31 January 2012

Coney Island Rathskeller Uncovered

For whatever reason, rathskellers—the breed of German, subterranean beer cellars—have always been a source of fascination to me. Perhaps it's because they're a bygone form of watering hole, once common in cities across America, now scarce. Perhaps because they speak to the German part of me (my mother was partly of German heritage). Perhaps because I like old bars of all sorts. Perhaps because I love saying the word "rathskeller." Probably a combination of all these things.

I have visited ancient, and beautiful, rathskellers in Germany, Chapel Hill and Louisville. But I didn't think any still existed in New York. Today's news from the Coney Island-focused blog Amusing the Zillion doesn't prove they do. But it does show that remnants of one rathskeller are still around.

ATZ reports that the menu from a long-closed rathskeller, which once existed under the boardwalk in the 1940s and '50s, has been found on a basement wall of the Brooklyn Beach Shop. The menu lists prices for food, soda and beer. Ten cents would get you a brewski back then. Apparently, rathskellers were common enough in Coney back then that there were such things as "rathskeller acts."

If you'd like to see the picture, you can go check out the blog. Or this one. Or just enjoy this photo of the old rathskeller in the basement of the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville. (above) Or this one, of the Dakota Inn Rathskeller in Detroit.

Stealth Ads

Chances are, you've seen signs like this, attached to lampposts in your neighborhood, or some other neighborhood. Usually they are civic banners that say something like "Welcome to Ridgewood" or "Shop Sunnyside" or some such boosterish message.

This sign, along with four others, recently appears on Columbia Street in Brooklyn on the blocks between Carroll and Summit. But they don't say "Columbia Shopping District" or "Up with Columbia Heights Waterfront District." No, they appear to be advertisements for Preferred Health Partners, a collection of Brooklyn-based doctors' collectives.

So what's happened here, it seems, is the City has sold the rights to Columbia's lampposts to the highest bidder, marring the area by turning the street into an ad canyon not much different from a billboard-strewn highway. We already have ads on the sides of the ugly Cemusa bus non-shelters. But I find these much more oppressive. Walking down Columbia, it's impossible not to notice them. I know lamppost banners are nothing new. But that doesn't mean I have to like them.

A Parking Lot With a View

The Congregation Beth Israel, or Westside Jewish Center, is an impressive presence on W. 34th Street. The congregation was formed back in the 1880s, and the grand white synagogue was very much in keeping with the area, which at the time boasted the old Pennsylvania Station nearby and the Post Office nearby.

The current parking lot next to it is mighty impressive, too. Because it is surely the only parking lot in the City which can boast a stained-glass window. It's not the lot's window, per se; it's Beth Israel's. But it looks onto the parking lot, and only people who park their cars in the parking lot can really see it up close. Such are the peculiarities of the changing real estate landscape in Manhattan.

29 January 2012

A Last Look at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge

A few images by which to remember the great dive, which shuttered on Saturday, Jan. 28, after 47 years of capably serving drunkards, film mavens, hipsters, visiting Ukrainians, journalists, bartenders, Beatniks and W.H. Auden.

28 January 2012

Wooden Phone Booth Sighting: Holiday Cocktail Lounge

As the Holiday Cocktail Lounge sails off into the East Village sunset tonight, it's high time I acknowledged that it is home to one of the city's diminishing number of wooden phone booths. Last time I checked (a few days ago), it was also one of the few that still had its phone—and a phone that was in working order! That will end today, when the 47-year old bar closes its doors forever.

26 January 2012

Last H & H Bagel Location Closes

Thus ends the New York reign of H&H Bagels.

The troubled Manhattan institution, which lost its flagship location on the Upper West Side after its owner was indicted for tax fraud and the business filed for bankrupcy, has now seen its final location, on W. 46th Street, close. A city marshal seized the building and turned it over to the landlord.  remaining location of H & H Bagels.

The owner is talking about reopening at a new location. Doubtful, given his money and legal troubles. 

Another Dive Takes a Dive: Holiday Cocktail Lounge to Close

Sad, nay tragic, news from the Holiday Cocktail Lounge. From Eater:
Last summer, the East Village lost Mars Bar, and now another legendary dive is closing: Holiday Cocktail Lounge on St. Mark's Place. EV Grieve reports the news, noting that Saturday will be the final night of service, and that after that "Locks will be changed immediately." A new, as-yet-unnamed bar is apparently moving in.
People have been speculating that the bar might close for a few months now. Back in October, a real estate listing for the building noted that "The commercial lease is controlled by the owner, so it can be delivered vacant or the Holiday Cocktail Lounge continued." Holiday Cocktail Lounge's original owner, Steven Lutak, passed away back in 2010. 
The Holiday was one of my earlier haunts when I first moved to New York. It wasopened by Stefan Lutak in 1965. W.H. Auden was a regular. So was Allen Ginsberg.

Mars Bar, Rum House, Holiday. Watch them fall, folks.

The renovation of Carroll Garden's old Raccuglia Funeral Home continues apace. The neons signs are gone (but will return) and the stone facing on the first floor has been ripped off (and will not return) and the fake, white brick facing on the upper levels has also been scraped away (never to return—I hope).

One happy circumstance of all this work is the revealing of a long-hidden, embedded, stone street sign. It's been much ravaged, but one can still discern that this is the corner of Court Street and Sackett Street. I hope they don't cover it up again.

For a quick reminder, here's how the place used to look:

25 January 2012

The Theatre Above the Deli

I've known for years that the building housing the deli East Village Farms in the East Village on Avenue A used to be an old theatre. The long snaking fire escape across its side gives it away. But I never knew that remnants of the theatre still existed in decaying form inside.

Recently photographer Kevin Adams Shea was granted access to the space about the deli and shot these amazing pictures. The proscenium and ceiling are in wonderful shape, given the decades of neglect. It's hard to believe how vibrants the colors still are. Apparently, East Village Farms used to use the space for storing surplus goods.

The building opened at Avenue A Theatre in 1926. It was operated by RKO, then Loew's, and closed in 1959 as the Hollywood Theatre.

Shea says the deli will close in a few weeks and there are plans to tear the theatre down. This is probably inevitable, but what a shame.

A Good Sign: Starbucks Coffee

Yes, Starbucks. Saw this branch of the coffee chain in Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown. Hey, a good sign is a good sign. And this kinda rocks.

The French Building

One of my favorite buildings in the City stands largely unnoticed on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 45th Street, the Fred F. French Building. With its unique and slightly bizarre combination of Art Deco and Eastern architectural motifs, you'd think it would stop people in their tracks on a regular basis. But folks just pass by, not bothering to peek inside the vestibules and lobbies, or crane their neck a small degree to survey the ornate metal work just about the two doorways.

23 January 2012

Jean's Silversmiths

Keep looking. You keep finding.

Jean's, a metal storefront with a plain name and a number, on a saddish block of W. 45th Street in Midtown, is a dealer in fine silver. You'll fine no silver plate inside, only sterling. Tea services, silverware, barware, jewelry, gifts, trays, candlesticks, objets d'art, from every decade of the last century and the century before that. Tons of it. Piles of it. From Tiffany, Gorham, Paul Revere, and dozens of other famous makers, many of the items sporting patterns rare and long since discontinued.

Jean's was founded in 1910, and has been in it's current location since 1958. It's still a family business.
It is one of those New York businesses that is so needed, and so knows what it's about, that it doesn't need to worry about the noise of showmanship. As you can see, the outside's nothing to write home about. The interior's even more ramshackle. (Given their wares, you can understand why I didn't even try to take photos inside.) The glass cases are all in good order, and the clerks are neat and prim. But there are pipes and duct work hanging from the ceiling, and the high tin ceiling surely began rusting when Roosevelt was in office. They're here to sell you Tiffany's old silver, not to look like Tiffany's.

People come into Jean's all the time, trying to sell their old silver. Nice people and nutty people. Jean's treats them all with dignity and respect. A Jean's worker can look at an item and deduce its era and producer in a few minutes. I myself can afford almost nothing in this store. But many a sparkly object caught my eye, and the counter staff showed me each with patience and deference. When I finally did find something I liked and could manage—a small matchbox case—they sent it to the back for a polishing and then put in a handsome box. That's service.

21 January 2012

Lost City Asks "Who Goes to El Viejo Yayo?"

My latest from Eater
Who Goes There? El Viejo Yayo
Compared to other Brooklyn neighborhoods like Carroll Gardens, Williamsburg and Bay Ridge, Park Slope hasn't been very fortunate in retaining much of its culinary cultural heritage. For years, I wondered if the Slope had held on to anyold bars or restaurants. If it had, they must be hiding in plain sight.
That's actually a good description of El Viejo Yayo, a huge, hyper-nondescript Dominican eatery that takes up the ground-floor space of three brownstones on Fifth Avenue between Bergen and Dean Streets. You wouldn't know it to look at the many simple, clean rooms and the rows and rows of dull tables and chairs, but the restaurant is 47 years old. (There was surely a interior renovation in the last few years.)
It was founded by a Cuban immigrant named Jeraldo (nickname: Yayo) in 1965 as a lunch counter. He served Cuban food, but when he sold the restaurant in the early '80s to Lepido Ramirez, from the Dominican Republic, the menu changed. So did the size of the joint, which now includes a few "party rooms." El Viejo is currently owned by Robert Garcia and chef Jerry Diaz. There is a second location on Ninth Avenue.
The food is good, and, given the whopping portions, reasonably priced. Just when you think you've gotten everything you ordered, another large square plate will arrive with more potatoes, more vegetable, more salad, more meat. There's no leaving this place without a doggie bag. I had the Mar y Tiera (steak, peppers, onions, shrimp) and the meat was simply seasoned, tender and flavorful. Nothing fancy, but well done on its own terms. Moreover, the broccoli and cauliflower were perfectly prepared.
As you might expect, given the joint's size, El Viejo is popular with families and groups celebrating all sorts of events. I also saw members of both New York's Finest, New York's Bravest and whatever it is they call correctional officers. A lot of Spanish is spoken. In fact, I may have been the only customer who didn't speak Spanish. And men seem to feel particularly comfortable here. They keep their lids on, be they wool caps or baseball caps, and slump in their chairs in sweatshirts, t-shirts and jean. One man arrived in his thermal underwear. Dinner wear enough for El Viejo Yayo, I guess.
—Brooks of Sheffield

20 January 2012

John's of 12th Street—the Vegan Restaurant?

Something strange is going on over at John's of 12th Street, the century-old Italian eatery that has long been a bastion of solidity and tradition in the ever-morphing East Village. First of all, it seems as though the classic old neon sign has been taken down and replaced with a new facsimile.

Furthermore, and more shocking, the old red sauce joint is now vegan! Or partially anyway. They seem to still serve the Italian classic dishes, but there is also a vegan menu. Nothing against vegan food—it's not my choice, but I can see the virtues in it (if I squint a lot)—but it hardly seems a good fit for this place. Still, if it helps them remain competitive and brings more people in, I suppose it's a good thing. As long as they never scrap the old menu.

According to a comment on JVNY, the owners of John's worked on this menu for an entire year before debuting it and they are very excited about it.

UPDATE: The neon sign has not been altered. John's owner wrote in to say that it's "the same neon John's sign that's been there nearly forever, but the white background was cleaned up and painted a while back." Whew. He also said the old menu will never be abandoned, and the new vegan menu has brought in new customers.

19 January 2012

What's That Thing on Top of O'Connor's?

As has been reported earlier on this blog, the classic Brookyn dive O'Connor's (est. 1931) has been in the process of being ruined for a year or so now. The new owner said last year that he planned to expand the bar, add a big back room, crank out some fish and chips and other pub fare, add a stage for music and a second floor with beer garden.

Well, I guess that ugly white carbuncle plunked down on top of the black-painted bar is the beer garden.  Beauty. I wonder if it ever occurred to the owner that people come to O'Connor's because it's O'Connor's, not because it's a family joint or a hip youth mecca; or that, if people want to go to a modern beer garden, they now have about four dozen options in the city, including some good ones in Park Slope, and probably won't choose O'Connor's?

The inside, meanwhile, still looks basically the same, except that it's been noticeably cleaned up—not a dust speck anywhere—the old wooden phone booth is gone (*sob*) and a television has been added, piercing the one-time dive-bar silence. (I don't have a picture because you just don't take a picture of the interior of a dive bar full of barflies. It's not done.)

One thing that hasn't been changed, I'm happy to say, is the impossibly old and decrepit men's bathroom. I'm including a couple pictures here, not to gross anybody out, but because I'm fascinated by the wear and tear the old tile floor in the restroom has endured. The half-door into the stall, and the paper towel hung on a pipe are also nice touches.

18 January 2012

The Old Pointy House Down Union

This post is not part of the "Union Street Project," though the house in question is on Union Street, and we're looking at before and after pictures. 76 Union is nearly at the end of that long Brooklyn street, a few doors up from Van Brunt Street. It's one of a pair of narrow, peaked buildings that are unique to the area. Recently, a regular reader mentioned to me that he had always been interested in the buildings and wondered if I knew anything about it. Since they've always intrigued me as well, I decided to mail away to the Municipal Archives for a picture.

The tax picture tells us that the building has taken some knocks over the years—the arched window at top has been lopping in half, the other windows robbed of their unusual lintels, and the doorway obscured by an awful metal hood—but basically looks the same. The old chimney, the little dormer window on the roof, the fire escape, they're all the same. (74 Union, next door, has been completely refurbished and is in much better shape.)

17 January 2012

Owner of Montero's Bar Dies

JVNY relates the sad new that Pilar Montero, the namesake (though not the original namesake) of Montero's Bar, the timeless waterfront watering hole, died on Jan. 14.  "On Tuesday, January 17th, there will be a one-day viewing at Raccuglia & Son Funeral Home, which is located at 323 Court Street at Sackett Street from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.," notes Montero's Facebook page. "Please feel free to pass this information on to others. We welcome you to share your memories of Pilar here, on our Facebook Page. We at Montero's thank you for the love and support." She was 89.

Pilar was born in Greenwich Village. Her father worked on a ferry that went from Manhattan to Brooklyn. She and her husband, Joseph, opened Montero's on Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue in 1947. Given its location, nearly at the foot at Atlantic, it naturally became a port in a storm for longshoremen and sailors. The bar has long had the nautical theme it retains today. After Joseph retired to Spain in the 1990s and passed away, Pilar stayed on and ran the bar. She could usually be seen sitting on her regular stool, at the end of the bar near the window, wearing a beret.

Her sister-in-law, Emma Sullivan (Joseph's sister; both the children of Ramon Montero), for many years ran the Long Island Restaurant, the ancient eatery just up the block which closed a few years ago and is constantly rumored as reopening under one management or another. (Construction has been underway the past couple months.) The two participated in a long-simmering feud of byzantine proportions (described in detail here) that caused them not to speak to each other for decades. I can't help but be curious if Sullivan will go to the funeral.

A Glimpse of Foffe, a "Game" Restaurant

A couple years ago, I posted an item about the history of Cafiero's, an Italian restaurant and political gathering place that used to exist for many decades on President Street near Columbia in Brooklyn. A reader wrote in and said:
Your comment about the waiter telling you what was available that night reminded me of Foffe, the Italian Restaurant that used to be on Montague St. (I think it closed 10 years or more ago.) Anyway, the first time I went in there (about 1986), it looked like a set from The Godfather with plush red banquettes, and only men as waiters in starched white aprons. Really old waiters. I looked at the menu and ordered a steak. He came back from the kitchen a minute later and said, "The steak doesn't look so good tonight. I wouldn't feed it to my wife and I hate her."

16 January 2012


This is the fifteenth post of "The Union Street Project," in which I unearth the history of every building along the once bustling Brooklyn commercial strips of Union Street between Hicks and Van Brunt, and Columbia Street between Sackett and Carroll.

When I submitted my request to the Municipal Archives for a picture of 136 Union Street between Hicks and Columbia, I got back a piece of paper saying the archive could not locate the photo. First time that has happened.

But the old photo of 134 Union, as well as local neighborhood lore, shows me that, before being the Everyday Athlete gym, it was an Italian bakery that specialized in Panella bread. That name of the bakery I do not know.

In 1899, 10-year-old Mary Hardy fell from a window here. She survived. Miles Purdy wasn't so lucky two years previous. At age 54, he was found dead in his bed. That is all, except that the building has been heavily altered over the years, and not for the better. Nothing of the original facade remains.

12 January 2012

Lost City: Wisconsin Edition: Totero's

Like most of the best bars and restaurants in Wisconsin, Totero's in Racine looks like somebody's house,  except it has a sign on it. You enter on the Mead Street side of the corner place, through a little breakfront. Surrounding the building are the bleak, bereft streets of the once-industrial, southern Racine neighborhood of Lakeside.

There is often a line, for this 72-year-old, family-run restaurant is only open Tuesday through Friday, and even then for just two hours, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The peculiar schedule harkens back to Totero's roots as a lunch place serving the working men in the area. There used to be dinner hours, but they were eliminated a number of years back. Despite—or maybe because of—the limited window of opportunity, Totero's packs them in. People take the time to visit in the middle of the day, queue up and load up on homemade, hearty Italian fare.

11 January 2012


This is the fourteenth post of "The Union Street Project," in which I unearth the history of every building along the once bustling Brooklyn commercial strips of Union Street between Hicks and Van Brunt, and Columbia Street between Sackett and Carroll.

134 Union Street was obviously built by the same outfit that erected 132 Union. Unlike its brother, the little bathroom windows were bricked over at some point. But the cornices and fire escapes remain the same.

The address has been a laundromat for some years, but, as the below tax photo (barely) shows, it was once a market in the early-to-mid 20th century. The nature of the market and its name can not be learned because of the damn pushcarts that block the view of the storefront. I used to find those pushcarts charming, but too often they've gotten in the way of my pictorial research. 

Beyond the picture, I have found out little about this address, except that one Mary Buonarati, 17, lived here, and got married in September 1923. Not much, but there you are.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have collected all the "Union Square Project" columns in one place. The can be found near the top of the right hand bar of the blog. 

10 January 2012

Smith Canteen Preserves Pharmacy Past

I walked into Smith Canteen, the new trendy coffee and lunch joint in Carroll Gardens, and thought: another new Brooklyn place trying to look like old Brooklyn. But no. The tile floor and tin ceiling and wooden shelving are old. They're all part of the old pharmacy that once occupied this space many years ago. I'd never noticed because for years this corner space was a gallery that had its walls covered up in black. There were no windows through which to notice the old architectural details.

UPDATE: This, according to the Smith Canteen site: "the location was a pharmacy as early as 1901. The article, from that year, talked about the pharmacist’s engagement to a countess from Italy, who was sailing to New York from Europe. Much of the original space remains–the tile floor, the woodwork, the mirrors and half of the ceiling. (The other half was falling down and had to be replaced.) Some of the original zinc-lined cabinetry remains as well. It was probably used to keep things cool in the pre-refrigeration days. Jane didn’t remove anything from the space, except some modern glass shelving and light fixtures, and designed the new components around the original ones. The space inspired other aspects of the project as well. The logo, by M+E, references the burgundy floor tiles, and the color of the counter references the blue-green tiles."

09 January 2012

Bed Bug Club Is Exterminated

I never knew what the Bed Bug Club, at the south east corner of Smith Street and Third Street in Carroll Gardens, was. But now I know one thing about it: it's gone. There used to be a sign in the window advertising the presence of the (perhaps joke) club. Not it's gone.

I never took a good look at the space. With the weird name, the pictures of the World Trade Center in the window, and the Don't-Come-Near-Me vibe of the place, I always assumed it was a private club. But peering in at the vacated address, it looks more like a repair shop of some kind. There's a counter with various fix-it equipment behind it, and lots of non-funtioning clocks and electronic equipment sitting around. I remember an old guy with white hair, heavy dark eyebrows and a large jaw would sometimes sit outside the place.


This is the thirteenth post of "The Union Street Project," in which I unearth the history of every building along the once bustling Brooklyn commercial strips of Union Street between Hicks and Van Brunt, and Columbia Street between Sackett and Carroll.

It's been a half a year, but now I'm back with a few more additions to my ongoing Union Street Project.

The House of Pizza and Calzone, at 132 Union Street, is the second oldest, and second most famous, business on the block (the first being the century-old Ferdinando's Focceceria). It was founded in 1952 and is now on its third owners. Paul Diagostino, the current owner, bought it in 2004 from Onofrio Gaudioso and John Teutonico, the raspy-voiced old guys who bought the restaurant in 1963 after working there together for five years. Who founded the pizzeria, I can not say. But one thing I do know—it used to be located a few doors to the west many years ago. It's present location, at 132 Union, is its second. (I believe the original building no longer exists.) According to the Department of Building, they've been at 132 since 1959. I love the Certificate of Occupancy's description: "retail sale of pizza pie and hot sandwiches."

08 January 2012

Lost City Asks "Who Goes to Joe and Pat's Pizzeria?"

Another "Who Goes There?" from Staten Island, and another pizza joint. I'll be filing a few more of these before I run out of column-worthy S.I. pizzerias.
Who Goes There? Joe and Pat's Pizzeria
The unending debate about who makes New York's best pizza rarely ranges beyond the usual suspects in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Yet lowly, ever-disrespected Staten Island has more than a few seasoned veterans in the game.Denino's is the best known. But Joe & Pat's Pizzeria on Victory Boulevard is hardly a neophyte. Giuseppe and Pasquale Pappadardo, from Naples, opened the restaurant in 1960. The only trace of the old building is the neon sign, for the old place burned down in 1999. It was a rebuilt in an anonymous fashion, with Greek diner-like tables protected by a long barrel ceiling painted with a cloudy blue sky and a mannered sunrise and crescent moon. Call the style Pizzeria Tiepolo.
Better to sit at one of the small tables in the less glamorous front room, opposite the enormous pizza ovens and near the rear table where the waitstaff and Joe Pappadardo hang out when not working. Pappadardo himself—sporting an alarming, but endearing, toupee as thick as shag rug—helped push together two small tables together when my wife asked if it could be done. "The wife's always boss," Joe said with a smile. Joe's brother Pat left the business in 1974 to start a real estate company that still stands across the street. A picture of the two young men back in 1960 hangs on the wall. The resemblance is hard to catch. There are also a lot of framed reviews and articles on the walls, but one doesn't get the impression that the restaurant's reputation has gone to Joe's head. It's still very much a workaday pizzeria.
Joe & Pat's pie is known for its crust's delicate thinness and the sauce's sweetness. As with the pizzas made in Naples, a grown man would have no trouble eating a whole pie. There's a menu full of other dishes, of which my wife was perfectly happy with an angel hair pasta with broccoli, eggplants, garlic and oil. The cashier told me that people come from all over to eat at Joe & Pat's, but that the clientele is mainly Staten Islanders. And, yes, pizza people on the Island have their fierce allegiances. Joe & Pat's devotees stick to Joe & Pat's.
When I profiled a rival pizza joint, Lee's Tavern, on this site a month back, a reader commented "I guess this place is technically within New York City [but] probably 90% of the viewers of this site are more likely to get pizza in Moscow or in Tokyo in their lifetimes than in Staten Island." Perhaps true. But I'm going to continue to visit Staten Island in the future, just as I will pay calls on The Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. The outer boroughs have done the better job these last ten years in preserving their mercantile masterpieces. While the avenues of Manhattan increasingly drown in an ocean of Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks and Applebee's, the sprawling lands beyond the bridges still have places that make you ask, "Who Goes There?"

06 January 2012

La Rose Cubana Cigars Leaves Sixth Avenue

Walking up Sixth Avenue in the 30s, I noticed that La-Rosa Cubana Hand Made Cigars had flown the  second-floor coop it's occupied since 1958. The company, however, has not died. It's decamped all the way up to 187th Street in the Belmont section of The Bronx. That's what I call relocating!

Here's a nice account from Stogie Guys about what used to go on in the shop:
While only a brisk 10 minute walk from Nat Sherman Cigar’s glitzy flagship store at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, La Rosa Cubana’s second floor mini cigar factory and shop on 6th avenue (between 30th and 31st streets) could be worlds away. As a lifelong New Yorker before seeking it out, I have walked past it at least a handful of times without taking notice of the neon signs proclaiming “La Rosa Handmade Cigars: Cuban Seed.”
To get from the street to La Rosa you need to ascend a daunting flight of steep, rickety stairs, but as you approach the top the smell alone makes the trip worthwhile. The small one room factory/shop is taken up primarily by presses, rolling tables, and prep areas where the Dominican “cuban seed” cigars are produced. The rest of the room consists of a simple “lounge” consisting of two chairs and a table and a display case/humidor from which any Stogie Guy can select from the many styles of cigars that La Rosa produces. The cigars come in most popular sizes, plus the nearly 1-inch in diameter 6 1/2 inch by 60 ring gauge “King Churchill.”
And while I’ll spend more time on La Rosa’s cigars in future StogieGuys.com articles, I must say that there is something so very authentic and pleasing about seeing handmade cigars produced in front of your very eyes. And I’m certain that when I do get around to enjoying that King Churchill, it will be that much better because I have seen the effort, attention to detail, and years of experience that went into creating it.
The old sign, which I've previously appreciated, remains. May it remain so.

05 January 2012

This Was La Petite Auberge

La Petite Auberge closed its doors last October after 34 years of selling old school French food and old school New York hospitality.  This is the space today. The awning is gone and, just as the owners promised, an Indian restaurant, Anjapper, is on the way. Can't see what they're doing inside, but last fall the owners told me this:
They like the walls, because they want to make something high end, a little different. I guess it's supposed to resemble an old country home from their part of India. They're going to get rid of the bar and open the windows in front so you can see through. But the walls are going to stay. That's real wood. You can't even put in a nail, it's so thick. 

03 January 2012

A Steak Row Memory

From a reader, a memory of Steak Row:

"My grandmother rolled into the Pressbox with Grandfather for dinner in the early '60's. They loved the place and counted Henry, Harry and Freddy as friends. Grandmother spied Henry Morgan at the bar and, although not much of a stargazer nor he much of a star, was moved to hail him: "Oh, Henry, I know who you are but you don't know who I am!" in her Dewar's-inspired slightly English accent. Henry turned, eyed her and replied: "Let's keep it that way Toots." I don't believe Grandmother ever again watched What's My Line."

02 January 2012

Lost City: Wisconsin Edition: George Webb's

I was recently returning from a late evening in Milwaukee and feeling a bit peckish when, passing a George Webb's restaurant, I remembered that every branch of the southeastern Wisconsin diner chain is open 24 hours.

I swung my car into the strip mall that contained the diner and took a seat at the long counter. There were eight other people there at that late hour, half of them stuffing solid food into their booze-filled bellies. This is not to say the atmosphere was unsavory. While some Webb's might have fallen into the "greasy spoon" categories in years past, and the chain has a reputation of sorts as a haven for undesirables, today the chain is mostly clean and respectable.