Monday, November 19, 2018

FAO Schwarz, the iconic toy store’s flagship Fifth Avenue location

FAO Schwarz is the oldest toy store in the United States and was founded by German immigrant, Frederick Otto Schwarz and his two older brothers in 1894. The shop’s Fifth Avenue flagship store opened in 1986 and its famous grand piano ๐ŸŽน was featured in the 1988 movie “Big” with Tom Hanks. This location closed in 2015 due to rising rents but FAO Schwarz has just now reopened (with the grand piano) in Rockefeller Center, just a few short blocks away. We love that you can see the reflection of the Plaza Hotel located across the street, in the massive windows.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Two Boots, Greenwich Village, NYC

Two Boots, which is named for the geographical shapes of Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น and Louisiana, was founded by two partners (Doris Kornish & Phil Hartman) and specialized in Cajun-Italian cooking.  The original location in the East Village opened in 1987 and became popular for its cornmeal crust pizza ๐Ÿ•. The @twobootspizza location on 7th Avenue at West 11th Street (seen in our photo) opened in 1995 but since the beginning of November has sadly been closed for non-payment of taxes. We are not sure ๐Ÿค”if it will reopen but have always loved the restaurant’s colorful #signage and the fact that each location uniquely features the work of local artists.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Franklin Deli Market on Franklin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

This #bodega sadly closed its doors after over 20 years in business after fighting a vacate notice and trying to renegotiate their lease since 2016. The owners, Dennis and Yvette Camacho are trying to find a new home for their #deli but the rent prices in Greenpoint are prohibitively high.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rush Hour, Columbus Circle, NYC, just now...

#snow #firstsnow #snowvember #snowday #snowinnyc #noreaster #snownyc

As soon as we heard that Amazon @amazon is building one of its new headquarters in Long Island City, Queens our thoughts immediately went to the Court Square Diner.

Court Square Diner, which is open 24 hours a day, was founded in 1946 and has only had 3 owners. We love its chrome and red exterior, which went beautifully with the red #vintage Karmann Ghia parked outside. We hope the influx of new people working at Amazon will help increase business at the #diner but we are not sure how many will actually dine there.

Hospital, NYC, earlier...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Hudson. Tennis ball dispenser fun, over at Wild One, SoHo, NYC, just now...

To see more photos of the historic pastry shop Veniero's including lots of in progress baking shots and delicious finished pastries, cookies ๐Ÿช cheesecakes ๐Ÿฐand other specialties please visit: 

An East Village institution, Veniero’s Pasticceria is a family-owned and operated Italian pastry shop that was established by Italian immigrant Antonio Veniero in 1894. Veniero, who lived with his family next door, started the business as a candy shop. He then started serving Italian espresso and biscotti and by the 1920s, he had brought in master bakers from Sicily to run the kitchen.  A century later, Veniero’s @venierospastry is still family-owned and is celebrating its 125th anniversary next year. We had the chance to tour the caffรฉ and bakery for @6sqft with Robert Zerilli, the fourth-generation current owner and great-nephew of founder Antonio Veniero. Today, Veniero’s serves more than 150 desserts, from traditional Italian butter cookies and cannolis (swipe left for photos) to some more modern offerings such as red velvet cake and oreo cheesecake.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Photography from our visit to East Village Icon Veniero's & interview with owner Robert Zerilli for 6sqft...

Full story:

"We had the chance to tour the caffรฉ and bakery with Robert Zerilli, the fourth-generation current owner and great-nephew of founder Antonio Veniero. Today, Veniero’s serves more than 150 desserts, from traditional Italian butter cookies and cannolis to some more modern offerings such as red velvet cake and oreo cheesecake. Ahead, go behind the scenes to see how all these tasty treats are made, tour the historic interiors, and learn all about Veniero’s history from Robert."

In the series finale of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, the CNN show focused on places in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

Fab 5 Freddy spoke to Anthony @anthonybourdain about one of his favorite restaurants, El Castillod e Jagua. The restaurant which has been in business for over 40 years is named after the Jagua Fortress on the south side of Cienfuegos in in Cuba ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡บ and specializes in authentic Cuban cuisine with many seafood ๐Ÿฆ๐ŸŸ, beef ๐Ÿฅฉ, chicken ๐Ÿ“ rice and soup ๐Ÿฒ dishes. @fab5freddy told Anthony that “This is one of the places, like Keith Haring and I would love to come here, Jean-Michel Basquiat would join us, and we would have good meals here on the regular and it was consistently good.”

We agree that the food is consistently good and we also always love ๐Ÿ’— a restaurant that has “CHOPS” listed on its #signage!

Monday, November 12, 2018

In honor of Veteran's Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I which killed 10 million men in fighting that involved 32 countries around the globe ๐ŸŒŽ, we are posting Kaufman's Army & Navy in Hell's Kitchen. Kaufman's was founded in 1938 and is one of the oldest military supply stores in the U.S. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ and the oldest in NYC.

We love their #handpainted #signage which the owner told us was commissioned by his mother during the height of the Vietnam War. Photo and full interview with 3rd generation owner appear in book "Store Front II-A History Preserved". Thank you all who have served and to those on active duty! ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Photography from our visit to Queens' Loew's Valencia with Untapped Cities Insiders! for 6sqft:

Full article:

"The majestic Loew’s Valencia Theatre opened on Saturday, January 12, 1929, as the first, largest, and most famous of the five flagship Loew’s “Wonder” Theatres established in the New York City area from 1929-30. All of the grand movie palaces were built by Marcus Loew of the Loew’s Theatres chain to establish the firm as a leader in film exhibition and to simultaneously serve as a fantastical yet affordable escape for people of all classes from the tedium and anxieties of their daily lives. The Valencia most definitely did not show away from this fantastical approach, with its Spanish/Mexican Baroque architecture, gilded ornamentation, rich jewel-tone colors, and elaborate carvings."

Rainy Autumn Night, Union Square, NYC, last night...

Monday, November 5, 2018

Hudson. Rainy day fun over at Ted's Fine Clothing, Lower East Side, NYC, earlier...

Ted's was a stop on our photo shoot with Deb Martin of Downtown Magazine NYC. We were featured in their 10th Anniversary Fall 2018 issue on a journey down Orchard Street as we explore the many independently-owned stores with Editor in Chief Deb Martin. Stops included Jimmy Webb's rock and roll boutique I Need More, Ted's Formal Wear, Regina's Grocery, and Cafe Katja.

Pick up a copy and see the 3 page wide gatefold!

Pastosa Ravioli in the Grasmere neighborhood of Staten Island, NY

Pastosa Ravioli in the Grasmere neighborhood of Staten Island was founded by Anthony Ajello over 25 years ago. The main store and manufacturing location in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn has been in business since 1962. When we interviewed Anthony for our “Store Front” book, he told us “I came up with the name Pastosa for the store because in Italian “pastosa” means honesty and integrity. So to me “Pastosa” also equals tasty because my business takes pride in their honesty and integrity and that makes for tasty products.

Full panoramic photo (this one is cropped) from 2005 and interview from Anthony Ajello, the founder appears in our book “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York”.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Cafe De La Esquina on Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was housed in a 1952 stainless steel Mountain View Diner car.

Before becoming the Brooklyn outpost of La Esquina it was the location of the Wythe Diner from 1968-1988, and Relish from 1997-2010. We loved its original stainless steel #vintage decor including backsplash and counter swivel stool seating (swipe left for interior photo).

Sadly Cafe De La Esquina has recently closed to make way for a new 6-story building with 10 apartments and retail space on the ground floor. We are not sure if the #diner will be demolished or if someone is interested in moving the structure to a different location (as what occurred when the stainless steel Cheyenne Diner in Manhattan closed a number of years ago). If anyone has any info on what is to become of the actual diner please let us know.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


TOM’S RESTAURANT on Broadway in the Upper West Side has been in business since the 1940s. The diner became famous after its exterior was used in scenes on the popular television sitcom, Seinfeld. 

We interviewed the co-owner Mike Zoulis, in 2010 for our book, "New York Nights" and he told us, “I’ve been involved in the restaurant since 1980. I am the one who signed the initial release with Castle Rock Entertainment for the restaurant to be used in the TV series, “Seinfeld”. I believe that Jerry Seinfeld had eaten here years ago and remembered the restaurant and suggested it to his location scout. When they came here asking to film the exterior, they told me it was just for a pilot show. And some pilot that turned out to be! We have gotten a lot of publicity from it being used in the Seinfeld show. People recognize us even though in Seinfeld they crop out the word “Tom’s” and just have the neon “Restaurant” sign showing and also refer to the place as “Monk’s Diner.” In fact, people from all over the world make the pilgrimage here to see the restaurant and to take photos of it and eat here. Many customers tell us that they wanted to come to New York just to see our restaurant. And then when they eat here and the food is good, they are double excited.”

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tortilla Flats, a Tex-Mex restaurant in the West Village, which opened in 1983 will sadly be closing its doors today

Tortilla Flats, a Tex-Mex restaurant in the West Village, which opened in 1983 will sadly be closing its doors today, Saturday October 27th after being unable to reach a lease agreement with the landlord. It is definitely a big loss for the neighborhood as Tortilla Flats served modestly priced food and drinks ๐Ÿน in a kitsch setting and even hosted game and trivia nights.

Friday, October 26, 2018

St. Dymphna’s on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village opened in 1994.

It was named for the patron saint of the mentally ill and was known for its ๐Ÿบ pints of Guinness and also for its traditional Irish ☘️ breakfast (which we enjoyed) of eggs ๐Ÿณ, baked beans, sausage and rashers and sliced potatoes ๐Ÿฅ”. Sadly the Irish ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช tavern closed a few days ago after 24 years in business.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

R&Y Meat Market, Bronx. NY

This Meat Market/Bodega ๐Ÿ–๐Ÿฅฉ ๐Ÿฅชhas a little bit of old-school ice machine and bubble gum ๐Ÿฌour front and even remnants of chasing light ๐Ÿ’ก #signage and a case full of goat ๐Ÿ, oxtail, beef ๐Ÿ‚and poultry ๐Ÿ”in different cuts inside along with other grocery and household items.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Photography and interview with Paulie Gee from our visit to Paulie Gee's Slice Shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, for 6sqft...

Full article:

"Long-time pizza enthusiast Paulie Giannone opened his first wood-fired pizza restaurant, Paulie Gee’s, in 2010 on Greenpoint Avenue in Brooklyn. Since then, he’s opened locations in Miami, Columbus, Ohio, Chicago, and Baltimore. Most recently, though, he came back to his roots with Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop, just a few blocks away from his original spot in Greenpoint. While Paulie’s restaurants center around gourmet pizzas, including many vegan options, the Slice Shop specializes in classic New York City-style and Sicilian slices. In keeping with this classic pizza joint feel, the Slice Shop’s retro dรฉcor is inspired by the pizzerias Paulie Gee frequented while growing up in Kensington, Brooklyn."

We love the interesting combination of coffee ☕️ and donuts ๐Ÿฉ and halal sandwiches this coffee shop advertises in #neon in its windows.

People often ask us how we decide which storefronts to document and we always say that it has to have a certain look and feel that we identify with. This one certainly does!

Monday, October 22, 2018

FURSI RAVIOLI in Ozone Park, Queens was founded by Carmine Furci over 45 years ago.

When we photographed the #storefront in 2012 for our book “Store Front II-A History Preserved” we interviewed the current owner, Abe. He told us, “I began working here for the second owner, over 20 years ago and learned all of the original recipes that were handed down from Mr. Furci. This used to be a very large ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italian neighborhood but now the area has really changed and many other nationalities have moved in. We still have a lot of old Italian customers who have been shopping here for years and no longer live in the neighborhood but return here just to buy our homemade ravioli and fresh-baked prosciutto bread.” We not only lived its ravioli but also its vintage #signage.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

3 Star Coffee Shop on the Upper West Side closed in 2014 after 30 years in business.

We always loved its #signage especially since it listed many of our favorite foods: BURGERS ๐Ÿ”, DONUTS ๐Ÿฉ and SANDWICHES ๐Ÿฅช as well as COFFEE ☕️! Sadly we passed by this #storefront today and it still remains empty but has been renovated with an all glass facade. We are not sure what is taking its place but we can be pretty certain that it won’t be a reasonably priced coffee shop.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Navy Yard Cocktail Lounge located on Flushing Avenue at Washington Avenue was in business from 1907 to 2010.

Steve Frankel, who owned it since 1999, lost his lease when the building was sold to a developer. The bar originally served the tens of thousands of Brooklyn Navy Yard personnel who worked in the shipbuilding industry, but in recent years catered to the workers in the many industrial businesses and film and television studios, which rented spaces at the revitalized Navy Yard industrial park. Photo from 2008 and full text appear on our book “Store Front II-A History Preserved”.