Where I Work

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Features, Greenwich Village, Where I Work

The secret history of Julius’, the oldest gay bar in NYC

By James and Karla Murray, Tue, July 21, 2020

Owner Helen Buford with longtime bartender Daniel Onzo

On the corner of West 10th and Waverly Place sits Julius’ Bar, New York City’s oldest gay bar. Constructed in the middle of the 19th-century, the landmarked Greenwich Village building first opened as a grocery store and later became a bar. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously operating bars in the city, Julius’ is also known for its historic “Sip-In” on April 26, 1966, when members of the Mattachine Society–one of the country’s earliest LGBT rights organizations–protested the state law that prohibited bars from serving “suspected gay men or lesbians.” Not only did the demonstration lead to the courts ruling in 1967 that gay people had the legal right to assemble and be served alcohol, but it also became one of the most significant instances of gay rights activism before the Stonewall Riots in 1969.

Like many businesses forced to close because of the coronavirus pandemic, especially now that indoor dining is on hold indefinitely, Julius’ owner Helen Buford is struggling to pay the bills and launched a fundraising campaign this month to help save the bar. Ahead, go behind the scenes of Julius’ while it remains closed, learn about its unique history from longtime bartenders Daniel Onzo and Tracy O’ Neill, and hear more from Helen about the struggle to survive as a small business during COVID-19.

Go behind the scenes

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Features, Interviews, Sunset Park, Where I Work

Photo courtesy of Course of Trade

As of this week, Industry City-based nonprofit workforce development organization Course of Trade has produced 219,279 hand-sewn isolation gowns for New York City hospitals, with an ultimate contract of 520,800 from the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Course of Trade was started by Malia Mills’ production director Libby Mattern to offer free sewing instruction and job placement assistance in the garment industry. When COVID hit the city, Libby knew it was time to innovate yet again, and she put in place a partnership with the city in which a 300-person team across South Brooklyn is sewing these life-saving gowns.

Read more

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Features, Interviews, Sunset Park, Where I Work

Jack holds a box of face shields ready to be delivered

When the Mayor and the Governor spoke out about the city’s dire need for PPE, many hero companies stepped up to the plate, including Industry City’s iMakr, an outpost of the world’s largest 3D-printing and 3D-scanning store. They knew they had enough equipment and the know-how to create simple but much-needed face shields, and so their three-man team in Brooklyn immediately got to work. To date, they’ve distributed more than 5,000 face shields to more than 20 local hospitals. Ahead, we chat with Jack Keum, iMakr’s business manager, to learn more about the company’s mission to help our frontline workers through this crisis.

Hear from Jack

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Features, Queens, Restaurants, Where I Work

We may not be able to gather together for Easter this year, but we can certainly still place a chocolate order to lift our spirits. And if the Easter Bunny is choosing where to get the best homemade chocolates and candies to fill his basket, Schmidt’s Candy in Woodhaven, Queens would certainly be a top choice. German immigrant Frank Schmidt founded this nearly-century old confectionery shop in 1925. We recently had a chance to tour this iconic shop with Margie Schmidt, Frank’s granddaughter and the third-generation owner. Margie continues to make specialty holiday chocolates and candies by hand using the same recipes that were handed down to her by her father. Ahead, go behind the scenes to see how all these tasty treats are made, tour the historic interior, and learn about the shop’s history from Margie.

You’re in for a sweet treat

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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.

Read more

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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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Archtober2020