Two gentleman were busy Tuesday dismantling and altering the facade of the restaurant space at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and E. 7th Street in the East Village. The good news is they took down the horrifically garish signage belonging to the American Grill, the lackluster eatery that took the place of the great, old-school Russian diner, Kiev. The bad news is they were also taking down the great Kiev sign, which the owners of American Grill, out of laziness, had left on the second-story corner of the building.
The industrious duo, seemingly connected with the new eating concern which will soon occupy the address, attacked the sign with screwdriver, hammer and other implements of destruction. They opened it and ripped out wiring that had once made possible its illumination. I peppered them with questions, but they either did not understand English or pretended not to. The American Grill sign parts were collected on the sidewalk.
I let them be and returned to check on their progress three hours later. I feared I might never see the Kiev sign—a classic—again. It was still there, but hollowed out; you could see right through it. My friends were now busy painting the facade a loverly shade of, um, black. They seem like a particularly unsentimental bunch, the new owners.