My LES: Amy Robinson

Photo by Alex M. Smith

Photo by Alex M. Smith

My LES For our regular feature spotlighting the people who live and work on the Lower East Side, we talked with film producer and community gardener, Amy Robinson. Robinson produced Martin Scorsese’s film After Hours and Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, among many others.

How long have you lived on the Lower East Side?

Seven and a half years.

Why did you move here?

It was time to get away from the Upper West Side!

What do you do?

Film producer and volunteer (but serious) gardener in the Seward Park Garden.

Tell us about your apartment–the good, the bad and the ugly.

I fell in love with my building the moment I saw it from across Seward Park. It was completely unoccupied at the time and not on the market. I told my real estate agent I would wait. I wanted to live there, and now I do. My apartment looks out over the park. It has high ceilings and is filled with light. It would be churlish to say anything bad about it!

What’s your favorite spot on the LES and why?

I love the Seward Park Garden. It is part of Seward Park and it is a gritty, beautiful, challenging city space. I have been gardening there since I moved to the neighborhood. Several local activists are forming a conservancy for the purpose of assisting the parks department in maintaining, restoring and improving this historic park and playground.

Favorite cheap eats?

Flowers Cafe. I know it’s called a cafe, but to me, it’s a coffee shop. The food is fresh, the people who work there are warm, and it is unpretentious and friendly.

Favorite place for a special event?

I know it is not technically on the Lower East Side, but if you walk west on Grand you come to DiPalo’s. It is the greatest place for all Italian food and drink–with the family of the same name working the store of their parents and grandparents. I love to splurge on everything there (cheese, meat, pasta, olive oil, wine and so much more) and have a grand feast at home with people who enjoy eating, not grazing lightly.

How have you seen the neighborhood change?

I lived on Spring Street before Soho existed and I see the same sort of changes going on here. New York City is a snake; always shedding its skin…. There is no way around it.

What do you miss from the old LES?

The old-timers would laugh at me if I said anything. I haven’t been here long enough!

Is there a new arrival you love? Why?

I like Rosette. The food is delicious and the place has a very nice vibe.

What drives you crazy about the neighborhood?

The East Broadway subway station! It is in dire need of renovation. It is a health hazard as well as a scary, unpleasant place.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the LES?

I saw a wonderful, strange, sexy, touching production of “Beauty and The Beast” at the Abrons Arts Center a few weeks ago. It was great to see such a compelling and original piece of theater right in the neighborhood.

Who’s the best neighborhood character you’ve met and why?

There used to be a man named Tony who sat in the East Broadway subway station or in the Seward Park Library and read books all day and all night. I haven’t seen him in a long time.

Tell us your best LES memory.

Now that spring is here, so is Mister Softee. I know his jingle annoys a lot of people, but it makes me strangely happy. Open the windows, listen to the kids playing in the park, and there is Mister Softee and his siren song ready and waiting to satisfy their sweet tooth. So old-fashioned, so lovely.