Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Gross' Balls

Back in April I reported that S&G Gross pawnbrokers had closed after 115 years in business. I worried about what would happen to their antique golden balls, the great symbol of pawnshops, hanging over 8th Avenue near 34th Street.


Now they're gone.

The neon sign is gone, too, and the place has been plywooded and installed with tourists who stand around and point into the sky.

Let's hope those balls are in good hands.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mimi's to Famiglia

Mimi's Pizza Restaurant shuttered this summer due to a rent dispute with the landlord. Owned by the Vanacore family for 59 years, it was a beloved part of its Upper East Side neighborhood.

photo by Andrew Fine

Now, in a sickening sort of irony, a pizza restaurant chain is moving in. La Famiglia is taking Mimi's spot, replacing real family with fake family.

According to the Famiglia site, "you can find Famous Famiglia locations across leading airports, shopping centers, casinos, travel plazas, military bases, theme parks, universities, and busy urban centers."

via Twitter @JRMcGrail

Monday, September 19, 2016

Francisco's Centro Vasco

On West 23rd Street between 6th and 7th, Francisco's Centro Vasco has been in business since 1979.

They're just a few doors down from the location of this weekend's bomb explosion in Chelsea. The restaurant was not damaged, but it had to close temporarily due to the investigation. They hope to reopen today at 4:00.

As they told their customers on Facebook:

Francisco's is one of the last of a dwindling number of Spanish restaurants in the city, along with El Quijote in the nearby Chelsea Hotel and Spain, on 13th Street, recently the star of a lovely feature in the Times.

Even closing for a day can disrupt a small business. And terror can keep people away. If you're looking to support New York, Chelsea, and the people of its small business streetscape at this time, please keep Francisco's in mind for a meal or a round of drinks. Many of us could use a drink after this weekend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Condo on Cheyenne

Remember the Cheyenne Diner, that gorgeous antique over on 9th Avenue and 33rd? It was evicted in 2008, picked up, and moved to Alabama, where, last we heard, it was sitting in pieces.

So now, after the lot sat empty for years, this condo is rising:

Once again, the city has lost a unique piece of its history and its soul for another pile of dime-a-dozen, generic schlock. They call it the Skylight House, after the Skylight Diner around the corner (same owners).

Is anyone getting tired of this yet?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Christopher off 7th

Seems like something's happening on Christopher Street, just west of 7th Avenue South.

1. Karavas Pizza & Pita is gone. Back in 2011, the building owner said, “John Karavas and his parents have been tenants there for more than 50 years. The easiest way for us to make money would be to rent it out to some chain restaurant, and we don’t want to do that.”

Maybe there's a new owner?

2. The little spot next to Karavas is gone, too. I think it was one of those little souvenir stands, selling t-shirts and bongs.

3. Next to that, the long-time location of Boots & Saddle emptied out a couple years ago when "the new landlord" hiked the rent by a ton. Boots moved on, this spot has since been painted brown, and a sign on the door says Hakata Tonton Japanese restaurant is moving in.

What's happening here? Is it all one landlord giving the boot? And what about Village Cigars in their little triangular spot?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Chained Rebel

When I reported on the closure of Rebel Rebel Records back in June, I noted that they were given the boot so that their high-end fashion neighbor, Scotch & Soda, could expand into their little space.

Well, that's happening right now.

The Amsterdam couture chain store has put their brand on Rebel's window, and they've started gutting and redecorating the place.

Scotch & Soda has nearly 100 other locations around the world. There was just one Rebel Rebel.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

R&L Madewell

Last month I wondered if J. Crew's Madewell store in the Meatpacking District would put back the signage on the old R&L Luncheonette, later and most famously Florent.

They did. After removing it and, presumably, scouring it clean for the new clientele.

Benjamin Shaykin shared a pic on Twitter and noted: "two kids walked up all excited while I was taking this. 'I think it’s opening tomorrow!' one said to his friend."

Of course.

On Gay Pride Day in 2008, restaurant Florent closed its doors, forced to shutter after 23 years when the landlord raised the rent from $6,000 to $50,000 per month. On his famous menu board, Morellet spelled out an optimistic thought in white plastic letters, “REAL ESTATE GOES DOWN / NYC SURVIVES.”