Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Vanishings

At the end of each year, since 2007, I offer a list of places that vanished during the year. These are the ones I covered on the blog, but there were many more (and I've been blogging much less lately). Please add those not included here in the comments. Click the highlighted name to go to the post for more info. And for previous years' vanishings, just scroll down to the bottom.

Greek Corner Coffee Shop, since 1980. Reason for closure unknown--possible sale of building to new owner

Le Train Bleu, since 1980. Closed by Bloomingdale's.

Fong Inn Too, in Chinatown since 1933. Family couldn't keep it going, sold the building.

Leo Design, since 1995 on Bleecker, kicked out, then another 7 years on Hudson, where the rent was too high.

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, since 1931. Sold to a Chinese corporation, closed for a renovation into luxury condos.

Chez Jacqueline, since 1982. Reason unknown.

Lenox Lounge, since 1939. Closed by rent hike in 2012, this year it was demolished.

San Loco, Second Avenue, since 1986. The rent was too high.

Love Store, since 1982. This was the last one. Closed by competition from big chain stores.

Francisco's Centro Vasco, since 1979. Closed, then re-opened, and then closed again for good. Business was a struggle.

French Roast, since I don't know when. Reason for closure unknown.

The Cup and Saucer Luncheonette, since 1988. Rent nearly doubled.

Riviera Cafe, since 1969. The cost of doing business in a changing neighborhood was too much.

The Village Voice in print, since 1955. New owner Peter Barbey, media mogul and heir to the billion-dollar fortune behind retail brands like The North Face and Timberland, decided to shut down the print edition.

Clayworks, since 1974. Kicked out by new building owner.

Cafe Orlin, since 1981. The owner got tired.

Reme Restaurant, 40 - 50 years. Reason unknown.

Native Leather, since 1968. Landlord denied a lease renewal. Moved to Carmine Street.

Hong Kong Tailor Jack, since the 1980s. Death of owner.

Mayfair Barber Shop, for 50 - 75 years. Reason for closure unknown.

Matt Umanov Guitars, since 1969. Owner retired.

Moe's Meat Market gallery, since 1977-ish. Owner died, building sold.

HiFi Bar, since 1982 as Brownie's. Reason for closure: The newcomers to the neighborhood aren't interested.

Argo Electronics, for around 40 years. Reason for closure unknown.

Frankel's, since 1890. Moving to Jersey (they might still be in Brooklyn for a bit).

Walter's Antique Clock and Watch Repair, for about 20 years. Forced out by rent hike.

Second Hand Rose Records, since I don't know when, for I don't know why.

Closing December 31:
Noho Star and Temple Bar, since 1985 and 1989
Grassroots Tavern, for 42 years.

Previous Years' Vanishings:
2009: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
2011: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

That Big Penis

So that big penis mural (or is it a dildo?) on Broome Street doesn't have much longer. Workers are preparing to paint it over today. The ropes and ladders are already in place.

It was painted earlier this week by Swedish artist Carolina Falkholt, as part of the New Allen project (which seems to have something to do with artwashing the Lower East Side for more gentrification).

Today, onlookers gathered in the freezing cold to gaze upon the mural. Many took selfies with it.

News crews interviewed the onlookers, asking their thoughts.

When asked about the negative local response to the mural, one guy answered, "If people can't appreciate the penis, they can't appreciate life."

Another reporter said he could see a face in the network of veins. "See it? Right there? You can see a guy's face. It looks kind of like a clown."

Down the block, guys on the corner were talking. One said, "It's just the same old neighborhood shit."

Another said, "It's vulgar. It's not good for the kids. But I'd like it better if it was a big vagina."

Wednesday, December 20, 2017



I never went to Vynl, but it's been around for 23 years, it's a gay place, and people will miss it.

Vynl was part of a restaurant mini empire by John Dempsey.

No reason for the closure is given on the goodbye note. They only say the place is "retiring."

It will close this Saturday.

Thanks to Ben for the tip

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Neptune Diner: Not Closing

A rumor is floating around (again) that the great Neptune Diner of Astoria is closing. This photo of a supposed shutter note showed up on Twitter with an Astoria hashtag:

But a call to the diner confirmed they are not closing. And a Reddit reader says the sign is a hoax.

UPDATE: A Facebook commenter say, "It's the Neptune Diner in Newburgh, NY that's closing, and that shutter note is from their menu. I know this because I ate there a few days ago. It's a shame... I really liked that place."

The same rumor went floating around a year ago. Is this an annual, end-of-year occurrence? Anyway. The woman who answered the phone at Neptune tells me the menu for their Christmas dinner is wonderful.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Save Lincoln Plaza Cinemas

On Friday, Deadline Hollywood broke the news that the art house Lincoln Plaza Cinemas will be forced to close in January. It opened in 1981. Operator Toby Talbot said that she and her husband, Dan, “did everything we could to ask for the lease to be extended.” But the building owner “is looking to get everything he can. He’s looking to make money.”

On Saturday, the theater’s regular customers were all talking about the news. Ivan, the young assistant manager, stood in the doorway of the small office across from the concession stand and commiserated. The clientele of Lincoln Plaza is made up mostly of local senior citizens--people on fixed incomes--and mostly women. It is, in many ways, a gathering place for midtown and uptown women over 65.

All day Saturday, they gathered around Ivan.

Interior. Movie theater lobby. Day.
The lobby is busy but not overcrowded. People sit on benches and stand in line. They read the paper and do the Times crossword puzzle. Some buy popcorn and rugelach from the concession stand. A wall fountain gurgles, but the basement room is otherwise quiet.

In the doorway of the Manager’s Office, a young man in a blue sweater stands talking in a relaxed way to three older women. LOIS wears black horn-rimmed glasses and a black pageboy haircut. She holds a cane. HILDA is blonde and quiet. NANCY wears a knit winter hat and paces back and forth, fired up about the closing.

NANCY: We need to do something. We need a petition. Everything good is vanishing.

LOIS: This place is my lifeblood. I’m limited (she taps her cane) and this is accessible. I come from the East Side. I come for intelligent movies. And it connects me to the area. After a movie, I eat in the restaurants and shop in the stores nearby. I come every week. It makes you feel secure.

HILDA: It’s comfortable and welcoming. Not like the multiplex. The physical space of a large multiplex? It’s like a warehouse. It’s yucky to go into. But this is a cozy space. It’s not fancy, but it feels good. It’s a neighborhood place.

NANCY (pacing): We need to start a petition. We should plead elder abuse.

HILDA: It really is a connection for seniors. It gets us out of the house.

LOIS: Where else can you go where you’re familiar with the ushers’ faces? They know us. It’s a community. We’re New Yorkers here. I’m not a tourist.

NANCY: Why are they doing this?

IVAN: It’s not about business being bad. It was a landlord decision. The Milsteins own the building. The old man died and the kids took over.

LOIS: They don’t care about people or the quality of life. They just care about the money.

IVAN: The theater owner’s never been about the money. He just wanted people to enjoy the movies.

CORINNE walks in and greets her friend LOIS. They meet here every Saturday. She is blonde and red-cheeked from the cold.

CORINNE: I was shocked when I heard the news. But I was always afraid this day would come. What’ll they put here?

LOIS: Probably a health club.

CORINNE: It’ll sit empty. Like everything else. This is a cultural institution.

HILDA: It’s terrible. Just terrible. Everything else is going downhill in the world. And in this country. This just adds to it.

The USHER, a young man in a gray suit and necktie, stands up and calls out the next movie to the waiting crowd.

USHER: Wonder Wheel! Wonder Wheel! Wonder Wheel!

The women join the crowd and head into the theater to see their movie.

Soon after, the general manager, EWNETU, walks in. He wears a Lincoln Plaza Cinemas cap and complains about the traffic as he takes off his winter coat and settles into his office.

IVAN (to EWNETU): About 50 people came to your door today. Ready to cry. Every 3 to 5 minutes.

EWNETU: This is a bad news for our customers, bad news for our staff, and bad news for the neighborhood. It’s as bad as it can be.

This place is unique. What nobody can replicate is that we handpick every film we show. They have a quality value. We don’t get tempted by box office receipts. We have customers who come regardless of reviews because they trust our judgment. Very familiar faces. Customers come from all over—Philadelphia, New Jersey—we even have one guy from Nebraska.

When I started working here I had an afro. Now I’m bald. (He takes off his cap to prove it, and then puts it back on.) I’ve been here over 25 years.

We lost our lease. Business is not bad. It’s not phenomenal, but it’s good enough for us to stick around. The landlord has a different idea. It seems he doesn’t want to renew the lease. It’s very upsetting.

As a society, we should be more than about money. Landlords included.

Fade to black.

The building that houses the theater is owned by Milstein Properties, run by Howard Milstein. On Saturday evening, they sent a statement about the closing to the New York Times:

“'We are long-term members of this community and have played a central role in nurturing this special theater,' the statement said, adding that 'vital structural work' was needed to repair and waterproof the plaza around the building. 'At the completion of this work, we expect to reopen the space as a cinema that will maintain its cultural legacy far into the future.'"

The Times added, "A Milstein spokesman said in an email that it was yet to be determined if the cinema would reopen with the Talbots in charge."

If it's true that a new cinema will reopen here, it could be a multiplex or, more likely, something like a Nighthawk or Alamo Drafthouse that will attract and cater to a younger, more affluent crowd. But Lincoln Plaza is a bit of old New York--and people like it that way. It's affordable and accessible and it should stay that way.

I started a petition--please sign it and share it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lincoln Plaza Cinemas


Terrible news this morning from Deadline: "The Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, a temple of the art house movie scene in New York for 30 years, is at the end of its lease and is scheduled to close in January."

photo: Z-Mation

Co-owner Toby Talbot said "word of the January end date has started to circulate among industry execs and filmmakers, but no notices have been posted alerting customers. She said plans are being made for a formal sendoff on January 21."

Deadline further notes that the Talbots "maintained an old-fashioned zeal for cinema, which governed many of their choices." "We had the luxury of choosing films that we knew were not going to be successful commercially, and we could put them on our screens,” said Toby. “We were able to do what we wanted to do."

Monday, December 11, 2017

Grassroots Tavern


The Grassroots Tavern will close on New Year's Eve. It's been a favorite dive on St. Mark's Place for 42 years and many will miss it (especially this guy).

Last week, Grieve reported that the Grassroots had a new owner--and it didn't look good. Richard Precious has a chain of bars called Ginger Man. As Grieve pointed out, New York magazine said Ginger Man "feels like Euro Disney's vision of the classic Irish watering hole."

Now Grassroots is closing for the same reasons pretty much everything is closing.

“All the sudden, overnight, the rent skyrocketed, so we were put out of business,” one bartender told Bedford & Bowery. And, of course, the building was sold in 2015--ironically to a company called Klosed Properties.

Steven Kachanian, Principal of Klosed, said at the time, "We are thrilled about the long term potential of this asset. The retail rents on this stretch are on the rise."

So St. Mark's is dead -- again.

Post Script: For a little history, see Daytonian in Manhattan's post on 20 St. Mark's Place. He points us to this item from the New York Times in 1932, on the opening of a scruffy predecessor to Grassroots:

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Call Your Mother Hot Dog Cart

The cart stands on Houston near Lafayette.

Between the many signs for hot dogs, hot pretzels, and honey roasted peanuts, hand-written messages tell passersby to call their mothers.

"A smiling face is a...beautiful mankind," reads another.

"Let's back to our childhood. There we used to mistake again and again. Some people used to forgive us over and over."

"Wake up! Re-start. U'll overcome this time."

The vendor says the signs bring people to him, inspire them to stop and talk. It's a good thing. "We're all turning into machines," he says, "in this system." It's a good thing to stop and connect.

And go call your mother. Which I did.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Friedman's at the Edison

The fifth location of Friedman's has now opened in the space that long held the beloved Cafe Edison, which was forced to close in 2014 after decades in business.

The new restaurant announced its opening on Facebook a couple of weeks ago: "FRIEDMAN'S @ Edison has officially opened and we are super excited !!😊" Plus the hashtags: #eatgoodfood #mindfuleating #farmtotable #friedmansnyc #glutenfreee #celiacsafe #fall #edisonhotel #nowopen #2017 #goodvibesonly #dinner #breakfast #lunch #brunchnyc

Reluctantly, I went to see what had become of the wonderful Cafe Edison, the place we fought so hard to save -- and lost.

A sign at the door of Friedman's read: "A little taste of the farm for the big city." (See: The Wisconsinization of New York.) Already, everything was off.

Through the entrance, no more Betty at her cluttered cash register surrounded by signs that read, "No Large Luggage" and "Cash Only" and "If you are grouchy or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge for putting up with you."

At Friedman's, all the character has been stripped away.

The dusty old chandeliers have been ripped out. The counter is gone. The giddy pink and powder-blue walls and columns have been painted beige. And beige. Two shades of beige.

As Rem Koolhaas wrote of The Generic City, "Close your eyes and imagine an explosion of beige."

At Friedman's, you don't have to close your eyes to imagine. The place has a beige personality--nice and neutral, completely inoffensive.

The water comes in a glass bottle that says, "Inspired Living." The music is as innocuous as muzak, but up to date, all soft jazzy hip-hoppy sounds, including a re-mix of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," that iconic rock poem of transsexuality and prostitution, the stuff of old Times Square, now stripped of its language.

I forced myself to try the matzo ball soup, a staple of the old Cafe Edison. It tasted good, but so what? I missed the way the bowls of soup used to come crashing from the noisy kitchen behind the counter. I missed the counter and its swivel stools, its trays of glazed doughnuts under cloudy plastic domes.

I missed the people who used to sit on those stools and lean in over those bowls of soup, tossing their neckties over their shoulders, getting their eyeglasses steamed.

And I missed the brusque waitresses with their accents and post-middle age exhaustion. The ones at Friedman's are deferential, soft-spoken, and youthful. All perfectly nice.

Everything at Friedman's is nice.


Once again, New York has sold its soul for nice. In its restaurants, it has traded character and history for food that tastes clean and new. For a frictionless experience that neither agitates nor inspires.

In the 2000s, New York was remade into a city that caters to consumers. The Bloomberg Way, as urbanist Julian Brash has written, was "a notion of governance in which the city is run like a corporation. The mayor is the CEO, the businesses are clients, citizens are consumers, and the city itself is a product that’s branded and marketed." That product must be inoffensive, made beige and nice, so as not to disrupt or displease the average consumer.

This approach to city life comes from the radical free-market capitalist ethos of neoliberalism. Milton Friedman, the economist who helped popularize neoliberalism, once said, "There's no such thing as a free lunch." In other words, you can't tax businesses to pay for public services. Which brings us to the current federal tax plan of today.

It also brings us back to Friedman's restaurant, which was named after Milton Friedman and not after a Jewish family and their matzo ball soup. There was a Jewish family running the Cafe Edison for decades. They made good soup. They didn't worry about creating a beige experience. They were loved by many and they are missed.


Read all about the closure of Cafe Edison and the fight to save it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

French Roast to La Contenta

Many people were unhappy this summer when French Roast closed in Greenwich Village.

Now its replacement has announced itself:

photo: Ora McCreary

La Contenta, a Mexican restaurant "with French accents," has another location on the Lower East Side.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Walter's Antique Clock & Watch Repair


all photos by Justin Hicks

The following is a guest post by Justin Hicks:

Pretty much everyone in the West Village agrees: Walter Dikarev is magical.

“I love him,” Rosemary Wettenhall, owner of Madame Matovu, said. “Because he’s like this magic man. He can fix anything.”

For nearly 20 years, Dikarev held court at his small antique clock repair shop on 10th Street between Hudson and Bleecker Streets. Neighbors squeeze into his cluttered shop to chat, all the while surrounded by his cases of glittering watches, clocks, and jewelry.

“[There’s] even [a] special smell in here, the smell of the clock and watch oil,” Dikarev said. “It’s extremely rare; to be in my business and feel exactly like what you could feel maybe a hundred, a hundred and fifty years behind you, and feel like you’re exactly in the past century.”

“What I give when anybody’s coming here, I give unto this person my love,” he said. “My love and nothing else. My smile, my love.”

Unfortunately for him and the city he loves, he’s being forced to close his shop at the end of the year due to a rise in rent.

“I guess my business is not profitable, not profitable anymore,” Dikarev said. “Just to survive I need to raise the prices for my customers and I do not like it.”

For Walter, it’s just a modern take on the David and Goliath story. Big businesses came in and took over the real estate, raising the prices of rent and displacing the patrons who used to visit his shop.

“[It’s the] biggest killing smallest,” he said. “That’s it. [They make] more money and kill the small things. Like bugs. That’s my story of my life.”

Local shop owners describe Dikarev as the “watchdog” of the neighborhood. His decision to fold under the growing pressure of high rent and low sales is unpopular to say the least.

“Nobody likes my decision,” he sighed. “Everybody asks me please don’t close this business because we just feel very, very alone. [There will be] no business to take care of us here.”

When he goes, the West Village will lose yet another charm that made it so magical.

“It’s losing a lot of the smaller charming shops that help make it what it was,” Sherry Delamarter, the owner of Cowgirl restaurant, said. “I don’t want to whine or be a crybaby about it, but there’s something sad in that passing. That’s something sad for the Village as a whole.

“We will certainly miss Walter,” she concluded. “He was a little jewel of a man who fixes jewels.”

For more, visit or follow @Hicks_JustinM on Twitter.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Second Hand Rose Records


For a few weeks now, there's a been a sign on the door of the Second Hand Rose used record shop on 12th Street, saying they were closed temporarily for renovation.


As Alex at Flaming Pablum noted, "maybe they are just renovating, and will re-emerge, Phoenix-style, from the ashes of their former ignominy with a robust new outlook." But "I’m not holding my breath."

Today the sign just says "CLOSED," no more note about renovation, and the shop is empty and dark. A few Bob Dylan posters sit in the window. When I asked, an employee of the building said, "They're closed forever."


We do not know the reason for the closure. But we do know that the building, 817 Broadway, was sold to Taconic Partners last year and they planned to "reposition" the property. As the Real Deal reported, "by April 30, 2021, all the building’s current leases will have turned over."

More recently, its anchor tenant, the Social Service Workers Union (SSEU), moved out of 817 to a smaller space in Times Square.

And the building is now wrapped in a new banner declaring it "The address of innovation." The website claims that 817 is "now poised to redefine what a building can do to inspire a city."

We can guess that means "Tech Hub" and not used record shop.

New Ziegfeld

When the old (but not oldest) Ziegfeld theater closed in 2016 after 46 years in business, many New Yorkers grieved. We wondered what would happen to all its odd character when it became an upscale corporate event space.

Well, now we know. Recently, the new Ziegfeld Ballroom opened for events. Here's what it looks like:

"Drawing inspiration from the 1930’s luxury cruise liner the SS Normandie," reads the new company website, "the Ziegfeld Ballroom features a color scheme of silver and greys to reflect its art deco heritage."

Another inspiration appears to be the corporate hotel conference rooms of, well, Midtown.

Gone are the plush, blood-red walls of old, the sky-high ceiling, the antique sconces, and that circular banquette where one could rest beneath a sprawling chandelier while breathing in the aroma of fresh popcorn.

What became of the artifacts from the Ziegfeld Museum that once lined the stairways and halls? I heard that some are on display in the lounge of the New Amsterdam Theater, home of the “Ziegfeld Follies” from 1907 to 1927.

But what about the weird "STORY OF THIS WOOD" plaque screwed to the wall, informing moviegoers: "Carbon 14-isotope dating shows this wood has been buried in a peat bog near Cambridge, England, since 2120 B.C."

Who knows where it's buried now?

Before: via Cinema Treasures

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hank's Saloon


Brooklyn music bar Hank's Saloon will close by the end of 2018.

On Facebook, the owner writes: "the building was taken over by a new developer who had plans to build big. We knew it was only a matter of time before we got the news that we would have to close Hank’s and move along."

And "it deeply saddens me that one of the last NYC bars of this kind will no longer exist. These places are extremely special to New York and add genuine heart and soul to the community."

They're looking for a new space.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017



In the East Village for 27 years, the Continental will be closing. The owner writes:

"Continental has less than a year left. Some time after the end of August 2018, this corner will be knocked down and developed. It’s truly heartbreaking that we and so many Old Skool places are falling by the wayside but unless you own your building that’s how it goes."

photo via EV Grieve

Read the rest at the bar's website.

And, yes, this entire corner will be gone, from the shuttered McDonald's to Papaya King. Something new and horrible will rise in its place.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Meet Me at the End of the World

Jesse Malin just released a video for the title track of his EP Meet Me at the End of the World, an album that Rolling Stone calls "a mix of Lower East Side grit and Simon & Garfunkel Americana pop."

The video features the great Ray's Candy and B&H Dairy, two luminaries of the East Village small business scene -- plus a cameo from Ray himself.

Check it out:

Monday, October 30, 2017



Frankel's clothing shop has been in Brooklyn for a very long time. Tucked into the shadows of the Gowanus Expressway in Sunset Park, the shop's painted bricks announce: "An American Treasure Since 1890," "The One," "The Only," and "We're Still Here."

But Frankel's won't be here much longer. Third-generation owner Marty Frankel has decided it's time to pack up and move the shop to Jersey.

With its selection of steel-toed boots and Carhartt work clothes, Frankel's caters mostly to laborers. They've covered his doorway with union stickers.

"You know how the Jewish people have the mezuzah on the door and they kiss it? The union guys do it with a sticker," Marty says. "They walk out and kiss it." He demonstrates, kissing his fingers and then touching them to the door frame.

Before work clothes, Frankel's specialized in western wear. Cowboy boots and cowboy hats. Marty would put horse manure in the dressing rooms to give the place that country aroma. Before that it was Timberland boots and "ethnic clothes," snakeskin pants and Italian knit sweaters, bandannas in gang colors. He shows a photo of customers Method Man and Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan. Before that, going back to when Frankel's began, they outfitted the seamen coming in off the big ships at port. But they sold more than just clothing.

"In the 1950s," Marty says, "condoms were illegal in a lot of places. So we'd get cases of Trojans and take 'em down to the ships," to sell them in bulk to foreign sailors who'd smuggle them back to their home countries. "I'm responsible for a lot of people not being born. I like to say I sold condoms to seamen." He smiles at the joke.

A warm and welcoming guy, Marty likes to joke around. He's got a roll of packing tape on the counter with the word SEX written on it. "That's my sex tape," he says. "Don't mind me. I got Tourette's."

Somehow he gets to talking about the designer Ralph Lauren, who changed his name from Lifshitz, or was it Lipshitz? "They used to say: If your Lipshitz, what does your asshole do? Don't mind me. I got Tourette's."

When Brooklyn's piers shut down and the seamen sailed away, the neighborhood changed. In the 1970s it got rough. Marty would go to work strapped with two guns and a bullet-proof vest. It was a daily thrill. "I miss it," he says, looking out the window to the street. "It was exciting to come in and see who got shot over the weekend. I saw a guy get shot on that corner, a body dumped over there, and another guy get his ear shot off right there. It was a tough place back then. If you weren't black and blue, it meant your father was in jail."

But Marty survived. He was part of the scene. He grew up in the neighborhood and came to work in the shop with his father. The place is full of antiques, including a bowler hat that belonged to Marty's grandfather, a shoe-fitting fluoroscope (for x-raying feet while emitting radiation), and a long wooden bench that goes back a century.

"My whole life was spent on that bench," Marty says. "I slept on it as a child. That was my crib. I don't know anything else. All I know is this store."

Marty owns the building and doesn't plan on selling it. But it's time to close.

"I'm 76 years old," he explains. "I'm tired. I fell asleep going home on the Pulaski Skyway. I'm lucky to be alive, but I get tired driving home to Jersey every night." And the parking around the store is terrible. "It's not easy down here. There's nowhere to park. They call this Sunset Park? They should just call it Sunset."

Besides, the majority of his customers have moved away from Brooklyn.

More and more, old-time locals come in and tell him their landlord has sold their building and they're getting evicted, moving to Pennsylvania or some other state. The neighborhood is changing again. A nearby Costco has taken a bite out of Frankel's -- "It hurts. Costco gets all the deals" -- and the newcomers to the neighborhood haven't helped.

"Hipsters. They're all white guys with Chinese girlfriends and rescue dogs," says Marty. "They try on twenty pairs of shoes, but they won't buy here because the store doesn't look nice. They like to take pictures of my barcodes, though, and then buy the shoes online."

Still, Frankel's is well loved by its regulars and the neighborhood people. A guy walks in and calls out, "Hey Marty, I gotta take a piss," and heads to the restroom. A woman comes in and chats about life, the school they both went to years ago. Customers come and go, buying boots and hats.

They all know Marty and enjoy his easy talk--and his sense of humor. Like his trick of leaving an old boot on the sidewalk as bait. Passersby pick it up and bring it in, saying, "You left a boot outside." He thanks them and then, after they go (hopefully after buying something), he tosses the boot back on the sidewalk.

"It's going to be hard to leave," Marty says, sitting down on that antique bench. "Mentally, it's hard. I'm like the watering hole here. People come by and ask What happened to this guy? and Have you heard from that guy? I've got three generations of people shopping at this store. Now that they know I'm closing, they write me emails. They say, How can you do this to us? Do it to them? I have trouble sleeping at night, thinking about the move. But it's time. A hundred and twenty-seven years? I figure that's long enough."

By the end of November, Frankel's will be gone.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Argo Electronics


After close to four decades, Argo Electronics on Canal Street has closed. Tribeca Citizen shared the news today, writing, "I’d have to wager that the building—and the one(s) to the west—aren’t long for this world."

photos from 2015

Argo was a beautiful little remnant of old Canal, its wares organized in cardboard boxes spilling out to the sidewalk, a cacophony of useful junk and stuff.

Power cords. Extension cords. Remote controls. Rolls of duct tape. Rolls of masking tape.

Motherboards. Keyboards. Key chains. Coffee pots. Flip flops. Watch bands.

I never got the chance to go inside, but I always liked the look of the place and photographed it each time I went by, mostly because it had that look.

You know the look. The one that says: I won't last much longer in this new New York.

For videos of the inside, visit Tribeca Citizen.