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Monday
Jul112011

The Attack of the Cheeburger Menus 

Looking to advertise your restaurant? I'm begging you, please don't go with the "under the windshield wiper" route.

Walking through the neighborhood this morning, I encountered literally hundreds of cars from Flatbush Avenue all the way down to Prospect Avenue with the hot pink Cheeburger Cheeburger menus under the wipers. And scattered around the sidewalk. And in the street. Most people just toss these things on the ground when they get back to their car. We know that your restaurant exists; seeing your menu under the wiper isn't going to convince me to eat there.  

You might be desperate for customers because of all the competition from better burgers around here, Cheeburger, but littering the neighborhood with hot pink fliers is not good for business.

At least they didn't look like parking tickets, I suppose.

Monday
Jul112011

All-Natural Grocery and Vitamin Shop for 139 Fifth Avenue

For the past few years, 139 Fifth Avenue, just across the street from Big Red on the southeast corner of St. Johns Place, has gone from being home to a shuttered, scaffolded, car-damaged bodega to a renovated, shiny brownstone with some new ground-floor tilework. On Saturday, I noticed a gate was up and asked a gentleman standing inside the retail space if he knew what would be moving in.

"It will be an all-natural vitamin store," he said. "Vitamins, beauty supplies, all-natural snacks, that kind of thing."

So there you have it.

Monday
Jul112011

Business of the Week: Guvnor's, 178 Fifth Avenue

This article originally appeared on Patch.

Fifth Avenue in the North Slope has, in recent years, become home to a hodgepodge of vintage and thrift stores. Every weekend, legions of shoppers descend on the stretch, some looking for a bargain, others looking for a whole new wardrobe.

One of the newest, and most fun, of these stores is Guvnor's, which opened last year in what was formerly a dilapidated mattress store, most recently home to a vendor known as The Sock Man.

Walking into the cavernous store is like walking into some sort of Museum of American clothing. The initial impression can be a little overwhelming, but once you let your eyes adjust the store is easy to navigate.

Up front are vintage housewares and knick-knacks, like glasses, records, jewelry, books, roller skates, and an antique motorcycle or two. Beyond that, men's clothes are on the left, women's on the right. Every article of clothing imaginable, in some cases dating back to the 1930s, is up for grabs here, all affordably priced.

"Eclectic" is a word that comes to mind—leather boots and jackets, Oxfords and rockabilly shirts, vintage nightgowns, 80s hair band t-shirts, 40s slip dresses, army fatigues, you name it. At a whopping 1,900 square feet, you can get lost exploring all the merchandise (and that's not necessarily a bad thing).

The store is the brainchild of Suzette Sundae, who can usually be found accompanied by her dog, Dottie.

"I started selling vintage clothes 20 years ago this month," said Sundae. "That's when I opened my first shop, in Boston."

Her travels brought her to the East Village, where she ran a punk-inspired vintage shop named—what else—Suzette Sundae. Her next move brought her to Monkey Whistles and Motorbikes, which was located next door (where the Chair Man is now). When this space came up for rent, Suzette jumped on the opportunity and began creating her dream store.

But the dream wasn't just about pretty vintage clothes and accessories. A big part of that dream was integrating music, too.

"I love to sing, and I wanted to incorporate music into the store as much as possible," she said. "All the employees here are musicians as well."

The music selection that's piped into the store is as eclectic as the merchandise. You'll hear everything from rockabilly, blues and punk to classic rock, but it's always well-suited to the mood.

Owner Suzette Sundae belts it out (Patch)

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. On occasional Sundays from 4 to 7 p.m., if you have the courage to get up and sing one of over 65 tracks, karaoke-style, you can reach into a hat and pull out a discount card. These karaoke events regularly turn into full-fledged parties; the free beer for singers doesn't hurt.

It's clear from a brief chat with Sundae that she's living her dream. "From the time I was a teenager, I've loved vintage clothes," she said. "I don't even know why. It's just what I've always wanted to do."

Guvnor's, 178 5th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 718-230-4887.

Friday
Jul082011

Open for Business: The Fifth Line, 145 Sterling Place

The 5th Line, a studio for Gyrotonic, Pilates, Yoga, and the Alexander Technique, has opened in a cute storefront on Sterling Place, just east of Seventh Avenue, in the space last occupied by religious workshop Center of Light.

According to the studio's website, it has a "nurturing, no-pressure and congenial environment that cultivates health, physical intelligence and spiritual fulfillment through the philosophical and scientific wisdom of mind-body practices." The owner, Janine Flasschoen, opened her first studio in Kansas City in 2006.

Private sessions range from $85-100, but for the time being there's a special introductory offer: three private lessons for $100, and one month's unlimited classes for $99.

The 5th Line, 145 Sterling Place Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 718-638-1981.

Friday
Jul082011

Friday Foodporn: Christie's Jamaican Patties

 

Ask the folks behind the counter what Christie's last name is, and you'll be hard pressed to get an answer. That's irrelevant, though: the mysterious Christie, who opened her Jamaican bakery over 40 years ago and then moved it across the street in 2006 (to its current address, on Flatbush Avenue near Sterling Place), was a master of Jamaican cuisine, and has created a hidden neighborhood gem.

Traditional favorites like jerk chicken, oxtail stew, and curried goat are always available in the tiny restaurant, but the real draw here are the patties, which come in three varieties: beef, chicken, and vegetable. All three are handmade, always hot out of the oven, and extremely craveable. The beef and chicken patties' crust is made with a heavy dose of suet, which gives it a shatteringly flaky texture; the cabbage-heavy vegetable version comes with a more traditional pastry crust. All three are agressively seasoned with allspice and other traditional Jamaican seasonings.

If your only impression of Jamaican patties has been from the Golden Krust chain, do yourself a favor and drop by Christie's. Order a pie for $2.25, get the counterman to sandwich it inside some fresh baked coco bread, and head up to the park for an inexpensive lunch that you know is made with love.

Christie's Jamaican Patties, 387 Flatbush Avenue Brooklyn NY 11238. Phone: 718-636-9746.