The Broadway Dance Center was born from the passion of Richard Ellner, who decided to take up tap dancing when he was fifty-two years old. A lifelong fan of Broadway musicals, Mr. Ellner made the decision to purchase the Hatchett-Hines dance studio in 1984, and make it his own. His dream was to provide a home for teachers and dancers, in every realm, who would lend their own personal style to one studio instead of having to travel throughout the city to receive training.
Due to its talented staff, BDC gained popularity, drawing students from across the globe. Over the next fifteen years, the center grew under Mr. Ellner's guidance and his vision of sharing the joy of dancing with both recreational and professional dancers. In the beginning of 1998, Allison, Mr. Ellner's daughter, came on board to help her dad run the business until his death. She went on to fulfill his vision and grew the company exponentially. Having occupied several floors on 57th Street for some years, the BDC settled into its current location in 2006. At this, a state-of-the-art facility on 45th, Mr. Ellner's legacy lives on in many of Broadway's most illustrious theaters.
When we went to visit BDC and observe some of their classes, we had the pleasure of engaging in a conversation with Aja Washington, one of the hundreds of dancers taking a class that day. We learned that she is originally from Nashville, but came to Manhattan with dreams of becoming a professional dancer and choreographer. Her first stop was BDC where she enrolled in their four-month long professional program, taking twelve classes a week – most of which were hip-hop and contemporary, along with one master class. Although those dreams may still be in the works, Aja says that coming to BDC has given her much more than she ever expected. "I have been living in the city only a year now, but I feel at home as I have become a part of the community at BDC."
The BDC community not only nurtures its dancers, but also helps them reach their goals, whether personal, like Richard Ellner’s, or professional, like Aja’s. One of the classes we watched was in advanced hip-hop, taught by Joanna Numata. An accomplished dancer, Joanna was a treat to observe in action. The students – clad in the bold prints, full body jump suits, and harem pants that PR Director April Cook predicted would be in vogue in two years – quickly picked up the moves and had pulled together an impressive routine by the end of the hour-and-a-half-long class.
Paul Stuart's flagship location commands the southwest corner of Madison Avenue, a 60, 000 square foot retail space dedicated to fine menswear. Established in 1938 by haberdasher Ralph Ostrove - and named after his son - Paul Stuart is committed to revitalizing and updating the classic American style. Continuing on with the family tradition, CEO, Michael Ostrove, explains that Paul Stuart is "an American interpretation of its Anglo roots, " those that stretch to London's famous Savile Row.
Beer Culture opened in the summer of 2013, offering beer, cider, whiskey, and bottled sodas. Customers can come in to pick up a bottle – or growler - of beer to take home, or grab a seat at the bar to chat with the friendly staff while noshing on some charcuterie. The record player behind the bar is usually going and if the owner, Matt Gebhard, and bar manager, Peter Malfatti, are around, they are bound to strike up a conversation and offer to guide patrons through their extensive beer selection. The beers are organized by region. The first door of their huge, glass-front fridge is full of beers from New York State, while the second is full of east coast beers, and the third and fourth is full of central and west coast beers. A bit further back into the room is their international fridge, proudly boasting selections from the UK, France, and three shelves worth of Belgian beers. For patrons who just want a nice, cold, familiar beer, grandpa's fridge is the place to go. Customers often mistake the old Kelvinator across from the bar as a prop and are always surprised when they open it up and realize that it works and that they recognize all of the brands inside of it. Matt included grandpa's fridge because he thinks that there is a place for all beers (except lite ones, which are not sold on the Beer Culture premises) and that some brands hold emotional value for customers. True to its name, the beers in the old Kelvinator are those that Matt had seen in his own grandfather's fridge growing up. Matt's first true exposure to beer and its culture was during a year he spent studying abroad in Belgium. When he came back home to upstate NY, Matt was nineteen and decided to pursue his newfound passion by working in a local Belgian brewery. He remained here for a few years until he met Peter, his future bar manager, who was living in Rochester, NY. Before opening their own place, Matt came to Manhattan and worked in a Belgian bar in Midtown. Although he enjoyed it, Matt told us that he wanted to do things his own way and fulfill his vision of what a bar should be. The bar that these two terrific guys opened is one that is dedicated to the simple, comfortable and unpretentious beverage that they adore. Nestled between Eighth and Ninth Avenue in a residential part of 45th Street, Beer Culture, is a hybrid bar and bottle shop offering its customers over 500 different types of beer. Although at the time of this write-up, Beer Culture had been around for less than a year, both Matt and Peter already feel like part of the block. As Matt stated, "We pride ourselves in being an establishment of beer nerds, not beer snobs. "
After eleven years in her Noho location, Executive Chef and Food Network star Alex Guarnaschelli opened Butter in the Cassa Hotel, a Midtown twin to her well-known restaurant. Shaped by Guarnaschelli's own travels and time spent working abroad, the attractive dark wood restaurant with comfortable booth seating, is American but with the requisite global touches and ingredients expected of fine dining. When Chef Guarnaschelli isn't filming, she is in the kitchen, on the line, adding her fine touch into every aspect of the cooking. As members of her staff shared with us, Alex is dedicated to bringing fresh and simple ingredients together in beautifully crafted dishes. On a rare and special night out with just my husband and daughter, I could not pass up the opportunity to bring my butter-loving girl to this dining experience. Since she has always considered the dairy treat to be its own food group, I had the highest hopes for the meal - particularly the bread basket - which did not disappoint. The warm Pullman-style rolls with the house-made butters (a plain with a hint of sour cream for richness, and an herb that was light and lovely) were out of this world. All three of us agreed we could leave satisfied just from that - and a spicy cocktail, of course (the Ghost Margarita) But we powered ahead sharing the burrata salad. The creamy burrata with garden-fresh tomatoes was divine and the ribeye steaks that my husband and daughter ordered were cooked perfectly and sat atop smashed purple potatoes. And, as a vegetarian, I always keep an eye out for restaurants working to develop unique, hearty main courses. The charred coconut milk-soaked cauliflower was much appreciated. We finished things off, in case one thought we had already indulged ourselves sufficiently, with the raspberry beignets accompanied by a vanilla dipping sauce. If the name of this restaurant alone does not have one's mouth watering, I am sure that it is now!