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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

City holds off on plan to diversify street fairs after community groups fight local vendor rule

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Community organizations who rely on revenue from street fairs had opposed the proposal to make it mandatory to have 50 percent of the vendors be local. (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

To the relief of a number of community organizations, the Mayor’s Office decided not to approve proposed new rules for street fairs for the upcoming year that would have required increased participation from local businesses. The proposal was aimed at sprinkling some local flavor into street fairs, which, despite where in the city they’re taking place, are often practically identical. The Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) of the Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (OCECM) announced on October 28 that it would be extending the existing moratorium on street fair applications through 2017. A public hearing on the proposed rule will be held this Friday.

The city had previously proposed new rules that, among other requirements, would require 50 percent of vendors participating in street fairs to be from within the community district boundaries of where the fairs were taking place. Another proposed rule would have decreased the number of fairs allowed in each community district per year from 18 to 10.

Community organizers were worried that the new regulation requiring increased participation from local vendors would affect their revenue because not enough local businesses would want to take part.

Continue reading

5 Stuy Café closed after health inspection

Dec1 5 Stuy Cafe.jpg

5 Stuy Café, pictured over the summer, requested a reopening inspection on Monday. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

UPDATE: The cafe is expected to reopen Thursday morning, according to Stuyvesant Town General Manager Rick Hayduk. Hayduk said in an email to residents on Wednesday evening that the cafe was reinspected earlier in the day.

By Sabina Mollot

5 Stuy Café, which opened in Stuyvesant Town last summer, has been closed since Saturday afternoon, following an inspection by the Department of Health.

The café, despite recently scoring an A by the city, managed to rack up 50 violation points from eight violations. They included infractions such as food items being held above the allowed temperature of 41 degrees to having foods that were from “unapproved or unknown source or home canned” to “inadequate personal cleanliness due to an outer garment being soiled with a possible contaminant,” according to details from the inspection. Six of the reported violations were deemed critical.

Others included hot food items not held at or above 140 degrees, a food protection certificate not held by the supervisor of food operations and proper sanitation not provided for utensil ware washing operation.

The department notes on its website that the inspections scores may not be final, since restaurant owners are entitled to challenge them.

Continue reading

Council proposes ways to combat ‘high rent blight’

Small Business Committee Chair Council Member Robert Cornegy with a City Council attorney and Council Member Donovan Richards (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Small Business Committee Chair Council Member Robert Cornegy with a City Council attorney and Council Member Donovan Richards (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Suggestions include restrictions on chain stores, penalties for long vacancies of storefronts

By Sabina Mollot

The ongoing saga of New York City’s mom-and-pops facing extinction was the topic du jour at the City Council chambers on Friday, when a hearing was devoted to possible solutions. There were suggestions from Council members on ideas like restricting the ability of chains from opening (though this was shot down by city planners) and discussion on how to get businesses to open in neighborhoods that are currently underserved.

At the hearing, which was co-chaired by Small Business Committee Chair Robert Cornegy and Zoning and Franchise Sub-Committee Chair Council Member Donovan Richards, the Council members brought up “high rent blight,” a term coined by Columbia Professor Tim Wu to describe the warehousing of retail spaces by speculative landlords that’s led to many storefronts remaining empty for long periods.

“As Frank Sinatra once said, ‘If you make it here you can make it anywhere,’” said Cornegy, “but it seems that now real estate is so hot that even businesses who’ve made it (are closing). People have less and less interaction with bank tellers and we have banks on every block. We have commercial corridors with artificially inflated prices.”

Continue reading

Marco’s now a Chinese restaurant with new owners and same name

Owner Aidi Xu and chef Feng Hui, who’s also her business partner, are hoping to change people’s perceptions of Chinese restaurants as fast food places. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Owner Aidi Xu and chef Feng Hui, who’s also her business partner, are hoping to change people’s perceptions of Chinese restaurants as fast food places. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents familiar with a restaurant called Marco’s on Second Avenue near East 23rd Street might know the business name but might be surprised that the spot now serves Chinese food instead of Italian tapas. Owner Aidi Xu opened the new restaurant in mid-August under the same name as the space’s previous occupant, even though the two restaurants offer two completely different kinds of cuisine.

One thing the two spots do have in common is the bar, which Xu said she wanted to use as a connection from the old iteration of Marco’s (which also added “A Taste of China” to the name) to the new one.

“People wouldn’t normally come to a Chinese restaurant for drinks so we’re trying to utilize that,” she said.

Continue reading

Ess-a-Bagel finally reopens

Owners plan to offer outdoor seating

Co-owner Mike Wenzelberg at the new shop in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Co-owner Mike Wenzelberg at the new shop in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Carb fiends rejoice! Ess-a-Bagel’s new shop in Stuyvesant Town opened to a soft opening on Sunday, after multiple delays following an initially planned reopening date of February.

On Tuesday, following the Labor Day weekend, by noon, the line was already snaking around the back of the shop to 10 people and one of the owners, Mike Wenzelberg, reported business had so far been good.

Wenzelberg also sat down with a Town & Village reporter to discuss the reasons behind the delays, the controversial decision to install a toaster at the new shop and the company’s rabidly loyal fan base.

On Sunday, he recalled how a young woman outside, upon seeing Ess-a-Bagel was open, was “dancing and jumping.” Already, he’s seen quite a few regulars from the original location across First Avenue, which lost its lease nearly two years ago to Tal Bagels.

Continue reading

Carb Tease: Ess-a-Bagel says re-opening is next week

Sept8 Ess-A-Bagel bagels

Toasty (not toasted) Ess-a-Bagels (Photo by Danny Chin)

By Sabina Mollot

On Thursday, Ess-a-Bagel announced via Facebook that the long delayed store opening in Stuyvesant Town would be some time early next week.

“Will post the exact date over the weekend. Happy Labor Day and look forward to seeing you all next week!!” read a post.

Owner David Wilpon didn’t return a call for comment but said previously that the delay in opening had to do with numerous permits.

Ess-a-Bagel at 324 First Avenue was originally supposed to open in February, nearly a year after the company lost its lease across the street to Tal Bagels.

Since then three permits have been approved by the city for work related to the new store’s renovation, for signage, sprinklers and floors.

By Wednesday, Town & Village reader Danny Chin alerted us that good news was in the air.

“I was lucky enough to get a photo of the 1st test batch of bagels from the new Ess-a-Bagel,” he said. “They were testing out their new oven as I was walking by this afternoon. The bagel was nicely blistered and crispy.”