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Black Ocean 1 Headquarters and Offices Historic Site Chelsea

When most folks think of start-ups, they think of San Francisco. New York, however, has quite the thriving start-up scene in its own right, and it is not all about Cornell University's upcoming tech school on Roosevelt Island. Black Ocean nurtures young media start-ups through the crucial early stages of their development. They invest strategically, provide open office spaces for the companies and create an environment of cooperation and (hopefully) synergistic growth...and this all takes place in a very attractive building that dates back to 1874, but on the inside is filled with contemporary art.

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Black Ocean 1 Headquarters and Offices Historic Site Chelsea
Black Ocean 2 Headquarters and Offices Historic Site Chelsea
Black Ocean 3 Headquarters and Offices Historic Site Chelsea
Black Ocean 4 Headquarters and Offices Historic Site Chelsea
Black Ocean 5 Headquarters and Offices Historic Site Chelsea
Black Ocean 6 Headquarters and Offices Historic Site Chelsea

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Congregation Beit Simchat Torah 1 Synagogues Historic Site undefined

Congregation Beit Simchat Torah

The concept for a synagogue dedicated to the LBGT community was born in 1973. It has had a long and rich history since then, culminating in the opening of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in April 2016. After forty-three years of wandering in Manhattan - and gathering thousands of supporters along the way - the congregation has finally found its home on the ground floor of a beautiful 1928 landmarked building, the Cass Gilbert. Having visited a multitude of magnificent old world synagogues on the side streets, it was refreshing to enter a brand new, contemporary sanctuary. There is no stained glass, ornate decorations, or elaborate arks. The color scheme is a simple burgundy and dark blue with light, natural wood benches for seating. Every detail and accent was carefully thought out by a group of congregants together with the architect, Aari Ludvigsen. I repeatedly heard stories from the staff about what each piece represented and the history behind it. The ark is a true piece of art: There is a skylight above it, allowing the sun to shine down. Upon opening the doors, an iridescent braided piece of fabric is revealed. Behind that, a magnificent Moroccan brocade curtain opens to display the five Torahs, including one that survived the Holocaust. As Chaz Macrina, our tour guide, said, "Everything in the temple has a meaningful reason for being here. "Tom, the photographer for Manhattan Sideways, and I were shown every nook and cranny. The two men leading us around were very proud of their newly created environment. The small, elegant chapel downstairs gave me a tremendous sense of calm. I appreciated the amount of space that was dedicated to the kitchen, as most synagogues complain about how difficult it is to maneuver in this area. The children's room was impressive, with toys, games, puzzles, and books, neatly organized in cubbies. In addition to being a Green Building, the level of technology in place is incredible. There is an LED behind each name on the memorial walls; former members are upstairs and friends and family are downstairs. Even the brightly-colored orange and magenta bathrooms have a story behind them, told through the brilliantly conceived wallpaper. I noticed the rainbow flag when we first entered the building, but it was not until we were standing by the doorway, getting ready to say our good-byes, that I inquired about it. Hanging from the wall is the original gay rights flag that was designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978. This has eight stripes, whereas today, we are more familiar with the simplified, six-color version. What an experience, what a story, and what a stunning synagogue - and the best part is that absolutely anyone and everyone is welcome.

More places on 30th Street

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Blank Slate 1 Cafes Coffee Shops undefined

Blank Slate Coffee + Kitchen NoMad

“We wanted to be that diamond in the rough, ” explained Ashley, the co-owner of Blank Slate. When Ashley and Zach, spouses and co-owners, were searching for a location for their restaurant, they wanted to find a neighborhood with a large crowd but not a lot of quality spots to eat. Blank Slate is successfully that hidden gem located in NoMad, one of Manhattan’s up and coming neighborhoods. Blank Slate attracts a crowd full of young, creative professionals who are quickly changing the area. Ashley and Zach established Blank Slate, which opened in November of 2015, in an effort to create the first coffee-shop-restaurant hybrid in New York City. Ashley explains that they were tired of going to places that provided quality coffee but low quality food. She wanted a place that offered superb grab-n-go coffee as well as more formal dining where friends could meet for a long meal. Ashley and Zach’s vision has been realized. Blank Slate serves killer coffee as well as an impressive assortment of salads, sandwiches and even gourmet desserts. Their coffee is proudly served from farm to cup in close to 20 days. They have a sign at the cash register indicating the green date and roast date of the coffee being served that day. My intern, Emily, hesitantly tried their brussels sprout Caesar salad and only had positive things to say about it, even though she usually does not enjoy Brussels sprouts. Blank Slate also has a small but wonderfully curated market located inside the restaurant, which offers primarily locally sourced products such as cookie dough, yoghurts, pickles and a host of beverages. In addition to serving excellent coffee and food, Blank Slate has a fun, creative atmosphere. Ashley and Zach chose Blank Slate’s name because they wanted to convey the idea that people can make or create everything here. While customers wait in line for coffee, for example, there are etch-a-sketches on which to play. They even have Instagram competitions that reward one talented etch-a-sketcher with a free meal. Ashley hopes that Blank Slate can be a space for people to create. She explained that the etch-a-sketch sends a message: the “possibility of everything. "

Lost Gem
The Mason Jar 1 American undefined

The Mason Jar

In the race among Manhattan restaurants to attract customers, simplicity is sometimes lost. But not so in the Mason Jar, a restaurant and bar that keeps it old school with good vibes and great tastes. The southern, barbecue-heavy menu and extensive list of craft beers and bourbons speak for themselves, complete with suggested pairings. Each month, a new craft beer is featured in an effort to support small breweries. If these beers attract a following, they are added to the full-time roster. While visiting with some Sideways members, I had a lively conversation with chef about the different styles of barbecue - our North Carolinian team member swears by vinegar sauce and appreciated Mason Jar’s variety. The food is fresh and not overdone, but at the same time the Chef  “puts love into it. ” The high quality meat is treated seriously - specialty ribs are coated with a dry rub, smoked using apple and hickory wood, braised, and mopped with a tomato-based Kansas City-style sauce. Then grilled. The brisket and boneless pork butts are given no less attention. Replete with wood, American Flags, and comfortable seating, Mason Jar also achieves a homey feel to match its Southern style. Many of the University of South Carolina alumni  in Manhattan choose this spot as the venue to catch the Cocks football games, and Villanova basketball fans flock here for their games, as well. With the hearty food, good beers, and down-home feel, it is easy to understand why. To put it plainly and simply, Mason Jar was a good find.