Ashraf, the owner of Le Salon, insists that she puts more thought into the products she uses than most hair stylists. Everything is organic, from the shampoos to the dyes. Ashraf told Manhattan Sideways team member Jon that she does this very deliberately. In an age when everyone is constantly using chemicals in their hair, she believes that it is causing harm, killing hair and hurting everyone’s general health. In order to fight against this trend, “organic is the way to go with both your health and the environment, ” Ashraf said. Ashraf has been a hairstylist for over forty years, working in almost every facet of the hairstyling industry. She emigrated to the United States from Iran in the 1970s, eventually landing in Henri Bendel’s hair salon. After working as a stylist for several years, she was hired by Bendel to travel the world, designing, managing, and running several hair salons. After learning as much as she possibly could, she made the decision in 1990 to come back to Manhattan and open up her own salon on 57th Street, which she later sold. Throughout this journey, Ashraf realized the importance of organic products, taking note to use them exclusively in her next salon. She opened Le Salon in 2007, catering towards people with health issues including alopecia, severe allergies and cancer. She believes that using gentle and organic products on their hair is the best treatment for these clients. Ashraf maintains that her products, all purchased exclusively from England, are of the highest quality.
Known as Bryant Park Place today, this Renaissance Revival structure was originally built by Andrew Carnegie, in 1907, to house the Engineer's Club, a professional group of men who were creating an important niche for themselves in the world of business. It was Mr. Carnegie's strong desire to pay tribute to "ordinary men doing extraordinary things. " Members included President Herbert Hoover, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Today, No. 32 is completely residential, with Royce' Chocolate and Gotham Beauty Lounge located on either side of the stunning lobby. The exterior of the building remains almost the same, with its magnificent entryway and white stone facade.
A marriage of Mexican and barbecue, the bursting flavors of Mexicue set it apart from other mobile eats during its beginnings as a food truck in 2010. In 2011, the energy and vivacity of the original endeavor were carried over to a brick and mortar location on Seventh Avenue, and in 2014 Times Square became its third location, with continued plans for expansion. Great smells awaited me when I first stopped in one summer afternoon to find out what the buzz was about. Apart from the inviting wooden slab booths, the innovative menu, and the dynamic bar (which hosts weekday happy hours from 4pm to 6pm) what made me return for dinner that night was the charisma of the staff. From hostess to waiter, all members were devoted to ensuring a comfortable experience for their guests with bubbly smiles and relaxed attentiveness. Among other hits, the burnt ends brisket bowl has garnered quite a following with a base of award-winning chili, tortilla chips for crunch, and house-pickled jalapeños for a little kick. The empty bowl, after Manhattan Sideways members were done with it, assured me it was something special. What provoked my own interest, however, was the kale and quinoa bowl, an interesting listing on the menu that made sense at first bite, a perfect flavor combination of spicy Mexican and smoky barbecue.
At times, living in Manhattan can become a bit chaotic – and it is at this moment when Muji feels like a breath of fresh air. So different from our busy and cluttered apartments, Muji is the epitome of minimalist class. There is no rhyme or reason to what items are carried and yet while there are a million trinkets to browse through, the atmosphere remains effortlessly crisp and clean. Everything is made in neutral colors and simple materials, and labeled with clear descriptions. After wandering around, I suddenly had the urge to go home and clean everything out of my closet and start fresh. The store has a calming and almost meditative effect on people. The vast variety of items includes furniture, clothing, home goods – and yet everything feels unified. Some of the hidden treasures can be found within the office supplies – pens that glide beautifully across the page and notebooks that rival moleskin for utility and sophistication, but at a fraction of the price. Even the clothes are in soft, soothing colors, but made from fine fabrics and sold at very reasonable prices. Step inside to escape the bustle of the city, and do not be surprised if you leave with a new toothbrush or a pair of slippers.