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.