My LES – Tommy Ho
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What do you do?
I’m an actor and an aquatic director. I am the founder of Seahorse Swim Club in Masaryk Towers. I was working at a pool in Chinatown before that. Once I found the pool at Masaryk (which hadn’t been open to the public in over 30 years) I had to wait and wait and kept bothering them to let me use it (and start teaching classes there). I had to keep waiting to talk to the super, I had to get permission from the Board Director, he had to get permission from everyone else (this was about seven years ago) but finally I got permission. And now, it’s doing great. I teach the Chinese community, all the parents on Grand Street send there kids here, I teach the Jews from Williamsburg, everyone. And now I’m hoping to find a second location.
I also teach gym at the Transfiguration School on Mott St. I’m hoping to add a gym with basketball at Masaryk.
I’ve been acting for almost twelve years now, but since I’ve been focusing on my business, I haven’t done it as much. I have to get back to it.
How long have you lived on the LES?
6 years. But I move all over. I lived here before and then was in Chinatown. Now I’m moving to Williamsburg.
Favorite block in the hood?
I like Allen between Grand and Rivington.
Favorite date spot in the hood?
It’s nice around the Broome and Ludlow area. They have nice places to eat and a good crowd.
Favorite coffee in the hood?
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
Favorite slice in the hood?
I like Rocket Joe’s.
Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?
Clinton Street Baking Co. Their breakfast is so good. A little pricey, but good. I made the mistake of taking my mom once and now she always wants to go there. Almost once a week, she asks to go to the Baking Company.
Favorite dive/locals bar in the hood?
Piano’s is nice. They have live music and the crowd is nice, not too rowdy, not crazy and kind of chill.
How has the neighborhood changed in the last few years?
A LOT! It’s changed a lot. The people are better. Not as much of a drug problem. It’s much better now. More shops, good places to eat.
But, what Grand Street needs is a family diner. They have nice restaurants but we need a place I can take my daughter, like a Greek Diner, you know? We need a place like that. Also, we need those movie theaters back in the neighborhood. There used to be two theaters here, one on Canal (between Essex and Ludlow) and one on Delancey.
Favorite LES memory?
Well, I always liked spending time at the East River Park, excercising… It’s getting better now. It’s taking some time, a lot of time – because we’re not on the West Side, we’re the East Side. But the park is nice. Things are good now.