Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Loft's Candies

Signs sometimes come down in the city and reveal antique signs underneath. At 88 Nassau Street recently, Loft's Candies was revealed:

Loft's was once a chain store started in New York. Will the future excavation of an ancient Starbucks be as elegant?

Monday, September 26, 2016

D'Auito's For Rent

Back in 2013, D'Auito's bakery closed after nearly 80 years in business. It's been sitting shuttered since, untouched and unchanged, until now.


D'Aiuto's was the home of Baby Watson, "the best cheesecake on Earth." After a decline and struggle, the family sold the building on 8th Avenue and 30th Street--on the condition that the new owner keep the business going. That seemed to work out. The family and the building owners were optimistic. As Politico wrote: "the legacy of the Baby Watson cheesecakes continues, barreling into the future buck-naked and grinning."

Then the place shuttered, for reasons unknown. The Real Deal reported that it would be demolished for an 11-story apartment-hotel.

Still, the cheesecakes kept coming. You could find them for sale a few doors down at Jessie's Express Cafe. Or at D'Aiuto's other location, the Mona Lisa Cafe in Brooklyn. Then Mona Lisa closed in 2015. The cakes stopped showing up at Jessie's. I went in to check awhile back and no one could tell me what became of the cheesecakes--or D'Aiuto's.

Recently, a For Rent sign went up in the window. Once someone takes the lease, we'll have to say goodbye to that glorious storefront design, with it colorful cheesecakes and naked baby, and the antique neon, too.


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?