My LES: Timothy Wong
This weekly feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.
What do you do?
I am the Founder and Managing Partner of M&M Environmental. We are an eco-friendly indoor air quality testing and pest management company. We have been located at the same storefront at 32 Orchard St. between Canal and Hester streets for over 10 years and have seen huge changes to the neighborhood and the community, especially over the past 5 years.
How long have you lived on the LES?
I grew up on the Lower East Side, on Eldridge St. specifically, and have lived and worked here for over 35 years. In fact, I am the proud graduate of PS 42 Elementary School along with all of my siblings. Many of their children are now actually students there which blows my mind!
Favorite block in the hood?
Although it’s tough to decide, I’d have to go with Orchard St. between Canal and Hester. It’s just booming now, I feel like there is a new storefront opening nearly every month. This block was even included in a New York magazine piece, where it was dubbed the #1 Micro-neighborhood. Between the galleries, boutiques and restaurants – there’s so much to see, do and eat.
We love Cheeky’s Sandwiches and there’s nothing quite like the deliciously healthy fare and open ambiance at The Fat Radish. Dino Eli is a wonderful addition to the block, too, with his gallery where there seems to be a constant party. And to really let loose, there’s Sweet Paradise.
Favorite date spot in the hood?
That’s also tough but I have to say Bacaro. It’s hidden on Division Street between Orchard & Ludlow. It would be very difficult to find a spot with a more romantic atmosphere than Bacaro in the LES. The cellar dining room makes you feel as though you are dining in an old farmhouse on a vineyard in Italy.
Favorite coffee in the hood?
I’m really loving the Blue Bottle brew at our new neighbor, Lost Weekend NYC. Great vibe in that shop and you just can’t compare the amazing fresh flavor of their drip coffee.
Favorite slice in the hood?
Victor’s on Essex between Grand and Hester. It has been my “go-to” for longer than I would like to admit. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?
That’s easy – Vanessa’s Dumpling House. The dumplings and sesame pancakes are beyond delicious. What’s amazing is that Vanessa’s has become a staple; a real destination for all dumpling lovers – tourists have stopped me on the street, asking directions to the place! My up-bringing can completely attest to the fact that the food is entirely authentic and tastes like true Chinese home-cooking. The prices can’t be beat, either. What’s funny is that I’ve seen Vanessa’s grow from being an insider-only hidden secret to a staple with a line outside nearly every day. Regardless, all my out of town visitors love it!
Favorite dive bar in the hood?
I would have to say Boss Tweeds on Essex St. — it’s an awesome spot. The only thing better than the already low prices at Boss Tweed’s would have to be the extensive jukebox selection. Last year, our staff spontaneously ended up at Boss Tweed’s after our holiday party. Let’s just say the pitchers of beer were flowing!
What sort of changes have you seen in the neighborhood in the last few years?
So many! There are just so many more new businesses, boutiques and galleries. Already out-numbering what I had ever anticipated possible for this area. I know there’s even been speculation that the LES will soon surpass Chelsea in number of galleries. The neighborhood is just thriving and seems to be growing more and more every day, especially considering plans for the LES BID boundary expansion; which will only serve to help the area grow more and more.
Favorite LES memory?
I really miss the old knish carts and the cream soda stands that formerly populated the area. Understanding that times do change, it would still be great to still have those types of perks. I remember there used to be a cream soda stand right across from G&G International where I would go every day afterschool with my mom. Along Eldridge Street, there would be this vendor that would push a knish cart in the winter months and switch over to an ice cream menu during the summer months. That’s one nostalgic thing that I would definitely love to see again.
Editor’s note: M&M Environmental is an annual sponsor of The Lo-Down.