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Chiles and Chocolate Switches Spaces with Amin

In one of the odder restaurant developments this year, Chiles and Chocolate, the Oaxacan restaurant, has picked up lock, stock, and barrel, and switched spaces with Amin, the Indian restaurant a couple blocks away.

The two restaurants, at 54 and 92 Seventh Avenue respectively, apparently had the same owner this whole time (believe it or not), and he made the decision to swap spaces. Workers have been going back and forth between restaurants for the past couple days, lugging food and equipment (top). 

Amin's menu will stay the same, but Chiles and Chocolate has vastly expanded theirs with some American dishes, adding more appetizers, salads, pastas, sandwiches, and burgers.


Pizzatown Re-Opens After Renovation

V&M Pizzatown, the pizzeria on Fifth Avenue between Park and Prospect, has re-opened after being closed for renovations for about the past month. 

The pizzeria's earlier incarnation featured a long display counter in the front and a small, rather sad seating area in the back. The new version has open windows, a seating area in the front for about 50 people, a mural on the wall, and the counter in the back. I was always a fan of the pizza here, and all signs point to the same standard of quality. Welcome back!


Boardwalk Empire Filming on Carroll Street Wednesday

Don't even think of parking on Carroll Street between Seventh and Eighth tomorrow night and Wednesday: HBO's Boardwalk Empire will be transporting the leafy block back to the 1920s (although that won't be too difficult), and crews will begin setting up tomorrow night at 10 for an all-day shoot Wednesday. Keep a lookout for flappers and dapper gentlemen!


The Gate Makes a Cameo on The Food Network

The competitors (r to l): Fette Sau's Matt Lang, Famous Dave Anderson, Chris Lilly
On last night's finale of The Food Network's BBQ reality competition show Best in Smoke, the competitors were challenged to serve up some barbecue to "a hungry late-night crowd at a bar in Brooklyn." That bar turned out to be The Gate (on Fifth Avenue and Third Street), and it got some pretty good screentime (the exterior, at least).

The judges
The winner [SPOILER ALERT!] turned out to be Brooklyn's very own Matt Lang, from Williamsburg barbecue utopia Fette Sau. Way to go, Brooklyn!

Winner Matt Lang


Business of the Week: The End is Near

This article originally appeared on Patch. 

When you think of the phrase "tattoo parlor," what comes to mind?

Maybe it's a grungy dive in the East Village, with equally grungy tattoo artists inking designs chosen from massive books onto burly dudes and squirmish college kids. If you're looking to get that mental image out of your head, drop into The End of Near, a tattoo and piercing parlor on a quiet block on the South Slope/Windsor Terrace border, Seventh between 16th and Windsor Place.

"People have a view of what a tattoo shop is, and we're trying to redefine that," said owner Craig Rodriguez, who moved into the neighborhood from a tiny town in his native New Jersey in 1990. Ten years ago he opened Hand of Glory Tattoo a couple blocks away, in a smaller space that serves as a more traditional walk-in tattoo parlor (his staff of about eight artists works in both spaces).

Walking through the door of The End is Near, which he opened a year and a half ago with help from manager Trischa Evangelista, who can usually be found at the front desk, you could be forgiven for mistaking the storefront for an art gallery. A rotating selection of museum-quality works by local artists decorates the space, and small cases display handmade jewelry.

"I found that the kind of art we display wasn't represented," Rodriguez said. "I'm hesitant to label it, because it's so hard to classify."

Whereas some tattoo parlors' employees are content to just stencil on a pre-designed tattoo, Rodriguez makes sure to hire artists who aren't afraid to express their creativity through tattoos. "We don't have too many books, because we prefer to have our artists show off their abilities," he said. "If you tell us what you want, we can design it for you. We can make any design, and we also have guest artists who come in from all over the world."

No other tattoo studio in Brooklyn offers such a wide variety of jewelry options, either. High-end, unique jewelry is custom-designed by friends of Rodriguez, and Evangelista, who's also the piercer, is an expert in the field. "There was a need for exotic jewelry, and we've got some of the best around," she said. "These are made with real precious metals and stones, and the jeweler even made a custom wedding ring for a client."

It's clear that Rodriguez and his highly-trained staff consider what they do to be a true art form, as opposed to just a day job. "Everything here is high-quality," he said. "We have a high standard of customer service. Treat people right, and give them what they want."

"Raise the bar," added Evangelista.

Manager Trischa Evangelista with owner Craig Rodriguez
 The End is Near, 465 Seventh Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-832-5020.