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Help Bring Cup & Saucer’s Storefront Back to Life in a LES Park

Mock-up courtesy of Karla and James Murray.

Last July, when Cup and Saucer closed due to a rent hike after more than 75 years in business, the throwback luncheonette was mourned by Lower East Siders. The mom-and-pop diner has now been replaced by a chicken and pizza joint, but its storefront, at least, will return to the neighborhood in the form of a tribute that will live in Seward Park for a year. Karla and James Murray, the East Village photographers whose Store Front books document some of the city’s iconic and evocative facades, are creating a structure displaying near-life-size versions of four of their photos. “Mom & Pops of the LES,” as the project is called, is described in a Kickstarter campaign as “an artistic intervention and a plea for recognition of the unique and irreplaceable contribution made to New York by small, often family-owned businesses.”

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New Wythe Avenue Tower; Cup & Saucer Mulls Return

On Wythe Avenue, a proposed 19-story building that would dwarf most of Williamsburg secured a $35.5 million financing package. [The Real Deal]

This past Monday on a Greenpoint sidewalk, a local resident spotted a business card for a Milwaukee-based, neo-Nazi hate group. [Bklyner]

Emma Stone and Jonah Hill recently filmed part of their new movie, Maniac, inside the Canal Street storefront that, until July, housed generations-old Cup & Saucer. The diner’s co-owner, John Vasilopoulos, is said to be garnering for a lease to reopen the restaurant on Grand Street. [Bowery Boogie] Keep Reading »

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Cup & Saucer Shutters Today; 100-Year-Old Greenpointer Released from Prison

Today is Cup & Saucer‘s last day of serving customers at 89 Canal Street. [Bowery Boogie]

The oldest prisoner in U.S. custody, 100-year-old Greenpoint-born John “Sonny” Franzese, was released from prison after completing a half-century sentence for bank robbery. [Greenpointers]

Prospective businesses whose proprietors will present to Community Board 3 tonight include an American eatery from Blind Barber veterans, and “dog friendly coffee shop” Boris & Horton. [EV Grieve] Keep Reading »

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LES Stalwart Cup & Saucer to Shutter After 75 Years

Shanna Ravindra for New York Magazine.

Cup & Saucer, a throwback luncheonette that has occupied the same quiet spot on Canal Street for more than 75 years, is likely closing, Bedford + Bowery has learned. The small but much-loved diner — whose iconic Coca-Cola sign and faded retro aesthetic hearken to an older era — is a staple of the Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood.

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Diner Death Notice: Cup & Saucer Goes Dark

Credit: Shanna Ravindra, New York Magazine.

Last week we reported that LES/Chinatown stalwart Cup & Saucer — one of the last of the New York luncheonette old guard — is closing after more than three quarters of a century, thanks to a rent hike on its Canal Street location.

Although Bowery Boogie reported that today would be Cup & Saucer’s last day of operation, it already, as of this morning, appears to be closed forever. Phone calls to Cup & Saucer are going unanswered, and sources tell us the diner is dark.

People paid their respects on Instagram.

Credit: ____genna____ (Instagram)

Credit: OrchardStreetRunners (Instagram).

Credit: PraiseShadows (Instagram).

The owners told the New York Times that their rent was set to nearly double and that they may look for another space.

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‘Store Front’ Photographer Karla Murray Races Against Time to Document ‘Fun and Funky’ NYC

(Photo courtesy of James and Karla Murray)

Longtime East Village photographers James and Karla Murray installed a structure in Seward Park recreating the Lower East Side’s Cup and Saucer, which closed after more than 70 years in business. Now, they’ve set up a gallery show featuring photographs from their “Store Front” books just a few blocks away at The Storefront Project (70 Orchard Street). The exhibit, “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York,” pays homage to the mom-and-pop shops of the Lower East Side and will remain open through August 12. Bedford + Bowery chatted with Karla Murray about her hopes and thoughts on the changing neighborhood. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

I hope the opening reception went well.

BB_A(1)We got a lot of love and support from our friends and store owners as well. The granddaughter of Moe Albanese [of] Albanese Meats & Poultry on Elizabeth [Street]. Really the last butcher in Nolita. A neon sign fabricator who created the sign for Trash & Vaudeville and refurbished the Russ & Daughter’s sign was in attendance as well.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

Tell me about your hopes for the Orchard Street exhibit.

BB_A(1)The majority of the photos relate to the Lower East Side. You know, to relate back to the neighborhood that the gallery is in. We also have a smattering from our so-called other “favorite” ones, mostly departed stores like Zig Zag Records and the Ralph’s that you saw in the window. We included some others but concentrated on the Lower East Side because we wanted to continue our story. ‘Cuz certainly the Lower East Side has changed a lot with gentrification and different people moving in. Unfortunately, a lot of mom-and-pop stores have closed. Buildings have been knocked down—it’s not only the stores. They’ve destroyed a lot of old tenement buildings [that] have been replaced with newer developments. When that happens, what replaces them on the ground floor as far as retail [goes] is a massive space that usually doesn’t lend to a mom-and-pop store leasing it because it’s just too expensive.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

Are you mainly trying to preserve the legacy of these buildings or do you think there is some hope for activists to see your work and get inspired?

BB_A(1)Oh, of course. The way we’ve always thought of it is a celebration of the businesses that are still around. We always photograph vibrant, lively businesses. That’s why we always put the address with the cross street because we want people to be able to go to the stores and shop at them. That’s really the key to their survival, [which] is that they need customers.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

And how many businesses did you end up photographing as part of this project?

BB_A(1)It’s countless. Thousands of photos. There’s over 325 stores just in our first book. And we have three books on the subject. Too many to count and interviews with the store owners as well. It’s over twenty years now [that] we’ve been documenting these mom-and-pop stores.

BB_Q(1)

You [and James] have been East Village residents for how many years now?

BB_A(1)We’ve lived in the same apartment for 22 years now. So it’s been a long time. It’s changed a lot in the time that we’ve been there. To be honest: we wish we had photographed more. There’s many, many small businesses that we remember fondly, but frankly we didn’t ever take a photo of [them] because we didn’t think they would ever close. And then it was too late. It’s always been a race against time to document them because they seem to be closing almost on a daily basis. For the most part, if they don’t own the building they’re located in, with the cost of new real estate going up, the landlord will triple, quadruple [the rent]. One business, they increased the rent 15 times. I mean, no small business can absorb that kind of rent increase, so then they’re forced to close.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

BB_Q(1)

So how do you feel about new developments like the Target in the East Village? Do you feel that kind of bodes ill for the mom-and-pop businesses?

BB_A(1)We live on that street.That was all mom-and-pop stores. We documented them on film in the ‘90s. There was a pizzeria. There was a Permacut [Beauty Salon]. There was an old dive bar. Blarney Cove. There was a little bodega. There was a 99 cent [store]. There was a whole strip of store after store after store. Mom-and-pop places. They knocked all that down and built that development. I mean, you can go anywhere and shop in Target. You don’t have to be in New York City. That doesn’t make a neighborhood. To us, it’s the mom-and-pop stores that define a community. The very reason we moved to the East Village years ago [was] that we thought it was fun and funky and had a lot of cool and interesting shops. When those types of stores close, the fabric of the neighborhood suffers.

(Photo: Tara Yarlagadda)

James and Karla Murray will lead a walking tour from their Seward Park installation to the Orchard Street exhibit on Saturday, August 4th from 1-3 p.m. Check their Instagram and Facebook for further details coming soon.

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McCarren Park Pool’s Summer Return; Free Pet Adoption Drive in Greenpoint

Next month, according to the Newtown Creek Alliance, the Kosciuszko Bridge will merely be disassembled and “will not be exploded.” [Gothamist]

Today swim season officially returns to Williamsburg’s McCarren Park Pool. [Free Williamsburg]

Free four-legged friends will be available for adoption this Sunday afternoon at Petland Discounts on Manhattan Avenue. [Greenpointers] Keep Reading »

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Brooklyn Train Crash Injures 100+; Woman’s Death Spurs Alphabet City Investigation

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

Police say the body of a 27-year-old woman was discovered yesterday afternoon inside the Lillian Wald Housing Project on Avenue D. An autopsy is forthcoming. [ABC 7]

A Long Island Rail Road train crashed while pulling into Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal yesterday morning around 8 a.m., sending 106 people to the hospital. There were no fatalities. [NY Times]

Canal Street diner Cup & Spoon managed to stay open despite a weekend fire that began on the third floor of its building. [Bowery Boogie] Keep Reading »

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How One Fraudulent Banking Temple in Brooklyn Found Faith in Orthodoxy

This week, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.

The Williamsburg Trust Company building, 2016. (Photo: Natasha Bluth)

The Williamsburg Trust Company building, 2016. Natasha Bluth

Buildings repurposed as churches always attracted the legendary writer Joseph Mitchell, including one particular Williamsburg building that never made it into his New Yorker columns. “I find myself standing in front of and looking up at [it] several times a year—I have never been able to figure out why,” he admitted in his unpublished memoirs. To Mitchell, the mystery of the old Williamsburg Trust Company on South Fifth Place between South Fifth Street and South Fourth Street was most alive in the summer dusk when it transformed into “the quarter of St. Petersburg in which Raskolnikov killed the old moneylender woman and her half sister.”

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Ran Tea House Is Now a Zen Co-Working Space By Day, Venue By Night

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

(Photo: Nicole Disser)

It’s a challenge to think of many communal places in the city where one can find absolute calm, and good luck finding peace and quiet at anything resembling a coffee shop. Someone’s inevitably going to waltz in and play some bad folk music or talk well above normal conversation level about their Master’s thesis in who-the-hell-cares. Enter the newly made-over Ran Tea House. Once mainly dedicated as a private event space, it’s now a very grown-up co-working space by day and venue by night and weekend, complete with a fine selection of teas.

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