Friday, December 30, 2016

Carnegie Deli Goodbye

As you probably know by now, New York's famed Carnegie Deli is closing tonight. They just sent out this official goodbye press release.

New York, NY – (December 30, 2016) – Marian Harper-Levine, President of Carnegie Deli and second-generation owner, issued the following statement this morning regarding the closure of the original location of the Carnegie Deli at 854 Seventh Avenue:

“Along with my daughter Sarri and in honor of my late father Milton, I would like to sincerely thank all of our loyal patrons, – tourists, dignitaries, and New Yorkers alike- who have visited Carnegie Deli over the past 80 years. Since my father took over the Deli in 1976, this has been a second home to me and it has been a true privilege and an honor to serve you. Although this has been an incredibly difficult decision to officially close Carnegie Deli New York (854 7th Avenue) tonight at midnight, we thank you for your letters, notes, visits and sharing your stories.

The Carnegie Deli looks forward to expanding wholesale and retail operations and welcoming you to the other licensed locations at Madison Square Garden, The Mirage in Las Vegas, NV, Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, PA and during the US Open Tennis Championships in Flushing, Queens.

Our family-owned and operated meat processing facility and bakery in New Jersey will continue Carnegie Deli’s celebrated legacy, by supplying the other locations and selling select products and merchandise directly to the public online at

Thank you again and we wish you all a very Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year!”

In a follow-up release, spokesperson Christyne Nicholas adds:

"Carnegie Deli is not for sale and the family is certainly not considering any publicity-inspired offers to buy the 7th Avenue location."

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Vanishings

At the end of each year, since 2007, I offer a list of places that vanished during the year. These are the ones I covered on the blog, but there were many more (and I've been blogging less lately). Please add those not included here in the comments. Click the highlighted name to go to the post for more info. And for previous years' vanishings, just scroll down to the bottom.

Ziegfeld Cinema
Forced to close after 46 years. I still want to know what happened to the artifacts from the Ziegfeld Museum.

St. Mark's Bookshop
Finally shuttered after a long fight to save it. 39 years old. I miss it every day.

Left Bank Books
The cost of doing business was too high. 24 years old.

69 Bayard
The landlord hiked the rent on this 80-something-year-old Chinatown classic.

Gene's Coffee Shop
Just a regular little place that had been around for decades. Evicted.

The Stage Restaurant
After being forced to close after the Second Avenue explosion, after fighting eviction from their landlord, Icon Realty, and crowdfunding for support, The Stage officially shuttered. 35 years old. Still heartbreaking.

Surma the Ukrainian Shop
Nearly 100 years old. The owner decided to sell the building.

Maria's Mont Blanc
After 34 years, shuttered in the midst of fighting the landlord.

Rebel Rebel Records
Forced out by the landlord so the boutique chain Scotch & Soda could expand. 28 years old.

Mimi's Pizza
A little place, but much beloved. 59 years old. The reason for closing is unclear.

Troll Museum
Evicted from the Lower East Side along with its proprietress, Reverend Jen.

29 years old. The rent was too damn high.

Rocco's Calamari
Suddenly shuttered after 39 years.

Bleecker Street Records
Over 20 years old, shuttered after a massive rent hike forced a move.

This beauty is 112 years old. It was seized by the marshal and remains closed "until further notice," but it does not look good.

After 35 years, the owners have decided to retire.

Carnegie Deli
At 79 years old, this New York classic will be gone by the new year. The owner has decided to sell the building.

Previous Years' Vanishings:
2009: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
2011: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice

Years ago, the morning of the Winter Solstice would bring a strange parade of clowns moving through the East Village. It happened every year. And yet it seems, looking back, like a hallucination. Did it really happen?

I put out the call on social media to see if anyone else remembered. Nothing much turned up. And then these photos.

Thanks to Michael H. for sharing:

In this colorful and strange parade from the 1990s, a blue-haired queen rides a white horse pushed by clowns. One clown bangs a drum.

Bringing up the rear, another pair of clowns pushes a rolling rack of white gowns. They seem to have angel wings.

Who were these people? What was this all about? And why did it end?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Lanza's Languishing

As EV Grieve first reported, the great and gorgeous Lanza's restaurant in the East Village was forced to close this past summer--seized by the marshal for non-payment of taxes--and it remains closed.

this summer

We'd hoped it would reopen by now, but the place is looking grim.

A peek through the window shows a place in the process of being packed up. Bottles of alcohol stand on tables. Framed art has been taken down from the walls and placed atop cardboard boxes.

The white tablecloths, set for a meal that never came, are gathering dust. It seems that Lanza's is leaving us, slowly but surely.

This is breaking my heart.


Opened in 1904, Lanza's was started by the same family that started DeRobertis Pasticceria. As Annie DeRobertis once told me, her father’s father started DeRobertis and her mother’s father started Lanza’s. It has a history. The cafe left us two years ago and now this.

Here's what the place looked like last year at this time:

Dear Lanza's, what can we do to help you stay? We don't need another hipster foodie joint moving into the shell of an Italian classic. We need you.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Downtown Stationers

For many years (don't ask me how many) 6th Avenue between 11th and 13th Streets has supported two stationery stores. As a lover of stationery stores in a digitizing and gentrifying world, I consider this a small miracle. And now--miracle over.

Reader Simone sent in this photo of Downtown Stationers -- everything must go, they're out of business.

That leaves the great Stevdan Stationers, one block south. For now.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

McManus Update

After I shared the news that Peter McManus Cafe might soon be closing, fourth-generation owner Justin McManus reports that negotiations with the new owners are progressing.

"We are close to a year extension," he told me, adding that the lease will hopefully be signed after the holidays.

One year, of course, is only a short-term solution. The Renatus Group, the building's new owners and a real estate development company, have had plans to redevelop and possibly demolish the building.

Neighbors have told me that only two holdout rent-regulated tenants remain upstairs. As we've seen before, it's often the holdouts who keep old buildings standing--and their ground-floor commercial tenants in place.

We'll watch this one carefully over the next year. The city can't afford to lose Peter McManus.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

La Lunchonette for Rent

Two years ago I shared the sad news that La Lunchonette would be vanishing. Its owner, Melva Max, rightly blamed the nearby High Line and its rampant luxury development.

“The neighborhood is so gross now,” she said. “It’s all tourists coming for the High Line. People always say, ‘But wasn’t it great for you?’ The High Line has been the cause of my demise.”

The beloved 28-year-old restaurant closed last New Year's Eve. Said Max, "A ten-story building will be erected, another 'starchitect' flexing their creative muscle along the old rail line."

That was the plan. A handful of buildings would be demolished, including a former horse stable built in the 1880s, for a tax-supported luxury condo from SHoP, architects of the Barclays Center.

But now the Real Deal reports that the Lunchonette building just sold for $10.6 million, and is "adjacent to a planned residential building along West 18th Street that SHoP TRData LogoTINY is designing."

So it's not being demolished? In fact, the restaurant's space is being offered for rent. Was it really necessary for La Lunchonette to lose its space? And what will happen to the little horse stable?

photo: Richie Goldstein, via Twitter

Bonus shot! Right outside La Lunchonette, middle-aged guy in CBGB's t-shirt gives the double finger to the Google Maps camera, summing up a collective sentiment:

photo via Google Maps

Monday, December 12, 2016

Peter McManus


*Update: A Facebook group has formed to help Save McManus.*

The great and beloved Peter McManus pub has been at 7th Avenue and 19th Street in Chelsea since 1932. Now we hear it may not have much longer.

Reader Marjorie wrote in to say she'd heard the historic spot is closing soon. "The air rights above the deli and bar apparently have been bought," she wrote, "and the two remaining residents of that circa 1903 building above the bar will have to move. So once again, the historic makes way for new construction."

In April, The Real Deal reported that the real estate investment company Renatus Group bought the building and its neighbor, 152-154 7th Avenue, for $10.5 million. "According to Renatus’ website," says Real Deal, "it will redevelop the buildings to significantly improve cash flow."

I went by to confirm. A bartender told me it's all uncertain.

As Marjorie said, the deli next to the bar on 7th has been shuttered. So has the lingerie shop on the street side. Looking at the windows of the upstairs apartments, it appears that most have been emptied. What happened to the residents?

What will happen to Peter McManus?

There is much to love about this place. It's one of the last authentic New York spots left in Chelsea to get a meal or a drink in a warm and friendly atmosphere. It is still family owned. It makes one of New York's best burgers. The jukebox is good, filled with classics. The owners even host a day of stickball for the neighborhood every summer, with free beer and food and donations to pediatric cancer research.

Plus: They recently featured a Trump sandwich made of "white bread, full of boloney, with Russian dressing and small pickle."

If that's not enough, if you need more reason to love Peter McManus, the place itself is gorgeous, full of antique stained glass and ephemera.

As I described it in 2008, it has all the things that are good about a bar: wood worn smooth by countless elbows, a warm amber glow, crazy but friendly barflies who look as if they've been pickled in the place, which they have.

As a rare bonus, it also has a lovely pair of wooden phone booths that light up when you open their doors, welcoming you into them.

And people really use them, too.

Peter McManus made my (rapidly dwindling) list of "What to Worry About" back in 2014. Still, it seems we shouldn't have to worry about this one. It should be too beloved, too beautiful, too historic, too valuable to actually vanish. And yet we know how easy it is for greedy, short-sighted developers to come busting in and savagely gut our history--along with our hearts.

This one's worth fighting for.

Save Peter McManus. #SaveNYC.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016



Publishers Weekly reports today that Brooklyn's beloved and excellent bookstore BookCourt will be closing at the end of this month.

They've been open since 1981. In a public statement, the owners announced their retirement--and sent their regrets.

Author Emma Straub is working on a solution. She writes on her site:

"A neighborhood without an independent bookstore is a body without a heart. And so we’re building a new heart.

We’ve spent the last few months looking at spaces, getting our math together, and thinking about light fixtures. We have secured initial funding and crossed our fingers. And so, dear Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Columbia Waterfront, and beyond…you won’t be lonely for long. Books are magic, and we want to make sure that this neighborhood is positively coated in bookish fairydust for decades to come."

Fingers crossed. In the meantime, New York--you make me heartsick more and more every single day.

Depression Sign

"Depression is a flaw in chemistry, not character," the gold and brown painted sign read. And then it was gone.

On a wall high above the Gray's Papaya at West 72nd and Amsterdam, the sign had greeted commuters, hot dog eaters, shoppers, homeless people, and other assorted New Yorkers since sometime in the 1990s. A few months ago, it was painted over, whitewashed and vanished.

"Through the years it’s clear the sign had become a comfort to people," West Side Rag noted in their report on the whitewashing.

No one knows why the building management decided to wipe it out. And at such a bad time, when so many New Yorkers are feeling the deep blues and could use a little comfort.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Finnegans Wake


Reader Steve wrote in awhile back to tell us of the demise of Finnegans Wake: "The corner has been sold for condos and it will be closed next July. It’s a tragedy."

So I went by for a drink. Or two.

In business since 1972 and located on First Avenue at 73rd Street, the place is just as Steve described, "a real neighborhood Irish pub filled with great locals that skew a bit older." Indeed, New York magazine says, "Those without an AARP card or a solid knowledge of the surrounding neighborhood may feel a bit out of place, but Finnegan's certainly offers a quaint alternative to the usually far-younger postgrad mob."


The bartender, a very friendly guy, informed me that a 33-story tower is coming. (The news originally came out in July. The Post lays the blame on the "Second Avenue Subway real estate boom"-- so say a prayer for Heidelberg and the rest of Yorkville's German soul.)

The bartender also noted that one business on the block is giving the developers a fight. Stay tuned.

(And here's an explanation of why James Joyce put no apostrophe in Finnegans Wake.)