Where to celebrate New Year’s Eve

Richard Bona and  Mandekan Cubano will be playing at The Jazz Standard.

Richard Bona and Mandekan Cubano will be playing at The Jazz Standard.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel
With another year coming to an end, a number of neighborhood businesses are offering a wide variety of experiences for this New Year’s Eve, from rowdy parties to quiet meals, and even meditation. Local theaters and concert venues throughout the area are hosting parties and shows for the holiday.

Coco and the Vanity Vixens will be playing an 18+ show at the Gramercy Theatre at 127 East 23rd Street. Tickets range from $40 to $125. The off-Broadway burlesque show starts at 9:30 p.m. Ticket purchases for the show include entry to the New Year’s Eve countdown and the after party with Ice-T and Coco until 3 a.m.

Webster Hall at 125 East 11th Street will be taking advantage of its multilevel layout for their end-of-the-year extravaganza, featuring fire displays, DJs and live TVs showing the drop of the ball in Times Square at their New Year’s Eve Ball. The event will also feature the “largest balloon drop in the free world,” with 100,000 balloons falling from the ceiling at the stroke of midnight. General admission tickets are $99 and silver tickets are $150.

The Salon will be hosting a New Year’s Eve Eve party at the DL at 95 Delancey Street. This means that the festivities technically don’t take place on the holiday itself but the party is a tradition for the production company, which hosts various events and parties featuring big band music and swing dancing performances. Although the Salon is hosting this event in the Lower East Side this year, the party was previously held at The Players club.

Concert venues throughout the neighborhood will be hosting shows on New Year’s Eve and while Webster Hall might be consumed by a raucous New Year’s Eve-centric party, other music halls in the area are focusing on performances.

Brooklyn-based Holy Ghost! will be headlining Irving Plaza at 17 Irving Place, with Museum of Love and That Work performing as the opening bands. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and tickets, still on sale, are $52.50.

Richard Bona and Mandekan Cubano will be playing two New Year’s Eve shows at the Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street. The first show is at 7:30 p.m. and the second show, at 10:30 p.m., includes a three-course meal and a champagne toast. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. show are $135 and tickets for the 10:30 p.m. show are $195.

For more low-key dinner options, various local restaurants are offering special New Year’s Eve meals for the holiday.

Daniel Humm’s restaurant inside The NoMad Hotel at 1170 Broadway is offering an à la carte New Year’s Eve dinner with dishes such as Alaska king crab salad and roasted dry-aged tenderloin with seared foie gras, created for sharing. The New Year’s Eve festivities at the NoMad Bar are $195 per person and go from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. The price includes an open bar, DJ and hors d’oeuvres.

Resto at 111 East 29th Street, a Belgian gastropub, will be serving duck 12 different ways for the four-course New Year’s Eve menu, including consommé, sausage, confit and “ducketta.” Four courses at Resto is $95 from 5 to 7 p.m. and $150 after 9 p.m. Reservations are accepted for earlier dinner and seating after 9 p.m. includes an open bar and champagne at midnight.

Bread and Tulips at 365 Park Avenue South is offering a four-course prix fixe dinner with two different seatings. The earlier option is at 6 p.m. for $65 per person and the second is at 9 p.m. for $95 per person, which also includes open bar access at the restaurant’s New Year’s party. The Italian eatery is featuring dishes such as burrata with marinated tomatoes, duck breast over mascarpone polenta and chocolate and hazelnut mousse cake.

Jivamukti Yoga School will be holding its annual New Year’s Eve celebration with dinner, a dance party and silent reflection.

Jivamukti Yoga School will be holding its annual New Year’s Eve celebration with dinner, a dance party and silent reflection.

Some neighborhood yoga studios are offering quieter alternatives to the traditional drunken New Year’s revelry with a more meditative approach.

Jivamukti Yoga School at 841 Broadway near Union Square is hosting its 26th annual New Year’s Eve celebration with a special class, dinner, a dance party and silent reflection, which is from 9 p.m. to midnight. Admission to the class, which includes the vegan dinner, is $95.

Laughing Lotus at 636 Sixth Avenue is hosting New Year’s Eve celebration from 10 p.m. to midnight, offering an “intention-setting ceremony” with chanting, meditation and a live DJ. The cost of the class is $60 and there is a 48-hour cancellation policy.

Kundalini Yoga at 873 Broadway offers a cheaper alternative for New Year’s Eve meditation and yoga at $30 ($25 for members), although the meditation and yoga class is from 6 to 8 p.m. instead of all the way until midnight. The last day to register for Kundalini Yoga’s New Year’s event is on Tuesday, December 30.

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Great gifts available from local businesses

Thrift shops on East 23rd Street, like City Opera (pictured) are having holiday gift sales. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Thrift shops on East 23rd Street, like City Opera (pictured) are having holiday gift sales. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

While some may have gotten holiday shopping out of the way with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Town & Village has put together a guide for those who are looking to shop local for their gifts and offer some ideas for more unconventional presents.

Many neighborhood restaurants offer gift cards that provide more of an experience rather than a tangible present. First Avenue’s Petite Abeille offers gift certificates for $15 and $20 that can be combined. SPiN, the Susan Sarandon-owned bar on East 23rd Street, offers gift cards with any amount that can be used for food or drink, as well as for games of ping pong. Nearby wine shops include Cork and the newly-opened Rouge and Blanc, both on First Avenue. Both shops also have an extensive collection of wines from various regions as well as spirits.

Rouge and Blanc manager Dean Barak said that the shop will be having promotions on champagne, cava and prosecco in the weeks leading up to the New Year. The store, which offers free delivery, also offers a 10 percent discount for all Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents who show their ID. For all other customers, the wines are 10 percent off of four bottles, 15 percent off of eight bottles and 21 percent off of 12 bottles.

Jill Pratzon, a Stuyvesant Town resident and art restorer, also has a business that would not typically provide conventional holiday gifts, but she does have options for those who want to give the loved one a gift of renewing a damaged or aging painting. She said that while even smaller jobs take about a month to complete, meaning that a painting would not be ready for gifting before Christmas, she could provide free consultations and treatment proposals for art owners who can bring their paintings into her studio at 122 West 26th Street.

Other local businesses that offer experiences rather than new consumer goods are some of the yoga studios in the neighborhood. Kim Stetz, owner of Savasana Station on Avenue B, is having a December Special with “12 Days of Yoga,” offering gift certificates with 12 classes for $60. The certificate activates with the first class attended and it expires a year after purchase. They can be purchased at savasanastation.com/gift-certificates. Reflections Center for Conscious Living and Yoga at 227 East 24th Street offers flexible gift cards that can be purchased with a specific amount that can be applied as credit or to be used for specific classes or class packages. The studio offers various yoga classes to pick from, as well as stretching classes and meditation.

The Irish Repertory Theatre, temporarily putting on plays at the Daryl Roth Theatre, offers gift certificates for shows. (Photo courtesy of Irish Repertory Theatre)

The Irish Repertory Theatre, temporarily putting on plays at the Daryl Roth Theatre, offers gift certificates for shows. (Photo courtesy of Irish Repertory Theatre)

Gift givers looking for something to wrap up for theater-lovers can get gift certificates to a couple of different neighborhood institutions. The Irish Repertory Theatre, which is currently holding performances at the Daryl Roth 2 at 103 East 15th Street while its West 22nd Street location is renovated, offers gift certificates that are good for two tickets for any show. Because the holiday shows are popular, the certificates can’t be used to reserve tickets to a specific show at the time it is purchased, but can be used to purchase tickets for later shows, depending on availability. Gift certificates can be bought by going to irishrep.org and going to the tickets section. Memberships for the theater can also be gifted but those looking to gift a membership may want to call the theater to ask about it specifically rather than buying a gift certificate on the website.

Another nearby theater company with a slightly different focus is the Peoples Improv Theater, which offers classes and various improv shows. Gift certificates are available in any amount and can be purchased for a specific class or just as credit that can be used for any class. They don’t have gift certificates available that can be used for tickets to see shows but they have a handful of holiday-themed shows throughout the month, including “The PIT Factor New Years Eve Edition” on December 30, “Dean Martin Christmas Pitacular” on December 20 and “This is Why You’re Single” on December 9, 16 and 23.

For lovers of vintage and second-hand clothing, not to mention shoppers who love a bargain, East 23rd Street’s thrift shop row can be a goldmine of affordable gifts. Non-profit animal organization Cauz for Pawz is gearing up for the holidays with sales throughout the store every day this month. Owner Cathryn Duhigg said that the sales will vary from 10 to 20 percent off on different items, varying the sales every day. For example, winter coats were 30 percent off on Tuesday and gloves/hat sets might be on sale in the future.

“We try to do a lot of sales on winter clothing because it’s still very hard for a lot of people,” Duhigg said. “It’s time to help as many people as possible.”

Some of the weekend sales at the store will focus on the non-clothing items, with various stands featuring home goods and various accessories, including headphones, perfume sets and smartphone cases. The store’s basement also has complete dining sets and a rack towards the back of the store with featured holiday accessories, which Duhigg noticed was already disheveled from shoppers picking through for holiday bargains.

The nearby City Opera Thrift Store has antique furniture, as well as cheap books, glasses, plates, vases and other housewares. Manager Diego Medina said that some of their more popular items are the artwork and international items like textiles. As for their clothing, the store is having a “Black and White” event next Wednesday, December 10 from 3 to 7 p.m. where black and white clothing items will be featured for those looking for something to wear to this season’s holiday parties.

Flatiron BID to hold free tech workshops, other events

General Assembly will once again present tech workshops at the Flatiron South Plaza. (Pictured) A workshop held last year (Photo courtesy of Flatiron/23rd Street BID)

General Assembly will once again present tech workshops at the Flatiron South Plaza. (Pictured) A workshop held last year (Photo courtesy of Flatiron/23rd Street BID)

By Sabina Mollot
In recent years, summertime in the city has become synonymous with concerts and other events at parks and neighborhood spaces, and the Flatiron District is no exception.
However along with traditional events like fitness classes and outdoor theater, both of which are being offered in the Flatiron pedestrian plazas, the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership (BID) is also bringing back another popular activity: tech workshops.
For the past two summers, the Partnership has partnered with local company General Assembly to give classes on a variety of tech and business topics outside on the south plaza.
The first workshop in a three part series took place on Tuesday, July 8 and the remaining classes will take place on July 15 and 22 at the south plaza, located on Broadway between 22nd and 23rd Streets. On Tuesday, July 15 at 6 p.m., “Rules of Engagement: Moving Consumers from Awareness to Advocacy” is the scheduled class aimed at teaching social marketing strategy. On Tuesday, July 22 at 6 p.m. “Inbound Marketing Solutions: Marketing on a Budget” will focus on how to generate leads and improve traffic with a limited marketing budget.
Jennifer Brown, the BID’s executive director, said the tech workshops were part of the organization’s mission of helping the local business community, which really got underway after the recession. So far the events have been a hit locally with around 30 to 40 attending when the weather is favorable. Sometimes people register in advance, but other attendees just happen to be walking by and sit down once they see what’s going on.
“The topics are interesting for people across different industries, like marketing,” said Brown. “Last summer they did a workshop on perfecting your pitch. That’s helpful no matter what your profession is.”
General Assembly, like the other groups and businesses the Partnership is working with on the programming, is donating its services, and classes are free for those who attend. The company also offers classes at its two locations, but, noted Brown, “People typically have to pay for them.”
As for the other programs, on Wednesdays, instructors from Flatiron fitness studios will be teaching exercise and yoga classes, sponsored by Athleta, on the south plaza. Upcoming fitness classes are: “Barreless Core Fusion” with Exhale on Wednesday, July 16 at 6 p.m. and “Shanti Flow with Yoga Shanti” on Wednesday, July 23 at 6 p.m.
On Thursdays, the Peoples Improv Theater (The PIT) will take the stage at the north plaza, on the west of Madison Square Park. House teams will perform a brand-new musical made up on the spot on July July 17 and July 24 at 6 p.m. each evening. PIT performers have worked the Flatiron plaza crowd before for holiday programs in December.
Brown said the decision to offer fitness classes was inspired by similar seasonal programs now running at Union Square and Bryant Parks as well as the fact that the Flatiron neighborhood has become home to many fitness and yoga studios.
“We’ve been talking about working with them for years now,” she said.

New recycling bins with solar-powered trash compactors have been installed in the Flatiron pedestrian plaza. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

New recycling bins with solar-powered trash compactors have been installed in the Flatiron pedestrian plaza. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The BID pays for its programming as well as its other projects like maintenance of the pedestrian plazas and beautification of the neighborhood. Tree pit guards were recently implemented throughout the district and three new recycling bins with solar-powered trash compactors were installed in the plazas, paid for out of a $350,000 annual budget as well as other revenue. The BID gets some income from two food kiosks on the plazas and also gets a fee, along with the city, when the plazas are used by companies for promotional events. If there’s a movie shoot, the BID will usually get some sort of voluntary monetary contribution. Most of the years since its creation though, the expenses have been more than what the budget allows for.
“The revenue has varied over the years,” added Brown. “We had a small surplus a couple of years ago.”
But the expenses have also changed. Initially, the BID arranged for plantings twice a year. These days, it’s four times a year. Maintenance of the BID, handled by its own sanitation, public safety and gardening crews, is done throughout the BID district, the borders of which are 21st and 23rd Streets and Third and Sixth Avenues.
The exception is Madison Square Park, since it’s maintained by the Madison Square Park Conservancy. Brown said the BID’s programming also tries to complement and not duplicate that of the conservancy, which is now running a summer concert series as well as events for children in the park. (See Town & Village’s Around & About section for details.)
For more information about the Flatiron Partnership’s events, visit http://www.discoverflatiron.org.

Union Square Park, a place to play

Children’s yoga classes are part of the Summer in the Square free event series that begins on Thursday, June 12. (Photo courtesy of the Union Square Partnership)

Children’s yoga classes are part of the Summer in the Square free event series that begins on Thursday, June 12. (Photo courtesy of the Union Square Partnership)

Playground repaired, WiFi increased and restaurant opened

By Sabina Mollot

Fitness classes are part of the Summer in the Square program. (Photo courtesy of Union Square Partnership)

Fitness classes are part of the Summer in the Square program. (Photo courtesy of the Union Square Partnership)

Recently, the playground at the north end of Union Square Park, known as “Evelyn’s Playground,” got a bit of a makeover. A new soft surface replaced the one that had been there since it opened and had undergone much wear and tear. Along with heavy use, another destructive factor, which turned the spongy ground covering into Swiss cheese was high heeled shoes. At the newly opened playground, there are no heels allowed.
Other recent improvements to the park include increasing the free public WiFi network capacity eight-fold to accommodate more users and the return of solar-powered cell phone charging stations at three of the sitting areas. Then of course, there’s the controversial restaurant inside the park’s pavilion, fittingly named The Pavilion. It finally opened for business on May 1 after community activists lost a court battle arguing such a commercial enterprise didn’t belong on park grounds.
Jennifer Falk, the executive director of the Union Square Partnership, recently spoke with Town & Village about the restaurant, the playground improvements and other springtime work aimed at improving the Union Square district.

Evelyn’s Playground as it appeared when the surface was recently repaired (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Evelyn’s Playground as it appeared when the surface was recently repaired (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

On the new surface for Evelyn’s Playground, Falk said since the 15,000 square foot play space opened in December, 2009, replacing two smaller ones, “We’ve had an enormous amount of foot traffic.”
The former playgrounds, she pointed out, only totaled 5,000 square feet and these days more of the playground’s visitors come from further away just to enjoy it. It wasn’t just the size but the improved rides that have brought in more kids and the new safety surface, instead of the old asphalt, has been a hit with parents.
The funds to make the recent round of improvements, which had a pricetag of $175,000, were raised by the USP. In total, close to $350,000 was raised and some of that money will also go towards the park’s annual series of free programming, Summer in the Square.
As always the Thursday series, kicking off this year today, June 12, will include kids’ events, fitness and dance classes and low-key lunchtime jazz concerts. On June 12, things start early with “Wake up Yoga” at 7 a.m. Yoga storytime for kids starts at 10 a.m. With the Gazillion Bubble Show at 10:30 a.m. Things will wind down at 1 p.m. after jazz with students from The New School until the evening. (In response to feedback from a recent survey, the USP has expanded the SITS schedule to offer additional fitness classes in the evenings.) There will be a return of past years’ boot camp, running club and evening yoga.
As far as the new restaurant is concerned, Falk declined to comment on the controversy that’s surrounded its opening for close to a decade, other than to say she didn’t think the fact that alcohol is now served there was inappropriate for the setting. Because, she reasoned, “the food is much more of what’s focused on.”

The Pavilion restaurant (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

The Pavilion restaurant (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Currently, the restaurant is just open for dinner but hours are expected to expand soon to include lunch and eventually breakfast. Price wise, it’s not the Tavern on the Green activists feared, but it’s no Shake Shack either. The menu now includes dishes such as hanger steak ($23.50), kale caesar salad ($11.95), short rib ravioli ($17.50) and oysters ($3 a piece) with ingredients bought from the park’s greenmarket.
Also among the arguments against the restaurant by the Union Square Community Coalition and other critics was that the Pavilion should be used for events, preferably for children, rather than a commercial enterprise. However, even with a business in the space, the kiddies haven’t been forgotten completely as now there’s Tuesdays @ The Pavilion, a free, weekly crafts and story time event from 3-5 p.m. Veterans also had their day at The Pavilion recently when the restaurant and the USP sponsored a luncheon for former servicemen and women in celebration of Memorial Day. The event was also in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the Manhattan VA Medical Center reopening after Hurricane Sandy. “The Partnership hopes to make this an annual event to continue to connect our local businesses with community organizations,” the USP wrote in a recent blog post.
The park has also recently undergone landscaping work, with the lawns reopening for picnickers and sunbathers.
For a schedule of events taking place throughout the summer, visit unionsquarenyc.org.

Upcoming Events

Town & Village has compiled a list of events that we believe are of interest to the community, from health fairs to community board meetings. See T&V’s blog for arts and entertainment listings, local health workshops and events at local houses of worship.

Art in Odd Places begins on Oct. 5 along 14th Street

September 29
Stuy Town Yoga
Stuyvesant Town is celebrating National Yoga Month with free outdoor classes on Sat., Sept. 29. Sun Salutation with Erin will be at 9:15 a.m. Power yoga with Chintamani will be at 10:15 a.m. Yoga master class with Justin will be at 11:15 a.m. Classes are free to all residents and will be held in Playground 10.
National Prescription Pill Take Back Day
Precincts throughout the city will be participating in National Prescription Pill Take Back Day on Sat., Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Additional information about the event is available by calling 311. Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents can bring their unused prescription pills and medication to the 13th Precinct at 230 East 21st Street.

October 1
CB6: Public Safety, Environment & Transportation meeting
There will be a Community Board 6 meeting about the sanitation garage proposed for East 25th Street and First Avenue. The meeting will be on Mon., Oct. 1 at the NYU Medical Center, 550 First Avenue, Coles 109 at 7 p.m. and will include a presentation from Daniel Klein, the director of the Department of Sanitation Office of Real Estate. Edward Janoff of the Department of Transportation will also be at the meeting to provide updates on Kips Bay Plaza.

October 2
CB6: Parks, Landmarks & Cultural Affairs meeting
Community Board 6 will be hosting a meeting about the new Asser Levy playground and about crime reporting in public parks on Tues., Oct. 2 at the NYU Medical Center, 550 First Avenue, Coles 101 at 7 p.m.

October 4
Senior Resource Fair
Senator Liz Krueger will be hosting the 6th annual Senior Resource Fair on Thurs., Oct. 4 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Temple Emanu-El, 1 East 65th Street at Fifth Avenue. Various exhibitors will be available to provide information to older adults about food stamps, health care, senior centers, social security, technology, legal services and other issues. Lenox Hill Hospital will be on site to offer blood pressure testing and NY Legal Assistance Group will offer help with health care proxies and living wills.

October 5
Art In Odd Places
Art In Odd Places is an annual art festival that takes place along 14th Street from Avenue C to the Hudson River. This year the festival will be from Oct. 5 to Oct. 15 and will feature poetry, performance, site-specific installations, videos, painting, sculpture, drawing, illustration, street art, mobile studios, design and music.

October 6
Roller Hockey Tournament
The annual roller hockey tournament will be held on Sat., Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. in Playground 7. The event will be open to residents 21 years old and up.
Paddle Tennis Doubles Tournament
The annual paddle tennis doubles tournament will be in Playground 5 on the weekend of Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The tournament is open to residents age 16 and older.
Worldwide Day of Play
Stuyvesant Town will be hosting a Worldwide Day of Play for residents on Sat., Oct. 6 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. on the Oval. All residents ages 5 to 11 will be able to participate in games, field events and Zumba.
Zumba
There will be a Zumba class on Sat., Oct. 6 from 12 p.m. to 12:50 p.m. at Oval Fitness. This class is free to all residents on this day only and attending will earn a point for Maintain Don’t Gain.
Outdoor Sports Screening: MLB Division Series
Residents will be able to watch the 2012 MLB Division Series Playoff on Sat., Oct. 6 from 1 to 7 p.m. on the Oval. The event is free for all residents and their guests.

October 13
Bocce Tournament
Playground PCV 1 will be hosting a singles and doubles bocce tournament on Sat., Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. The event is open to residents 16 years old and up.
Thriller Dance
Stuyvesant Town residents will be able to learn the choreography to Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller music video at Oval Fitness on Sat., Oct. 13 from 2 to 3 p.m. This event is free for all residents.