Riding down the Avenue East Side Encounters

| 22 Jan 2016 | 02:28

    Cold case - still waiting: Full House Antiques on 3rd/80th may be long gone and replaced by City Row (there’s a big turnover at this corner space), but its trail of unhappy local customers still remains. In the February 18, 2014 issue of Our Town, it was reported how Full House Antiques, a high-end furniture consignment shop, closed without either returning clients’ merchandise or splitting the proceeds of any sale, and how one customer received notice that his belongings were in a warehouse somewhere in Riverdale. No address was given. It’s now two years later and still no resolution - no furniture, no proceeds. At the time, the property’s landlord, David Kriss, said that the co-owner of the store suffered quadruple bypass heart surgery and couldn’t keep up the high rent. Mr. Kriss advised that those concerned about their property contact the Dept of Consumer Affairs. Not very helpful, Mr. Kriss. Customers don’t get damages from Consumer Affairs and there’s no more business. After the Our Town article appeared, Win Robins, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, wrote to the paper (the letter was published in October 2014), that he, too, was ripped off. Still nothing happened. Maybe the property’s landlord has a real resolution - besides going to the Dept of Consumer Affairs - for local customers who suffered losses because one of his tenants walked away from his obligations.

    Something old is news to me: Just seeing the name brought back pleasant memories. Dempsey & Carroll - that venerable stationery store for fine personalized engraved stationery -- is alive and well on Lex/75-76. The East 57th store is long gone and now home to Jacques Torres aka Mr. Chocolate. The Lexington Avenue location may not be new but I first noticed it when I was riding downtown on the M101. Quite honestly, I’m not too unhappy that it’s no longer de rigueur to have engraved Crane’s ivory letterhead stationery. But it’s nice to know that Dempsey & Carroll’s is still here. And to remember the days when it mattered. Staples just doesn’t do it.

    Hot water blues: Corner Café, 3rd /92nd, has been, or at least was, doubling take-out cups for tea. Sounds good because the cups are sometimes too hot to handle when filled with hot water waiting for a tea bag. However, as Clare Booth Luce, Oscar Wilde, or my ex-husband might opine, “No good deed goes unpunished.” In its effort to protect the public from too-hot water in a single cup, the café put the tea bag between the cups. Too bad the string isn’t long enough to insert the tea bag into the hot water without removing it from between the cups. Trust me, trying to remove the tea bag while holding or putting the cup down would be calamitous. What came to mind was the 1990’s McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit when a 79-year-old woman suffered third-degree burns scalding her thighs and other parts of her lower body when she accidentally spilled hot coffee in her lap while in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car, which didn’t have cup holders. The incident led to all kinds of arguments about what temperature is too hot for water; whether the business owner should raise or lower the temperature. I’ll stick to the double cup/tea bag problem. Keep the double cup double and keep the tea bag separate. A two-handed transaction. And a good deed won’t get punished.

    Looking up: Riding the bus down 5th Avenue - or any other avenue or cross street - is not an inspiring experience. On 5th Ave, however, if you look to your left you’ll see the towering buildings. If you look to your right, there’s NY’s jewel, Central Park. If you would like some inspiration on this bus route - M1, 2, 3, 4 - when the bus approaches the stop at 65th and 5th, look to your left at the building at 838 5th, opposite Temple Emanu-El on the southeast corner. The 11-story limestone building, a condo since 1999, has inscribed on its facade, starting on the 65th Street side and ending on 5th Avenue the words: DO JUSTICE LOVE MERCY WALK HUMBLY WITH THY GOD LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF. No quotations. No commas. No periods. No exclamations. Just words to live by. 838 5th was built with 10 stories in the 1950’s for the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and was known as The House of Living Judaism. Hence, the inscription. When the office building was converted to a condo, it gained a story or two. Without knowing the history of the building, it seemed odd that a luxury residential condo building on 5th Ave would have this kind of inscription on its facade without the condo board weighing in. Unless, of course, the inscription was grandfather-ed or landmark-ed in. Or Hashem trumped the condo board.

    When take-out’s a no no: The delightful new Fika on Lex/89-90 is a great addition to this Upper East Side block. Part of a Scandinavian restaurant chain, it has an excellent brew of coffee - at $2.50 a cup with refills, it can’t be beat. In Sweden, “fika” means ‘having a coffee break.’ Here you can have it with fresh pastry, a sandwich, salad, or one of the daily or weekly soups. Fika encourages calling ahead to find out the choices. Fika’s spiffy, simple, clean, and very welcoming. One gripe. A staffer was having a coffee break behind the counter with food from the outside. I doubt that’s what the Fika brand has in mind for coffee breaks. Staffers should either eat what’s in house or take a fika elsewhere.

    Arlene Kayatt’s East Side Encounters runs bi-weekly in Our Town. Know of something she should include in the column? Email her at news@strausnews.com