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Making It | Phil Hartman of Two Boots, Celebrating 25 Years Tonight

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

Two Boots owner PhilMelvin Felix

Tonight, Two Boots celebrates its 25th anniversary with an outdoor concert hosted by Luis Guzman and featuring performances by the Sierra Leone Refuge All-Stars, circus acts, live painters, poets from the Nuyorican and more. So we talked to the pizza and film chain’s maverick owner and community builder, Phil Hartman, about how he’s kept his Avenue A shop running while watching his other businesses open, close and relocate.


In the East Village and Lower East Side, you’ve endured some losses alongside your business triumphs.


We closed the Two Boots on Grand Street but that one was never supposed to stay open long. It was in a location too close to the East Village one. We also moved a location from Rock Center to Hells Kitchen. That was a cool move into a great funky environment. A big loss for me was when we closed down Mo Pitkins. The Pioneer Theater closing down was another one. Losing it was hard. We’d invested a lot into it. I used to say the Pioneer ate 40,000 slices of pizza a year at $2.50 a slice, so it was expensive to keep it going. I wish we could have kept it, but our lease ran out. Read more…

Conversation | On 34 Avenue A

photo.JPGTodd Olmstead The doorway of 34 Avenue A.

I felt very young last week, sitting at the Community Board 3 meeting at 200 East Fifth Street. Being 21 years old, there were surely other attendees my age, or younger. But I could not beat the feeling that our voices and spirits were being silenced. I say this mostly because, as the Community Board again refused to support the application for a new experimental music venue at 34 Avenue A (formerly Mo Pitkins), a project of the music promoter Todd Patrick and Two Boots owner Phil Hartman, I felt like one of the few attendees who genuinely understood the cultural significance of what their proposed space, The Piney Woods, could be.

Imagine my surprise yesterday afternoon, when, flicking through Gmail on my iPhone, I found a response from Richard Hell, musician, punk innovator, East Village resident,and one of the most influential musical figures to come out of the neighborhood, in support of the application. The board is scheduled to consider it again at its meeting tonight.

“The Lower East Side needs a specialized, non-pop music room for musicians who are in it for other things than head-banging or making it big,” Mr. Hell told me. “Headbanging and raw ambition are fine, but there are plenty of venues for that already, and the Lower East Side would do well to maintain or recover its tradition of cutting edge art.”
Read more…

Liquor License Opposed for Venue

The State Liquor Authority Committee of Community Board 3 Monday night refused to endorse a liquor license for a proposed music and restaurant space on Avenue A. With the 4-3 vote, the committee turned aside a proposal to open a new Mexican restaurant and lounge at 34 Avenue A. The proposal had been submitted by several owners, including Phil Hartman, who owns Two Boots Pizza and a former venue, Mo Pitkin’s House of Satisfaction, and the music promoter Todd Patrick; the fate of the project is unclear. —Hadas Goshen