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The Spotted Pig

314 West 11th Street
The Spotted Pig 1 British Brunch West Village

We definitely misjudged by thinking that by going a bit earlier on a Saturday night, we would not have too long a wait. Two and a half hours later, we were finally seated. From my perspective, that was fine, as we were able to walk around the area, have drinks at Turks and Frogs and appetizers at Orient Express, as well as view the most recent photography exhibit at the Robin Rice Gallery. With big name chefs and other well known backers, The Spotted Pig was destined to be a winner from day one. This self-styled “gastro pub,” the first of many to sweep Manhattan since 2004, offers a mix of British and Italian fare. This includes their renowned chargrilled burger, their addictive shoe string fries with rosemary, and the outrageous gnudi (a relative of gnocci, but basically stripped of a lot of the dough, and instead is made with a creamy ricotta cheese) served with brown butter and sage. We were all pleased with our food despite the fact that we did not finish the meal until quite late ... but even while we were sitting there at ten o'clock, they were still telling people that it could be a two hour wait.

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The Spotted Pig 1 British Brunch West Village
The Spotted Pig 2 British Brunch West Village
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Alphabet Scoop

The ice cream at Alphabet Scoop is refreshing in more ways than one: Managed by Robbie Vedral, Alphabet Scoop is an extension of Father’s Heart Ministry, which has been focused on empowering the neighborhood youth in the Lower East Side since 2005. Robbie, for his part, has always believed that if you take care of your employees, your employees will take care of you—in this case, those employees just so happen to be high schoolers from the East Village. Under the wishes of his parents, who are still pastors of the church next door, Robbie has taken it upon himself to hold Alphabet Scoop to an uncompromising standard, always ensuring that things are done right. From a background of 25 years in retail, Robbie has found that he can learn from anyone’s mistakes - including his own. He has, in this vein, adjusted the shop’s schedule to keep it open all year; previously it was just a summer stop, but Robbie found that being a seasonal location made it more difficult for customers to anticipate when Alphabet Scoop would be in business. So, now, rather than seasonal hours, Alphabet Scoop boasts seasonal flavors. Pistachio flavor, a summer 2019 special, comes highly recommended by the Manhattan Sideways team. Alphabet Scoop is also constantly experimenting with new flavors suggested to them by customers, so if you’ve been saving up that million-dollar ice cream flavor idea, Alphabet Scoop might just be the place to make it a reality. The “sweet n’ salty” flavor is proof of the potential here, as it was suggested by one of the shop’s  younger customers. While the spritely New Yorkers that work in the shop are paid for their work, Alphabet Scoop is also a non-profit. The mission, transparently, is as stated on the walls: “Justice & Sprinkles for all. ” The kids, typically between the ages of 14 and 16, learn all aspects of the business, from hands on skills such as making ice cream to managerial skills like taking inventory. The goal of Alphabet Scoop is to encourage maximum involvement from its employees, so they are invited to help make decisions about the business. Robbie told us a story of a young woman, for example, who has worked in the shop for close to two years, and who was initially quite difficult to work with - but with patience and persistence from Robbie and other employees, the young woman grew to better understand the mission of Alphabet Scoop, and now even has keys to the shop. Robbie’s work at Alphabet Scoop shows the importance of creating strong foundations for young people, as well as how truly influential small businesses can be in their communities. Stop by the shop - any time of year - to help Robbie make his impact.