Alas, although the openings of Vish on East 8th Street and Levantine chain Panorama this summer increased the amount of hummus among us, something had to offset this influx of chickpeas. It seems the trade-off is popular Lebanese fast-casual dining option Semsom Eatery. The previously lively storefront on Astor Place is now barren and empty, save for a ladder along with a sad McDonald’s cup and some rags resting on a counter by the door. Yelpers have reported the venue as closed down. It’s unclear when the closure occurred, but the eatery was active on social media as recently as August 2. While it’s possible that the Astor Place location of this chain may revive someday, for now, students will have to get their turmeric rice and cauliflower veggie bowls with unlimited toppings elsewhere.
We reported last week that beloved Cajun eatery and longtime Bowery hangout Great Jones Cafe was temporarily shutting down — and, according to cryptic information from an employee, would or would not return. Fearing that the Great Jones had become yet the latest victim of rising rents, New Yorkers swarmed onto social media to pay their respects and lament the loss of a neighborhood institution that has served as an indispensable cultural hub for local artists, musicians, and writers — some of whom, like Basquiat, have become quite famous.
New Yorkers today learned some shocking news: beloved Cajun/Creole restaurant Great Jones Cafe will close tonight and may or may not reopen. Tipsters told EV Grieve that tonight would be the last night, but there’s reason to hope rumors of the 34-year-old Basquiat hangout’s death are greatly exaggerated. This evening, an employee at the Jones told Bedford + Bowery that it’s closing for a week; after that it will reopen — or not. More likely not, she said.
Messages left for owner James Moffett have not yet been returned. In April, the restaurant’s longtime GM, Bill Judkins, told EV Grieve that he was forced out when he couldn’t see eye to eye with his two partners, who “feel that the Jones needs to be changed into something more contemporary to appeal to the ‘new’ neighborhood.” The restaurant’s famous jukebox had been turned off, Judkins told Grieve.
In January of 2015, Judkins told Eater that the restaurant’s landlord was “a nice, old school guy,” and that there were still “a few years” left on the lease. Eater wrote that Judkins “doesn’t see things changing anytime soon, although he does admit to some ‘concern’ about what will happen in the future.”
We’re hoping the Noho fixture rises Lazarus-like from the dead. (I mean, where else can you get a proper oyster po boy around here? Served up by Pavement bassist Mark Ibold, no less.) But many are operating on the assumption that the restaurant won’t be coming back. They filed onto social media to pay their respects:
I’ve run the numbers and I’ve had 3 significant, 5 moderately significant and 10 uneventful nights at Great Jones Cafe. RIP pie & catfish.
“We need to change the system. We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists [of conspiring to do], but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York.”
So spoke Dorothy Day – “Catholic anarchist” and founder of the radical Catholic Worker, still published seven times a year at Maryhouse in the East Village. Day, an activist and writer who became the godmother of the religious-left “Catholic worker” movement, died in 1980, but her legacy lives on in the form of the East 3rd Street soup kitchen she founded to minister to the poor and homeless of the East Village and Lower East Side.
This week, we present a series of longer pieces unraveling the histories of storied buildings.
Japan Premium Beef at 57 Great Jones Street. (Photo: Hanna Wallis)
Below the sparkling glint of a crystal chandelier, slabs of meat rest behind glass as if displayed in a museum. Each label is handwritten in gold ink on a black card, leaving a sense of mortal weight; something lost, commemorated, aggrandized.
The little butcher shop at 57 Great Jones Street lacks any trace of blood or a stained smock. It gives no hint of the secrets lurking in the building’s history, like an art icon’s untimely death or the 1905 murder that catalyzed the decline of the Italian mob in the Bowery. The shop’s unexpected elegance hides the death intrinsic to each of its products. Steaks appear as objects of art, an impression their price tags reinforce.
According to police, members of the Hells Angels are declining to assist with an investigation following a non-fatal shooting that occurred Sunday outside their East Village headquarters. The police have searched the facility and issued a subpoena for all of its video. [NY Post]
City Council member Stephen Levin will host a talk tonight at the Automotive High School in Greenpoint about how to bring hate crimes to a halt. [DNA Info]
Tomorrow, the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, Hong Kong-based Tim Ho Wan, will begin serving customers dim sum at its first American location, 85 4th Avenue. [Gothamist]
Glorified food courts keep sprouting up, from the new Gansevoort Market to the one at the forthcoming Whole Foods Williamsburg. The latest, from real estate developer Scott Marano, opened in Noho earlier today. The Bowery Market features stalls from several local vendors and restaurants, including Soho Italian sandwich spot Alidoro, “veggie slaughterhouse” The Butcher’s Daughter, taco joint Pulqueria, and upscale Brooklyn cafe Champion Coffee.
A 22-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man, who sustained serious injuries, both fell off a Troutman Street roof in Bushwick around 7:30 a.m. yesterday. [NY Daily News]
This weekend, surveillance footage captured a man being beaten in Williamsburg after he allegedly took out his aggression on nearby people, cars and buildings. [Gothamist]
Following a fire and some water damage, Greenpoint’s Salvation Army will shutter this month after 42 years in business. [News 12 Brooklyn]