobs instead of renting to Jane Jacobs,” the study quotes economist Tim Wu as saying.

The study also mentions the closure last year of the Chelsea Associated Supermarket, which had seen its $32,000 rent jump by $100,000. The now-shuttered store had the same owners as the Associated in Stuyvesant Town, the future of which is still murky.

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NY Kids Club to hold speed dating event to match nannies with families

Gramercy location of New York Kids Club (Photo courtesy of New York Kids Club)

By Sabina Mollot

New York Kids Club, the chain of kids’ learning and recreational centers that includes a location on East 22nd Street, might seem like an unlikely place to hold a speed dating event. However, attendees of this upcoming event won’t be there in search of romance. Instead, the kids club is aiming to play matchmaker for nannies and the families who need them.

Jessica Wolf, the company’s director of business development and marketing, explained that for some time now, she’s been a member of numerous Facebook groups for parents as well as some for nannies. Parents will frequently ask on their respective groups if anyone knows a good nanny while the nannies will also be in search of work in their own networks. But, since the groups are separate, there wind up being many missed opportunities for connections.

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Gas finally back on at Frank’s

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Frank’s Trattoria, the First Avenue restaurant and pizzeria that had been operating without gas for eight weeks, finally got it switched back on. The gas came back on last Wednesday afternoon, which meant that once again the owners, the Pino family, were able to make pizza and other foods that couldn’t be prepared efficiently using just electric stoves.

Restaurant manager Marcello Vasquez told Town & Village once the gas came back on at around 2 p.m. word quickly got around and the restaurant got busy again.

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Bills aim to exempt some businesses from paying Commercial Rent tax

Garodnick with other local elected officials and small business owners at City Hall on Monday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Garodnick with other local elected officials and small business owners at City Hall on Monday to discuss a package of bills. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Local elected officials gathered at City Hall on Monday to announce legislation that would exempt almost 4,000 local businesses in Manhattan from paying Commercial Rent Tax (CRT), which currently subjects owners below 96th Street to an additional tax if their yearly rent is $250,000 or higher. Councilmembers Dan Garodnick, Helen Rosenthal, Corey Johnson and Margaret Chin, along with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, introduced the three bills aimed at providing relief for small business owners.

One of the bills, introduced by Garodnick and Rosenthal, would increase the rent threshold so commercial tenants paying under $500,000 would not have to pay the tax. Johnson and Brewer also introduced legislation aimed at helping affordable supermarkets and would exempt those businesses from the CRT, regardless of the amount of rent they pay.

The CRT was introduced in 1963 to help increase revenue in the city but was phased out in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and even the northern part of Manhattan in the 1990s, and the current rent threshold has not been updated since 2001. Brewer noted that the tax previously made sense because it was primarily applied to larger businesses but since rents have continued to increase, small and medium-sized businesses are affected now as well.

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Tailor in Kips Bay who was stabbed has been shot before

A recovering Apel Tamagoglu receives a $2,500 check from a crowd-funding campaign. (Photo by Evan Rofheart)

A recovering Apel Tamagoglu receives a $2,500 check from a crowd-funding campaign. (Photo by Evan Rofheart)

By Sabina Mollot

Apel Tamagoglu, the 78-year-old tailor who was stabbed repeatedly during a robbery at his Kips Bay shop, has been in tough spots before. In fact, he was once shot in the hand during another holdup, he said this week.

Tamagoglu, a Turkish citizen as well as a citizen of the United States, said the other robbery happened 15-20 years ago; he can’t quite remember exactly when. But he did recall how the gunman had come in and asked if he could fix a velvet suit. The robber later went to prison, Tamagoglu said, adding that the man had also robbed many other people.

Asked if he’d thought about calling it quits after that incident, Tamagoglu, a native of Istanbul, said no. In his heavily accented English, he explained, “I have to work. I have to help the kids.”

Apel (pronounced Ah-pell) has two grown daughters as well as three grandchildren ages 10, 15 and 22.

He also downplayed the previous armed robbery, saying, “The hand is no problem.”

Tamagoglu said since the recent stabbing, during which he had his skull fractured, his lung punctured and suffered other injuries, he’s been receiving care at Bellevue Hospital, though he’s now at home. He also said he’s trying to do some work at the shop, albeit slowly, since he lives upstairs. “I feel good, thank God,” he said.

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First Avenue restaurant hasn’t had gas in eight weeks (UPDATED)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

UPDATE at 3 p.m.: According to the manager, the gas was turned on at 1 p.m. today and pizza is once again available.

By Sabina Mollot

At a pizzeria and restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, a gas shutdown is responsible for taking the business’s bread and butter for the past eight weeks.

That’s when the gas was shut off at Frank’s Trattoria by Con Ed, and since then the First Avenue business has been able to cook some of its dishes after bringing in four electric stoves, although pizza still can’t be prepared there. A manager, Marcello Vasquez, told Town & Village pizza accounted for close to half of Frank’s business. As for the other meal options, the restaurant’s lost business there too because it takes longer to cook with the electric stoves and customers aren’t always willing to wait, Vazquez explained.

He added that the problem started when a building on the corner of East 21st Street had a gas leak on December 18, leaving the restaurant, between East 21st and 22nd Streets, with inadequate gas to cook with. The owners called Con Ed who said the leak was coming from Frank’s and said the restaurant needed a new meter. The gas was then shut off.

But Vazquez now believes it was a mistake to call Con Ed instead of first calling a plumber. The restaurant did later have a plumber come and replace the pipes. The employee said on Friday he was since told that the gas could come back on Monday or Tuesday. “But,” he added, “we already have seven weeks. This is crazy.”

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Stuy Town sisters open Portuguese restaurant in former Yaffa Café space

Owners Raquel and Patricia Sanguedo (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Owners Raquel and Patricia Sanguedo (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

What started as the hunt for a new kitchen for a catering business turned into the debut of a Portuguese comfort food restaurant in Taberna 97, opened on St. Mark’s Place just after Thanksgiving by two sisters living in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Raquel Sanguedo and her sister Patricia run Noz Catering, which provides services for the fashion industry. When looking around for a kitchen, they found out through Little Missionary’s Day Nursery director Eileen Johnson, a neighbor, that the space formerly occupied by Yaffa Café was available. In addition to the catering business, Raquel and Patricia own St. Dymphna’s, an Irish bar down the block, along with Patricia’s husband, Eric Baker, and the three own the new business together.

Raquel said that she and her sister didn’t necessarily have a lifelong dream to open a Portuguese restaurant — although they are Portuguese — but Baker had aspirations to open up a tavern. So when they found out about the space, it seemed like a good opportunity.

“I never thought I would own an Irish bar either but sometimes you just go with the flow,” Raquel said.

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Second bar planned for Maialino

Maialino (Photo courtesy of the Gramercy Park Hotel)

Maialino (Photo courtesy of the Gramercy Park Hotel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Danny Meyer is hoping to give his Gramercy Park restaurant Maialino a partial makeover with the addition of a bar.

General manager Andrea Czachor appeared before the Business Affairs and Street Activities committee for Community Board 6 last Thursday with the proposal, which will require the restaurant to alter its existing liquor license. The committee approved the request, although the community board’s role is only advisory and the change will have to be made official through the State Liquor Authority.

Czachor, who has been working in the restaurant since it opened at the Gramercy Park Hotel, said that the space where the bar will be going is already a counter but the restaurant previously used it for storage and to prepare food. Since the restaurant is no longer using the space for storage or food preparation, Czachor said that management decided to add five seats to the counter in order to convert it to a bar and serve alcohol directly to customers.

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New Mediterranean spot giving away free meals until 9 p.m.

The line at VERTS earlier this afternoon (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The line at VERTS earlier this afternoon (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

New East 23rd Street restaurant VERTS Mediterranean Grill debuted across from Madison Square Park by offering free entrees on their first day of business today.

Keith Peterson, the vice president of marketing for the company, said that the free meals on the day of a grand opening is a standard business practice for the company, which is based in Texas and recently opened its first East Coast location in Boston recently and the East 23rd Street spot is the restaurant’s first New York location. There are no restrictions on what entrees customers can order and the full menu is available to pick from. Entrees include pitas, salads, rice bowls and quinoa bowls with protein add-ins, vegetable toppings and a variety of sauces. Side orders and drinks are not included in the deal but Peterson noted that the profits from those sales today will be donated to charity.

The restaurant is open until 10 p.m. and plans to serve the free meals until an hour before closing. The line still stretched down the block by 3 p.m., crossing in front of the entrances for neighbors Chop’t and Gasoline Alley Coffee, but Peterson said that it was even longer earlier in the day before the wind started picking up, and there was even a line at 10:30 a.m., half an hour before the restaurant opened for the day. Customers were waiting between half an hour to an hour for their meals and Peterson predicted that the line would get longer again once office workers started leaving for the day.

Naked men removed from Gramercy storefront

men-cart-statue

Workers remove a statue from 281 Park Avenue South. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Last summer, the installation of nine anatomically correct male statues into a storefront in Gramercy raised a few eyebrows, with neighborhood residents wondering if it was an art exhibit or a marketing gimmick. It didn’t help anyone’s confusion that there was a neon sign in the window indicating the space was for rent.

As it turns out, the answer is it was a bit of both. On Monday afternoon, workers emerged from the storefront at 281 Park Avenue South and 22nd Street, moving out the larger-than-life-size sculptures. Asked where they were going, a worker at the scene said the naked men were headed to storage, since the ground floor space had been leased to a restaurant. However, Dan Turkewitz, one of the brokers marketing the space, later said nothing was finalized, so he wasn’t sure why the statues were being evicted. “We’re talking to a lot of different people,” he said.

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