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Tuesday
Jun072011

As Butter Lane Re-Opens, King of Cupcakes Plots a Comeback

Butter Lane Cupcakes, the East Village-based shop on Seventh Avenue between 4th and 5th, re-opened over the weekend after being closed for about a month due to some illegal plumbing work. The space's last tenant, The King of Cupcakes, however, has regrouped with a new strategy that will place them back in the neighborhood.

I ran into King of Cupcakes owner Garrison earlier today, handing out free cupcake samples outside of the Parkslope Eatery, just up the block from Butter Lane. He told me that they'll be selling their cupcakes out of that storefront, as well as at the Ivy Garden, the new grocery opening on Fourth Avenue, and also "lots of other places nearby."

They had a very rough start, but I'm glad to see that they're giving it another go. Hope they're more successful this time around!

Tuesday
Jun072011

Five Guys Burgers Coming to Park and Flatbush

Just when we thought the Park Slope Burger Invasion was over, official work permits reveal that 164 Park Place, formerly home to Park Heights Stationers and Copy Center, will be an outpost of DC-based Five Guys Burgers and Fries.

It had been rumored recently that a Gray's Papaya would be opening up in this very prominent space, on the corner of Flatbush Avenue right near Seventh and its B/Q subway stop, but that didn't pan out. This will be the second Five Guys in the neighborhood; the other is on Seventh Ave between Sixth and Seventh.

Monday
Jun062011

Bicycle Habitat Gets a Big Ol' Sign

 

Bicycle Habitat, the 3,000 square foot bike superstore that opened last month in the former Jeans Express space on Fifth between 10th and 11th, installed some signage last week.

Looks like we have a winner for the biggest sign on Fifth Avenue!

Monday
Jun062011

Purbird Restaurant Coming to Sixth and St. Marks

 

It's been almost two years since substantial activity has gone on inside the rounded corner space that was most recently home to the restaurant Helios, at 82 Sixth Avenue. When I asked the owner what was going on back then, he told me that a beer bar would be moving into the space, but since then it's been mostly quiet.

Construction has been steady for about the past month, though, and last week signage went up for a new restaurant, to be called Purbird. I'm fairly certain that the owner this time around is the same as Helios, and a peek inside reveals several tables and a long bar. We'll see what develops.

Monday
Jun062011

Business of the Week: Stained Glass Store, 300 5th Avenue

 

Owner Peter Romano

This article was first published on Patch.

If you happen to be lucky enough to live in a brownstone, especially one that's been renovated within the past 35 years, take a look around and see if you can find any stained glass. There's a good chance that what you find might not be original, but a reproduction hand-made in the traditional style by master craftsman Peter Romano, who singlehandedly runs The Stained Glass Store, on Fifth Avenue between First and Second Streets.

"The most pride I get is when I walk back into a house I did 20 years ago and the current owners don't even realize that the stained glass came from me," he said. "If my work is done well, then you won't even know that I've done it."

Romano, who grew up on the Flatbush side of Prospect Park and attended Manual Training High School (now  John Jay), was first introduced to stained glass not by exposure to the great churches of Europe, but by his cousin, who took it up as a craft and showed him the ropes as a youngster. He's nearly completely self taught, and opened up his first shop, on Sixth Avenue and Union Street, in 1976 (maternity shop Boing Boing is there now; ever wonder about its great stained glass entryway?).

The current location is the store's fourth; he moved into the space thirteen years ago "when Fifth Avenue was Dodge City," he said. Clients range from contractors to to architects to interior designers, and while he likes to work primarily for Park Slope brownstones, his work has been commissioned all over the country, and he's even created glass for homes in the Carribean and a Methodist church in Lagos, Nigeria.

The tools of the trade

Romano realizes that there aren't too many craftsmen around anymore, working with their hands. "It's a shame," he said. "With today's technology, everybody just sits around looking at screens all day. A lot of people do this as a hobby, but very few of us do it as a profession, and do it well."

So how does Romano go about crafting these stained glass windows? The same way it's been done for hundreds of years, using only the simplest of tools. "I start off with an idea, and then I draw a pattern," he elaborated. "I'll either use the lead came technique, which is used in the churches in Europe, or the copper foil method, which is what was used by Louis Comfort Tiffany." Essentially, large colored glass sheets are cut down by hand and soldered into the template (Wikipedia goes into much more detail). The end result is rarely short of spectacular.

Workshops like the Stained Glass Store are reminders that the finest products are the ones that are made by hand instead of by machines. And we should be thankful that Park Slope still has a couple workshops like the Stained Glass store, and a couple resident master craftsmen like Peter Romano.

Stained Glass Store, 300 Fifth Avenue Brooklyn NY 11217. 718-768-7964.