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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Third time’s the charm for Stuyvesant Town flea

Playground 9 was bustling with vendors and shoppers at the Stuyvesant Town Flea Market this past Saturday. See Town & Village’s website for more photos of the event. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

After two failed attempts earlier this month due to rain, the Stuy Town flea market finally had its day in the sun last weekend with hundreds of residents searching for hidden treasures from their neighbors.

The market was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 4, and was rescheduled to the following day because of the weather, although when it quickly became clear that May 5 would be a washout as well, management postponed the event to last Saturday with fingers crossed and another slew of possible rain dates. But the additional raindates proved unnecessary as the weather cooperated this past weekend, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid to high 70s.

General manager Rick Hayduk said that it seemed like a number of vendors who reserved a spot for the original date never alerted management that they wouldn’t be able to make the new date that was scheduled due to the rain, leaving the spot empty on the day of the market, but he said that the number of no-shows was still similar to that of last year.

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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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Holiday gifts for $30 or under found at neighborhood stores

Necklaces with pendants fashioned out of real flowers on display at HE Boutique (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Christmas coming and Hanukkah too — this weekend in fact for the latter — local stores are now in full holiday mode, with shelves stocked with a surprising amount of bargains, not to mention hard to find items. For those unsure of where to start looking, Town & Village has compiled a list of interesting gifts found at neighborhood stores, all costing $30 or less.

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Letters to the editor, Sept. 27

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Poor planning could impact local ERs

I’ve been worried about the fact that the Sanitation Garage pushed circa 2015 is referred to by some in NYCity’s government as “on hold.” I assume that means someone will reintroduce it sometime.

For now there’s T&V’s story (Maria Rocha-Buschel’s really thorough piece on 9/6/18) about parking some garbage trucks near Bellevue.  It seems to me what needs addressing is why is the city allowing the garage at 606 West 30th Street to fall to eviction?

This is between 11th and the Westside Highway and, if it’s not inside Hudson Yard’s perimeters, it’s next to it. My suspicions are that big developer money has prevailed to push the need for garbage collection out of the shiny new Hudson Yards. How did the city let this happen even if it was under the Bloomberg administration? Is it too late to alter any of this? Are any politicians addressing this issue?

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Murray’s on First Ave. closes

feb14-local-businesses-murrays-falafel

Former Murray’s owner Murray Allon at the restaurant (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, August 27, Murray’s Falafel & Grill on First Avenue, the only kosher restaurant serving meat in the Stuyvesant Town and Stuyvesant Square neighborhoods, was hit with an eviction notice from the city marshal’s office.

An employee for the marshal confirmed the notice and said such evictions are usually due to nonpayment of rent, though she didn’t have specific information in this case.

However, a Stuyvesant Town resident who was a customer said she heard from the previous owner, Murray Allon, that the restaurant had recently been sold to a family member who’d gotten behind on rent in the past few months.

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Explosion snarling sales, say Flatiron businesses

A masked police officer directs traffic on Broadway on Monday. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

While the so-called “hot zone” of businesses potentially impacted by the burst of an asbestos-covered steam pipe has shrunk since last Thursday, even businesses in Flatiron that were soon able to reopen say their customers have not returned.

Since the day of the burst, the streets directly surrounding the burst pipe site have remained barricaded off as Con Ed and various cities continue their investigation. Additionally, the streets have been teeming with police and other emergency responders, some wearing masks. The police have mainly been directing traffic to prevent errant photo-snapping pedestrians from getting too close to the work site.

Meanwhile, numerous buildings in the neighborhood remained empty of residents and workers as Con Ed conducted inspections for debris from the explosion.

On Monday, Town & Village spoke with employees at several businesses located on Broadway between 20th and 22nd Street about the lack of foot traffic.

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Pushcart to become Citizens of Gramercy

Rogers (Photo courtesy of Carlina Rivera)

By Sabina Mollot

This week, a reader alerted us to the fact that Pushcart coffee at the corner of 21st Street and Second Avenue, had signage indicating it would be closing on June 14. She then spoke with an employee who said the place was sold and would reopen as a brunch spot.

After we reached out to one of the owners, Jamie Rogers, he responded that this was partly accurate.

“We are converting the shop into a brunch cafe under the new name Citizens of Gramercy, and I will remain an owner,” he said via email.

Rogers added that he and his partners did the same conversion to a Pushcart in Chelsea (Citizens of Chelsea).

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Holiday gifts for $30 or less found at neighborhood stores

Boyar Gifts owner Tali Alexander demonstrates how what appears to be a bottle of wine opens to become a wine-opening kit. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Hanukkah here and Christmas around the corner, time is running out to get holiday gifts, but fortunately there are plenty of options available at neighborhood stores. In fact, this year more than ever, we can’t recommend shopping locally enough. Read on for Town & Village’s ideas for gifts $30 or under, all found at local, brick-and-mortar stores.

  1. Forget candles and picture frames and find a quirky home gift at new boutique Boyar Gifts, 383B Second Avenue between East 22nd and 23rd Streets.

One recommendation from shop owner Tali Alexander is the store’s five-piece wine kit, $25, which at first glance appears to be a bottle of red wine, but is actually a set that includes a stopper, opener and other bar accessories. Alexander noted this has been especially popular as a housewarming gift. “Most of the time you buy a bottle of wine and then it’s like, ‘How do you open it?’” she said.

Other popular gift items are trinket trays for displaying jewelry or other small items, that read things like, “You the Mensch” and “Matzah matzah man,” $15, and one set of three trinket trays shaped like Russian nesting dolls, $25. A set of five decorative tins of Kusmi Parisian tea is $15 while mugs with various sayings, including, “Who are these kids and why do they keep calling me Grandma?” are $15.

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Hoylman: Restaurants are taking the heat for delayed gas service

Frank’s Trattoria went without gas for eight weeks earlier this year following a gas leak at a nearby building. It is still in business, though others that have gone through lengthy periods without gas were less fortunate. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this year, Frank’s Trattoria, a pizzeria and restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, went eight weeks without gas to cook with following a gas leak at a neighboring building. The roughly two months spent without gas was due to delays in getting inspections from Con Ed as well as getting all the necessary paperwork from Department of Buildings. The owners at the time told Town & Village they were trying to stay afloat by cooking what menu items they could using electric stoves they purchased. However, they still lost a lot of business since they couldn’t make pizza that way and because the portable stoves took longer to cook with, some customers would choose not to wait.

The owners told us they didn’t even know how much they lost, but it’s possible the amount was $140,000.

Apparently, this is the average loss to Manhattan businesses that had the same problem in recent years, who also had an average wait of 68 days for the gas to go back on. Those figures are the result of a study conducted by the office of state Senator Brad Hoylman, with owners of businesses being interviewed through a survey.

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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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Exhibit taking residents back in time

Hours of the exhibition, taking place at Oval Studio, have been extended. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

On Saturday, StuyTown Property Services turned Oval Studio into a gallery space celebrating the community’s 70th anniversary.

The exhibition features various mementos from the property’s past, mostly on loan from residents. Items run from artwork showcasing the complex’s landscaping to photos of local businesses from days gone by to letters showing interaction between tenants and management. In one stern, type-written letter, a resident is informed that his child’s use of water gun on the grounds is a no-no.

The exhibition mostly steered clear of the property’s past major controversies, though, focusing on nostalgia, with a few exceptions. One could be the first year’s issues of this newspaper, which was displayed in a bound volume. (In the early years, an ongoing story involved Met Life’s policy of barring black residents.) There was also some other Stuy Town-focused reading material included.

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Civic groups oppose city proposal for half of street fair vendors to be community-based

Carol Schachter, vice president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, pictured at right at a recent street fair that the Community Council sponsored, with a member, Pat Sallin, and its president, Frank Scala (Photo by Mary Mahoney)

Carol Schachter, vice president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, pictured at right at a recent street fair that the Community Council sponsored, with a member, Pat Sallin, and its president, Frank Scala (Photo by Mary Mahoney)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Community organizers are worried that proposed new rules requiring participation from local businesses in street festivals will affect their revenue because they feel there won’t be enough participation from neighborhood vendors.

The Mayor’s Office of Citywide Events Coordination and Management (OCECM), which oversees the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO), proposed new rules for street festivals, including a requirement that 50 percent of participating vendors have a business or local presence within the same community board as the festival, as well as a limit on how many are allowed per community board every year, decreasing the number from 18 to 10.

Carol Schachter, who’s the vice president of the 13th Precinct Community Council, said that a number of groups depend on revenue from local street fairs to fund programming for the neighborhood. Schachter attempted to provide testimony about the issue at the public hearing held last Thursday but noted that the hearing was held in a small room without enough space to accommodate all those who wanted to speak.

“Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association hosts events like tangos in the park. They rely on street fair revenue,” she said. “We don’t have money as community organizations to pay for these things otherwise. We need that money for National Night Out: the giveaways, ice cream truck, they all have to be paid for and it’s paid for by revenue from street fairs.”

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Crowd comes out for Taste of Stuy Town

Dan and John's Wings (Photos by Maya Rader)

Dan and John’s Wings (Photos by Maya Rader)

By Maya Rader

Last weekend, the weekly Stuyvesant Town greenmarket wasn’t the only way to get fresh food on the Oval. On Saturday, September 24, about 450 people gathered there for the Taste of Stuy Town food festival. The food was free for all Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper residents at the now-annual event.

Attendees were given a little cardboard box in which to place their samples, then walked by the stands and got their food from vendors like Five Stuy Café, Crif Dogs NY, Big Mozz Sticks, Dan & John’s Wings, People’s Pops, Wonder + Well drinks and Butter Lane cupcakes.

Sean Rodden, a worker at Dan & John’s Wings, said, “Today’s been crazy successful for us. We just keep looking up and that line just doesn’t stop.”

There was also live music by the band Jeff Slate & Friends.

Click through for photos from the event.

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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.”