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79 Seventh Avenue Coming Along

The future home of Petco's natural and organic offshoot, Unleashed, on Seventh between Union and Berkeley, now has walls and a roof. This is the site that was the original home of Zuzu's Petals and Olive Vine before a fire left it vacant for many years. Here's the finished product's design, thanks to Brownstoner:


Know Your Bartender: Maria Bova, Old Carriage Inn

Seventh Avenue used to be loaded with bars. Most were of the divey variety, similar to what you might find at O'Connor's. A place to drop in, get a cheap Bud or a shot, and maybe chitchat with the older local regulars or the bartender and eat some pretzels. One of the last bars like this on Seventh, Snooky's, closed in 2007 and was replaced with the ill-fated Elementi and then the ill-fated Mack's 140 (now it's Da Nonna Rosa). 

The lone survivor of the Golden Age of Seventh Avenue Dive Bars? The Old Carriage Inn, holding down the Eighth Street corner since 1982, when the Waggleman family bought the space and opened up a chophouse, serving steaks, seafood, and the like. They took out the kitchen in 1990 and replaced it with a small back room with some couches and a pool table. Some bar snacks are still on offer, but are best enjoyed after several drinks, if you know what I mean. Dorothy Waggleman, the owners' daughter, took over a few years ago after the death of her mother. 

The bar today retains a lot of that old school (read: stroller-free) Brooklyn charm, and doesn't look like it's changed at all in years. There's a bunch of (decidedly non-flatscreen) TVs for sports (one for every table in the main bar area), and Saturday night karaoke gets pretty rowdy, if you're into that sort of thing. Loyal regulars file in daily and are greeted like old friends by the other patrons, and the super-friendly bartenders never need to be reminded of their drink of choice. First-timers are treated with the same level of respect. Classic Rock on the radio and a couple pool tables round out the experience, and a glass-enclosed side seating area (above) is a nice touch. Snarky Gravesend native Maria Bova can be found behind the bar Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 12-7.

HPS: How long have you been bartending here for?

Maria: Five and a half years.

HPS: What's your favorite thing about this bar?

Maria: My favorite thing about this bar, I'd say, has to be the customers. They're old-school people, they were born here, they live here. My favorite customer, his name is Bill Harris. He was once a fighter pilot in World War II, and he comes in and talks to me for hours and hours and hours. He drinks Budweiser, he's badass. The people here have been through it all. They lived here when the neighborhood wasn't what it is now. They're the last of the Mohicans.

HPS: Can you talk a little about the Happy Hour?

Maria: Happy Hour is from 4-7. You get $3.50 bottles and $4 drafts. 

HPS: What's the strangest drink order that you've ever received here?

Maria: This is really a "Gimme a Bud and a shot of Jameson" type of place, so maybe an apple martini. And that's when I ask people for their ID. Any time anyone orders anything with the word "apple" or "sour" in it, that's when I ask for ID.

HPS: Are there any cocktails that you make that you pride yourself on?

Maria: Well I usually do a Mystery Shot, which is when I basically take anything I can find in the well that's not moving and put it all together and sell it for $4.50. Sometimes if I'm working on a football Sunday, if the Jets are playing I'll make a green shot.

HPS: What drink is ordered the most frequently?

Maria: Budweiser. And Jameson. 

HPS: Are there any bottles that you've never poured from?

Maria: Yes! It is called Dry Sack. It's sherry. I think when the bar opened in 1983 it was still down here. It's probably 400 proof by now!

HPS: If you weren't tending bar, what other professions would you be interested in?

Maria: Teaching. I don't know, I love people. Anything to help people. I'm like a social worker, only I make more money. I love it here, though. It's my second dysfunctional family. I'm lucky.

Old Carriage Inn, 312 7th Avenue Brooklyn NY 11215. 718-788-7747.


Yogo Monster Getting a Renovation

If there was ever a good time to shut down and renovate a frozen yogurt joint, the middle of winter is probably it. Yogo Monster, on Seventh between Berkeley and Union, is in the midst of a gut reno; a sign out front says they're "closing to update and freshen our look," and that they'll be back soon "with better selection to serve you better." Interested in seeing the new design; I always thought the layout in there was a little awkward.


Then & Now Thursday: Eighth Street

Two-story brownstones completely dominate the north side of Eighth Street between Seventh and Eighth in this photo from 1949. 

The view today may be slightly blocked by trees (look how that odd tree in the middle with the two tall branches is still there!), but other than the addition of more cars, the view is still completely the same. The top photo could have very easily been taken in Midtown Manhattan in the early 1900s, but that streetscape would be completely gone today.


What's Up With Artesana and El Milagro?

Artesana, the 12-year old exotic rug and housewares store on Seventh Avenue and First Street, has been saying that they'd be closing for good and merging with sister store El Milagro "at the end of the month" since October. In December they even had a daily countdown on their window, but after getting down to "One," by the next day it was back up to "31." They'd been able to negotiate lease extensions, apparently, but it's been confirmed now that they will in fact be shutting down on January 31st, for good. 

So it came as a bit of a surprise to notice that now El Milagro's windows have been papered over. Could the store Artesana had been planning on consolidating with close up unexpectedly as well?

After a little digging, the answer to that question is no, thankfully. In anticipation of the merger, El Milagro's owners are completely renovating the store (on Seventh Ave and 11th Street), necessitating the window-papering. When it re-opens next month, it'll still sell jewelry, along with the rugs, furniture and housewares from Artesana.