Heart N’ Soul Closes, But Will Get CPR

photo-40Michael Herman Muff of Mama’s Bar.

Six-week-old Heart N’ Soul closed yesterday with a note on the door claiming the chef “had a nervous breakdown.”

Today, Richard Freedman, the owner of the restaurant and its building on East Third Street, said the southern spot would reopen in a week and a half. “His food was good,” Mr. Freedman said of chef David Conn. “It turns out he was just saying wacky things. He gave us so many excuses why he couldn’t get a burger over to the bar. Last night he skipped a dinner for 50 and I had to give them a big tab at the bar next door.”

The general manager of Mama’s Bar, who goes by the name of Muff, said Mr. Conn “saw things different than anyone else” and added that “he was not in reality.”

“I don’t want to do the he-said-she said,” Mr. Freedman added with a chuckle.

The Local saw Mr. Freedman, the landlord who gave Mama’s Food Shop the boot, in front of Mama’s Bar a few weeks ago appearing to show the space to the operators of a few downtown cocktail lounges. Despite this, Mr. Freedman insisted the bar was not for sale. “I’ve owned it for 10 years and the business does very well,” he said.

Update: David Conn has this to say about his departure.

Chefs and owners are like oil and water. Richard Freeman, the owner of Heart n Soul began panicking about lack of business after 3 week (exacerbated by the fact that an old noise complaint from his bar postponed his liquor license). He had not advertised, marketed, nor promoted Heart n Soul. He was greatly angered that I took it upon myself to take interviews. He began cutting my staff–my manager and sous left solid jobs to work for me. Then he told me I needed to figure how to open for breakfast and lunch. He was desperate. I left that night, seeing that he would rather compromise what we set out to do, than stay the course and develop a brand. And yes, he had a dinner party the following night, but my vision had been blinded and I was sure it was terminal. There was never a conversation that might suggest I was angry, much less in the throes of a “nervous breakdown.” If I had $1600 to throw at a lawsuit, I would have pursued libel/defamation. Our reviews were great, Yelp was great….his patience, nonexistent.

The 7-Eleven Debate Plods On

Video: Simran Khosla
UntitledDaniel Maurer Corner of 11th and A: “I can see 3 bodegas from
this [spot]”

In case you haven’t seen the flyers all over the neighborhood, there’s a “No 7-Eleven” meeting tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at 93 St. Marks Place.

While the grassroots movement plots ways to block the chain’s alleged plan to “over-saturate the neighborhood with locations and remove any and all competition” Steven Matthews, on his Quilas blog, continues to question No 7-Eleven’s mission and accuse it of class bias. “They could have shone a light on conditions of workers at bodegas, as I did,” he wrote yesterday. “They could have examined why the choices were limited to 7‑Elevens and bodegas, as I did. Instead they ignored it all, focusing on superficialities and nativist fears.”

Our question: how do 7-Eleven customers feel about all this? We’ve already heard from Jimmy McMillan, the mayoral hopeful who wants 7-Elevens to pop up all over the place. Recently, we hit the street with iPhone cameras rolling and spoke to a few more Big Gulpers. Video above.

At Klutch NYC, Shop For Biker Gear Or Hit the Playstation

Manhattan-20130422-00708Ray LeMoine
Manhattan-20130422-00706-1Ray LeMoine

Though bicycles are about to grossly outnumber motorcycles in the East Village, a new shop is catering to bikers of the badass variety.

Last week, Klutch NYC, a motorcycle apparel store, opened in the former Tokyo Rebel space. Actually: “It’s not just a store,” said Rafael Rios, the 27-year-old owner. “We have a couch for riders who want to stop in, maybe jump on the Playstation or watch TV.”

In a narrow, exposed-brick space branded in a way that resembles SoHo skate shop Supreme, riders will find helmets, jackets, pants, gloves — just about anything they’d need. A former employee of Ducati in SoHo, Mr. Rios grew up in Long Island City, Queens, but is currently living in New Jersey while looking for an East Village apartment (attention, brokers!).

As for the store, he pays around $3,500 a month in rent and put about $50,000 into the space.

Klutch NYC, 170 Avenue B (between East 10th and 11th Streets); (212) 228-4332 

New Chinese Takeout Joint


Beijing, the Chinese takeout joint we gave you the heads-up on last month, is now open and delivering. At left is our lunch-cam shot of the $7.50 sesame-chicken lunch special, which comes with your choice of soup and, of course, a fortune cookie; you can see the menu on Seamless. Beijing, 223 East 14th Street (near Third Avenue); (212) 982-8966.

Meatballs, Mac and Cheese Coming to Song 7.2 Space

IMAG0947Samantha Balaban 117 Second Avenue

Picnic, a restaurant serving “simple American comfort food,” is replacing a Korean pub on the corner of Second Avenue and East Seventh Street.

Brianna Myers, the manager and designer of the new restaurant, said the menu would include classics such as meatballs, sandwiches, salad and macaroni and cheese, as well as beer and wine.

Interior renovations are currently turning the space into “somewhere you always feel comfortable going,” per Ms. Myers, and Picnic should open in mid to late May.

Ms. Myers wouldn’t reveal anything about the owner except to say she had managed one of his other New York City restaurants and that he had acquired the Song 7.2 space in October after many months of negotiation. “We really went for it,” she said. “We love the vibe in this neighborhood.”

Owner of East Village’s 8th Subway, Opening Tomorrow, Thanks the Haters

Subway on 3rd Ave.Joanna Marshall

The East Village will get its eighth Subway tomorrow morning. Mohammed Matin, owner of the sandwich shop coming to 41 Third Avenue, said it was the “proximity to young people” that sold him on the location between East Ninth and Tenth Streets.

Okay, but what about not-so-young folks like David Cross, who just reiterated his distaste for Subway in the Post? “No, I haven’t heard anything negative from the neighborhood,” said Mr. Matin.

Told of the No 7-Eleven movement and the anti-Subway signs on local countertops, he seemed unfazed. “By putting up signs they’re doing our job for us,” he said. “People don’t know where there’s a Subway, but they’ll know after the protests.” Read more…

Vella Market Opens in Former Kate’s Joint Space

Michael Herman

Back in August we told you Ruth Marquez, a longtime Lower East Sider, would bring a deli to the space where Kate’s Joint closed after 16 years.

Vella Market opened today at 56 Avenue B, offering organic fare, Latin steam-table food, sandwiches and salads.

“We want to offer personalized service,” said Ms. Marquez. “When you walk in we’ll know who you are. If you like a certain type of pastry, we’ll remember and make sure we have it for you.”

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Salon Moves to LES

UntitledDaniel Maurer

The game of musical barber chairs continues.

Hair Design Ampersand has moved from 240 East Fourth Street to 102 Suffolk Street, doing exactly the opposite of what Spin Hair recently did when it moved from the Lower East Side to the East Village.

It’s just the latest change on the East Fourth Street styling scene: in recent months, Manny’s Barber Shop opened at 125 East Fourth after the owner split from Igor’s Clean Cuts, and Salon Champu moved from East Seventh Street to 199 East Fourth.

So how’s life on the Lower East Side for Hair Design Ampersand, rated five stars on Yelp? They were too busy to take questions when The Local called, so it seems like business as usual.

Hair Design Ampersand, 102 Suffolk Street (between Rivington and Delancey Streets); (212) 228-3450.

After Kicking Around, Nevada Smiths Reopens in Larger, Luxurious Digs

Patrick (Paddy) McCarthyLaura Entis Patrick (Paddy) McCarthy

Shortly after 2 p.m. today, Nevada Smiths reopened a mere one block from the location that closed nearly a year and a half ago in order to make way for luxury apartments. The exile is finally over.

As you can see from our photos, the “football” mecca, now at 100 Third Avenue, has gotten pretty luxurious itself. What once was a divey neighborhood hangout where soccer fanatics across the city watched live matches has tripled in size to become a megapub spread out over four levels, complete with two full-service bars (offering over 30 beers on tap), a separate wine bar, a VIP room, a DJ booth, and two kitchens with a pizza oven (that’s right: Nevada Smiths will now serve food, including a traditional Irish brunch. You can see some menu items here.)

“I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars getting everything exactly right,” said owner Patrick (Paddy) McCarthy, a tall, broad man with a shock of white hair and a thick Cork accent. It cost $5,800 to get the logo inlaid in marble on the floor near the entrance, he told The Local last week. Signed jerseys from football gods like Rooney and Ronaldo line the staircases. Flat-screen televisions are ubiquitous; two screens (on the first and second floor) are so large that they cover an entire wall. “The acoustics in here are the best in town,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I built this place like a stadium.”
Read more…

Making It | Antonio Gomez On Gruppo’s Unexpected Move Down Avenue B

For every East Village business that’s opening or closing, dozens are quietly making it. Here’s one of them: Gruppo Thin Crust Pizza.

gueppos1Mel Bailey

Last week Evan Mann, manager of Gruppo, sent the word out via text message: “FREE BEER TONIGHT!!!” The pizzeria had just relocated from its longtime location at 186 Avenue B and opened up a handful of blocks away, at 98 Avenue B.  Why the move? Antonio Gomez, the owner, said his landlord tripled his rent. “We never missed a payment and when we reached the end of our lease we expected to have a civilized conversation with our landlord about the lease, and it was not a nice discussion at all,” he said. “So, we had to pay them what they wanted month to month and at the same time find a spot very quickly.” About a year later, thin-crust pies are coming out of the oven just a few blocks away. We asked Mr. Gomez how the new spot is working out.


Why do you think your landlord acted this way? It seems it’s better to have someone in the space than not, yet it never seems to be that landlords think that way.


My understanding is that the building was sold to a corporation. The previous owners were wonderful, but the new corporation, we just are numbers on the page. It was a strange, painful situation for us. There was no room for negotiation. It was clear that we weren’t a part of their plans. Read more…

On Clinton, a Sushi Traditionalist Gets Ready to Roll

DSC00477Kavitha Surana

The tiny storefront at 91 Clinton Street is starting to gain a reputation for quick turnover – in the past two and a half years it briefly housed Djerdan Burek and Xiao Qin Flower shop. Now, furious renovations are taking place as Chef John Daley aims to open his first solo venture, New York Sushi Ko, in about five weeks.

Mr. Daley, 33, is a member of the traditionalist sushi tribe. After training rigorously for almost three years at 15 East under Masato Shimizu in New York, he traveled to Tokyo to study under his master’s master, Rikio Kugo. “Outsiders of a culture usually delve deeper into aspects that people living inside the culture will take for granted, “ he said, musing about his passion for Japanese sushi philosophy and details. “I’m going to experiment with presentation at Sushi Ko, but this isn’t going to be an Asian fusion restaurant. I’m going for strictly traditional Japanese flavors.”

To recreate the quality of his experience culling fish from Tokyo’s legendary Tsukiji market, Mr. Daley plans to go to extreme lengths: “Last call at Sushi Ko will be at 3 a.m.,” he explained. “By 3:30 a.m. I’ll be in my car, driving to get my fish for the day in Queens or Brooklyn, just landed in JFK from Tokyo.” Read more…

First Sign of Ethiopian Bistro On Avenue B

UntitledDaniel Maurer

Signage for Haile Ethiopian Cuisine went up today at 182 Avenue B, between East 11th and 12th Streets. The 32-seat bistro is named after first-time operator Menasie Haile, and promises “a distinctive menu that not only showcases the foods and flavors of the Ethiopian but also celebrates the culture,” per a business plan submitted to Community Board 3. It’ll offer lunch, dinner, and takeout to “baby boomers,” “generation Xers,” and “empty nesters,” according to the marketing plan.

Is the preliminary menu below enough to lure you away from Awash or Meskel? Read more…

Ton-Up Cafe Revs Up On St. Marks Place: How It’s Looking, What It’s Cooking

Samantha Balaban

Because you can never have enough motorbike-themed Italian wine bars, a couple of Romans who admire Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando have opened Ton-Up at 127 St. Marks Place.

The design is modeled after the “café racers” who would streak between transport cafes in Europe, trying to reach 100 miles per hour between stops. If a racer succeeded, he made a “ton-up,” explained Riccardo Pieroni.

True to the theme, the salads and crostini are named after bike companies (Ducati, BSA, Bonneville) and the panini are named after classic rockers (Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash).
See the menu…

After Seven Years, Nino Returns to Reopen His Pizzeria

IMG_9260Samantha Balaban Nino’s Pizza on St. Marks and Avenue A is currently under construction

Villagers, rejoice: the old Nino’s Pizza is back. Or it will be in about a month and a half, according to Nino Camaj, the former and once again current owner of the pizzeria on the corner of St. Marks Place and Avenue A.

Mr. Camaj owned Nino’s Pizza for 18 years before selling it and moving to Florida, he said. Last week, he re-signed a 12-year lease to the storefront.

Nino’s was under non-Nino ownership for seven years while Mr. Camaj lived in Florida, where he opened two more restaurants. Then, five years ago, he sold his Florida restaurants and moved back to New York City “because of the hurricanes,” he said, and opened a Nino’s Restaurant in Bedford Hills, Queens.

Meanwhile, he noticed that his old pizzeria in the East Village wasn’t doing too great, and also selling Lebanese food. “He ruined everything,” Mr. Camaj said of the other owner. “He had no experience. A lot of people complained.” Read more…

Coming Soon: Sushi, Tacos, and… Polynesian?

UntitledDaniel Maurer

Richard Boccato, the owner of PKNY, is opening another Polynesian spot on Avenue B, in the long vacant Mercadito Cantina space at 172 Avenue B. That’s just one of a few interesting morsels that have surfaced as Community Board 3 has posted the latest batch of liquor license questionnaires to its Website, ahead of a liquor licensing committee meeting next Monday.

Unlike at Mr. Boccato’s Lower East Side tiki bar, there’ll be a food at The Asphalt Jungle, as the 32-seat spot will be called. A sample menu on the questionnaire lists a “loco moco” burger, Spam masubi, and various skewers.

Also of note: first-time operator Eric Perez is bringing El Diablito Taqueria to 60 East Third Street, where Jammyland record store closed in 2008. A sign on the window says it’ll open this spring. You can find some interior shots on the taqueria’s Website.

And at 414 East Ninth Street, another first-time operator is taking over the former home of Kajitsu (now relocated to Murray Hill) and opening Cagen, where $85 and $120 tasting menus will feature Japanese dishes such as deep-fried softshell crab, sushi, grilled Wagyu beef, and the traditional porridge-like dish, zensai.

Making It | Lisa Linhardt of Linhardt Design

For every East Village business that’s opening or closing, dozens are quietly making it. Here’s one of them: Linhardt Design.

lisa linhardt on rightWary Meyers

This is the first Making It we’ve done with a shopkeeper whose store has closed. Last Sunday, Lisa Linhardt shuttered her jewelry showcase at 156 First Avenue after nearly five years in the East Village. But a failed business this is not. As The Local reported, she’ll reopen the shop in a considerably larger space (14 feet wide!) at 211 Mott Street. Why’d she cross Houston Street? We spoke with the designer to find out.


So why did you leave your First Avenue location?


I’m leaving to get into a large space. The new location is a boutique-lined block. As much as I loved First Avenue, it is not boutique-lined. Ninth Street is, but First Avenue just wasn’t known for fine jewelry shopping so it’s really nice for me to have that community.


How different will the rent be for you at the NoLiTa location?


The rent is definitely a lot higher so I do hope it works out for me. I feel confident I won’t lose people and that I will continue to grow. I was very lucky with the First Avenue store. I had a great landlord where my rent didn’t change. They were so supportive after we first opened. After that first period where right away I did well, it was slow that summer and my landlord was very accommodating. Read more…

Nevada Smiths Aiming to Open This Weekend [Update: Next Week]

UntitledDaniel Maurer

If you’ve peered into the new home of Nevada Smiths lately, you’ve likely seen soccer games playing on a television inside of the darkened space. And yet the doors are still locked, with no one in sight.

After being exiled to Webster Hall in November of 2011, the soccer bar still hasn’t reopened at its new permanent home at 100 Third Avenue, but here’s some news: according to owner Patrick McCarthy, all systems are go for a reopening this weekend. At least, that’s the gooooooooooooooooooool.

We’ll have more information after we kick it with Mr. McCarthy tomorrow.

Update | 8:30 p.m. Mr. McCarthy now says it’s looking like early next week.

‘Shockingly Different’ Papaya King Opens Next Month, Will Serve Beer

UntitledDaniel Maurer Blake Gower and Wayne A. Rosenbaum

Papaya King unveiled its St. Marks storefront today, and its proprietors (papaya-tors?) say it’ll open during the last week of April.

At 1,100 square feet, this location is about three times the size of the Upper East Side original, and the extra room will be put to use: take a look at the construction shot below and imagine vintage video games (think Pac-Man, Asteroids, Space Invaders), a proper speaker system for pumping out music, and a projector displaying vintage footage of New York City.

Come early spring or late summer (depending on the State Liquor Authority), there will also be beer. (Likely just one tap, said Wayne A. Rosenbaum, director of operations.)

“What you’re going to see in this store is going to be shockingly different from all Papaya anything that’s been done in the city,” said Blake Gower, head of development, adding that the store would be all about “embracing the old but creating the 2.0.”

Don’t worry – the food program will feature the “exact same product, exact same everything,” according to Mr. Rosenbaum. And the colorful signage festooning the Upper East Side store will also hang here. But the menu will feature a debut item (“a very interesting creation that we’ve been testing for a while” winked Mr. Rosenbaum) and the décor will likely nod to neighborhood lore.
Take a look inside…

Canadian Boutique Sets Up Shop On Extra Place

inventoryJoanna Marshall

Hot on the heels of Cadet, more menswear is coming to the neighborhood: An outpost of Inventory, a Vancouver-based shop, is set to open next week on Extra Place.

Ryan Willms, a native of British Columbia, founded Inventory in 2009 after the success of his online fashion magazine, h(y)r collective (he has also contributed to Monocle and Apartamento). What began as a blog and biannual magazine reflecting the editor’s tastes in menswear, culture and lifestyle evolved, in 2010, into a store in the Gastown district of Vancouver. Mr. Willms said he and his partners curate “pieces that are timeless classics, well-made so that they last a lifetime.”

Inventory New York will sell menswear by brands like The Real McCoy’s, Ebbets Field Flannels, and Engineered Garments; shoes by Clarks, Red Wing, and Yuketen; and accessories for the home, like Japanese paper products and handmade ceramics. Read more…

In Alphabet City, a Girdle Guru Boosts Lingerie as Way to Healthier Life

photo-29Daniel Maurer

“The better you take care of your breasts, the less stress and more confidence you will have,” promises Pearl Chan.

Ms. Chan, a self-proclaimed “body-slimming lingerie specialist,” opened Healthier Life to help put some pride in the chests of East Village women. The rail-thin Fashion Institute of Technology grad isn’t shy when talking about the beauty of brassieres: a recent interview turned into an episode of “Shopkeepers Gone Wild” when she lifted up her shirt to show how well her own bra fit.

“See, no double boob!” she proclaimed, referring to the fold of fat that forms between the breast and armpit due to an ill-fitting bra.

You may or may not have noticed Ms. Chan’s shop, a sparse cinder-block space tucked just below street level at 291 East Fourth Street. “Lose 10 lbs in 5 days” promises a sign outside of the brassiere bunker. Read more…