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Entries in History (127)


Uncle Barry's Hosting Labor Day Beefsteak

The Beefsteak. Once a very common working-class celebration in the saloons and banquet halls of old New York, the all-you-can-eat steak night has been all but forgotten in recent years. But on Monday, Uncle Barry's Bar, on Fifth Avenue between Bergen and St. Marks, is bringing it back with style.

From 2-8 PM on Monday the no-frills bar, opened last November by cousins Jake Treback and Josh Ellis, will be hosting an honest to goodness Labor Day Beefsteak. All you can eat steak (grilled up in the back yard by "regular and authority on the history of the Beefsteak" Augustin Estrella, along with unlimited Gennessee Cream Ale, for $25/person.

If you can't make it out of town for the holiday, you might as well take part in a classic NYC tradition!


Closed for Business: Bob and Judi's Coolectibles, 217 Fifth Avenue

The charming, venerable mom-and-pop antique and vintage knick-knack shop Bob and Judi's Coolectibles, on Fifth between Union and President Streets, closed earlier this week as planned

The store was run by Bob and Judi Pheiffer, who met when they were 28 and 18, repsectively, and had lived in Park Slope since 1979. Their first business was selling airbrushed clothing at flea markets, but after a cancer scare they decided to avoid chemicals and began selling vintage bric-a-brac instead. The business was so successful that in 1997 they  moved into a former exterminator shop on then run-down Fifth Avenue, and the rest was history. They became a neighborhood fixture -- one of those types of businesses that just couldn't exist anymore in Manhattan -- and the affable owners were actively involved with the Fifth Avenue BID and local schools and organizations.

Back in May, Bob and Judi decided that it was time to pack it up and get back to their roots, and have left Brooklyn behind. "We found a great flea market in California, and we'll be selling similar stuff out there," Judi told me last week. "We just needed to slow down and take it easier, and we can keep doing what we love."

While it's unfortunate that the quirky store and their ever-present, friendly and helpful proprietors will no longer be around, it's reassuring to know that they're still following their passion, just at a more leisurely pace. Best of luck to them in California!


Open for Business: Leaf & Bean 2.0, 176 Lincoln Place

The second incarnation of Leaf and Bean has officially opened its doors to the neighborhood. 

The quaint coffee and tea shop, which closed back in January on Seventh between Union and Berkeley after 40 years in business, reopened a couple weeks ago on Lincoln Place, just east of Seventh, in the space last occupied by Fashion East. 

Owners Karen Hue and Vikki Cook are back, and have been slowly completing construction in the space, which should be ready for a September Grand Opening just in time for their busy season.

It wasn't easy finding a new location, according to Hue. "We were looking at the space next to the Chair-Man on Fifth, but that fell through," she said. "This is much smaller than the original, but we'll be offering the same merchandise, and I don't think we were closed long enough to be forgotten about!" 

Many varieties of loose-leaf tea and whole-bean coffee are available along with the necessary tools for brewing them, and soon they'll begin to offer fresh-brewed tea and coffee as well as cookies, chocolates, and macarons. 

It'll take some time to bring the shop back to the level of charm that the previous one had, but it's certainly nice to see that, as promised, Leaf & Bean is back in business. 

Leaf & Bean, 176 Lincoln Place Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 718-638-5791.


Ancient TV Store Ghost Signage Uncovered on Fifth

I love uncovering ghost signage. Hidden from view for years, often decades, it reappears when an awning or newer sign is removed, briefly transporting us back in time and giving us a glimpse into the neighborhood's past.

Many thanks to a loyal reader for sending over the above photo, of a 50s-era sign that was recently revealed when the owners of the Uncle Louie G's franchise on Fifth near Seventh Street took their awning down. The only word that's visible is "T.V.,"  possibly with the word "Marconi" above it, but it's hard to tell. Looks like there's an old phone number on there as well, along with some still covered words below, maybe "Repair Shop?"

Either way, it's very cool, and handpainted in a couple different now-retro fonts. 


Leaf & Bean 2.0 Getting Close to Opening on Lincoln Place

Many thanks to a tipster for sending over these photos, which show that buildout is just about complete on the reboot of coffee and tea shop Leaf & Bean, which closed back in January after 40 years on Seventh Avenue between Union and Berkeley. 

The new, much smaller shop, is located on Lincoln Place just east of Seventh, in the storefront last occupied by Fashion East

While Leaf & Bean lost its novelty years ago (basically as soon as coffee became available outside of the grocery store), its friendly owners, charming atmosphere, and quaint, old-school feel helped it maintain a loyal clientele. It was a bit too big for its britches on Seventh, though, so hopefully this new location will fit just right. If that's the case, and if its fans come back (while attracting some new ones), Leaf & Bean might just pick up right where it left off.