Where I Work

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East Village, Features, History, Restaurants, Where I Work

All photos taken by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft

21,000 pierogis, 2,500 latkes, and 110 gallons of borscht–that’s how much Veselka is serving up each week. But it’s impossible to quantify how many memories have been made at the famous East Village Ukrainian restaurant, which has been in operation since 1954. Whether it’s grandparents who remember going to what was then a small candy shop and newspaper stand at a time when the East Village was a thriving Eastern European community, or counter-culture icons of the 1970s, or club kids of the ’90s, or the NYU students of today, you can bet that nearly every New Yorker has some story of enjoying a meal at Veselka.

6sqft recently got a behind-the-scenes tour of Veselka’s kitchen to see how the magic happens, in addition to chatting with third-generation owner Jason Birchard. Ahead, check out all the photos and learn about the history of Veselka.

Check it out

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Features, Tribeca, Where I Work

All photos taken by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft

Marvel Architects say they were drawn to their Tribeca office space 25 years ago because of its connection to NYC history and its openness, qualities that also resonate throughout the firm and its practice. They regularly work on cultural projects (like TheatreSquared and the Northeast Bronx YMCA), adaptive reuse projects (such as St. Ann’s Warehouse and the Bedford Armory in Brooklyn) and affordable housing developments (like the Stonewall House and Rockaway Village) and they are receptive to community feedback (as was the case with their current One Clinton project). With another office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Marvel continues this open dialogue throughout its team, as staff members contribute reciprocally to projects in both cities. To learn more about this unique firm, 6sqft had a chat with founding principal Jonathan Marvel and founding partners Lissa So and Guido Hartray and toured their open and airy office that brings a bit of tropical flair to Tribeca.

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Features, hudson yards, Restaurants, Where I Work

All photos taken by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft.

When New York Times food critic Pete Wells visited José Andrés’ Mercado Little Spain, he declared that it had “more great food and drinks per square foot than anywhere else in New York.” From Ibérico hams and Peking duck to the seemingly simple yet ever-pleasing pan con tomate, the food at Hudson Yards’ Spanish market has certainly made its mark on the gastronomy scene. But what sets Andrés apart from other chefs and restauranteurs is his entire vision. Mercado Little Spain is designed as a series of “streets,” with the various kiosks leading guests on a curated experience. Most of the design elements and materials were sourced from Spain, and the artists commissioned represent different regions of the country.

To bring his vision to life, Andrés assembled a stellar team, including Michael Doneff, the Chief Marketing Officer at his ThinkFoodGroup; Juli Capella, co-founder of Spanish architecture and design firm Capella Garcia Architecture; and NYC-based design studio (and NYC food hall experts) ICRAVE. Ahead, take a behind-the-scenes tour of Mercado Little Spain and hear from all these amazing and talented collaborators on what it was like working on the project.

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Central Park South, Features, Interviews, Restaurants, Where I Work

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

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Features, Restaurants, Where I Work, Williamsburg

“Asian fusion” is undoubtedly one of the most popular categories on Seamless, but for restauranteurs Lawrence and Ayako Elliott, it wasn’t about following the trends. “When we went out to dinner, we ate mostly [East] Asian food… so we wanted to create a menu that we would find interesting,” Lawrence told 6sqft. And this is exactly what they did at their Metropolitan Avenue restaurant Monarch Theater, which opened in February. Not only is the food influenced by traditional East Asian cuisine, but the design of the two-story restaurant–which the Elliots worked on themselves–was inspired by the former theater that occupied the site. Ahead, take a look around and learn more about this new Williamsburg gem.

Look around!

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Design, Features, Harlem, Where I Work

6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring the Harlem office of architectural lighting design firm Focus Lighting. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!

After spending many years designing theatrical lighting, Paul Gregory decided to transition into the world of architectural lighting. He started his career working on nightclubs and in 1987, founded his own firm in his neighborhood of Harlem. Eight years later, Paul and his team at Focus Lighting garnered international recognization for their work on the Entel Tower in Santiago Chile, the world’s first automated color-changing building. Since then, the firm has grown to have 35 employees and nabs commissions such as the Times Square ball, Tavern on the Green, and the Waldorf Astoria (and that’s just here in NYC).

But through all their success, Focus has kept their offices in Harlem, now at 116th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, where their close-knit employees work collaboratively. The converted loft space has a unique light lab, similar to a black box theater, as well as a gallery space where the team can test out new means of digital architecture and video projects. 6sqft recently visited Focus Lighting to learn more about their fascinating work, tour the space, and chat with Focus partner and principal designer Brett Andersen and principal designer Christine Hope. Read more

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Features, little italy, Where I Work

The gallery is housed in a 19th-century firehouse, and later bakery, on Elizabeth Street. It has its own door to the garden next door

Shortly upon arriving in New York in the 1990s, Allan Reiver traveled to Coney Island with one goal in mind: find a shooting gallery. Reiver, who has always had a knack for finding art out of other people’s junk, bought one that same day from an older man who told him it had been boarded up since the 1930s when it became illegal to shoot live ammunition. Nearly 30 years later, the 10-foot high boardwalk game, still operational, sits in the back of the Elizabeth Street Gallery in Little Italy, where Reiver has housed unique artifacts and fine objects for nearly a decade.

Rare finds can also be found next to the gallery, scattered across a lush green space known as the Elizabeth Street Garden. Since 1991, Reiver has leased the land from the city, slowly transforming the lot with unique sculptures, columns, and benches, all plucked from estate sales. In 2012, the city revealed plans to replace the garden with a senior affordable housing complex, known as Haven Green, igniting a battle between garden advocates and affordable housing supporters. The City Council votes on the project Wednesday. Ahead of the decision, 6sqft toured Reiver’s gallery and the garden next door and spoke to him about building the green space and the plan to fight the Haven Green project in court.

More this way

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Central Park South, Features, Historic Homes, Midtown, Where I Work

When you think of the heart of Midtown, the first thing that comes to mind is probably not a turn-of-the-century mansion dripping with historic details. But nestled amongst the office buildings on West 56th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues is just that. Designed by architects Warren & Wetmore of Grand Central fame, 10 West 56th Street has gone through several incarnations over its lifetime, from private residence (including the one-time home of Elizabeth Taylor!) to high-end retail space.

Its most recent transformation was helmed by Roxana Q. Girand, founder of real estate development firm Sebastian Capital. Wanting to merge her expertise and passion in commercial space, art, and beauty, she opened the Elizabeth Collective this past fall as part art pop-up event space, part permanent studio workspaces. 6sqft recently visited Roxana at the Collective to get a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible French Renaissance Revival building, see how she’s given the space a new life, and learn more about what’s to come.

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Bronx, Design, Features, Interiors, Interviews, Restaurants, Where I Work

Ice Scream, Asthetíque, Bronx Ice Cream

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

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Carroll Gardens, Features, Restaurants, Where I Work

6sqft’s series “Where I Work” takes us into the studios, offices, and off-beat workspaces of New Yorkers across the city. In this installment, we’re touring Carroll Gardens nonprofit-restaurant Emma’s Torch. Want to see your business featured here? Get in touch!

While volunteering at a Washington, D.C. homeless shelter a few years ago, Kerry Brodie witnessed how food can facilitate conversations among diverse groups of people. “If I have one background, someone else a different one, but we have this shared experience of cooking with our mothers and grandmothers, there’s got to be something else we can do to propel change,” Kerry said. With the idea to help those from disenfranchised communities find jobs and feel empowered doing so, she quit her job in public policy, moved to New York, and enrolled in culinary school.

A month after graduating, Kerry founded Emma’s Torch, first as a pop-up in Red Hook to now a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Carroll Gardens, where it’s been for about a year. The nonprofit, named after Emma Lazarus whose poem is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, serves as a culinary school for refugees, asylum seekers, and survivors of trafficking. Applicants who are accepted to the 12-week paid program not only learn how to cook in a high-pressure setting but also work on English language skills and career planning. 6sqft recently sat down with Kerry at Emma’s Torch ahead of a graduation dinner, a night where the students take over the menu and “cook from the heart.” Ahead, learn more about the mission of Emma’s Torch, the challenges of operating as a nonprofit, and Kerry’s plan to expand beyond New York City.

See the space and meet the founder of Emma’s Torch

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