Organic, raw, and clean are the three pillars of the business philosophy at Agavi Organic Juice Bar. The owners come directly from Queens to share their wisdom with the world: that health is happiness - no "and"s, "but"s, or added chemicals about it.
René Henricks, a longtime inhabitant of the East Village, feels fortunate to have spent decades being able to walk to work. After spending time as a bartender at a Latin American restaurant on East 1st Street, she eventually took over the small space across the way to give her something to do between shifts. The kiosk had undergone many transformations since the 1930s, first as a shoeshine stand, then a newspaper stall, a flower shop, and even a front for a marijuana dealer, before it became Juicy Lucy Juice Bar. Three years later, René opened a second location on the avenue to attract more customers.All of the drinks and açaí bowls are made in small batches on the spot using produce that is delivered daily. “You can’t get fresher juice anywhere else unless you make it yourself,” René asserted. As such, her regulars continue to return for both the delicious juices and the relaxed, friendly atmosphere that pervades Juicy Lucy. “I have been lucky to watch the progression of families here.” The kiosk holds sentimental value for many who are accustomed to visiting Juicy Lucy or passing by its corner spot every day. “The East Village has afforded me a nice lifestyle. I’m really grateful to it.”
The first time Amelia stepped inside Kavasutra, New York City’s first Kava bar, it was well after midnight. Although I had described it to her as best I could, she was unsure what to expect. Despite the hour, it was crowded, with a few patrons hanging out on the benches in front of the shop.The bartender welcomed her as she came in, as did many of the people that were already laughing and singing along to the music playing loudly from an overhead speaker. He explained that it was just about time for the “one a.m. slam,” the time of night at Kavasutra when single Kava shots are only one dollar. Amelia ordered one and watched as everyone else scrambled to get in their orders before the clock struck one. The Kava shell came to her, a small black bowl filled with what looks like murky water and garnished with a slice of pineapple. At one a.m., the bartender lifted his hand in the air.“Everyone ready?” he said as the crowd joined him in raising up their Kava shells. Amelia followed suit and the bartender began to count down from three. As Amelia described the event to me, "We all raised the shells to our mouths and downed our kava shots, and then a loud cheer rose up from the bar."Kava is a root, ground and mixed with water, that is traditionally drunk on the island of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Over the years, it has grown in popularity in the Western World. In addition to its first location in Manhattan on 10th Street, Kavasutra has multiple bars in Florida and one in Denver, Colorado.According to Kavasutra’s website, Kava is a safe alternative to alcohol, which gives one a calming feeling without the mentally incapacitating effects of other substances. I first discovered the cafe/bar on a Saturday afternoon. My husband was eager to give Kava a try. I had a quick taste, but, like many, did not find it appealing. However, my husband persevered. Both the guys behind the bar and those sitting around it said that it does not go down easily, but is well worth the effort. A seasoned veteran at the bar explained what to expect from our first experience. “It’ll just mellow you out,” he said. Exactly how it was described to us is how my husband felt. "It definitely gave me a bit of a high sensation," he said. When I asked Amelia how it was for her, she told me, "I had a slight tingling numbness on my lips and throat, then a feeling of calm and clarity pervaded my senses." Both concurred that this lasted for several hours.
"The Two Faces of Italian Food" is the tagline at this restaurant and wine bar. The perfect blend they are referring to is tradition and innovation. The menu boasts homemade and traditional options - the wine list is not limited to Italian varieties, though the beer is. We stopped in briefly and relaxed with a glass of wine in their quiet back garden and spoke with one of the restaurant's partners as waiters set up for that evening's meal. When we asked him to describe the food that Giano served in a short sentence he told us humbly: "Italian food. No big deal." Can't wait to try it!
Most business owners know how difficult it is to bounce back after being robbed. Makoto Wantanabe has done it twice and, ironically, has a thief to thank for the very birth of Tokio 7.Makoto was globetrotting in the early 1990s when he arrived in Southern California on what was supposed to be the penultimate stop on his tour. He befriended a homeless man and let him stay in his hotel room for the night, but Makoto awoke to find everything except for his passport was stolen. Stranded with no money and far from his home in the Japanese countryside, Makoto called one of his only contacts in the U.S., who worked at a Japanese restaurant in Manhattan. He scrounged up enough money for a bus ticket and was off.While in New York, Makoto felt that men’s clothing suffered from a lack of style. Having always had a knack for fashion, he knew he could change that but lacked the funds to open a store with brand new clothing. So, after several years of saving his wages as a waiter, he founded one of the first consignment shops in New York City.Tokio 7 now carries men’s and women’s clothes, with the overarching theme being, as Makoto says, that they are simply “cool.” The clothes are mostly from Japanese designers and name brands with unique twists. In the store, clothing that has been donated with a lot of wear is labeled “well loved.”Despite its importance in the community, the shop fell on tough times during the COVID-19 pandemic. To make matters worse, Tokio 7 was looted in the summer of 2020 and had 300 items stolen. When Makoto contemplated closing his doors permanently, longtime customers begged him to reconsider. Resilient as ever, he set up a small photography area in the back of the shop and sold a portion of his clothes online to compensate for the decline of in-person purchases.Reflecting on his journey, Makoto marveled at the whims of fate. Had he not been robbed all of those decades ago in California, he had planned to start a life in the Amazon rainforest
This small, old-world neighborhood barbershop is loaded with personality. Everything about Barbiere is unique: the whimsical wrought-iron gate out front, the retro hair and shaving products along the walls, and the high-quality, old-fashioned service. When we poked our heads in to chat with the barbers and their clients—all seated in vintage leather chairs—they were proud to tell us that James Franco is among the celebrities that drop by for a haircut or a classic shave.