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Wednesday
Jun222011

Closed for Business: Kohzee Cafe, 396 Sixth Avenue

Once again, it's been proven that in Park Slope, mediocrity just won't cut it. Kohzee Cafe, the unremarkable little diner on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Seventh Street, was shut down by the DOH about a month ago for violations that included "evidence of mice or live mice." Even after being shuttered, however, the owner decided that peeling the DOH sticker off and re-opening illegally would be a good idea, and this back and forth went on for some time, with the DOH returning every day to shut it back down (and dole out more fines, most likely).

The owner appears to have given up, though, and the restaurant has finally shut down for good. Never particularly well-liked and on a corner of the neighborhood that doesn't get much foot traffic, some could argue that Kohzee was doomed from the beginning. If you want to run a successful restaurant in Park Slope, especially in an out of the way part of the neighborhood, serve good food (and keep the mice out)!

Tuesday
Jun212011

Does Park Slope Really Need a "Neighborhood Night Watch"?

Here's an interesting one: After a Brooklynian user's bicycle seat was stolen last week, he took to the message board to advocate for the creation of a vigilante "neighborhood watch brigade," imploring locals to "take a stand and rid our streets of the local roughians who strive to destroy our way of life."

According to the poster, Vince, he attempted to report the theft to the plolice but "was met with disdain and reluctance." He rails against those who are "watching Rome burn... intent on just peeping out your windows and gossiping about your neighbors." According to the poster, "The integrity of our neighborhood is collapsing and it is time to do something."

Vince goes on:

"According to you nothing has changed in Park Slope and you are just peachy with the current way of things are. I will not stand around and await the next mugging or property theft. Perhaps you are happy bragging that your were mugged for the 30th time and use that as a badge of honor but I am not cut from the same cloth as you. I refuse to be a victim anymore. You sir sadden me... You have a defeatist quality about yourself that I do not want festering among my friends. Do what you do best and hide in your apartment hoping that things will eventually get better. Maybe you should take a walk in Harlem and add to your tally of muggings."

Vince has already begun to take matters into his own hands. Here are the results of his first "tour of vigilance":

"Within the first hour I shooed away a bum who appeared to be licking the door handles of cars. HOW DISGUSTING! The sick degenerates of this neighborhood never cease to amaze me. I also used my gaze to scare away a group of project development scoundrels who appeared to be up to no good. I just sat on my stoop and stared in their general direction. After 15 minutes of staring at them they left for greener pastures. I denied them any victims in my stretch of Shangri-La."

I wasn't under the impression that our neighborhood is exactly going to hell (in fact, crime rates are very low and about the same as in other neighborhoods with similar median incomes), but this guy is obviously dead serious about a night patrol, and convinced that the police are "as useless as ovaries on a bronze statue." He claims to have assembled 18 volunteers to help him on his "urban tour of duty."

Vince claims to have organized a meeting at PS 321 this coming Sunday, but nobody at the school has been able to verify that.

Monday
Jun202011

Open for Business: Kulushkat Gourmet Falafel, 446 Dean Street

Owner Yagil Kadosh with a falafel

The "gourmet falafel" restaurant I first told you about last month and took a sneak peek at last week opened last Friday on Dean Street just east of Fifth Avenue, and I'm thoroughly impressed by this place.

It's run by Yagil Kadosh and friend Andrew Rowley, who spent a couple weeks in Israel last year perfecting the recipes handed down by Kadosh's mother.

"We went to ton of falafel places, and everyone believes that their recipe is the best," Kadosh said about the trip. "We used everything we learned there in our recipe, and Andrew's recipe is perfect."

It is some seriously good falafel, fried to order and topped with your selection of hummus, baba ghanoush, Israeli salad, eggplant, marinated carrots, pickles, and more traditional Israeli toppings. Falafel comes in a few varieties, like spicy, Mediterranean chicken, or mushroom-based Gilly. Aside from falafel, you can also get grilled or fried chicken breast in a pita, along with a slew of salads, hummus with different toppings, and desserts like baklava and rugelach, all baked in-house (the rugelach was right out of the oven when I showed up, and was some of the best I've ever had). A couple truly authentic (and hard-to-find elsewhere) items, like burrekas and skhug, are also available.

Fresh rugelach

It's a small restaurant, with only twelve stools for seating, so take-out is highly recommended.

All the food served is made in-house, from scratch, using high-quality ingredients and recipes passed down through generations and perfected by two truly passionate guys who just want to serve good food. Who can ask for anything better than that?

Kulushkat Gourmet Falafel, 446 Dean Street Brooklyn NY 11217. Phone: 347-799-1972.

Monday
Jun202011

Top Chef Dale Talde to be Head Chef at "Modern Asian" Restaurant from Thistle Hill Owner

Last month, I ran into Thistle Hill Tavern owner David Massoni outside of the old Hudson Cleaners space on Seventh Avenue and 11th Street. When asked if he had plans for the space, he informed me that he was planning on a "modern Asian" restaurant, but to hold off on reporting it because some more details were forthcoming. 

Thanks to a tipster who spoke with Massoni at Thistle Hill (one of the best new restaurants in the neighborhood, by the way) last night, it can now be reported that chef Dale Talde, of Top Chef (both Season 4 and Masters All Stars) and Buddakan fame, will be the restaurant's head chef (confirmed by a photo of the space on Talde's blog). He's developed a very loyal following over the years, and is known for his creative cuisine and work ethic.

According to Massoni, the restaurant should be open by early September, and doesn't have a name yet.

Along with chef Mark Simmons opening Kiwiana down on Union Street, thats two former Top Chef contestants planting their flag in our neighborhood.

And I am seriously excited about this place.

Monday
Jun202011

Business of the Week: Gear to Go Outfitters, 217 Garfield Place

This article originally appeared on Patch.

If you're planning to head out of the city for a hike anytime soon, there's one particular neighborhood storefront you'll need to know about: Gear to Go Outfitters, on Garfield Place just east of Seventh Avenue.

The shop is a well-curated boutique that sells the highest quality hiking and camping gear, but it's not just a store—it's an experience.

"I've set out to create a real community gathering place for everything camping-related," said owner Kevin Rosenberg, who was formerly a Navy pilot. "We've got a great selection of goods, but we do a lot more than just sell the gear."

Owner Kevin Rosenberg

To understand Gear to Go, we'll need to start at the beginning.

"Kevin hiked 1300 miles of the Appalachian Trail!," said Asa Merritt, an avid hiker who's one of Kevin's employees. "Hiking is his life, and he loves being able to share that with the neighborhood."

Rosenberg started an online store a few years ago, and it quickly became a major resource for everything outdoor-related. He set up a table on Seventh Avenue near Carroll Street around that time, selling some of the less cumbersome equipment. He also began leading expeditions into the wilderness with a team of highly-trained guides.

This past April, he was finally able to realize his dream and open the store.

"I replied to a Craigslist ad about two and a half years ago asking for hiking guides, but I wasn't expecting to be put through such extensive training," remarked Merritt. "We're the only outdoor store in the city that licenses our guides."

Along with working in the store, most of Gear to Go's employees also lead weekly hiking trips, and that's why they needed to be thoroughly trained. They took water safety courses, a Red Cross training program, and arduous New York State Guide Exams.

It's clear that Kevin and his employees really care about what they do, and are looking to deliver much more than just merchandise. Along with the weekly expeditions, they offer classes in the store's basement, and are planning backpacking trips later this year to Arizona and Iceland.

"You can go to lots of stores and find every hiking and camping item imaginable, but that's not what we do here," said Merritt. "We don't sell anything that sucks. We carry what we believe in."

Gear to Go Outfitters, 217 Garfield Place Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-399-7848.