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Adios, La Isla: Cuchifrito Spot Shutters on 14th Street

la islaMelvin Felix

A late-night standby for cheap, heaping helpings of Latin grub has closed its doors in the face of a rent hike, according to an employee.

La Isla, on 14th Street, stopped serving cuchifritos, empanadas, rotisserie chicken and other Caribbean staples this week, and will officially give up its space between Avenues A and B on Monday. Yesterday, it was empty but for a refrigerator, a steam table and a small plant by the front window, which an employee said had been there since La Isla opened a almost decade ago.

The employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said the restaurant’s management had decided not to renew the ten-year lease at 542 East 14th Street because its landlord had asked for an additional $3,000 per month, plus additional property tax payments; the one-two punch would’ve meant paying almost $15,000 per month instead of the previous $8,000. Read more…

Second Avenue Starbucks Closed for ‘Operating Illegally’ [Updated]

IMG_0006Stephen Rex Brown The sign on the door of the Starbucks at 145 Second Avenue.

The Starbucks at Second Avenue and Ninth Street has been closed by the Department of Consumer Affairs for “operating illegally,” according to a sticker on its darkened window.

When a tipster sent word earlier today, we wondered if it was a hoax, since Starbucks became a target of neighborhood scorn after it replaced the Bean at 49 1/2 First Avenue in February. But a walk past the Second Avenue location confirms that it was indeed shuttered by the D.C.A. We’re waiting to hear back from the agency about the circumstances of what will likely be a temporary closure, and will post any updates as we get them.

Update | 2:57 p.m. Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson explained that the coffee shop failed to renew its sidewalk cafe permit. Read more…

And Now Life Cafe’s Bar Has Been Dismantled

life2Daniel Maurer

Life Cafe’s bar was still standing last week when The Local reported that one of the shuttered cafe’s two landlords had given up trying to come to terms with the other. If the lingering fixture gave you hope that there might be an eleventh-hour rapprochement in time for outdoor brunching season (which, apparently, is already upon us), you can set it aside.

A peek into the space last night revealed that although the summer specials are still pitifully up on the chalkboard, the wooden bar decorated with covers of Life magazine has now been dismantled. Rentheads, if you’re looking for souvenirs, this might be the time to keep your eye on the sidewalk.

Oh, and speaking of brunch, Grub Street reports that the Beagle is now serving it. Pancakes with foie-gras maple syrup, anyone?

Photos: Last Night at Holiday Cocktail Lounge

Photos: Vivienne Gucwa

Getting a table or a bar stool at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge Saturday night was nearly impossible. The 47-year-old dive was wall-to-wall with regulars, there to pay respects on its final night.

“I came here before I was legal,” said Angela Martenez, who frequented the Holiday in the 1990s. “The drinks were strong and cheap. And the little twinkly Christmas lights were friendly, and that’s what I needed in my life at the time.”

From all corners of the city, former East Villagers returned to the Holiday for one last beer. Read more…

For Locals, Shock at Mars Bar’s Closure

Mars Bar umbrellasJoshua Davis Former patrons of Mars Bar customers gathered outside the now-closed bar Monday night for an impromptu candlelight vigil.

Occasional customers and regulars at Mars Bar were shocked Monday night to learn that the Department of Health ordered the bar to close. City health inspectors found several sanitation violations and slapped a yellow “Closed” sticker on the bar’s front door Monday afternoon. Many East Villagers believe that Monday was the last time they’ll ever see Mars Bar open to the public.

Julie Turley, East Village resident since 1995 and a librarian at Borough of Manhattan Community College, said she loved the art on the walls at Mars Bar.

“I didn’t realize it was closing so soon. I don’t even drink really, but I always said if the Mars Bar closed, I would have to leave New York because it would be sort of the last slice of cake for that area — that represented this city’s grungy past. I never felt like I belonged there, but I’m still sad to see it go.”
Read more…