Owner of Rosemary’s opening spot in Peter Cooper

Rosemary’s owner Carlos Suarez announced the new restaurant last week. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The owner of popular West Village restaurant Rosemary’s will be opening a fifth location, this time on the East Side, taking over the space that was formerly occupied by Petite Abeille and Vamos! at the corner of First Avenue and East 20th Street. The new spot, which will include a space for private events, a vegetable garden just outside the restaurant, a sidewalk cafe and a dedicated space for takeout orders, is expected to open by next spring.

Carlos Suarez’s Casa Nela restaurant group owns Rosemary’s and until now, the most recent addition to their roster was Roey’s on Perry Street in the West Village in 2018, which originally opened as Rosemary’s Pizza, Eater reported at the time.

Suarez said during the announcement of the new restaurant on Tuesday night at Resident Services in Stuy Town that Rosemary’s was created with the intention of giving the neighborhood a space to feel comfortable.

“I named my restaurant Rosemary’s after my mother because I felt that the West Village needed a place to take care of the neighborhood, open all the time, offering a wide variety of delicious food that’s healthy and homemade, all at a reasonable price point,” he said. “I wanted to create the kind of place that would be welcoming to a diverse audience from students and young adults and seniors alike. So the name, the concept and the vision of the original Rosemary’s, and now Roey’s, my mom’s nickname, were all decided with the intention of making our West Village neighborhood a better place to live, to work and to visit.”

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AR Workshop offers crafty options for Gramercy

AR Workshop owner Jill Zadie opened up in Gramercy on Third Avenue in March. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Heads up, crafters: there’s a new workshop space in town. A new location for national company AR Workshop has opened on Third Avenue and is offering DIY classes for projects in the retail space formerly occupied by clothing shop, Second Time Around.

The new spot in Gramercy that opened this past March is run by Murray Hill resident Jill Zadie, who has been living in the neighborhood for the last eight years and is originally from New Jersey. Her store on Third Avenue is the first location in Manhattan for AR Workshop and it was actually when she was visiting friends back in New Jersey that she first attended a class in one of the locations there.

“I just fell in love with it, and I said I wish they had this in Manhattan,” she said. “Then the owner of that workshop told me they’re a brand new company that is not in Manhattan yet and you should look into it. So I looked into it.”

Zadie, who is a corporate attorney by trade, said that she was drawn to the company because of their commitment to empowering women, giving back to the community and having a space for families to spend time together.

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Associated closing in Stuyvesant Town

Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Associated Supermarket in Stuyvesant Town on East 14th Street will likely be closing by the end of this year, StuyTown general manager Rick Hayduk announced in an email to residents last Friday afternoon.

Hayduk noted in the message that management has been working with the store in an attempt to keep the market open through the holiday season, including by offering free rent, but the store reportedly still would not be able to guarantee that it could stay open through the end of the year.

The owners told management that the competitive environment for supermarkets, both locally and due to online ordering, led them to the decision to close.

Norman Quintanilla, who has been the manager at the store for the last 16 years, told Town & Village on Tuesday that they have notified employees that the last day would be December 10, but the store will likely end up closing by the end of November.

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Non-profit offers singing opportunities for seniors at Third Street

Third Street Music School (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Gramercy resident Loretta Marion rediscovered choral singing after her husband died almost a decade ago but has found community in a group of older adults who perform with a non-profit with origins in Annapolis that has organized in New York for the last couple of years.

The organization, called Encore, provides adults age 55 and over with singing opportunities, and the New York chapter began its new season at a new, local location for its fall season earlier this month. Encore Rocks, a rock & roll chorus that covers hits from the 50s to the 80s, and Encore Chorale, which is a choral group singing arrangements from classical and Broadway, both have a new home at Third Street Music School Settlement on East 11th Street.

Marion, 80, has lived on Third Avenue between East 18th and 19th Streets since she got married in 1968 and before that, lived in a studio apartment on East 22nd Street at Second Avenue.

“I’ve been in this neighborhood for a long time,” she said. This year, she will be a volunteer chorale master for Encore Chorale.

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Gristedes across from Peter Cooper Village to become D’Agostino

The store is expected to have an official grand re-opening next Friday, September 20.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Gristedes at 355 First Avenue across from Peter Cooper Village will be converted into a D’Agostino, owner John Catsimatidis confirmed last week.

Catsimatidis told Real Estate Weekly last week that the change was at the request of neighbors, since there was D’Agostino east of First Avenue in Stuyvesant Town for over 50 years. That store lost its lease over a decade ago and was replaced with a new gym. Catsimatidis said that there are no plans right now to re-brand at other Gristedes locations.

Neighbors notified Town & Village at the beginning of this month that a sign announcing the change was posted in the window and the Gristedes sign had been removed by September 3.

Signage outside the store had already changed over to D’Agostino by this past Tuesday and renovations were ongoing in the store at the time. Construction workers outside the store on Tuesday said that the store will be staying open during the renovations and the grand re-opening is scheduled for next Friday, September 20.

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Mahjong with a side of shmear

Stuy Town resident Susie Fasbinder has started teaching mahjong classes at the Ess-a-Bagel in Stuyvesant Town on First Avenue. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Stuyvesant Town resident Susie Fasbinder wants to bring an old game to a younger generation—over a classic New York meal. Fasbinder approached Ess-a-Bagel owner Beverly Wilpon about hosting small games at the shop on First Avenue and Wilpon was open to it, thus “mahjong and a shmear” was born.

Fasbinder, who is also a children’s book author, learned how to play the game as a teenager and picked it up again in her 50s but began teaching classes because she was having trouble finding games locally. She started listing classes through Facebook groups and said that she taught about 30 people how to play over the last six to eight months before starting the classes in the Stuyvesant Town Ess-a-Bagel at 324 First Avenue.

Those initial lessons were private classes but she got the idea to open it up to the public when walking by the bagel shop, which also offers space to a knitting group on Tuesday nights. Classes started out on Monday nights but Fasbinder said that she’s adding a class on Wednesdays as well due to their popularity. Wilpon said that they already have classes scheduled through September and was surprised at how popular they ended up being.

Banu Chediek, a Long Island City resident, found the class after hearing about it from the knitting group that Ess-a-Bagel hosts on Tuesday nights and attended one of Fasbinder’s mahjong classes last month. Another student who attended last month, Lee Murphy, used to live in Stuy Town and Katie Ward, who lives in the East Village, also attended.

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Local writers wanted for monthly meetups

East Village Wordsmiths has been hosted at Ciao for Now on East 12th Street for the last year.

By Sabina Mollot and Maria Rocha-Buschel

For the past year, a group of writers led by Stuyvesant Town resident Leigh Anne O’Connor have been meeting monthly at East Village restaurant Ciao for Now where they take turns reading from new works.

In recent months the writing workshop, dubbed the East Village Wordsmiths, has grown in numbers, though O’Connor said there is still plenty of room for more.

“It would be great to have a steady group of performers,” she said. “Sometimes we’re there and we have an hour and 20 minutes but sometimes we’re done inside an hour. I want it to expand into having a solid show.”

O’Connor, who works as a lactation consultant for breastfeeding mothers, says she had been doing writing on the breastfeeding and other issues that involved raising children. One of her motivations for starting the group, though, came from a writing class that she took at the Tribeca 92nd Street Y where she got the opportunity to perform some of her work.

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City: Don’t just blame high rent

Study reveals variety of reasons for retail vacancies

The city described vacancy rates as “volatile,” varying widely from neighborhood to neighborhood. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While too-high rents and competition from Amazon are often blamed for the state of the city’s struggling retail sector, when there’s a high vacancy rate in a particular neighborhood, it can’t necessarily be pinned down to one specific obstacle.

At least, that’s the conclusion drawn by the Department of City Planning (DCP), which has released a study of the city’s retail storefronts to determine vacancy rates and the possible reasons for them.

The report was done after assessing 10,000 storefronts in 24 retail corridors around the boroughs using data from a tech platform put out by the company Live XYZ as well as on the ground surveys. Looking at trends from late 2017 through Fall 2018, the study also used demographic, land use and real estate data, and input from local business associations. The survey defined a vacant space as vacant and available. Those not included in stats were vacant spaces with active construction or known redevelopment plans as well as empty stores with signage announcing a future tenant. Occupied stores with a “for lease” sign were also excluded from the vacancy figures.

Overall the study found, when comparing similar data from a decade ago, vacancy has increased from 7.6-9 percent over the studied neighborhoods.

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Co-owner of The Stand killed

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested 27-year-old Joseph Porter for the murder of 40-year-old David Kimowitz, co-owner of The Stand comedy club in Union Square, and his live-in au pair, 26-year-old Karen Bermudez-Rodriguez early Saturday morning on August 3.

The New York Times reported that Porter was the boyfriend of Bermudez-Rodriguez and he was charged with two counts of murder, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and criminal restraint.

The Times reported that police responded to a 911 call to the Maplewood, NJ home around sunrise reporting that a woman was being assaulted, and when police arrived, they found Bermudez-Rodriguez lying in the street, critically injured. She was transported to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, where she later died.

According to the criminal complaint, Bermudez-Rodriguez and Porter had communicated via text on the night of the murders and Bermudez-Rodriguez had written that she wanted to break up with Porter, who then responded that he was upset with her because she was trying to end the relationship.

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Rivera announces tools for small businesses

Councilmember Carlina Rivera announced the new tools for small businesses in front of vacant storefronts on East 9th Street last week. (Photos courtesy of Councilmember Rivera’s office)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

City Councilmember Carlina Rivera joined neighborhood organizations outside vacant storefronts on East 9th Street on Tuesday, July 30 to announce new initiatives to help small businesses in the East Village, including an app that connects residents to local businesses in the neighborhood.

Renaissance EDC, Asian Americans for Equality, Village Alliance, Cooper Square Committee, East Village Community Coalition and the East Village Independent Merchants Association joined Rivera for the announcement that the East Village Revitalization Loan Fund will be offering East Village business owners the opportunity to borrow up to $50,000 with fixed interest rates lower than what small business owners would be able to secure through a normal loan provider. Renaissance EDC is an affiliate of Asian Americans for Equality.

The loans can be used for restocking inventory, purchasing new equipment or furniture, payroll, storefront improvements or renovations, marketing and other typical high-cost capital needs.

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First Avenue florist retiring

Pete Tsoumas is retiring on Friday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

After 65 years in business, the colorful floral stand tucked in a corner at the Brooklyn-bound exit of the First Avenue L is selling its last bouquet on Friday. Current owner Pete Tsoumas has been operating the stand for almost 50 years, having taken it over from his grandfather and uncle after running three other stores in the city, and now he finally gets to retire. 

“If you told me I’d be here for 48 years, I’d say you’re crazy,” Tsoumas said. 

Tsoumas said that the construction on the station was a challenge but the main reason he’s closing up shop is his health and he’s looking forward to spending time with his family. 

“I need a rest. ‘If you don’t close on Friday, you won’t make it (to your appointment) in September,’” he said his doctor told him at a previous appointment, indicating that his stem-cutting arm gives him trouble.

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Town & Village Hardware closing

Town & Village owner Peter Bergida (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

After 25 years in business, Town & Village Hardware will be closing at the end of June.

One of the shop’s two owners, Ukraine-born Peter Bergida, said he’s turning 69 and plans to retire as does his partner Dave Sidoti.

A sign now hanging in the storefront says Town & Village is teaming up with H. Brickman & Sons Ace hardware across the avenue in Stuyvesant Town. However, this is only temporary. Bergida explained that he and Sidoti will be working at the other store, a family-owned franchise, over the summer to answer customers’ questions.

“We’ll work there maybe for a month or two to help people in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village,” said Bergida. “We’ve been here for 25 years so we know what they need.”

And then, unless something changes, it’s on to retirement.

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Opinion: Help the SBJSA move forward

The following is an open letter from Small Business Congress founder Sung Soo Kim to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act. It has been edited for length.

Honorable Speaker Johnson:

I am disheartened that you refused to respond to my first request to meet and at least try to create compromise legislation to stop the closings of our city’s small businesses and save jobs. I took you at your word made at the October hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act that you recognized a serious crisis existed and that you were committed to a solution and moving the bill (Small Business Jobs Survival Act) to a vote.

It is obvious to every small business owner that the grossly unfair lease renewal process places their futures and the futures of their employees in grave jeopardy when their leases expire. The empty storefronts on every main street make it obvious to every New Yorker that their beloved mom and pop businesses, having no rights nor protections from exorbitant rent increases, are desperate for government intervention to save them.

Putting aside the REBNY, Chambers, SBS and BID spins, false narratives, and insulting studies and fake worthless proposals, the majority of the city’s lawmakers also know their small businesses cannot survive without this legislation that gives rights to business owners in the critical lease renewal process.

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

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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.”

Strand bookstore fighting landmarking attempt

Strand bookstore at 826-828 Broadway and 12th Street (Photo via Wikipedia)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Advocates for the Strand bookstore are protesting its proposed landmarking ahead of the last public hearing on the topic next Tuesday.

Nancy Bass Wyden, the owner of the Strand, came out against the proposed landmarking of her business at the end of last year, arguing at a previous public hearing before the Landmarks Preservation Commission that doing so would destroy the business.

Bass Wyden’s family, which has been operating the bookstore at 826-828 Broadway at 12th Street since 1927, has owned the building for the last 20 years. The store was originally opened by Benjamin Bass and the family has been operating the business for the last 90 years. The business relocated to its current spot on Broadway just south of Union Square Park in 1956 and Benjamin’s son, Fred, bought the building in 1996.

“We operate on thin margins,” Bass Wyden argued in a petition against the landmarking. “For every repair and every upgrade, the Strand would have to go through the slow bureaucracy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which adds to the expenses to keep Strand alive.”

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