Photos courtesy of Invisible Hands
If you needed more evidence that New Yorkers come together in a time of crisis, look no further than Invisible Hands. The premise of the volunteer group is that low-risk people can help to bring groceries and supplies to those in demographics at high risk for COVID-19. Simone, Liam, and Healy — “healthy 20-somethings in NYC” — started the group just nine days ago, and today have amassed 7,000 volunteers across New York City and parts of Jersey City. Yesterday, we spoke with Liam Elkind about what it’s been like starting this incredible group, how New Yorkers have been able to “pull together when it feels like the world is trying to pull us apart,” and what Invisible Hands hopes for the future.
When Sheldon “Shelly” Fireman opened Redeye Grill across from Carnegie Hall 25 years ago, the term “restauranteur” didn’t exist. But by that point, he’d already gained local celebrity status for Greenwich Village’s all-night Hip Bagel and had the foresight to open Cafe Fiorello near recently completed Lincoln Center. Today, Shelly is the CEO of Fireman Hospitality Group, which operates six restaurants in NYC as well as two on the Potomac River in Maryland. And though he can most definitely be called a restauranteur now, Shelly stands out amongst the myriad food influencers in the city. Though his establishments exude an old-school New York charm and certain nostalgia, he has found the formula to withstand the test of time.
After a 2018 kitchen fire, the iconic Redeye Grill reopened in July. We recently sat down to lunch with Shelly to hear more about his story and take a tour of this classic Midtown restaurant.
Have a look around and meet Shelly
Photo of Asbury Park’s Convention Hall by Acroterion / Wikimedia Commons
If you lived along the Jersey Shore in the ’80s and ’90s, Asbury Park was not a place you went. After getting its start in the late 1800s as a summer escape for wealthy residents of NYC and Philly, the 1.6-square-mile town boomed again in the ’50s and ’60s as a grungey, artsy hangout. But after the race riots in the 1970s, the town fell into disrepair and was forgotten by local stakeholders. Fast forward to today, and Asbury is booming–we once aptly described it as “Williamsburg meets Bruce Springsteen-land meets Venice Beach.”
Like many gentrifying/revitalized areas, the change can be attributed to a developer with foresight. In this case, the team at iStar realized the opportunity nine years ago. They now own 35 acres of land in Asbury, including 70 percent of the waterfront, and are investing more than $1 billion in the town. Their projects include the luxury condo Monroe, the renovated Asbury Lanes bowling alley/performance venue, The Asbury Hotel, and, most recently, the Asbury Ocean Club, a hotel-condo hybrid that made headlines for its $1,050/night suite. Unsurprisingly, iStar has received its share of criticism, but that hasn’t stopped New Yorkers from flooding the seaside city in the summertime. Ahead, we delve into the social and cultural landscape of Asbury and talk with iStar’s Brian Cheripka about the lesser-known politics behind their plans, why they decided to invest in Asbury Park, and what we can expect to see in the future.
Photo of Gwen and “Girl Party Wallpaper” series, courtesy of Gwen Shockey
After 49 people were killed in a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, New York City artist Gwen Shockey gathered with queer people at the Cubbyhole and Stonewall Inn to mourn. The tragedy made Gwen think about the importance of lesbian bars and safe spaces for this community. She began talking with her friends, interviewing them about coming out and navigating NYC’s queer community. This laid the groundwork for Gwen’s 2017 “Addresses” project, a digital map marking more than 200 current and former queer and lesbian bars across the five boroughs. Using information from interviews she’s conducted and from police records and newspapers, Gwen found each location and photographed what sits there now.
“It felt like a secret pilgrimage, going to each location and looking for a site that was more or less invisible to everyone else around me,” she told us. And with just three lesbian bars remaining in NYC today, the need to preserve the memories of these places seems more apparent than ever. Through her project, which is ongoing, Gwen realized that although the number of lesbian bars in the city is dropping, there are “huge shifts occurring in the queer community toward inclusion not based on identity categories but based on who needs safe space now and who needs space to dance, to express their authenticity, and to be intimate.” Gwen shared with 6sqft the process of tracking the lesbian bars of NYC’s past and lessons she’s learned about the city’s LGBTQ history along the way.
Genevieve Gorder on the set of “Best Room Wins” with Elle Decor Editor-in-Chief Whitney Robinson. Photo by Nicole Weingart/Bravo.
From getting her first design job at MTV during the station’s height in the ’90s to being selected as one of the original designers on TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” Genevieve Gorder says she feels eternally grateful for her timing. “I hit a lot of those key moments at the right time for when I was born, and I don’t know how I keep doing it, but I’m very grateful I do.” When Genevieve says she’s “grateful,” we know it’s authentic. This is why the interior designer has achieved the success she has, appearing in more than 20 TV shows over her 20-year career. She’s a person everyone feels comfortable around, whether it’s with a family who shares her Midwestern roots or a New York City neighbor.
Her latest endeavor, the design show “Best Room Wins,” aired last week, and once again, it’s Genevieve’s warmth, grace, and exceptional talent that are on full view. 6sqft recently caught up with Genevieve to learn more about her background and time on “Trading Spaces,” why she feels the new show is “smarter, sexier, and more real,” and what her favorite spots in the city are.
Read the interview
Joe Cruz Jr. (right) at the Jalisco distillery
With Cinco de Mayo on Sunday, New Yorkers most certainly have margaritas on the brain. And while we may typically associate tequila with Mexico, a new label here in NYC is bridging the divide between our southern neighbor and local entrepreneurship. Joe Cruz Jr. grew up in Harlem, spending much of his younger years hanging out in the Bronx. After working in the beverage industry for many years, he decided to take a mere $25,000 and create his own “ultra-smooth” tequila right from Harlem. And so in late 2017, YaVe Tequila was born. Not only has the company garnered culinary headlines (it produces the first-ever mango-flavored tequila), but it’s caught the attention of local stakeholders thanks to Joe’s commitment to working with his neighborhood.
Read on for our interview with Joe
All photos courtesy of Costas Picadas
Last December, Ice Scream opened at the Mall at Bay Plaza, giving the Bronx its first liquid nitrogen ice cream parlor. In addition to serving up futuristic frozen treats, the shop provides a fun and relaxing rest stop in between shopping. Founded by New Yorker Julien Albertini and Alina Pimkina, from Moscow, interior design firm Asthetíque specializes in luxury hospitality and residential design. Although developing a brand for a family business tailored to children was a totally new concept for Julien and Alina, the duo took on the design for Ice Scream and came up with a concept that “benefits society and makes peoples’ lives and businesses more beautiful and functional,” according to the designers.
Inspired by the 1980s Memphis design movement, Asthetíque has created a space for guests to have “plenty of Instagrammable moments.” From the ceiling’s coordinated light show to the fun mantras written in neon script throughout the 24-seat store (ie: “Ice Scream is better than therapy” and “Count your sprinkles, not your problems”), Ice Scream’s design not only provides a spot for families to make memories, but as a declaration that the “Bronx can contribute to the world of design.” For its innovative and playful ice cream parlor design, Asthetíque was a winner in the 46th annual IIDA Interior Design Competition this year. Ahead, see inside the eye-catching ice cream parlor and hear from Julien and Alina on the brand development process.
Get the scoop on Ice Scream
Jake Dobkin was born in Park Slope 42 years ago, and over those years he’s never left New York City for longer than 10 weeks. In 2003, he co-founded the website Gothamist with Jen Chung, which emerged as a popular culture and entertainment blog about all things New York. In the summer of 2013, Dobkin decided to channel his native knowledge and newsroom snark with the column Ask a Native New Yorker. The first installment addressed a question to make any New Yorker shudder, “Is It Normal For Roaches To Crawl Through My Hair At Night?” Since then, he’s tackled everything from amusing annoyances of city life to more serious issues like homelessness, gentrification, and who deserves a seat on the subway.
Dobkin ultimately adapted “Ask A Native New Yorker” into a book, which was just released a few weeks ago. Titled Ask A Native New Yorker: Hard-Earned Advice on Surviving and Thriving in the Big City, it contains answers to 48 new questions on New Yorker’s minds including if public transit will be messed up forever and why we complain so much. 6sqft spoke with Dobkin on why he started writing the column, how it’s changed over the years, and what’s ahead with a new book and Gothamist under the new ownership of WNYC. He also shares the best place to find a peaceful spot in the middle of the city.
Photo courtesy of CetraRuddy
When Nancy Ruddy and her husband John Cetra formed architecture firm CetraRuddy in 1987, they wanted to “create inspirational spaces and buildings based upon the ideas of craft and the human touch.” Thirty-one years later, and the 100-person firm has achieved this goal and then some, marking the skyline with their soaring One Madison tower, transforming Tribeca’s 443 Greenwich Street into the hottest celebrity residence, and adapting historic buildings by prolific architects such as Ralph Walker and Rosario Candela. They’ve also distinguished themselves by combing architecture and design practices, which was most recently showcased at their designs for the new Time Warner Center restaurant Bluebird London.
Ahead, 6sqft talks with Nancy Ruddy about how all of these successes came to be, where she sees the architectural landscape of NYC heading, and what it was like creating a destination dining space overlooking Central Park.
Hear from Nancy
Closet photo via Flickr cc; Photo of Karin and Marie courtesy of Karin Socci
Between her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” and new Netflix show, “Tidying Up,” over the past five years, Marie Kondo—a diminutive Japanese organizing guru—has changed how people around the world think about decluttering their homes. But Kondo isn’t just another interior designer offering tips on storage. She believes that one’s home has a direct impact on their lives and even their personal relationships. This is why she approaches tidying from the heart and not simply the mind. As she says on her website, “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.”
With so many of us living in homes that are almost as tiny as those in Tokyo where Kondo is based and developed her method, it’s no surprise that New Yorkers have been eagerly embracing Kondo’s advice. It is also likely no coincidence that one of the only certified Master KonMari consultants in North America, Karin Socci, happens to serve the New York City area. 6sqft recently reached out to Socci, founder of The Serene Home, to learn more about the KonMari method and how she helps New Yorkers put it into practice.
Hear from Karin here