Friday, February 21, 2020

Yonah Shimmel's 110th

On Sunday March 15, the great Yonah Shimmel knishery will celebrate 110 years in business on the Lower East Side. The first 110 knishes will sell for $1.10 each.

Go get 'em! And grab a delicious egg cream while you're at it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Chase Sign

Back when Union Square's Coffee Shop shuttered for Chase Bank, thanks to a massive rent hike, we heard that the bank might be keeping the antique neon sign and re-doing the letters so it spelled out CHASE instead of COFFEE SHOP.

Last month, the antique sign was removed. We wondered if it would come back--refurbished or repurposed. It has not.

Yesterday, New York filmmaker Amy Nicholson tweeted a photo of the replacement:

Thankfully, it's not a Frankensteined mashup of COFFEE SHOP and CHASE. That would be unbearable. It's also not neon and it's not faux antique.

It is instead a sanitized, zombified, half-hearted riff on the old Coffee Shop sign.

It's vertical and two-sided, like the old sign, and the word JOE (the name of the coffee chain inside the bank) is at the bottom, enclosed in a rectangular ring of yellow lights, also (sort of) like the old sign.

I'm sure the PR people at Chase will call this an "homage." They might even call it a "loving homage," as if banks are capable of such emotions. But we know better, don't we?

And what is the fate of the original sign? It went back a long way -- and it should have been left right where it was, untouched and intact.

detail of photo by Karen Gehres, via Flaming Pablum

Friday, January 10, 2020

Neir's Tavern: Saved!

Good news! After an outcry from the public and small business activists, Neir's Tavern has received a new lease. One source in city government informed me that the owner of Neir's will receive 5 more years on the lease and right of first refusal to purchase the building should it go up for sale.

The #SaveNYC rally to save Neir's will now be a celebration--and a rally to fight for commercial rent regulations in New York City. Because there are many more small businesses being crushed by landlord greed.

Come out to Neir's tomorrow, Saturday, at 2:00pm--bring signs, make noise, fight to save NYC!

View the Facebook invitation here

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Neir's Tavern


After nearly 200 years in Woodhaven, Queens, Neir's Tavern will shutter.

photo via NY Times

Owner Loycent Gordon sent an email to his customers to share the sad news. He says:

"Yesterday I was forced to make one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. Sunday January 12th I will have to step down as owner of Neirs Tavern and I have no one available to replace me. I’ve been unable to obtain an affordable long term lease to reach our goal of the 200th anniversary in 2029. I’m operating month to month with an unaffordable rent and insufficient sales to overcome a year of losing money every month...

I hope my Neirs Team will be here until Sunday in the event a miracle happens. But I have no more money after Sunday. I’m sorry i let you down. I’m sorry I couldn’t get landmark status. I’m sorry I couldn’t buy the building."

Neir's has been fighting for its life; recently, the Landmarks Preservation Committee rejected its application, though it's been around since before the Civil War. Founded in 1829, Neir's is greatly beloved--but love can't save our historic small businesses. Only a policy that ensures commercial rent regulation can. But we don't have that in New York City. So this will keep on happening. Over and over and over. Until nothing authentic remains.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Chelsea Flea Market


The Chelsea Flea Market on 25th Street between 6th and Broadway has been in business since 1976. Now we hear it is coming to an end.

I went by one evening a few weeks ago and heard the rumor that the lease is up and the owners aren't renewing. Now a couple of tipsters confirm: Next weekend, December 28 and 29, will be the last for this popular and long-running flea.

Paul Jeromack writes, "There is a possibility it will get a reprieve," hoping someone might take it over from the current managers, Alan and Helene Boss -- a couple that the Post has said "rules city flea markets with an iron fist." However, he adds, "the church next door," which owns the parking lot "does not want to renew the lease."

That church is St. Sava Serbian Orthodox, burned down in a massive blaze in 2016. Around that time, there was also news of an 850-foot commercial tower going up on the flea's parking lot.

It doesn't look good.

Jeromack notes, "Some of my vendor friends told me if need be, they would migrate to the Columbus Avenue schoolyard market on 77th Street," but this may not be the solution for all the vendors.

"There are guys who are rag-pickers with piles of old clothes and pots and pans, who I am sure would not be approved for the uptown space. Where are they going to go?"

This is sad news for flea market fans. We already lost the great Antiques Garage in 2014 when their building was demolished for a luxury hotel tower. Not to mention the little Chelsea flea on 17th and 6th, shuttered in 2009.

Every day, in every way, we're living in a more and more overpriced, hollow, and disposable city.

photo via Joseph Burns Instagram

Monday, December 9, 2019

Colony to CVS

When the great Colony Music was forced to shutter in 2012 by a massive rent hike, after 60 years in Times Square, its space in the Brill Building was gutted and turned into a revolving door of random businesses.


There were Christmas and Halloween stores, a Build-A-Bear Workshop, and some other crap. That's what happens when the new landlord quintuples the rent to $5 million and there's no commercial rent control or any other policies protecting the small businesspeople of this city from unregulated greed.

Now, after 7 years of high-rent blight and unstable pop-up ventures, the space has been taken by the only kind of retailer that can afford such millions--a giant chain store.

Colony is now a CVS.


To add insult to injury, the owners of the landmarked Brill have decided to obscure this gorgeous, historic building with digital screens. (How was the Landmarks Preservation Commission okay with this mess?)

Seven years. What a long, sad trip it's been.

a more beautiful past

New Chase

When Coffee Shop on Union Square closed in 2018, we heard it would be turned into yet another Chase Bank branch.

That signage is now up:

We also heard the rumor that Chase might be keeping the antique neon sign and re-doing the letters so it spells out CHASE instead of COFFEE SHOP.

That signage is now gone. Whether or not it returns is anyone's guess.