Open and closed season

| 15 Jul 2016 | 11:17

East Side Encounters


It’s about the cookies — Candidates for the September primary and November election are gearing up. Meet-the-candidate events, fundraising are all part of the happenings. Assemblyman Dan Quart included. His recent event at Lexington Brass (Lex/48th) was SRO. New and old supporters and friends politicking and schmoozing over libation and bounty — a great spread of charcuterie, cheese, veggies, tapanades. As Dan’s mom and dad were passing through, Dan supporter Dave Menegon, an East Side politico and local community board member, remarked that mom’s cookies were missing. “Oh, nobody remembers that,” a blushing mom responded. Menegon assured her that he remembered the delicious cookies she baked and proudly gave out in the Ruppert neighborhood (Third/90’s) in Dan’s district to thank voters for electing her son. Never dismiss moms and cookies for getting votes in the village of Yorkville.

What remains — RIP — It’s a sad sight walking uptown on Third Avenue in the 80s. One business after another shuttered. I know it’s happening all over the city but NIMBY, please. In the last month or so Pesce Pasta Italian restaurant’s gone; so are the candy store and beauty salon between 88th and 89th. And Uptown pub/restaurant, a local favorite, closed its doors and papered its windows, but word came from some workmen that it’s coming back under new ownership. Can only hope. Starlight Diner’s gone and the Subway franchise on the east side of the street is still empty. Rents are skyrocketing. Small businesses are kerflooey. Construction abounds all over the neighborhood. If recent commercial occupancies are an indicator, we’ll be seeing more walk-in health centers, chain type operations whether it’s food or cosmetics, more and more CVSs, Duane Reades, 711s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and other Starbuck style establishments. No more moms and pops. No more local markets. Independent entrepreneurs are bygone. It’s all corporate from the shoemaker (are there any left?) to the dry cleaner. Time marches on.

Neutral turf — Dorrian’s, a pub on 84th and Second, is a go-to spot for local Democratic and Republican clubs. Obstruction by the trappings of Second Avenue subway construction hasn’t been an impediment. In this pre-election season, the Metropolitan Republican Club held its monthly (July) First Thursday Social at Dorrian’s. Members and others were welcome to come to mix and mingle with fellow Republicans and hear from Republican candidates for public office — Mike Zumbluskas for State Senate, Rebecca Harary for Assembly and Daby Carreras for Assembly. Another Assembly candidate had petitions out to get on the ballot and appeared at the Met Club when petitioning began but has been a no-show ever since. Time will tell if the candidate had enough signatures to get on the ballot.

Public spaces, private use — Shake Shack on East 86th is a great example of the intended integrated use of public and private space. The busy outdoor self-service dining area is used by Shake Shack customers and non-customers alike. Non-customers bring their own food and drinks or just stop by to sit. Caliente Cab Co. (Third/33rd) is another public/private use. However, Caliente Cab Co. has table service. Non-customers are welcome without interference. Trump Tower on Fifth/57th is an all-indoor example. There have been issues about interferences on the street level with respect to use, but down the now-infamous escalator there’s a spectacular public space.

Pop-up street fairs — Back in the late 70s and early 80s, Our Town’s then-publisher (and my then-husband) Ed Kayatt had the idea to bring street fairs to the UES and to distribute the proceeds to local organizations and charities. Our Town partnered with the East Mid-Manhattan Chamber of Commerce to sponsor fairs and festivals. The first one was on Third Ave from 86th to either 72nd or 68th Streets. Since then, street fairs and festivals have become an integral part of New York City and a great revenue producer. An avid fair/festival-goer myself, I find the blocks-long fairs/festivals too big and too much of the same old same old. So I was pleasantly surprised to come upon a pop-up fair on 54th between Third/Lex. Turns out there’s something called PopUp New York Street Fairs. A Time Out New York blurb about the organization described it as brand that hosts numerous outdoor bonanzas while giving back to local nonprofits. The pop-up fairs feature up-and-coming restaurants, designers and musicians in trendy neighborhoods. They describe participants as exhibitors instead of vendors. The spin’s OK with me. Elitist hype maybe not. Just keep those great ethnic exhibitors cooking up their specialties.