Players celebrates ‘Founder’s Day’

A member of The Players Club looks at the Booth statue after laying a wreath on the side. (Photo by Michael Gerbino)

A member of The Players Club looks at the Booth statue after laying a wreath on the side. (Photo by Michael Gerbino)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Members of the Players got a unique opportunity on Monday night when Gramercy Park opened its gates for the annual celebration of Edwin Booth’s birthday. The occasion, known as Founder’s Day because of Booth’s role in establishing the club, is one of the park’s oldest traditions and is one of the rare times of year when park-goers are allowed inside after dark.

The celebration for the actor’s 183rd birthday started inside the Players along Gramercy Park, with readings from members about Booth and his contribution to the arts. A group of members also performed a piece of a musical they’ve been working on about Booth’s life. The musical, called “Edwin, The Story of Edwin Booth,” debuted off-Broadway this summer.

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Sex offender busted at 30th St. shelter, man stopped from stealing ice cream bites into officer

SEX OFFENDER BUSTED AT SHELTER

FOR NOT REGISTERING ADDRESS CHANGE

Police arrested 25-year-old Dashawn Johnson inside the 30th Street Men’s Shelter at 400 East 30th Street last Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. for an unclassified felony after he failed to register a change of address with the sex offender monitoring unit. Police said that Johnson is a level 2 sex offender after being convicted of sexual abuse in the first degree on March 6, 2007. After he was notified of his duties in 2010 and 2015, he allegedly failed to notify authorities of a change of address within 10 days as required by law. Police said that Johnson has a previous conviction for failure to register on April 25, 2016 in Kings County.

MAN WAVES KNIFE AT STRAPHANGERS

ON Q TRAIN NEAR UNION SQUARE

July14 Menacing.jpg

Q train suspect

Police are looking for a man who allegedly pulled a knife on fellow straphangers on the Q train and waved it around in a threatening manner last Thursday. A 49-year-old woman told police that while she was riding a downtown Q from Union Square at 9:05 a.m. when she saw the man waving a knife and making threats to passengers. The man left the train at Canal Street and fled in an unknown direction. The suspect is described as a 30-year-old black man, 6’0″ tall, 180 lbs. with a bald head and dark complexion. He was last seen wearing a red shirt, gray jogging pants and black sneakers.

 

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS or for Spanish 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are kept strictly confidential.

MAN STOPPED FROM STEALING ICE CREAM BITES INTO OFFICER INSTEAD

Thirty-year-old Thomas McKnight was arrested for robbery last Friday after trying to make off with some ice cream from the Duane Reade at 777 Sixth Avenue. Police said that McKnight took ice cream out of the freezer and put it into his shorts without paying for it. When he passed the register and attempted to leave the store, a loss prevention officer attempted to stop him, at which point McKnight allegedly punched the officer in the face, causing swelling and a scratch to his cheek. Police said that McKnight also bit the officer on the arm, causing a red mark, and allegedly stomped on the officer’s cell phone, causing it to break. McKnight was also charged with petit larceny, criminal mischief and possession of stolen property.

MAN ARRESTED AFTER FIREWORKS

HIT PEDESTRIAN ON FIRST AVENUE

Police arrested 32-year-old Joshua Hernandez for reckless endangerment and possession of fireworks on Independence Day last Monday at 10:05 p.m. inside 275 First Avenue. Police were conducting a floor-by-floor search at the building across from Stuyvesant Town because lit fireworks had been thrown onto the street and in one instance hit a passerby. Hernandez was allegedly on the building’s rooftop with a belt of fireworks and a green torch lighter. Police said he was also allegedly in possession of additional fireworks that were in his pants pocket and a transparent bag containing additional fireworks was found behind him.

PAIR ARRESTED FOR CAR BREAK-INS

Police arrested 22-year-old Shaquille King and a teenager for petit larceny in front of the Senton Hotel at 39 West 27th Street on Independence Day last Monday at 6:26 a.m. King and the teen allegedly entered the front passenger’s side and on the back driver’s side of a car. Police said that the car was unlocked but the doors were closed. The victim said he wasn’t sure if property was taken from the car, but King and the teen allegedly went into another car on the driver’s side and passenger’s side. Police said that a witness has video of the incident and saw the car break-in happen. King and the teen allegedly fled east on 27th Street before they were arrested. The teen’s name is being withheld due to his age.

CABBIE ARRESTED FOR HIT-AND-RUN

Police arrested 26-year-old Jonathan Kwok inside the 13th Precinct last Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. for leaving the scene of an accident causing personal injury. Police said that Kwok hit the victim with his cab at West 21st and Sixth Avenue on May 21, causing pain to the victim’s hip and leg. Kwok allegedly drove off before police arrived at the scene.

DUANE READE EMPLOYEE BUSTED FOR THEFT

Police arrested 41-year-old Valencia Parrish for petit larceny inside the Duane Reade at 401 Park Avenue South last Wednesday at 11:07 a.m. The store manager told police that he noticed Parrish’s cash register was short on June 15 at the end of her shift and subsequently realized that her register had been short on other shifts of hers as well. He started watching her on video surveillance last Tuesday. Around 8:44 a.m. that day, he saw Parrish receive payment for store items and she allegedly kept the cash in her right hand while giving the customer change. After the customer left the store, Parrish allegedly put the money inside her shirt near her neck. The manager said that Parrish could be seen on video surveillance taking cash on a number of different occasions.

TRESPASSER ARRESTED IN

VACANT APARTMENT IN GRAMERCY

Police arrested 32-year-old Brian Miller for criminal mischief and criminal trespass in front of 15 East 21st Street last Wednesday at 2:28 p.m. The building manager of 15 East 21st Street told police that he went to check on an apartment in the building that is currently vacant and Miller was allegedly inside the apartment without permission. Police said that Miller fled out of an apartment window down the fire escape and was stopped down the block. The building manager said that there was also damage to a ladder that was inside the apartment.

L&W OYSTER CO. EMPLOYEE

ARRESTED AFTER THEFTS

Police arrested 35-year-old Dustin Robinson inside L&W Oyster Co. at 254 Fifth Avenue last Tuesday at 5:07 p.m. for petit larceny and possession of stolen property. Robinson allegedly took money from the victim’s bag that was inside the location. The victim said that he put a camera in the office because money had gone missing after Robinson was hired the previous Saturday.

WOMAN ARRESTED FOR ASSAULT

IN UNION SQUARE

Police arrested 23-year-old Ayanna Hull for assault and harassment at the corner of Union Square East and East 14th Street last Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. Hull allegedly punched and scratched the victim, causing bruising and cuts to her neck and chest. Police said that the argument was the result of a dispute over a backpack.

MAN BUSTED FOR THEFT AT WEWORK

Police arrested 37-year-old Nathan Pickett for allegedly swiping multiple paintings from the WeWork office at 115 West 18th Street. Police said that Pickett entered the location last Thursday at 10:03 a.m. using his passcard on his day off.

Calvary-St. George’s gets a not-quite-new rector

Expansion of programs at St. George’s and beautification of church planned

Rev. Jacob Smith

Rev. Jacob Smith

By Sabina Mollot

As far as any of the parishioners are concerned, Reverend Jacob Smith, who’s been the priest-in-charge at Calvary-St. George’s for the past three years, has been the church’s leader for all that time.

However, due to certain formalities within the structure of the Episcopal Church, it wasn’t until last month that Smith, who’s been serving the double parish for the past decade, was called as its new rector. Normally, he explained, someone who began as a pastoral assistant, as he did at Calvary, wouldn’t get to become a rector at the same church, so his situation was an exception.

The city’s 199-Episcopal Church network also took the unusual step in seeking the counsel of the Diocese in calling Smith, and he’ll be assisting in the leadership of St. Ann’s, a church for the deaf. The date of his institution has not yet been set.

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Ray Kelly recalls life as New York’s top cop

Ray Kelly

Ray Kelly

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly joined his son, Fox5 anchor Greg Kelly, in a discussion about his life and career at the National Arts Club on Tuesday, May 10.

The pair discussed Kelly’s service as the city’s longest serving police commissioner, but Greg also said that he wanted to highlight parts of his father’s story that people might not know about during the discussion, such as the fact that his father was first in his class at the police academy, receiving a commemorative weapon for the honor.

“Just to illustrate the power of Bloomingdale’s in those days, that was known as the Bloomingdale’s trophy,” Kelly said. “Bloomingdale’s had a lot of juice in those days.”

The event at the Arts Club in Gramercy Park was in promotion of Kelly’s newly released memoir, Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City.

“We rehearsed nothing for this and he has a history of trying to submarine me,” Kelly joked about his relationship with his son before the conversation started.

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GNA holds annual community exhibit at Arts Club

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By Sabina Mollot

The Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, which curates an exhibit at the National Arts Club each year featuring works by local artists, said that this year’s was the biggest show yet with around 100 works on display. This year’s show will also be the longest, having kicked off on March 15 and running through March 25 in three out of five of the club’s gallery spaces.

Sixty-six artists and photographers participated this year, mostly from Gramercy and Stuyvesant Town. (Full disclosure: One participant was the person writing this.)

On the night of the opening reception for the show on March 17, Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, figured there were about 300 people in attendance, as he peered over the sea of heads. This is normal for the GNA’s art openings.

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Gunman robs couple outside Gramercy Park

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A man and woman walking around Gramercy Park were mugged by a man who turned a gun on them before demanding they hand over cash and jewelry.

This was around at 11 p.m. on Sunday night, according to Gramercy Park Block Association President Arlene Harrison, who shared news of the robbery in an email to neighbors on Tuesday.

The couple, who Harrison said do not live in Manhattan, had just left the nearby Pete’s Tavern after a date when they decided to take a walk around the park. After walking up Irving Place and almost making a full loop around the park, they came across a man who looked lost at the corner of East 21st Street and Gramercy Park West.

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Loan breathes life into Players

Money being invested into dining service, events

The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

The Players at 16 Gramercy Park South (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

While the historic Players Club on Gramercy Park has been struggling for the last few years with controversy over financial mismanagement, changes in administration and over $4 million in debt, the new administration has quietly been working on adjusting course to increase revenue and get programming back on track.

The club did not pay off the debt outright, but President Arthur Makar said that they were able to obtain an $8.5 million loan through a single lender and will be using the money to revitalize the club and increase revenue. The loan came from the Terrapin Lending Company, which issues loans to small businesses.

“We were in debt up to our ears,” Makar said. “Through (club treasurer Michael McCurdy’s) good work, we did something that everyone said was impossible to do: find financing to move us forward.”

Town & Village reported in 2014 that the club was considering selling off artwork to deal with some of the debt, including a valuable John Singer Sargent painting of actor Joseph Jefferson, but Makar said the club luckily did not have to resort to this tactic.

“We’re proud we ended up not having to consider selling the Sargent,” said Michael Barra, chair of the the managing committee and executive committee of the Board of Directors. “If the financing hadn’t come through, we would have been in dire straits but we were even able to lend the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They recently returned it so he’s back in the clubhouse where he’ll be for all time. The club has not and will not be selling any of our artwork. It’s not fiscally prudent.”

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Mumbles restaurant closes, La Follia will take over space

Jan28 Mumbles

Mumbles at Third Avenue and 17th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

 

By Sabina Mollot

Mumbles, a family-run restaurant that’s been in the Gramercy neighborhood for 22 years, closed its doors for good on Sunday.

The business has been sold to the owners of a nearby restaurant La Follia, who will be moving in February.

On Thursday, January 21, Mumbles’ owner, David Feldman threw a going away party at the restaurant, which he said was packed with family, friends and regulars.

Reached at the restaurant the next day as the city prepared for a blizzard, Feldman explained his reasons for closing the restaurant, which at one time had three Manhattan locations.

For one thing, his father, who started the business, died six years ago, leaving Feldman and his brother to run things. But then Feldman also lost his brother a year ago to cancer.

This left Feldman alone to run Mumbles as well as two other restaurants the family owned, Benjamin in Murray Hill, and East of Eighth in Chelsea, as well as a catering business. Those businesses will all remain open.

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Snapping the snowstorm: Gramercy Park in pictures

Making the best of a weekend of being snowed in, numerous residents of Gramercy Park headed outside, cameras in tow, to capture the blizzard’s beauty as well as the opportunity to enjoy the snow with their families. The neighbor photo project was organized by Arlene Harrison, president of the Gramercy Park Block Association. Here are just some of the photos. The rest (over 100) can be seen on Harrison’s Flickr.

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School sets stage for Pre-K ballerinas

The New York Theatre Ballet will present a performance of “The Nutcracker” this weekend. (Photo by Richard Termine)

The New York Theatre Ballet will present a performance of “The Nutcracker” this weekend. (Photo by Richard Termine)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Since moving to a new location at St. Mark’s Church on-the-Bowery last year after more than three decades in its old space, New York Theatre Ballet has been trying to come up with new ways to get involved with the community. To that end, the school has recently started offering pre-ballet classes for children as young as three and four years old, as well as expanding its adult program for women of all ages.

However, while NYTB founder and artistic director Diana Byer said the adult classes are held in a welcoming atmosphere for anyone who “has never put on ballet slippers,” the younger students are held to a much loftier standard.

“It’s very professional,” she said. “It’s not a play date and it involves serious training. We teach them that their behavior affects everything around them and we have real expectations for the students.”

The company’s interest in getting young children involved in dance and theater is evidenced through the classes that start at such a young age but also through the performances that are tailored specifically to kids.

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Calvary’s candlelight concert will feature Arabic music as well as caroling and jazz

Last year’s service and concert (Photo courtesy of Calvary/St. George’s)

Last year’s service and concert (Photo courtesy of Calvary/St. George’s)

By Sabina Mollot

On Sunday, December 6, Calvary-St. George’s Church will continue one of the oldest church traditions in the country with its 127th annual holiday candlelight service and concert.

The event, which will feature a broad mix of traditional and contemporary music in different styles as well as Christmas caroling, will also for the first time, include some Arabic music with Arabic instruments. This was planned by the parish’s music director, Egyptian-born Kamel Boutros, in a sign of peace between different cultures following the recent terrorist attacks.

Joshua Encinias, an executive assistant at the Episcopal parish, said the concert each year is a mix of old and new in its musical program. The candlelight is an old Anglican tradition from the United Kingdom, he explained, with Calvary’s candlelight caroling event being the first known concert of that type in the United States.

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Stuy Town author delves into history of Gramercy Park and Union Square

 

Alfred Pommer in Gramercy Park (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Alfred Pommer in Gramercy Park (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuyvesant Town resident Alfred Pommer, who’s been leading historical walking tours of various Manhattan neighborhoods for over 25 years, has released a new book about two neighborhoods with particularly rich but different histories — Gramercy Park and Union Square. Pommer’s wife Joyce is the co-author of the book, Exploring Gramercy Park and Union Square ($22, paperpack, The History Press), which was released on October 26.

Together, the couple has also written another book, Exploring Manhattan’s Murray Hill, and Pommer has previously written two other neighborhood history books, Exploring New York’s SoHo and Exploring the Original West Village.

On his latest venture, Pommer said he had initially pitched the idea to his publisher of writing only about Gramercy Park, but was then asked to throw the adjacent neighborhood into the mix.

“I said sure,” said Pommer, who was intrigued by the idea of side-by-side profiles of a neighborhood known for its exclusivity as well as one known for being the pulpit of the masses.

“You have two different neighborhoods in Manhattan that have distinctively different heritages,” he said. “Union Square represents the working class, the common people, while Gramercy Park is much more elite and wealthy, and like many neighborhoods in Manhattan, they’re a block apart.”

The book delves into the past of each community, with Gramercy Park always having been known for its wealthy residents but also those who were creatively gifted.

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Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood returns

Staff with Florian, a participating restaurant; Beth Tominello from the Fireman’s Hospitality Group, the restaurant’s parent company; James King, general manager; Brando D’Oliveira, executive chef and Emil Holzwarth, cook, serving the restaurant’s Sunday meatballs (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Staff with Florian, a participating restaurant; Beth Tuminello from the Fireman’s Hospitality Group, the restaurant’s parent company; James King, general manager; Brando De Oliveira, executive chef and Emil Holzwarth, cook, serving the restaurant’s Sunday meatballs (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, the annual food tasting festival and fundraiser, took place under a sunny sky on Irving Place.

This year, 20 restaurants participated and the event’s organizer, the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, sold 325 tickets. GNA President Alan Krevis said it was the best year so far — this was the third time the event was held — though he declined to share how much money the event raised. Net proceeds will be going to two neighborhood schools, PS 40 and School of the Future.

Meanwhile, the crowd of mostly neighborhood residents sampled dishes like rabbit meatball sliders from Ichabod’s, lobster rolls from Burger & Lobster, house cured Tasmanian sea trout from Barbounia and yellow tomato gazpacho from Adalya.

At the event was Claude and Shelley Winfield, residents of East Midtown Plaza, who said they’re regulars at many Gramercy restaurants, like Ponty Bistro and Casa Mono, and always on the lookout for new ones to try.

“Shelley and I try to support the neighborhood restaurants, otherwise you lose them,” said Claude, also the second vice chair of Community Board 6.

“If you use places in your area, all your streets are lit,” added Shelley. “A lot of people don’t know that.”

At TOGN for the first time was another couple who live in a building on the block where the event was taking place, between 17th and 18th Streets.

After sitting down at one of the streetside tables, both Liz and Mark Mindlin said they were impressed with all the options.

“The food is delicious so far,” said Liz, who added that while they often go to restaurants in the neighborhood, the event was the first time they’d heard of The Stand, a nearby comedy club and restaurant. “The food was very good,” she added.

A few of this year’s participating eateries also said the festival has been helpful in getting the word out about their businesses.

A returning restaurant was Ichabod’s, where Courtney Oakley, the director of events, said the event sometimes attracts foodies visiting from out of town (the W Hotel is nearby) as well as people from other neighborhoods.

She added, “This is something Brooklyn has always done very well, different festivals with great food. It’s wonderful that we’re having more of them in Manhattan.”

Greg Azzollini, one of the owners at the family-run Paul & Jimmy’s, agreed. “Just a few minutes ago I met someone who said he’d been in the neighborhood for 10 years and never tried us and now they’re going to come for dinner,” he added. “Plus it’s a nice way to meet other restaurant owners.”

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Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood event to return on September 26

Paul & Jimmy’s, pictured at Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood in 2013, is one of 20 participating restaurants this year. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Paul & Jimmy’s, pictured at Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood in 2013, is one of 20 participating restaurants this year. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Taste of Gramercy Neighborhood, an annual food festival/fundraiser organized by the Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, is returning this year on September 26.

This is only the third time the event’s been held, but it’s already become a yearly event due to popular demand of both local foodies and neighborhood restaurants.

Ironically, when first presented with the idea for a food festival by a group member, Alan Krevis, president of the GNA, was against it, thinking it would be too big for the organization to pull off.

On the decision to go for it and then keep doing it, Krevis said, “Truthfully the neighbors like it. The restaurants like it. The restaurants would not come back if they didn’t feel it helped their business. And that’s what it’s about. Promoting our local businesses, promoting the GNA and our love of the neighborhood.”

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Gramercy author releases latest murder mystery

Aug20 Shooting for the StarsBy Sabina Mollot

Dick Belsky, a longtime Gramercy resident and novelist, has released the third book in what was supposed to be a three-part series (but has recently been extended to include at least one more book) around an investigative reporter character named Gil Malloy. The book, called Shooting for the Stars, was released on August 11 ($16 paperback, Simon and Schuster) and focuses on the reporter’s search for the person who murdered a famous actress some 30 years earlier. Police seem reluctant to reopen the case, which was blamed on the wrong person who later killed himself, and the mob be even be involved somehow, but Malloy remains set on cracking the case — and breaking the story.

Shooting for the Stars follows two other books; the first being The Kennedy Connection, which came out last year and focuses on how Malloy, whose career is on the rise, ends up in disgrace after fabricating an interview with a notorious New York prostitute. In reality, the quotes in the story he’d attributed to the street walker named Houston were all second-hand; he’d never gotten to meet her. He then becomes untouchable and has to redeem himself — through a story on the link between a string of murders. The second book, an e-novella called The Midnight Hour, was released in January of this year. In that story, Malloy investigates the massacre of the family that turned out to be blamed on the wrong person, who was executed for the crime.

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