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Monday
Jun132011

SweetWolf's: Accepting all Menu Item Suggestions!

                                                                                                                 Park Slope Lens

Have you ever taken a look at the neighborhood's culinary offerings and thought, "Gee, I wish I could get a good plate of [___] around here!" Well, now's your chance to make your voice heard!

SweetWolf's will be opening soon on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Twelfth Street with a menu of "Classic American" specialties cooked in a wood-burning oven, and chef/ owner Tim Judge has reached out to the community for menu input.

If you have an idea for a dish you'd like to see on their menu, head on over to their Facebook page and post it on their wall. Try to stay away from generalities like "cheeseburger;" the more details the better!

And here's the best part: if your dish is chosen, you'll receive a special invite to a soft opening event. You can taste the dish you suggested and help tweak the recipe until it's right. Beer and wine included.

Best of luck!

Monday
Jun132011

Business of the Week: Bob and Judi's Coolectibles

Judi and Bob Pheiffer

This article originally appeared on Patch.

There are some businesses that simply couldn't exist in Manhattan. Bob and Judi's Coolectibles, the quirky vintage housewares shop in business since 1997 on Fifth Avenue between Union and President, is a perfect example.

"We would need to sell high-end antiques if we were going to exist in Manhattan," said Judi Pheiffer, who runs the shop with her husband Bob. "Rents are just too high there. We sell things that are affordable, and much more useful, anyway."

It's easy to get lost in the sheer selection of merchandise available at Bob and Judi's, collected over the years from flea markets, estate sales, and generous folks who move away and don't want to throw valuable items out. Retro glassware, jewelry, old neighborhood photos, salt and pepper shakers, toys, and other household items create a time capsule that frequently sucks in passersby out for a stroll as well as young couples looking for houseware and those looking for the perfect gift but have been unable to find it elsewhere.

Vintage Salt and Pepper Shakers

"I met Bob when I was 18 and he was 28," said Judi. "We've lived in Park Slope for 32 years, and our first business was selling airbrushed clothes wholesale and at flea markets." After a cancer scare in 1996, Judi decided to no longer work with chemicals, so they added vintage bric-a-brac to the merchandise. Eventually the clothes were phased out entirely, they rented out a former exterminator shop (and before that, a beloved bar and grill), and Bob and Judi's was born.

The merchandise quickly began to add up, especially after acquiring a couple large estates. "When we first opened, the whole middle of the room was wide open," said Judi. "I had this vision of keeping it sparse and very well-curated. That lasted about six months."

In the 90s, the neighborhood couldn't have been more different. "Nobody was out walking on Fifth Avenue back then, and sometimes we'd bring in maybe twenty dollars a day" explained Judi. "Buildings were abandoned, and there was nothing to do and see on Fifth. People would come in off the streets, trying to sell things, and we had to chain up the furniture when we'd display it out front. We don't have to worry about that anymore."

They certainly don't. Fifth Avenue has once again become one of Brooklyn's prime retail strips, and the Pheiffers have dedicated themselves to being a true part of the community. Not only are they active members of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District and donors to many local schools and organizations, they realize how valuable the store itself is to the neighborhood.

"We're essentially a recycling business," said Judi. "We're saving things from the landfill. People move, and they tell me that they don't care what happens, they just want their stuff to have a life again."

"Things were better made back then anyway," she continued. "They've held up for a hundred years, why shouldn't they continue to be useful for a hundred more?"

Bob and Judi's Coolectibles, 217 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-638-5770.

Friday
Jun102011

The Park Slope Week in Review: 6/6/11 - 6/10/11

On Monday, word got around that the long-in-the-making restaurant on the corner of Sixth and St. Marks has a name, and it's Purbird. Bicycle Habitat, on Fifth Ave in the South Slope, also got a massive sign.

Tuesday brought news that Park Heights Stationary, which spent 25 years on Park and Flatbush before closing last year, is going to be replaced by Five Guys Burgers. The response has been decidedly mixed. It's another burger chain, yes, but it's halfway decent and is sure to be a success. Butter Lane Cupcakes also re-opened on Seventh, and on the same day The King of Cupcakes also re-emerged, selling out of the Parkslope Eatery next door. Coincidence? Also, one of the few internet coffeeshops left in the city, Sandy's on 16th Street, closed up shop.

Wednesday news broke that Irish pub Harry Boland's, on Ninth Street near Fifth, had closed for good. It was a simple, low key pub and a great spot to play darts, but nothing special, and it had been underwater with tax issues for a long time. I also took a look inside Kulushkat, the new falafel joint coming to Dean Street near Fifth, and it's looking pretty impressive. Avon Cosmetics is also opening up a branch further down Fifth.

On Thursday the signless Fifth Avenue women's shoe store Wndrland closed for business, once again proving that when you open a store, you should put a sign on it. And use vowels.

Mango/ Remixed Asian Brasserie, the middle-of-the-road Thai restaurant-turned Asian fusion joint on Seventh, also closed this week, on Friday. Mini Hair Village Spa, one of the oddest-named business to open in a while, is also already annoying the neighbors with its garish 24/7 LED display, on Seventh and Ninth. 

Friday
Jun102011

Friday Foodporn: Three Star Bakery

I've been on an informal quest over the past couple years to track down the oldest business in the neighborhood, and I think I've come across a dark horse finalist: Three Star Bakery, on Fifth Avenue between 16th and Prospect.

I've always bee intrigued by this place, specifically because of its old world charm, the gruff yet friendly ladies who work there, and the fact that there are fresh loaves of bread on display in the window every day (it's tough to find a bakery that actually bakes bread any more, oddly enough). It's almost out of place in Park Slope; it seems like it would be more at home in a small village somewhere, as the town bakeshop.

When I asked the lady who works the counter how long the bakery had been in business, she told me the story of a 90-year old woman who had dropped in recently and told her that her father, a German immigrant, had opened the shop up in the early years of the 20th Century. The elderly lady was in fact born in the apartment upstairs, and was shocked to discover that her father's bakery was still going strong after more than 100 years.

Bow ties

It's a small, simple space, with breads on display in the window and other baked goods, mostly cookies and pastries ranging from Jewish (rugelach and bagels) to Latin American (guava turnovers) to Italian (pignoli cookies), in a display case. Everything is made in-house, and breads are sold wholesale to delis and restaurants throughout the city.

Three Star Bakery, 588 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-788-8375.

Friday
Jun102011

Mini Hair Village Spa Opens, Already Annoying the Neighbors

Looking at the above photo of Mini Village Hair Spa, er, Hair Village Mini Spa, the salon that's opening at Seventh Avenue and Ninth Street, it's easy to miss the little illuminated LED signs at the bottom of each of their three front windows. Looks harmless enough, right? Well, not after the sun goes down and the store closes, according to one poster on Brooklynian, who lives across the street. Apparently they leave these signs on all through the night, and it's driving the poster crazier than Kramer and his Chicken Roaster sign. Here's an excerpt:

"I'm a neighbor to the new hair salon that is opening on 7th Ave and 9th St, the Mini Hair Village Spa. and they have a few electronic signs that they leave running pretty much 24 hours a day so far. I'm close enough that from our living room and office we're getting glares from the flashing lights on the signs bouncing off the walls at night, and it feels a bit much, even for what is one of the busier intersections in Park Slope... I've never had such an eyesore pop up so close to home, so am not sure what's the best approach to try to deal with it is."

Odds are the owners don't even realize how annoying those signs can be.