News from the Lower East Side


SUMMER OF THE CITI BIKE New Program Stirs Controversy
Hester Street Startups

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Halstead Property, LLC We are pledged to the letter and spirit affirmative advertising and marketing program in which there are information is from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, description. All measurements and square footages are approximate

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July/August 2013


letter from the Editor:
Catching your breath. Even in the city that
never sleeps, you’ve got to slow down sometime. That’s what the summer’s for — taking a little time away from your daily grind, even if it’s only for a few days. This month, we present a combined July/August issue, as The Lo-Down team gears up for the frenzied fall and winter months on the Lower East Side. The month of June did not feel very low key, in part due to the much-heralded arrival of New York’s bike share initiative. In this month’s cover story, we take a look at Citi Bike, the nation’s largest program of its kind, which has stirred strong passions among proponents and detractors alike. Also in this edition of the magazine, a new look at the Hester Street Fair, which isn’t just about fancy food and artisan goods; it’s responsible for helping to launch a surprising number of startup businesses. In our My LES column, we check in with Jonathan Gardenhire, a young artist and activist who is making his mark as a leader of the Alfred E. Smith Houses tenant association. Throughout the summer, we’ll continue to have breaking news coverage and daily updates on our website. In the meantime, we’re preparing for an expanded magazine, including even more LES news, arts coverage and features, set to debut in the fall. We hope you enjoy your summer — see you in September!

in this issue
4 Cover Story
Bike share rolls onto the Lower East Side


New Arrivals

Stanley’s Pharmacy, Central Booking, New York Sushi Ko NYCHA development plan, community garden feud, Clinton Street traffic woes Babel Blocks come to Delancey Street HOT! Festival, Seward Park pop-up, Fringe Fest Hester Street Fair: homegrown incubator Smith Houses tenant leader Jonathan Gardenhire Lower East Sideways

10 Neighborhood News

13 Ar ts Watch

The Lo-Down is a publication of Lo-Down Productions LLC, © 2013.

14 Calendar/Feat ured Events

16 The Lo-Dine 18 My LES

20 Car toon

Cover photo: Citi Bike station on Stanton Street. Photo by Mike Brown.

Ed Litvak


by Ed Litvak


   or a lot of longtime Lower East Side residents, Frank Arroyo is like family. If you grew up around here, he’s probably the guy who made sure that first bike you rode as a kid was the perfect f it. So it goes without saying that anyone who’s perceived to be messing with Arroyo, who has operated Frank’s Bikes at 553 Grand St. for 37 years, is asking for trouble. Given Arroyo’s status as a Lower East Side institution, it’s not too surprising that a New York Post reporter, in search of an early Citi Bike victim, ended up on the eastern end of Grand Street several weeks ago. It’s also not very surprising that a May 27 story prognosticating Arroyo’s potential demise, due to the close proximity of a bike share station, ignited a spirited neighborhood debate and inspired dueling online petition drives. “This decision is blatantly disrespectful of a long-standing and loved business,” wrote Leila Rosen, one of more than a thousand petition signers who urged the city to move the station from the intersection of Grand and Henry streets. Other local residents, loyal customers of Arroyo among them, strongly disagreed. A high-prof  ile Citi Bike defender, former mayoral spokesman Stu Loeser, commented on The Lo-Down, “Frank is a lovely guy who has treated my family well; [but] someone should explain to him that scores more [local residents] biking regularly is good for his helmets and accessories business.” Since the Memorial Day weekend launch of New York’s bike share, the largest in the nation, conversations like this one have been taking place across the city, as 330 docking stations and nearly 6,000 bikes hit the streets. The initiative, which the New York Times called “the crowning, valedictory piece of Michael Bloomberg’s extensive investment in cycling,” is in some respects already a hit; the system clocked 250,000 trips in its first two weeks. But on the f lip side, the program has been plagued with technical and mechanical glitches, criticized for inadequate


outreach to low-income New Yorkers and derided by legions of bicycling foes as the latest imposition from an imperial mayor. It remains to be seen how effectively the city can overcome the startup issues and win over critics in this notoriously tough town. But the promise of bike share—New York’s f irst new form of public transportation in generations—is enticing. The Lower East Side, with its diverse demographics and large number of bike stations, is serving as a living laboratory, one of several neighborhoods helping to determine whether Citi Bike is merely a summer sensation or the start of a transit revolution. LES resident Noah Wildman is one of more than 40,000 Citi Bike annual members. A serious cycling enthusiast with eight bikes of his own, including a tricked out “Knish Mobile” used for his f  l  edgling food-service business, Wildman is a classic early adopter. Many days last month, he hopped on a Citi Bike at the Stanton Street station, near Suffolk, and pedaled to his of   f  ice at 56th Street and Third Avenue. Wildman, who’s had four bikes stolen in New York, likes the convenience of pulling into a docking station without having to worry about theft or how he’s going to get his own bike home if, for example, it’s raining. “It allows me a new level of f  lexibility,” he explained. If convenience is a top Citi Bike selling point, Alta Bicycle Share, which runs the program in New York, may have reason for concern. On the f irst Sunday the system was fully functional, four out of nine stations visited by The Lo-Down were not working properly. At one location alongside Corlears Hook Park, the kiosk was not recognizing credit cards. After 8 minutes and 32 seconds on the phone with customer service, a Citi Bike representative admitted, “we’re having a lot of technical problems,” and asked, “can you try another station?” At the Pike Street and East Broadway docking station, located on a center island also used by the Yo! interstate bus service, would-be cyclists were becoming

LES bicyclist Noah Wildman pedals across Stanton Street.


frustrated. Several people tried to work the touchscreen to no avail, as bus customers sitting on empty bike docks looked on in amusement. A similar problem plagued the station on Division Street, near Bowery, where more than 30 bikes were lined up on the sidewalk along with a large number of passengers waiting to board three commuter vans and a Boston-bound bus. The screen had gone completely blank. This experience was not unique. While the city has refused to disclose information about system failures, an analysis by WNYC radio showed that about 10 percent of docks were failing on any given day last month. Many blame new software developed before Citi Bike’s launch. Reuters financial reporter Felix Salmon, a bike share proponent, wrote in an early June column, “I hope it gets fixed soon, but I have to admit I’m a little bit pessimistic.” Other complaints concern the location of certain bike share stations, where some residents have groused about the elimination of parking spaces or argued that designated bike share docks have been wedged into overly congested areas. One trouble spot is located on Elizabeth Street, below Hester Street, in Chinatown. The DOT eliminated a half-block of parking to create the station in front of sev-

eral small businesses, including a grocery, jewelry store and beauty salon. Inexplicably, the station was dormant for nearly three weeks before becoming operational. Overall, the reaction on the LES and in Chinatown has been muted. Local elected of  f icials and Community Board 3 report there have only been a handful of complaints so far. One possible reason: a fairly comprehensive community outreach program conducted over a three-year period. Department of Transportation of  f icials note they hosted 12 meetings and public informational events within Community District 3 before Citi Bike’s launch, soliciting feedback about potential locations. In an interview, City Council member Margaret Chin, whose of  f  ice has received about 20 negative calls and emails about bike share, said she supports the program because it’s an important transit supplement in sections of the LES lacking easy access to subway and bus service. But now that Citi Bike has launched, she feels some tweaks are in order. “It’s true that the city did a lot of outreach,” said Chin, “but it’s also clear that some of the sites that were chosen are not in the best locations, and there needs to be changes.” Beyond the site-specific issues, bike share faces other obstacles, including a perception among some residents that it’s elitist. The tenant leadership at the LaGuardia public housing complex fought the installation of docks there, arguing that the bikes would be “just a toe in the door” for the growing number of aff  luent residents snapping up apartments in the neighborhood. Several media outlets have pointed out that most Citi Bike locations are in aff  luent areas, bypassing immigrant and low-income communities. One of the few exceptions is the Lower East Side, one of New York’s most economically Frank’s Bike Shop, 553 Grand St. mixed neighborhoods. Among

the more than 20 Lower East Side bike share stations below Houston Street, several are alongside public housing, including docks adjacent to the Alfred E. Smith, Vladeck and Seward Park Extension complexes. Yet when bike share debuted, it was apparent that these stations were seeing relatively little use compared with locations, for example, near the Grand Street cooperatives and other residential buildings with a high concentration of middle- to high-income residents. Over the past couple of years, Local Spokes, a LES-based coalition promoting bicycle use in underserved and immigrant communities, advocated for bike share locations accessible to low-income housing developments. A coalition member, Dylan House of Hester Street Collaborative, acknowledged the city’s efforts, including discounted memberships for residents of public housing and members of the LES People’s Federal Credit Union. But at the same time, he said, “there is no real strategy for making it accessible to low- income residents not in NYCHA.” House noted that signage at Citi Bike stations is English-only, with no Spanish or Chinese translations. “Our focus now is going to be on pushing for more outreach and more publicity, really explaining what the bike share program is all about, especially in ethnic communities,” he said. Council member Chin agreed, saying, “more education is needed, more feedback is needed from the community.” Within NYCHA, many community activists have noted, this is the summer of discontent, as the agency moves forward with a controversial plan to build market-rate apartments on public housing property. The Citi Bike stations popped up just as the debate over that contentious issue was heating up, and was perceived by some as another unwelcome private incursion. Mayor Bloomberg has repeatedly highlighted the fact that New York’s bike share is almost entirely funded by private industry. Citibank is paying $41 million for sponsorship rights, while Mastercard kicked in $6

Photo by Eusebio Rodriguez

Workers install a bike share station at the Baruch Houses.

million. What the mayor sees as an innovative funding model for the cash-strapped city, critics f ind misguided. In particular, they f ind it galling that New York has handed Citibank, a much-maligned corporation that received a $45 billion federal bailout, an invaluable branding opportunity and a chance to repair its image. When it comes to outreach, including within NYCHA, the Department of Transportation says its efforts have been unprecedented. Scott Gastel, DOT spokesperson, told The Lo-Down 435 helmets were distributed at the Rutgers Houses in early June, and more events are planned at public housing developments throughout the summer. Around 200 cyclists had signed up for discounted annual memberships at press time. “We did at least 17 meetings and demos specifically [geared for NYCHA residents in the past three years], including the Smith Houses, and in both Spanish and Chinese, in addition to English,” Gastel said. “There is a bike share station within one block of all 29 NYCHA properties in the service area and bike share was featured in the NYCHA (continued on page 20)




Summer 2013 Arts Programs forCamp, Kids Broadway

new arrivals


Lab, Arts Camp and Summer July 1—August 16 Classes 2013 Broadway Lab
July 1—26

St., newyorksushiko.com), a new 11-seat sushi bar, joined Clinton Street’s lively and growing restaurant row last month. There is no menu; Chef John Daley serves a “classically rooted but inventive take on Japanese cuisine” in omakase, or “chef’s selection,” style. Meals are offered in three, five or seven courses. The restaurant is open for dinner Monday through Saturday and closed on Sunday. Reservations are accepted by phone.

SEL RROSE (1 Delancey St., selrrose.com)

STANLEY’S PHARMACY (31 Ludlow St., stan-

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466 Grand Street at Pitt abronsartscenter.org 212.598.0400

leyspharmacy.com) is a brand-new but old-fashioned independent pharmacy and “wellness bar” at the corner of Ludlow and Hester streets. Pharmacist and native New Yorker Stanley George has created a bright orange-and-white space where he not only fills prescriptions, but also serves a menu of beverages such as espresso, housemade artisanal sodas, kombucha and herbal teas. He can mix them with tinctures and elixirs to cure that most common of Lower East Side ailments, the hangover, as well as headaches and other ills.

CENTRAL BOOKING (21 Ludlow St., central-

bookingnyc.com) is a new kind of gallery on the Lower East Side. Specializing in books and prints, the business was created by Maddy Rosenberg in 2009, originally in DUMBO. Rosenberg’s goal is to “exhibit the breadth of the various approaches to the form, since the artist’s book can be anything from a pamphlet done inexpensively on a copy machine to a letterpress codex bound book integrating words and images to a sculptural piece that is an object itself.” The book gallery is open Thursday through Sunday noon to 6 p.m. for the summer as of June 13; an official grand opening is planned for Sept. 12. This fall, the gallery’s full programming will launch, including exhibitions on art and science as well as weekly events.

is a new cocktail bar from the folks behind Fig. 19 and Home Sweet Home. The doubler in its name is not a typo; there’s a long explanation on the bar’s website that involves the female alter-ego of French artist Marcel Duchamp. The decor pays homage to 20thcentury Paris. For now, the menu is limited to Duchamp-inspired cocktails ($13 each), but the proprietors say food is on the way. “The forthcoming kitchen menu will feature oysters, a full raw bar and French leaning seafood as well as a late night bar menu,” according to the website. The bar is open Tuesday through Sunday. Sel Rrose

SCHAPIRO’S (120 Rivington St., no

website yet) has soft-opened with a limited dinner menu and an inventive selection of cocktails that both pay tribute to Lower East Side history. Housed in the completely renovated former home of Festival Mexicano, the new restaurant from the team behind Suffolk Street’s Antibes Bistro offers an American menu (four-cheese macaroni, burgers) paired with Jewish accents such as gefilte fish and Streit’s matzo ball soup.

EL ARIPO (172 Delancey St., elaripocafe.com) debuted in June after

Virginia Mill Works Golden Tasmanian Oak Handscraped

El Aripo

receiving some fast-tracking help from a city agency that aims to cut red tape for startup restaurants. Owner Dennis Sanchez is a real Lower East Side native; he was born and raised in an apartment above the restaurant, near the corner of Delancey and Attorney streets. The menu offers traditional South American cuisine such as arepas, empanadas and patacon (sandwiches made with tostones and several choices of fillings). The cafe is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; it is closed on Sunday. (The website was still under construction at presstime; details and full menu are on Facebook.)




neighborhood news
real estate


After drawing community ire and a resounding rejection of its liquor license application from Community Board 3, the owners of the exclusive private club Soho House are now preparing to take their case to the State Liquor Authority later this summer. At a hearing May 29, supporters of the new establishment planned for 139 Ludlow St. continued to make a case that the club would energize the local arts community, attract new daytime business to a struggling retail area and provide a supportive creative environment for its LES-based members. Among those testifying in support of the club, which would be called “Ludlow House,” was filmmaker and longtime LES resident MM Serra. She said Soho House had agreed to host monthly film screenings that would be open to the public. Michael Chernow, co-owner of the Meatball Shop and a Soho House member, said the club would “most certainly be an asset to the community.” Another member, Jill Linton, said opponents have accused her of being a “trust-fund baby” and have been “quite narrow-minded.” Detractors, on the other hand, argued that the club would Ludlow House add to Ludlow Street’s nighttime congestion, disturb neighbors and serve as an agent of gentrification on a rapidly changing block. Residents of a neighboring building, 143 Ludlow St., said there had been repeated unsuccessful attempts to resolve their concerns. Tenant spokesperson Mary Ellen Bizzarri cited major worries about the rooftop garden, which would sit just a few feet from many apartment windows. A leader of the LES Dwellers neighborhood group, Sara Romanoski, added that local preservation groups are considering seeking landmark status to protect the facade of the building, a former Jewish funeral home. 10

In spite of strong objections from residents, the New York City Housing Authority remains undeterred in its quest to lease public housing property for private development. In mid-June, the agency released a slew of documents detailing its vision for generating revenue by converting parking lots and open spaces at five Lower East Side complexes into luxury buildings. The proposals include two 50-story towers at the Smith Houses on South Street, as well as a 15-story and a 20-story building at LaGuardia Houses along Madison and Rutgers streets. The Baruch and Campos houses, as well as Meltzer Towers, a seniors complex, are also slated for development. The housing agency scheduled another round of public meetings at each of the affected communities in late June. The official “request for proposals” that forms a blueprint for developers to submit their bids is expected to be released in July. (Visit thelodownny.com for updates as this story develops over the summer.)

Supporters of Children’s Magical Garden keep pushing for permanent space.

A campaign to preserve the endangered Children’s Magical Garden at Norfolk and Stanton streets as a permanent green space for families got a boost from Community Board 3’s parks committee last month. In May, developer Serge Hoyda erected a fence within the garden, dividing a parcel he owns from two city-controlled lots. He and officials with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) have discussed partnering to build apartments on the site. Swayed by activists protesting the loss of the garden, however, the parks panel voted June 13 to approve a resolution calling on HPD to transfer its two parcels to the Green Thumb program and to arrange a land swap with Hoyda, so that the lot he owns would also be incorporated permanently into the garden. The city agency has signaled that it would try to accommodate the community’s vision for the site. The full CB3 board is expected to adopt the panel’s position; a vote was pending at press time.


A number of changes implemented last year to make Delancey Street and its surroundings safer for pedestrians have, for the most part, been effective and well-received. But one part of the plan, which altered the direction of a two-block stretch of Clinton Street and allowed motorists to turn right from Grand Street, is obviously not working so well. Last month, Community Board 3’s transportation committee discussed solutions with a Department of Transportation official. Right now, traffic backs up for several blocks on Grand as cars coming off FDR Drive make their way westward to enter the Williamsburg Bridge. Some drivers attempt to maneuver around the traffic, creating a double turn. A two-way bike lane on the west side of Clinton is sometimes taken over by cars. Pedestrians are caught in the crossfire of aggressive drivers. Community board members said it is a significant “quality of life issue” because the crossing can become very chaotic and pointed out that there’s no signage informing drivers that they don’t have to turn right on Clinton to reach the bridge; it’s also possible to turn right on Norfolk Street. Colleen Chattergoon of DOT said the agency could look at changing the timing of the traffic signals in the area, add informational signs on Grand Street and ask the NYPD to staff the intersection. Board members asked whether it might be possible to add a second lane on Clinton, which would mean moving the bike lane to another street or making it a narrower, shared lane with automobiles. The committee passed a resolution asking the city to examine the intersection, and to consider changes to the bike lane.


A big change is in store for one of the Lower East Side’s most venerable religious institutions. After 28 years, Father Neil Connolly will be leaving St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Grand Street in July, due to an Archdiocese retirement rule. He turns 80 in November. Connolly will move on to a new role as senior pastor at St. Francis de Sales on East 96th Street. Connolly has been a fixture on the LES since 1985, guiding the parish through a time of breathtaking change in a gentrifying neighborhood. St. Mary’s, founded on Sheriff Street in 1826, is one of the city’s oldest Catholic parishes. It has been a center of Latino life here for six decades, although the demographics within the church have been changing for some time. When he arrived in the mid-’80s, Connolly confronted a range of social problems, including violence, drugs and poverty. Connolly also has been a vigorous advocate for low-income housing. Connolly’s successor is Father Andrew O’Connor from Holy Family Church in the Bronx. O’Connor, 52, is familiar with the LES, having spent time at St. Mary’s after he was ordained. In the Bronx, he has made headlines for innovative programs such as growing hops in the church garden for a local brewery and developing a clothing line called “Goods of Conscience.”



arts watch

Rendering courtesy: Boym Partners

Babel Blocks Chosen for Delancey Plaza
by Ed Litvak


Dr. Shu Ping Rong, D.D.S. P.C.
1 2 8 M o t t S t . , S u i t e 5 0 7 , N e w Yo r k , N Y 1 0 0 1 3

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Implants, Braces (Metal/Invisible), Gum Disease, Laser Surgery & Whitening

Earlier this year, the Lower East Side BID launched a design competition for a Delancey Street History Fence. Through a 400-foot art installation, the organization, which operates two parking lots along the busy thoroughfare, was looking to pay tribute to the neighborhood’s diverse cultural legacy. A selection committee last month notif  ied the LES-based design f  irm, Boym Partners, that its proposal for a “Babel Blocks Fence,” celebrating the varied “races, religions and cultures” that make up the Lower East Side, had won the competition. Babel Blocks, a series of wood f igures, were created by Constantin Boym and Laurene Leon Boym in 2007, loosely based on their Lower East Side neighbors. They were included in Design & the Elastic Mind, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and won the National Design Award in 2009. In their proposal, the Boyms said the new iteration of their acclaimed project would be a “modern take” on “It’s a Small World,” the Disney amusement ride. (Laurene has vivid memories from a childhood trip to Disneyland in which she marveled at all of the multicultural characters represented.) They intend to create a “billboard frieze” using “a wrap of repeating oversized photos of our neighborhood characters… on a crisp white background via digital printing.” The Boyms stated that the images would create a “striking contrast to the towers behind the fence… [and send] a positive message about the surrounding communities’ incredible diversity – historically as well as today.” Last year the LES BID was awarded a f  iveyear contract to manage the new Delancey Plaza,

a pedestrian area adjacent to the Seward Park Mixed-Use Development Site. The city expects to select developers for the 1.65-million-square-foot project, in September. The site, which includes the BID’s parking lots, will be a construction zone for years to come. Natalie Raben, who’s coordinating the art project for the BID, said the organization received a lot of great proposals and choosing a winner was not an easy task. The selection committee included Orchard Street gallery owner Lesley Heller, Low Line co-founder Dan Barasch, David Crane of Community Board 3 and Jan Hanvik of Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center. The plan is to unveil the installation sometime before the end of the summer. In an interview, Laurene Boym said she and Constantin were thrilled to have been chosen. “We take a lot of pride in our neighborhood. It’s exciting to be able to give back to the Lower East Side.” Boym said they have been walking past the desolate SPURA parcels every day during the two decades they’ve been living on the LES. Now the Boyms have the opportunity to bring a project with strong neighborhood roots back to the place where the idea was born. The BID and the Boyms say they’ll be working with the community to decide what form the f inal project will take. In the meantime, you might want to go see “Babel Blocks” in person at MoMA. Four years ago, the toys and accompanying animated f  ilms were accepted into the museum’s collection of Architecture and Design. They’re on display in the third-f  loor galleries within an exhibition called Applied Design.





what to do in



Visit our CALENDAR online at www.thelodownny.com/calendar for more details and to add your own events.



what to do in


The 17th Annual

HOT! Festival Opening Night Party at Dixon Place: Kick off the 22nd annual NYC celebration of queer culture at Dixon Place. Get friendly with all the HOT! artists, enjoy frosty $5 cocktail specials and catch sneak previews of upcoming shows in the lounge. 161A Chrystie St., free, through Aug. 3, show times and tickets at hotfestival.org. Statue of Liberty Reopens: Just in time for a national holiday, Lady Liberty is finally accepting visitors again, now that squabbles over security are settled and damage from Hurricane Sandy is repaired. Advance reservations are required. Ferries leave daily from Battery Park from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., $20, statuecruises.com and nps.gov/stli.

Shakespeare in the Parking Lot’s Cymbeline: The company presents a modern take (told in the style of a futuristic, space-age blockbuster) on the Bard’s classic play: part history, part tragedy and part comedy. Through July 27, Municipal Parking Lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome streets, 8 p.m., free, shakespeareintheparkinglot.com. New Museum Block Party: Enjoy an afternoon of interactive projects and performances in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Afterward, head over to the New Museum to participate in family-friendly tours of their current exhibitions. All Block Party guests receive complimentary admission to the museum on the day of the event. Chrystie Street between Delancey and Broome streets, noon-5 p.m., free, newmuseum.org.


New York


Fringe Festival
The legendary theater festival has become one of the largest multi-arts events in North America. The lineup includes more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues. Through Aug. 25 around the LES, $15, see fringenyc. org for schedule details.





John Kelly— Rebel Songs of a Range Queen at Joe’s Pub: Visual artist, dancer, actor and downtown cabaret artist John Kelly returns to Joe’s Pub for a brief residency bursting with new work that includes songs by Kurt Weill, Charles Aznavour, Mr. Bungle, Jacques Brel, Holcombe Waller, The Good, The Bad, & The Queen, Joanna Newsome, The Clash and The Shins. Also Sun., July 14, 425 Lafayette St., 7:30 p.m., $20, joespub.com. Summer in Seward Park Pop-up Events with The Educational Alliance: The Educational Alliance presents free events as part of the kick-off festivities for the Manny Cantor Center (MCC), its new Lower East Side community center, which will open in December. Events for kids of all ages, adults and the whole family including fitness classes led by Popfit Kids, yoga with Pop Up Yoga NYC and weekly neighborhood music concerts. Through Aug. 2, Seward Park at the corner of East Broadway and Essex Street, free, educationalalliance.org.




The Amorialists Present The Cheaters Club at Abrons Arts Center: : In the newest play from playwright Derek Ahonen, siblings Tommy, Jimmy and Cathy get out of town once a year to exorcise their sexual demons. This year, the destination is Savannah for a lust-filled weekend at the haunted Chaney Inn, run by a mysterious family and their voodooing housemaid. 466 Grand St., through Sept. 21, Mon. - Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m., $50, abronsartscenter.org.


“Wild Style 30th Anniversary Celebration” at SummerStage: Join SummerStage for a special screening of the classic hip-hop film, Wild Style. The film captured the hard-core South Bronx scene at its roots and features a pantheon of hip-hop pioneers, including: DJ Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Caz and The Cold Crush Brothers, as well as The Rock Steady Crew. East River Park Bandshell, 6 p.m., free, nycgovparks.org/ events.




Lisa Rafaela Clair —Yeh I’ve been Searchin’/I Dream of Bas Jan Ader at Thurs. The Performance Project: The artist in residence presents new work inspired by Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, who went “In Search of the Miraculous” by building the smallest sailboat known to man in an attempt to cross the ocean. He was declared lost at sea. The play is a meditation on those who have disappeared and the people who continue to search for them. 184 Eldridge St., 8 p.m. Also Fri. July 26 at 8 p.m. and Sat. July 27 at 3 p.m., $15, universitysettlement.org.


28 18
Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governor’s Island: Everyone’s favorite flapper soiree returns to Governor’s Island for a Prohibition-era costume party with live music from Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra. Catch the ferry to Governor’s Island at the Battery Maritime Building, 10 South St.,11 a.m.-5 p.m., $30 (children under 12 free), dreamlandorchestra.com.

Mac DeMarco at SummerStage: : After a sold-out show at Brooklyn Bowl in June, Montreal-based indie musician Mac DeMarco brings songs from his second album, 2, to the East River Park. The 22-year-old “off-kilter pop” star has earned praise from critics, garnering a “Best New Music” designation from Pitchfork Media. East River Park Bandshell, 7 p.m., free, nycgovparks. org/events.







Photo by Alex M. Smith

Simon Tung and Christina Ha, co-founders of Macaron Parlour.

Hester Street Fair Hatchlings Fly
by Jennifer Strom When the Hester Street Fair launched its fourth season this spring, a new crop of freshly minted entrepreneurs debuted a variety of interesting artisan foodstuffs. Among them were friends Kerry Sims and Christen Sturkie, who offered up handmade chocolate toffee candy, gingersnap cookies and granola. Under the name Baking Soda Shop, the two had crafted their offerings late at night after finishing work at their day jobs and bartering even more labor in exchange for the use of the commercial kitchen. At another new booth, Khao Man Gai NY, husband and wife team Eric and Emorn Henshaw waited anxiously for patrons’ reactions to their namesake dish of chicken and rice, a recipe they developed and decided to try to market after scouring the city unsuccessfully for a version of the beloved street food of Emorn’s native Thailand. By the time they come face to face with their first customers, Hester Street’s freshman food vendors have already run countless taste tests past friends and relations, agonized over ingredients, expenses, logo designs. Before the first package 16

of sweets or plate of food ever changes hands in exchange for cash, would-be restaurateurs have poured many hours, dollars and brain cells into creating fledgling food businesses that may or may not ever fly. But if the Hester Street Fair’s alumni are any indication, the winds are looking pretty favorable these days: over four summers, the weekly festival has hatched a growing list of new companies that have made the leap from booth to brick-andmortar shops, many of them within a few blocks of where they started. They also are winning awards, delivering mail-order across the country, hiring more staff, catering high-profile events and plotting their expansion to grocery stores. “That’s one of the things we’re most proud of: being an incubator for these small businesses,” says fair co-founder Suhyun Pak. “We’re thrilled and very proud that our vendors have been able to do that.” Macaron Parlour, a French pastry shop, Melt Bakery, an ice cream sandwich store, and Brooklyn

Taco Company have all found success at permanent locations since Hester Street Fair’s inaugural season in 2010. “Hester Street was a starting point for a lot of other events for us,” says Simon Tung, who cofounded Macaron Parlour with Christina Ha. “From there, it kind of snowballed.” The pair had just started dating when they decided to try a booth at Hester Street. Three years and many 100-hour work weeks later, they have since married. Six months ago, they opened their store in the East Village. “Customers were always asking where we’d be after the market, where they could buy our stuff,” says Ha. Tung and Ha’s macarons eventually began appearing at other food fairs and festivals, of which, of course, there is no shortage in New York City, particularly in the summer months. The fair circuit and its customer feedback eventually pushed the couple to commit to a permanent home base. “The conversations always turned into ‘Where’s your store? Where’s your store?’” says Tung. Now, the couple’s brightly colored cookie-and-cream confections beckon both regular devotees and first-time tasters from their case in a storefront at 111 St. Mark’s Place. The company has grown to five employees, and future plans include offering baking classes at their space. While the practice of using street festivals to test the market for new food businesses isn’t unique to Hester Street, the Lower East Side’s homegrown, small-scale market offers a combination of low risk, high audience appreciation and great press exposure that some of its alumni say is hard to find at similar events. The booth rentals start at only $65, the crowd is supportive and the organizers have aggressively marketed the event and its individual vendors from day one. “Hester Street draws a lot more locals than other markets, and we got very good exposure to the neighborhood through that,” says Melt Bakery founder and pastry chef Julian Plyter, who last month celebrated the one-year anniversary of his shop at 132 Orchard St. Plyter and his partner Kareem Hamady started the business with a few hundred dollars cash to buy ingredients, and a freezer bought on a credit card. After initial success at Hester Street, they grew the business to other outdoor venues such as a cart at the High Line, and developed a large base of wholesale clients. That revenue kept the business going while they spent more than a year

building their full-time kitchen and retail space, Plyter said. When it came time to choose a location for the store, they didn’t look too hard for another neighborhood. “We’ve always resonated with the Lower East Side,” he says. “There’s an adventurous spirit here – people are intrepid, willing to try new things.” Brooklyn Taco Company followed a similar trajectory, finding success early on at Hester Street and eventually settling into a permanent stall at the popular Essex Street Market just three blocks up the street from its original booth. “We were much more successful at Hester than we initially expected,” says co-founder and executive chef Jesse Kramer. “We saw our potential for growth and the neighborhood loved our brand and food.” Since landing a permanent retail spot at Essex Market in September 2011, Kramer and co-founder Erica Molina have expanded the catering side of their business. This summer, they are finalizing plans to collaborate with the owners of Bar Donna in Williamsburg for a full-time restaurant there, which they are calling Brooklyn Taco Outpost. The leap from weekly pop-up to permanent outpost doesn’t happen overnight, those who have traveled that path caution the newbies. “’Taking the leap’ is definitely the right way to put it — it’s a very large leap of faith, and a pretty terrifying one,” says Plyter. “The only way to do this is to be in it for the long haul. You’ve got to eat, sleep and breathe what you’re doing and you’ve got to be willing to work harder than you ever believed possible in your life.” Having a passion for the food they’re selling and a willingness to incorporate feedback to continually improve their products are two keys to success, the vendors say. That, and “don’t eat too much cookie dough,” Plyter adds. “Also, be nice to your customers,” says Ha, “They’re the ones telling their friends to go to the Hester Street Fair and try your food.” The fair runs every Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October. In addition to new vendors like Baking Soda Shop and Khao Man Gai NY, Hester Street will also feature an explosion of fresh faces and food ideas at a one-time event July 20, when a commercial kitchen that rents space to start-ups in the Bronx showcases the wares of its tenants. “We are always championing new entrepreneurs,” says Pak, the fair’s co-founder. “And we are always looking for the next big thing.”




archives, in addition to vivid anecdotes from my family and friends, Smith Houses was once full of roses and beautiful greenery. We are truly a family with vibrant memories that span the entire 60 years the development has existed. It is NYCHA’s true gem, sort of tucked away in between Chinatown and the Financial District, the lowest of the Lower East Side! One of the most important goals the board has is to bring the neighborhood back to those beautiful images and keep NYCHA from single-handedly ruining something that’s not broken. What’s your favorite spot on the LES and why? My favorite spot in the LES lies anywhere along the East River. I like to just sit, watch the river and think. (Excuse the poetics.) Favorite place for a special night? It’s always a sign that my husband and I are in the mood for rekindling some super vibes if we go to Pylos on East Seventh Street. We become very happy there, we relax, we feel welcome by the wonderful staff and we always chat with some fun people at the communal table.

Welcomes Delancey Market
to the Neighborhood!


176 Delancey Street
(between Clinton & Attorney)

fruit • vegetables • fine food

photo: Alex M. Smith

For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with Jonathan Gardenhire, a student who serves as the vice president of the Smith Houses Residents Association. . How long have you lived on the LES? I will be 21 in December, so it’ll make 21 years on Dec. 28. Why did you move here or (if you were born here) why did you stay? My mom grew up in Juncos, Puerto Rico, and moved to Forsyth Street after high school in the ’60s. She moved to Rivington Street after, and now my family has lived in Smith Houses for more than 40 years. I stayed because I had to. This was home, and it’s remained home since I was born. What do you do? This fall, I’ll be a senior at Parsons, The New School for Design. I study photography. When I was younger, my mom kept me busy. I danced with the National Dance Institute for several years. I got to learn ballet, tap, jazz dance and much more. While I was dancing, I was also studying music. I taught myself photoshop in junior high school and that’s 18

when I really started to consider myself a photographer. From there, I studied at the International Center of Photography, SVA and I’m now at Parsons. I didn’t always want to be a photographer, but there is something about imagemaking that keeps me in it. My current work is based heavily on black and Latino masculinity and the influence of hip-hop culture as a global force in perceptions of black men in America. Look at my website, jonathangardenhire.com. I also serve as the vice president of the Resident Association at Smith Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development in between the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. Apparently, at the time that I became vice president, about two years ago, I was the youngest vice president to serve on a NYCHA resident board. Tell us about your apartment — the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ll talk about the development that I have been fortunate to represent. Smith Houses is one of the developments targeted in NYCHA’s infamous infill plan. A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated the developments 60th anniversary in one of the areas NYCHA would like to “lease.” (The irony!) I had the chance to view LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College. According to the

Favorite cheap eats? Cheap is relative, and I really like food. The Essex on the corner of Essex and Rivington has a great prix fixe brunch. Their crab cakes eggs Benedict are amazing. Loud sometimes, but a great atmosphere! Favorite place for a special night? I can splurge anywhere, especially in the LES. There’s La Esquina, The Fat Radish, Katz’s, Freeman’s, Azul. How have you seen the neighborhood change? What do you miss from the old LES? I grew up as the LES changed to what it is now. I am not sure that I am the best to answer this question. I’ve been forced to love the LES as its evolved with a combination of my own discovery and stories I hear. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the LES? I see something strange every day. There was one night where a man walked down the street yelling on his phone about how much he hated the LES. Every block, more and more people defended their LES. Probably both the strangest and coolest thing!

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Jenifer Wolf, LMSW
Specializes in OCD and related disorders: generalized anxiety, depression, and the challenges of aging. Contact her by phone: or email: jenerate8@yahoo.com




(continued from page 7) newsletter.” Community Board 3’s transportation committee will hold a public hearing this month, giving residents an opportunity to sound off on the bike share program. In the meantime, New Yorkers are learning to adapt. On Grand Street, Frank Arroyo is doing just that. In a conversation a few weeks after he became a tabloid sensation, Arroyo said he’s been busy def  lecting countless overtures from Citi Bike foes, determined to recruit him as a spokesman for their cause. While the bike share location up the block from his shop was temporarily removed June 21 to accommodate utility maintenance, city officials say it will be back. Arroyo said he’s less concerned about its presence than several stations around the neighborhood’s hotels, the source of almost all of his rental business. When we spoke, he was planning to contact the hotels to make sure they’re still sending tourists his way. “Bike share’s not going away,” Arroyo conceded. “I’ve just got to deal with it.”

Learn more
Citi Bike demonstrations are scheduled at many locations through August. See citibikenyc.com/events for details.

The fall season is right around the corner!
Promote your new events, programs and products in The Lo-Down’s September Magazine— our Fall Preview Guide
Closing date: Monday, Aug. 19th

Community Board 3’s Transportation Committee will hold a hearing regarding Citi Bike locations on July 16 at 6:30 p.m. at I.S. 131, 100 Hester St.



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