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Have You Been to Grand Central Oyster Bar?

Grand Central Oyster Bar opened a few months ago in the massive space that was last occupied by Fornino, and while the news that it was coming was certainly huge, there was very little fanfare around its grand opening and not much word about it since.

If you've walked past the restaurant since it opened, you most likely saw that there weren't many people inside most of the time: not browsing the fish market or sitting at the oyster bar in the first storefront, not drinking cocktails at the marble-topped bar or eating light bites at the mod tables behind it in the second, and not filling up the sparse and spacious dining room in the third. And Yelp reviews have been less than stellar.

So if you haven't dropped by yet to check it out, why not? And if you have, how was your experience?


Is The New Ninth Street C-Town Signage a Union Market Rip-Off?


The C-Town supermarket on 9th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues got some new signage recently, and FIPS is wondering if it's ripping off Union Market's design.

So to compare, here's what Union Market looks like.

The color scheme is pretty much spot-on, down to the olive green and the white outline, and the star is tough to ignore. The font may different, but it's hard to deny that Union Market's logo was certainly at least a reference image. It's also been re-christened Steve's 9th Street Market, which basically removes any doubt that Union market was certainly an influence.

For a little backstory, this building has one of the most illustrious histories of any in the neighborhood. It was home to the 2,400 seat RKO Keith's Prospect Theater from 1914 to 1967 (hosting the day's top acts - including The Marx Brothers, Burns and Allen, and Fanny Brice - and launching the careers of Three Stooges), and after that it sat empty for years before being gutted and converted into a supermarket and condos in the late 1980s.


Cycle Bar, Rivet Close up Shop

Two local businesses have shut down: Cycle Bar, the cycling studio that opened on 5th between First and Garfield in late 2010, and Rivet, the jeans-oriented clothing store that opened in August 2011 on Seventh between Union and President.

Cycle Bar, like uber-trendy Soul Cycle and Flywheel, held daily classes where customers could participate in group rides accompanied by dim lights and music. The landlord also owns the spaces that are currently home to Le Pain Quotidien and Grand Central Oyster Bar.

Rivet was run by the same owners as the also-shuttered Slope Jeans, and there's currently one other shop in operation, in Carroll Gardens. Many thanks to a tipster for letting me know that the whole shop has been emptied out.


Calexico Launches Brunch on 5th Avenue

Calexico finally opened on 5th Avenue between First and Garfield last weekend after a nearly two-year buildout, and it's hard to deny that it looks great. The fourth brick-and-mortar outpost of the local mini-chain, which got its start serving Cal-Mex specialties like burritos, tacos, and rolled quesadillas from street carts, is stylishly minimalist, with a small waiting area/ take out counter/ juice bar inside the front door, with the main dining room to the left. There's a nice-looking bar taking up one side of the dining room (which has been tragically underused so far, as the beer and liquor license has yet to be approved), and a few booths up against the front windows. The rest of the room is dim and comfortable, with brick walls and exposed wood beams, and a booth for larger parties in the back.

The menu is similar to the ones at their other brick-and-mortar locations in Red Hook, the Lower East Side, and Greenpoint, with appetizers including chips and salsa or guacamole, wings, and 'Carne Fries' topped with braised brisket, caramelized onions, beans, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole (and I'm trying to pretend that doesn't exist). There are also tacos, burritos, bowls, enchiladas, and their famous rolled quesadillas with 'crack sauce,' a chipotle mayo.

They plan to launch delivery soon, and on Saturday they launched brunch. They're serving huevos rancheros; a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheese, rice, beans, sour cream, avocado sauce, chorizo and crack sauce; brisket hash and eggs; chilaquiles; and a breakfast quesadilla with bacon, eggs, and cheese. They range from $10 - $12.

There have been waits for a table just about every night, but thankfully they're open from 11:30 am to 11 pm daily.


Trois Pommes Patisserie Closing March 23

I first noticed a couple weeks ago that Trois Pommes Patisserie, the 7 year-old bakery on Fifth Avenue between Garfield and Carroll, had been put up for rent for $8,500/month. As expected, the bakery will be closing soon, and its last day will be March 23rd, owner Emily Isaac posted to Facebook. Here's the note:

"Dear Facebook Friends:
I am sad to report that we will be closing this location on 3/23. We will keep you posted on information about our new location. Thank you for a great almost seven years. Please join us at 5pm on the 23rd for a farewell party and bake sale. $10 will get you booze, food and all the baked goods you can grab."

While it hasn't been officially confirmed, rumor has it that the bakery will be moving to a new home in Sunset Park. For many, no stroll down 5th Avenue was complete without a stop into Trois Pommes, and it'll be missed. Make sure to stop in to pay your respects before it's gone for good.

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