Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Angelica's Herbs


Pretty much without a trace, Angelica's Herbs, long on 1st Ave and 9th St (anyone know how long?) is empty. The sign is gone and there's little left but the soft waft of herbs, like a faint cloud around the gated entrance.

A tipster wrote in about it and I went there to find a man scraping and painting. He was just hired to cover up the graffiti with a coat of fresh paint so the landlord doesn't get fined by the city. He has no idea what's coming next. We speculated and agreed: hopefully not a bank.

We looked skyward and pondered together, as many folks in the neighborhood have done for years, what might be hidden inside the top floors, their windows sealed by warped plywood. "God only knows what they'll find up there," he said, his voice filled with the thrill of mystery.

Like the old candle building on Elizabeth, the upper floors of Angelica's building have seeded wonder in many minds with fantasies of green and fragrant bales of marijuana, or the skeletal remains of long-dead hippies, or oompa-loompas busy mixing up a wild batch of Window Pane. Who knows the wondrous secrets hidden there?


Anonymous said...

Angelica's has looked closed for years...I keep thinking this is it, then I see them open one day. Anyway! So will Geraldo Rivera be the one to unseal the hidden floors above Angelica's?

Because you speculated, it's so going to be a bank branch!

Anonymous said...

I tried to go the day before Thanksgiving to pick up some nutmeg but they were closed. I seem to recall they they had a sign posted that it was temporary or else I feel like I would have sent in a tip. But I can't remember exactly. I do always wonder what's upstairs.

Anonymous said...

I just want to give a shout out to Pete's Spices, which was the first place I ever bought spices and grains in bulk. It was an exotic experience at the time. I think it was next to DeRobertis on First, down the steps.

Anonymous said...

Pete's Spices was GREAT!!I had forgotten about them--used to shop there regularly.

dianeb said...

Wow, Pete's Spices--I forgot about that place. And a few of the other great stores to buy pasta and cheese, all gone.

The woman running Angelica's mentioned to me several months ago that the store was moving to Brooklyn. As long as Flower Power stays around, I'll be okay.

Jeremiah Moss said...

anyone remember penny's herb co.?

dianeb said...

Penny's on 7th street, yes that was a great place too. Kim ran it, he had an Australian sheep dog and the best licorice in the city. I miss that place as well.

Jill said...

A few months ago I was in there and saw them reviewing what looked like a real estate listing for the building. I assumed they owned the building since they were rarely open in the last 10 years and the upstairs was all boarded up. If they just sold now they really timed it badly.

I bought all my herbs and spices there for years until it became impossible to know whether they would be open.

Anonymous said...

I always liked Flower Power better anyway (east of 1st Ave on 9th). Smaller but very friendly and knowledgeable.

esquared™ said...

I was there this summer. But often pass by there when I would walk on 9th street (avoiding St. Mark's, since this street still have the feel and remnants of the old EV), but I guess i just never paid attention (I should look up more).

Most likely, 9th street will just be an extension of what St. Mark's has become -- more ramen noodle shops, fro-yos/desserts shops, bars with mutiple and big plasma tv's for the frat boys, etc., etc.

I give up. No mas.

Abracapocus. said...

I went in there a couple of months ago and they looked like they were getting ready to pack up and go. There were huge piles of bags, stacked on top of one another almost to the ceiling, that smelled like they were spices. Maybe they were cleaning out what was upstairs? The lady behind the counter was rude, didnt seem to be interested in helping me with my questions, and tried to sell me a bag of dusty old herbs as a "digestive tonic" that just smelled like senna for 35$.

Steve said...

I'm only surprised that Angelica's lasted as long as they did. They were an odd bunch, and I generally found them to be unfriendly and somewhat paranoid (they refused to recommend specific herbs for ailments), and they became even more so about 20 years ago (a new owner?). After a bout with Hepatitis in the early 90's, when Meadowsweet on 4th St cheerfully and graciously gave me great recommendations including the relevant clinical trials, I never again stepped foot into Angelica's. And yes to the others mentioned - Pete's spice, Flower Power, Penney's were or are all great places. So, while I usually mourn the passing of the idiosyncratic stores and special places of this amazing neighborhood, I will not shed a tear for Angelica's. Of course, when that branch of Chase or another nail salon opens, I might think differently

JakeGould said...

Sad to see it go, but please be aware that the Japanese owners and renters of buildings in that part of the East Village are great. They do keep the spirit of small business alive and are less apt to buy property to flip it. Believe it or not, they actually respect NYC history. In some ways respect it more than some local developers who just see these buildings as places to destroy.

Anonymous said...

They were so weird in Angelica and their herbs were dry and the lady grumpy.

Flower power is waaaaaay better anyway- fresh herbs, friendly vibe, and knowledgeable people working!
9th street between 1st and A!!

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone!!!!!!
We are still open! {est. 1979
Our website is www.pennysherbco.com
By appointment in new york city : 917-855-9803
Monday to friday {9:00 to 6:00

rainer. susan. kim

Anonymous said...

The guy bought the building cheaply in the mid-80s, two recessions ago. At the time, there had been a bodega on the ground floor. After getting them out, he never really did much with the place, even when his herb store would only occasionally be open. (I believe he owned the original Angelica's Herbs and Spices on St. Mark's, between Second + First Avenue, which is now the right part of the BBQ restaurant. The left part of BBQ, up to the corner, was Estroff's Pharmacy, which had been there for 100 years!!)

The people at Angelica's were strange, to say the least, as well as paranoid and unhelpful. I once went there to get an herbal remedy for a sick friend. The woman refused to answer any questions, instead telling me to look it up in one of the books on their shelves.
I never went there after that.

I hate to see any small business go in my neighborhood, but I can't say I'll miss this one.

[BTW, if he sold that building now, he'd still get top dollar, esp. because it is a corner location. The Theater for the New City allowed the height barrier to be broken along that side of First Avenue when they sold their air rights to a yuppie ghetto condo developer. The Angelica's corner building can be demolished and replaced by something as obnoxious. Let's hope not!!]

Anonymous said...

Angelica's has indeed moved to Brooklyn:
222 Thompkins Avenue
Open everyday (except Thursday) from 1- 6 pm.

I just got off the phone with the owner. I'm searching for essential oils to make a homemade spa gift...

Anonymous said...

You guys all way off base. Angelicas Herb in an institution and the owner Dr. Chantalle Arnaud a old word healer. They did not go out of business but were evicted by a senile landlord. Th upper floors were filled with large drums of herbs that they mixed into belnds themselves. They bought a building in Bed Sty Brooklyn and have relocated out there.
I wandered in there 2 yrs ago after being in anti depressants for yrs. After makin an appt with Chantalle, she read my eye(iridology) and knew right away what was going on with me, something an MD could never do. She concocted a herb blend for me(no it wasnt cheap) and my detox and return to self began. Ive seen many alternative health practicioners over the years and she is by far the most knowledgeable. Ive been seeing her on a regular basis for 2 years now and she had treated every ailment Ive had effectively and holistically. I trust Dr Arnaud with my life. She is a rare breed and I am so grateful I found her.

Yes she can be a little cool at first but once she knows you and knows you understand what she does she is as warm, compassionate and caring as could be. I highly recommend her to anyone seeking homeopathic, holistic treatment. They are open and operational in BK.

Anonymous said...

In agreement and comment:

- i've lived in the hood for 20 years...i found the folks at Angelica difficult, but always enjoyed the aromas around the store, and despair for what might fill the space
-- Flower Power is a wonderful place that saves the day
- please note Kim's post above: Penney's is still in good business online
- relatedly: Enchantments (magic/herbs) has moved from 9th btn 2nd and 1st to 9th btn 1st and A
- i miss Meadowsweet, too! what happened to those women?

Anonymous said...

PS: i'm a fan of the Japanese invasion, too. i desperately don't want to loose the old, crunchy good community-minded shops, but will take the funky and fine, small Japanese shops any day over cell phone stores, banks and couture boutiques. the ramen spots are pretty cheap and really, really good.

Nathan said...

I've lived near Angelica's (further east on 9th Street) for a few years now. I do bemoan the constant negative changes to the neighborhood and the continual replacement of nice neighborhood spots with terrible new buildings and look-alike chain stores. However, if I had to pick one building in that area to sacrifice to the gods of gentrification, it would certainly be that one. It's unattractive, completely undistinguished architecturally, and seemed to be vastly underutilized. I'm not looking forward to seeing a bank branch or yet another hair salon on that corner (although given the current downturn, I'm not sure anything will be going in there anytime soon), but that building could be replaced and no one would miss it.

As for Angelica's itself, I'm not in a position to comment on whether the community will miss them much or not.

Carola Burroughs said...

I am another person who would miss Angelica a lot in the E. Village - if it weren't for the fact that it's now only a ten minute walk from where I happen to live! I rely on Chantal's formulas to cure my colds in record time. The reason that many of us swear by them is that the formulas really work [if used as directed]; Chantal is not rude or grumpy, merely businesslike; once she knows you she is quite friendly. She is a highly skilled naturopath. There is seldom just one herb for a specific ailment; natural medicine doesn't work like drugs. Flower Power is cheaper and cosier, certainly, but they're both valuable resources. The new location in Bed-Stuy is still a work in progress; the city still hasn't turned the gas on in the building! So Chantal sees clients in a separate office; but the herbs don't mind the cold.

Anyway, I was there today for the first time - it's a bit hard to find because the next-door church mistakenly reads the same address: 222 Tompkins Ave. It's the the corner building and the entrance is actually around the corner at 235 Kosciuszko St. It is not a storefront, but a big old building that perhaps used to be the church rectory. New phone 718-388-2534; open 1-6 pm except Thursdays. Not so easy by subway; closest stop is G train to Myrtle-Willoughby. [hopstop.com is a great resource for directions like this.]

Fertile Crescent Farms said...

I used to work there (1989-1991). I was the person who ran the hammer mill in the basement to grind up the bulk herbs when they came in. I also was responsible for mixing the herbs into remedies. I'll never forget the time that I felt a tap on my shoulder and there were NYC police officers telling me to stop making cayenne powder because people were sneezing for blocks.

Paul Broadus was the owner then and he was extremely knowledgeable, if a bit odd. He apparently got odder after I left. Caught on top of a truck spying on a competitor that used to work for him (I think). As one of the early herbal store owners, I think he had faced some harassment from FDA etc about practicing medicine without a license and so was cautious.

Many of the people that worked there were very friendly, some not so much.

Basement, where I spent most of my time, was pretty creepy. Upper floors were mostly vacant. Second floor had airtight barrels where bulk herbs were stored. Not much on the floors above that. No oompa loompas, skeletal hippies, or bales of ganja; just a lot of dust.

I don't know when Paul sold it. I moved back to Missouri to wildcraft herbs for him and ended up an organic farmer. www.fertilecrescentfarms.com

Guy Clark

Dr Seaton said...

Angelic Herbs is alive and well. They moved to Fort Greene in Brooklyn. Just Google them. Paul in Manhattan

Jack Albert said...

Hi Everyone,

I am the original owner and founder of Angelica's Herb & Spice and Angelica's Kitchen. I took a small storefront at 37 1/2 St. Marks Place (between 1st and 2nd Ave) back in the mid 1970s and started selling herbs that I bought from small wild-craft collectors around the country. I made my own formulas and tinctures and freely shared any knowledge that I had with whoever walked in the door. It was surely different times back then. Angelica's was founded as neighborhood small shop based on healing and consciousness raising. We gave and shared advice and learned freely from each other about the magical powers of Mother Nature's gifts. When I opened the restaurant across the street at 42 St. Marks Place it was a natural extension of the herb store, a type of cooking that healed along with friendships and dare I say, love. I sold both the herb store and the restaurant in April 1981 and moved to Eureka Springs, Arkansas where I continue to operate my restaurant, "The Oasis" a place with the same type of feeling and "vibes" that we once upon a time had in the East Village in the 1970's. That period, all the memories of those times, the faces, mind and souls will of course never be duplicated but remain as a testament to an honest, open and friendly way of doing business and sharing energies back on St. Marks Place in a more innocent era.

Unknown said...

Do you know where she's located now? Chantelle arnaud formerly of Angelica's

Carola Burroughs said...

I haven't been over there for a while, but as far as I know, she is still here in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn at 197 Kosciuszko Street, a few blocks from the Bedford-Nostrand stop on the G train. Chantal's number is 917-600-1367.

Fertile Crescent Farms said...

Did you sell the herb part to Paul Broadus?

Unknown said...

Does anyone have a current number for Chantal?