Forgtmenot co-owner Abby Sierros was serving up candlelight, cold draft beer and steak frites last night.
The streets were dark and quiet last night, as most Lower East Side residents huddled in their homes or fled to friends and relatives, but for those who ventured out post-superstorm Sandy, food, drink and comaraderie were on tap at several bars and restaurants. Just as many locally owned coffee shops were functioning while Starbucks all over town remained locked up tight, the establishments that opened their doors to their neighbors last night were generally the ones owned by the neighbors. There were no honking taxis or stretch limos dropping off stiletto-clad visitors from outside the LES, no DJs on the scene, just locals chilling out with each other and killing time until life gets back to normal.
169 Bar on East Broadway ran a small generator and a big party.
At 169 bar on East Broadway shortly after 7 p.m., the beer-and-a-shot $3 happy hour special was flowing freely to patrons relieved to get out of the house for a while, and pleasantly surprised to find generator-powered lights, plenty of company and even a little food. At Forgetmenot on Division Street, co-owners Abbie and Paul Sierros had a system. Abbie was behind the candelabra-lit bar, cheerfully offering to cook anything from the remaining contents of her refrigerator: steak, french fries and eggs. Meanwhile, Paul kept the power coming via a long extension cord plugged into an electrical inverter in a van parked out front.
Pushcart Coffee at 221 E. Broadway, along with several other locally owned java joints, is open today.
Lower East Siders don’t let a little stormy weather keep them from their morning coffee routines. Around the neighborhood today, many locally owned coffee shops were not only open, but doing robust business and planning to keep serving as long as they had power to brew and customers to imbibe.
“We’ve seen all our regular customers, and a lot of other people’s regular customers, too,” said Wally Corrales, who opened 12 Corners coffee shop at 155 E. Broadway in August. Corrales and his partner Mary Colgan, who live nearby at Hester and Mott streets, plan to stay open as late as possible today and will try to open tomorrow as well. They are stocked with coffee supplies and baked goods, though they were unable to get bagels this morning because Kossar’s was closed.
It was a nearly perfect fall weekend — ideal conditions for several community events, including yesterday’s Grub Street Food Festival at the Hester Street Fair. We stopped by before the biggest crowds began swarming the Seward Park playing fields, checking in with some Lower East Side favorites.
Newbies Dorie and Josh Greenspan, who recently opened Beurre & Sel in the Essex Street Market, were right inside the main entrance, offering up their addictive cookies. Right next to the mom and son combo were our friends from Melt, the Orchard Street bakery. The Pickle Guys were on the scene, as well, along with Natalie Raben of the Lower East Side BID, who was getting the word out for next weekend’s Pickle Day. Other vendors pictured (after the jump): Cheeky Sandwiches, Pop Karma, Sons of Essex, Brooklyn Taco, Knishery NYC and Family Recipe.
Cafe Katja, at 79 Orchard St., will reopen next month after a major expansion.
Cozy neighborhood joint Cafe Katja, at 79 Orchard St., is almost ready to reopen after a summer of renovations that will double its capacity and open up new menu options, including lunch service.
Andrew Chase and Erwin Schrottner, the owners of the petite five-year-old Austrian cafe, jumped on the opportunity when the space next door became vacant last year, designing a bigger, more functional restaurant that retains Katja’s homey, intimate feel. They removed a 25-inch-thick brick wall, unifying the two storefronts with a new U-shaped slate bar, reclaimed-wood plank floors and custom metalwork that includes tall streetside windows they can fling open in nice weather.
12 Corners Coffee, 155 East Broadway.
A new coffee shop opened this week at 155 East Broadway, just west of Rutgers. It’s called “12 Corners,” and serves Kobrick’s Coffee. The staff is still setting up the small shop, which was once the home of Desserts NYC and before that Flowers Cafe. The owner wasn’t around when we stopped by this afternoon. A Yelp listing indicates the business will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. every day. The interior has been completely revamped; there are several tables set up along the wall and a small counter-area looking out onto East Broadway.
Rustic LES, 124 Ridge Street.
Yassir Raouli was just minutes away from seeing thousands of dollars slip through his fingers. Rouli, the Morrocan cuisine guru who operates the gourmet Bistro Truck with his wife Elsa, will soon open Rustic L.E.S., a brick-and-mortar restaurant at 124 Ridge Street, off Stanton. But just months ago, Raouli was struggling to find the funds to outfit his new kitchen.
“We were tight on money,” Raouli said recently, sitting in his nearly furnished restaurant. “As with every restaurant, you never meet the budget—it’s impossible. We were thinking of ways to raise money.” His answer came from Ben Rossen, one of the creators of Smallknot, a crowd-funding website that allows members of local communities to donate funds to small businesses in need of cash and receive rewards from those businesses in return.
Malt & Mold, 221 East Broadway.
In some parts of town, the arrival of a new business might not cause a stir. But on East Broadway, near Seward Park, any new venture seems to get the neighbors buzzing. This was certainly the case on Friday, immediately after the signage went up announcing “Malt & Mold,” a new specialty grocery coming soon to 221 East Broadway.
Before the weekend, we stopped by the tiny shop (located right next to Pushcart Coffee) to talk with proprietor Kevin Heald. Malt & Mold will be a takeout destination for beer, cheese, charcuterie, pickles, fresh bread, chocolate, ice cream and other locally-sourced products.
Last month we noted that Va Bene Pizza at 201 Clinton Street (East Broadway) had closed. Now comes word that a new restaurant will be opening in this spot. “Cowboy Pizza” is expected to open around the middle of next month. It’ll be run by Jamie Rogers and Lisa Fischoff, who already operate “Pushcart Coffee,” around the corner at 221 East Broadway. They have two partners in the new venture, Aaron Stoquert and Sarah Trapido. We’re told they’ll be serving “good old fashioned New York pizza” as well as some specialty pies. We’ll let you know when we learn more.
Lisa Fischoff, Jamie Rogers of Pushcart Coffee.
Regular customers of “Dora,” the year-old coffee shop at 221 East Broadway, have noticed a few changes lately. In September, Jamie Rogers bought the business from Nicole Slaven, who had named the shop for her great grandmother, Dora Cohen. This week, Jamie renamed the store “Pushcart Coffee.” Recently he also took on a partner, Lisa Fischoff, the first employee he hired three months ago.
Yvette Ho is moving Panade’s puff pastries and muffins back to 129 Eldridge St. next month.
Neighborhood sweet spot Panade Cafe, which leaped into bigger space over the winter, is moving back across the street to its old digs at 129 Eldridge St. in July.
The puff pastry shop, which is owned by Yvette Ho, will resume operations early next month at its old spot, Ho tells us in an email. The former elementary school teacher launched her business there in 2006, and kept the space to use as her main kitchen when she moved the cafe across the street in December, to a much larger space.
When Alan Natkiel finally caved to pressure from his enthusiastic friends and decided to solve his unemployment problem by opening Georgia’s Eastside BBQ in 2007, he had a few very firm predictions about his potential for success.
One, that all the new buildings sprouting out of the ground near his northern Orchard Street location would create a built-in customer base—construction workers at first, and later, upscale office workers and new Lower East Side residents.
Two, that he could turn a profit without becoming a destination dining spot as long as he won over enough local diners.
After four years, one of the old kids on the block
One day way back in 2006, Mike Caswell spent several hours people-watching on the block of Orchard Street between Broome and Grand streets. The midtown real estate broker Caswell had hired to help him choose a site for the high-tech coffee shop he planned to open suggested a spot halfway down that block. At first, Caswell thought he was crazy.
“This street looked like a war zone,” Caswell says, sipping an Americano in a window seat of Roasting Plant, now in its fourth year. But his agent insisted that the Lower East Side was the place to find Caswell’s target demographic. So the industrial-engineer-turned-coffee-entrepreneur, who at that point had invested seven years developing his automated roasting and brewing system, agreed to check it out. From a table at 88 Orchard, one of the first new businesses to open on lower Orchard, he saw exactly the type of customers he believed would dig his 21st-century brewing system and premium product.