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.