No matter what time of day we have stopped by Grey Dog, the restaurant is pulsing, but in a quiet, relaxed sort of way. Despite the lines to order food from the menu on the chalkboard and the crowded tables, everyone is calm and content. Apparently, this has been the vibe since two brothers opened their first restaurant back in 1996 on Carmine Street. Today they have expanded to four different locations, each one incredibly successful. The formula seems to be quite simple – a chill atmosphere, easy-going but efficient staff, a menu that covers all of the basics with a bit of a flair, hefty portions and, most importantly, everything tastes great. Beginning early in the morning, there are pancakes, French toast, eggs, homemade granola and coffee being served. As the day progresses, lots of sandwiches, salads and other creative dishes are available for lunch and dinner. Without a doubt, if I lived nearby, I would also become a regular.
“We are one of the oldest gay bars in the city,” said Helen Burford. The owner of Julius’ considers it an honor to be a part of this history and to allow others to share in it. Many who stop by are keen to dip their toes into an earlier, more troublesome period. “We are a good reminder of the struggles people went through for those of us today.”What better way for young men and women to learn about landmark events like the renowned “Sip-In,” where gay activists challenged New York’s prohibitions on gay bars? The patrons who have been frequenting Julius’ for decades are happy to provide a history lesson. Every day around 4 p.m., they sit in a corner and share stories of what it was like back in the day. “This is their home. To them, Julius’ is not a bar — rain or shine, they need to be here.” The old group, now in their seventies and eighties, enjoy having a drink and chatting with one another, but they also invite “guests” into the conversation — passing the baton, as this is their legacy. “They are always trying to bring young people into the fold,” Helen commented.
Bell Book and Candle has a rooftop garden where much of their vegetables and herbs are grown, and there is also a “secret” dining area upstairs during the warmer weather months. Our dinner in the springtime offered food that was prepared with all of the freshness one could ask. Each of the ingredients in the different salads and the entire vegetable platter that we shared were creative and reminded us that eating straight from the garden provides a totally different and pleasurable culinary experience. When our meal was being served, my clever husband chimed in to recite the incantation to our friends and waiter - "ring the bell, open the book, light the candle." It was when we were leaving, though, that he caught all of our attention, once again piping in with a smile, "ring the bell, close the book, snuff the candle." We all laughed, applauded him, and left, having had a bewitching evening.
As Hamlet would say, “This is one of the places you come to the village for.” Walking through the door, a small white pooch runs up to greet you, then leads you back through the racks of coats, pants, hats, and other accessories. As the owner, Hamlet, emphasizes, the inventory here is vintage clothing (not a second-hand shop), that dates from the 1940s to the 80s. The selection is sourced through various vintage collectors from all over the world. Hamlet credits his eye for fashion to his mother, who, he says, was a fashion designer in his home country of Dominican Republic. He is very proud of his collection and iterates that the store is not for “80s party” accoutrement, rather it is a resource for historic elegance and style. And if you stop in, you may even get your picture taken, as Hamlet will often have his customers model his new acquisitions.
Every nook and cranny of this tiny storefront's space is full of an extensive and eclectic collection of musical instruments from around the world. Instruments hang from the ceiling just as haphazardly as they are stacked on top of one another from the floor. Located at this same address for over fifty years, Music Inn has an impressive sitar selection from the 1960's, a rare 100 year old sarinda from Afghanistan, as well as adorable little child guitars and mini pianos. I had a quick throwback moment when I spied an autoharp. Do you remember music class in elementary school back in the 60's?
62 East 4th Street has had a fascinating history. At its inception in 1889, it served as a social hall housing a musician's union known as Astoria Hall, as well as hosting meetings of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. In the 1930's, the ballroom was revamped as a theater and television studio and renamed Fortune Theater until Andy Warhol discovered it and left his legendary stamp here. In 1969, he rented it out to showcase a series of infamous porn films and called it Andy Warhol's Theater: Boys to Adore Galore. Over the years, the Yiddish theater had performances here, and many well known television shows used the space to film. Since 1987, the Duo Center has been here having raised the funds for renovations, and then remaining throughout construction to become home to what is now Duo Multicultural Arts Center and Rod Rogers Dance Company and Studio. Today the building is part of Fourth Arts Block (FAB) and operates as a center for film, dance, art, theater and music and is among New York's designated cultural districts.
Pageant Print Shop’s entirely glass storefront bordered by light blue is instantly eye-catching and proudly displays the treasure within. Inside its bright, buttercream interior, an immense assortment of old prints and maps line every wall and fill neatly-labeled display racks.This sanctuary of beautiful historical pieces was created by Sidney Solomon and Henry Chafetz in 1946. It was originally one of the many second-hand book stores on Fourth Avenue, an area that was then known as “Book Row.” Now under the leadership of Sidney’s daughters, Shirley and Rebecca, Pageant Print Shop primarily sells old prints and is thriving at its current 4th Street location.Having worked with historic pieces her whole life, Shirley knows how to get the best prints. She has amassed her impressive collection from antique book auctions as well as other various sources that she has built up over the years. Rodger, who has been working at Pageant Print Shop for over a decade, told Manhattan Sideways that “what we are looking for are old books with the bindings broken that are really not in very good shape on the outside, but still have good quality prints, maps, or illustrations on the inside.” Although they search for old books based on the contents within, the shop also sells the old bindings for creatives looking to make decoupage and other fun art projects.Pageant Print Shop is definitely a fixture in the East Village, and in the words of Rodger, is “one of those neighborhood jams.” They enjoy “a loyal group of people that have been coming here for eons," tourists looking for something authentically New York City, and neighborhood people walking by. Rodger told us that newcomers are often “surprised that they are able to buy a piece of history,” and return for more of their authentic, beautiful, and historic prints. Pageant Print Shop is unique in its extensive, high quality, and affordable selection. Rodger affirmed that “It’s going to be hard for you to find someone who has this kind of a collection at these kinds of prices - it’s just true.”
After moving to her current location from East 7th Street, Lalita Kumut is pleased with her new address for selling aromatherapy products. On one of our recent visits, we stood by while a delighted group of girls were creating their own fragrances. From the variety of custom blends, soaps, oils and other smell-good body products, to the lovely women who have been in this business for over twenty years, the Fragrance Shop offers a memorable experience for the senses.