Across the park and nine streets north from the 64th Street location, Olivia, a member of the Manhattan Sideways team, was still visibly excited to be sitting down to breakfast at Alice's Tea Cup. Though she loves each of the teahouse's three "chapters," the 73rd Street cafe is the original - and the first one she visited as a young teen. She shared stories with me of coming here and marveling at the tiered Afternoon Teas that would arrive at her table, filled with scones, finger sandwiches and sweets. She questioned whether or not she might have been a bit too old at fifteen to celebrate her birthday here and then spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around New York blowing sparkle-filled bubbles, dressed in a pair of shimmering fairy wings acquired from the tea shop's front room, which is filled with whimsical retail items.
On our visit to Alice's, Olivia, now a mature twenty-five, had her usual - a pumpkin scone with a personal pot of tea - while Tom, our photographer, ordered "the biggest coffee" they had. It arrived in a mug "the size of Tom's face." Olivia pointed out all the Alice in Wonderland themed decorations that she remembered from previous visits, including a quote from the character of the Duchess written in fun purple font along the walls and an angry painting of the red queen in the bathroom, telling employees to wash their hands or "Off with your head!" Her favorite little decorative touch, however, was on the swinging door into the kitchen. There is a giant keyhole window, suggesting that maybe, like Alice, the diners had shrunk to the size of mice, and would be swept away into a magical land, scones and teacups in hand.
With its prime 72nd Street location, I have passed by Malachy's Donegal Inn almost daily, but had never stepped inside. I was always waiting for the day when I would be working on this street, so that I could go in with the Manhattan Sideways team and have a good time. And that is exactly what happened. "Looks can be deceiving, believe me," owner Bill Raftery immediately said when we popped in during the lunch hour in the middle of the week. He continued to speak lovingly and confidently of his pub, which has been in business since 1989. "This bar has the best pub food of any like it in the area," Bill stated. Looking around, we were pleased to find the old wooden bar packed from end to end. According to Bill, most of his lunch customers are crew guys from local theaters like The Beacon and Lincoln Center, and "they are loyal." Engaging in conversation with more than a dozen men and women, we learned a lot about Bill, and the warm environment that he has built.As Bill continued to serve people from behind the bar, he spoke of how much the neighborhood has changed since he purchased Malachy's. On Saint Patrick's Day, the area used to be blanketed in green bar-goers. "You could not move in this neighborhood the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There's nothing like seeing them blow up those balloons." Hikes in parking and travel costs have drastically reduced business on both of those days, he lamented. Still, he brightened up when pointing to the crowded bar, and said how his regulars are certainly devoted customers. Quite busy, he told us to stop by for a drink sometime soon, and headed into the kitchen.
I walked into Ribbon, the new dining experience from Bruce and Eric Bromberg, on their "friends and family night" and was immediately impressed. One of the waiters, Alex Bar-av, explained to me the history of the building. It used to be the Hotel Franconia, built in the 1920s by Arnold Rothstein, a famous Jewish gangster best remembered for "fixing" the 1919 World Series. The Hotel Franconia became known as the only place where people could drink openly during the Prohibition, since Rothstein paid off the cops. To celebrate this quirky heritage, Ribbon's 200 seat restaurant has a private room called the "Arnold Rothstein Room." Softly glowing cases of whiskey bottles on the walls add to the speakeasy-like feeling in the dark-wood room while also highlighting Ribbon's expansive whiskey collection (there are ninety-five types of whiskey on the menu).When I returned to the restaurant as an invited guest a few days later, Alex took me to see the darkened strip on the floor underneath a row of tables where the old bar used to be. He explained that when they gutted the space, the builders found the Hotel Franconia's original wood floor. The faded frescoes on the wall, now covered in glass, are also from the 1924 hotel. Alex is not alone in his in-depth knowledge. He told me that the employees are constantly being quizzed on their ability to give the facts to customers, not just about the food, but about Ribbon's story.Since my personal visits with Alex, I have had several terrific dinners at Ribbon, but it was especially nice when I came by with the Manhattan Sideways team and Alex brought out a collection of dishes for us to try. Laying them on tables made of repurposed wood from a Brooklyn warehouse floor, he served us a sextet of different kinds of deviled eggs, each with its own taste sensation, and a white bean hummus. The cauliflower covered in spicy buffalo sauce was my personal favorite. It is no surprise that the food is as good as it is, given that the Bromberg Brothers have twenty years of success in the culinary world behind them. "They know what they're doing," Alex smiled. I mentioned to the others that I had not seen the cauliflower on the menu before, and Alex quickly chimed in to say that the menu has changed since the restaurant first opened. "We take customer feedback very seriously," Alex shared, explaining that the food offerings were adjusted according to diners' comments. Ribbon is also known for a great raw bar, their fried chicken served only on Sundays and Mondays, their prime rib, and their hamburgers.Alex emphasized that this is a family friendly place. Despite the great skill of the staff, he pointed out that Ribbon is not considered "fine" dining. Instead, he referred to the restaurant as "elevated dining."
Jennifer Klein lived on 72nd Street for several decades before debuting her latest restaurant and bar. Since Dakota Bar opened in 2013, it has become a hotspot, attracting Upper West Siders with its chic, unpretentious vibes. The bar features seasonal cocktails, an eclectic menu, and an extensive wine and beer list, all curated by Jennifer.
The Emerald Inn had its home on Columbus Avenue and 69th Street since 1943, but in 2013, the family was unable to renew their lease. Charlie, the current owner, pointed out the "Emerald Inn" sign on the wall that came from the original bar. Although a third generation American citizen, we found Charlie to be Irish through and through. He explained that his great-grandparents, who started the Emerald Inn, grew up in the same town in the county of Galway, but that they magically met here, in the Bronx. Every May, Charlie does his best to travel to Ireland, and in return, his Irish relatives have visited him and his bar in Manhattan. He announced, "They have liked what they've seen."Charlie has tried to maintain the Gaelic charm that his father, grandfather and great grandfather brought to the Inn. The menu continues to include Irish favorites like corned beef, fish and chips, and bangers and mash, but also offers some American classics like burgers and Reubens. "We do a solid lunch – everything is good here," Charlie said proudly. As he poured a pint of Guinness like a pro, waiting for "the black stuff" to settle before filling the glass, I asked him a bit more about his family. I learned that his grandfather is still alive, in his eighties. Charlie told me that his grandfather used to be chummy with Hugh Downs, a former 20/20 ABC TV news magazine host who frequented the bar, along with many other ABC celebrities. Charlie remembers coming to the bar when he was as young as three years old. Once he hit working age, he slowly rose from dishwasher to waiter and then to bartender before taking over the bar from his father, who is now in semi-retirement.On a subsequent visit to the Emerald Inn, I was able to see all three generations together. Each man shares the same sense of humor and geniality. An excellent sense of hospitality clearly runs in the family, since all three men showed the same amount of friendliness and humor towards the Manhattan Sideways team, offering them plates of "Irish lasagna" and chicken marsala, which warmed the team's stomachs (along with the generous pitchers of beer!).Charlie confided that he was worried when the rent on the previous location doubled, causing him to have to search for a new home. "We were very beloved in the neighborhood," he informed me. They found the current location entirely by chance – Charlie's father was driving by as the previous owner was clearing out. He noticed a commotion, recognized that the space had been a bar, and immediately snagged it. Charlie was pleased to say that two years later, the bar has both gained new customers and retained many of their old ones. "There's a mix of everybody," Charlie said matter-of-factly. "People are still finding us two years later." One group that keeps coming back is the New York Ballet. They use Emerald Inn as their neighborhood hangout, but are a little disappointed with the low ceilings in the new location. "They used to be able to dance on the bar," Charlie laughed. He then admitted that many of the dancers have known him since he was very little. "They still call me 'Baby Charlie,'" he said with a grin.
From the conversations that I have had with others on the Upper West Side over the last few years, I have determined that almost anyone who lives or works nearby can tell you about Dive 75. It has been the neighborhood watering hole since 1998 when Lee Seinfeld and Jim Peterson first opened it. Prior to going into business together, they were both bartenders at Broadway Dive on 101st Street and had been friends for many years before that. As Lee puts it, “Our relationship is longer than either of our marriages.” Each of their three Dive Bars has a subtle, aquatic theme, with fish tanks occupying a central location in the room. Though this feature is primarily a play on words, Lee did mention to me that Jim is a diver and owns a successful diving store.Despite the name, the bar is very clean. Despite the oxymoron, it truly is an “upscale” dive bar. “I can’t keep it as dive-y as I want to,” Lee laughed. He keeps the venue in top shape and offers an extensive scotch, wine, and craft beer list that drinkers usually would not see in a true dive bar, since that seems to be what his customers prefer. He also pointed out that he has an impressive selection of ciders. “I love ciders,” he said simply, telling me about a reasonably new cider provider called Aaron Burr from the Hudson Valley that uses foragers to collect their apples. Lee was then pleased to share that his son, Nicholas, now does a lot of the buying, having recently joined the business.When I stopped in late one afternoon, Shira Levine, one of the bartenders, was getting ready to open for the evening. Originally from Israel, Shira told me that she moved to New York in 2011 and essentially got a job at Dive 75 the very next day. She enjoys letting friends at home know where she works: “I tell them, ‘You know Cheers?’ That’s where I work.” She then added, “It’s Halloween here every day,” since the bar always has candy on hand. When I asked what customers usually come in for, she answered, “The beer selection, the board games...basically, the great ambience. They just come to have fun.” She added that people also come to be part of a group.In my conversations with Lee, he elaborated on this group vibe, saying that he did not realize how important the bar was to the community until 9/11. Shortly after the tragedy, people started showing up to the bar in droves, not to drink so much as to simply be together. “The bar became a hub where people went to console each other.” Similarly, after Hurricane Sandy, when many were left without power, men and women visited Dive 75 so that they could eat a hot meal. Lee was happy to provide a service to those in need. “I’m proud to be able to serve the neighborhood.” And it is evident that the neighborhood is happy to have him.
Ronald McDonald House is a very special place that provides a "temporary 'home away from home' for pediatric cancer patients and their families." Having had an apartment, for a short time, just a few doors down from their 73rd Street location, I was aware of the wonderful work that they do. When I mentioned to Sophie, one of our Manhattan Sideways team members, that I wanted to feature them on 73rd, she lit up and shared her close connection to the organization on the West Coast.Sophie told me that she was honored to visit and help her mother volunteer with her miniature horses at the Los Angeles and Pasadena chapters. "I was immediately won over by their mission, but even more important, by the children themselves. A significant aspect of their programming is to provide children with the opportunity to just be kids, first and foremost. Seeing the kids interact with the miniature horses showed me how much excitement and exuberance these children have. The smiles on the faces of their parents were always equally heart-warming."Ronald McDonald House New York has been providing care and support to families since 1978. They "coordinate emotional and physical services, psychological care, ministry support, wellness programs, tutors, music, art, transportation, activities for siblings, holiday and birthday parties, and camaraderie for parents struggling with their child's cancer diagnosis." In addition, this particular location has a Greek Division that provides services for families from Greece and Cyprus, Camp Ronald McDonald in the summer, classes in English as a second language, therapy for dogs (Angels on a Leash), and Weird Science, where the kids conduct intriguing and engaging experiments.Love and care are Ronald McDonald's central tenants. New York has its own set of angels in the way of the volunteers who play a major role in the day to day lives of the children. The Day Team leads afternoon activities and the Evening Team coordinates birthday parties, holidays, and dinners. The volunteer sign up is a major commitment to help provide a sense of normalcy and strength to the children and their families. If interested in volunteering, please visit their website.
Kate Rheinstein Brodsky, the creator of KRB, was immersed in the world of design and retail from a young age. Her mother, Suzanne Rheinstein, is an internationally recognized designer. Ever since Kate was a child, her mom has run Hollyhock, a Los Angeles furniture boutique. "I really loved retail," Kate shared, telling me how she would go to Hollyhock after school and work there over summer breaks. As a teenager, she wanted to open a bookstore, but realized that this might be difficult in the digital age. As a "homebody" and frequent hostess, Kate knew that she enjoyed creating beautiful homes, both for herself and others. As she described it, "I loved the feeling of home, of having a nice place to live in." Ultimately, her passion for retail manifested itself in a career in the design world.Upon graduating from New York University with a degree in art history, Kate worked for Jeffrey Bilhuber, the interior designer. "I love interior design...but I'm not an interior designer," she said. Working for Jeffrey, however, she learned a lot of things that would help her later on in the world of retail. She realized the importance of customer service and doing things "correctly, in a thoughtful manner." Following her time with Jeffrey, she worked at Elle Decor, which taught her discipline and introduced her to new looks. "I was exposed to so many different styles," she explains. "Sometimes you don't know you like something until you see it." Kate has maintained a good relationship with Elle Decor – they recently featured her Upper East Side apartment as part of their "House Tour," which brought a collection of readers, impressed by her style, to Kate's boutique.When I visited KRB, I was taken by the variety of colors, as opposed to the usual browns and golds that dominate antique shops. The salesperson, Fiona, said that adding bold colors to antique pieces is one of Kate's trademarks. She showed me some traditional chairs with bright olive green seats as an example, saying, "Green's a big color for her," before pointing out Kate's love for French opaline. Fiona went on to say that Kate could be inspired by anything. She spoke of a box of old cameos that Kate found. When Fiona inquired, "What are you going to do with those?" Kate answered matter of factly, "I don't know, but I'll figure it out." Kate elaborated, "I like to reinterpret old things." By this, she means both in the pieces, as with the chairs, and in the way they are used. She told me that there are many beautiful finger bowls out there that are no longer used - or at least not as finger bowls. Kate encourages customers to use them in new ways, by putting votive candles in them or a small scoop of strawberry ice cream. "I like taking things out of their original context," she admitted. As another example, she told me about the tric trac tables, tables used to play a precursor to backgammon. The board is so similar to backgammon that the tables have been able to be repurposed."I get very attached to furniture," Kate admitted, likening different pieces to rescue animals. "I want them to have good homes." She realizes, however, that people have different styles and that she may have to wait a while for the right person to come along. She added that although her mother heavily influenced her, the two women do not always see eye to eye on design. "We have our own taste," she said. Despite their differences, the store is still inspired by her mother's extraordinary career. "I always love watching her, how she explains to people how to incorporate beauty into their life."There is the possibility that a third generation of Rheinstein women might enter the world of design. In 2015, Kate was the proud mom of new daughter number three. "I love that my children comprehend what I do," she told me. When they ask her where she is going, she can answer "to the store" and they know exactly where she will be. Owning the boutique means she has a flexible work schedule and can easily spend a lot of time with her children. She specifically opened on the Upper East Side to be near her family – and other families. She wanted to be in a place where people could stumble upon her and buy a housewarming present, rather than in a design-industry-heavy neighborhood. "I just hope I'm on people's path. I encourage them to come look....browsers welcome." As for her daughters and what they think of her boutique, Kate told me that her five-year-old recently told her teacher that when she grows up, she wants to be "a mommy and a shopkeeper."
Session 73 is the everyman's live music bar. With a casual vibe and bands that always get the crowd moving, the space is the essential neighborhood watering hole. Ryan Morrissey, the general manager, spoke about the bar's origins and the reason for its success.Corby Thomas, the owner of Session 73, noticed that there was no venue for live music on the Upper East Side. He opened the bar in 2000, but as a harmonica player, he really wanted to bring in blues and funk groups. The neighborhood, however, made its wishes known and embraced cover rock. "Music is the life blood of this place," Ryan said, adding, "Musicians like being here." Some of the bands return multiple times, including "The Characters" who have been performing at Session since 2002. Many of the bands play "just to have a good time," whereas others are often school teachers or engineers, performing here as an outlet for their creative side. This attitude seems to resonate well with the patrons, as they, too, are able to get into the music. According to Ryan, "People get goofy and have a good time," causing the bar to become "really high energy at night," with people dancing and singing along.It is not solely about the music: the food and drink have also attracted attention. The bar's sliders have been especially popular since day one, and the innovative cocktails on the menu are often requested, especially since two employees, Lauren and Christina, started infusing their own liquors behind the bar. On the day that some of us from Manhattan Sideways stopped in, the glass vats of cucumber lychee and cucumber lemon gin were about to be switched over to pumpkin spice vodka for the fall. The Moscow mule was mixed to perfection while the special of the day, a cucumber martini, was refreshing. We also tried Ryan's personal favorite, the Strawberry Habanero Margarita with smoked paprika salt on the edge. His description works best: "It doesn't hit you hard, but then you feel it." Finally, we sampled a bright red "wicked lemonade" made with a house-made mixed berry simple syrup.As we sipped on the concoctions, I asked Ryan about the crowds that they receive. He explained that they get all sorts of people visiting Session 73, but that most are locals rather than tourists. Because of this, they often are quite well-dressed. There is no dress code, but people on the Upper East Side "tend to want to look their best." The busiest day, oddly enough, is Sunday. "It's the craziest thing I've ever seen," Ryan said, wide-eyed, describing the big rush that occurs on what is considered to be the slowest day for most businesses.Ryan showed us to the Session 73's back room, which is used for private events and holds up to eighty people. A variety of functions happen in this room: Ryan is especially proud of the charity events that the bar hosts, but the back room has seen everything from first birthday parties to funeral wakes. "The bar is here for its neighbors through all stages of life," Ryan offered. "People meet and get married and have kids in this bar." He should know - Ryan met his wife at Session 73. In closing, Ryan shared that his neighborhood staple inspires the locals. When he stands out front, he often hears someone reminiscing about the time that they have spent here. Some of his favorite lines have been, "Remember when we were there last weekend," or "That was a wild night," and, of course, "I love that place!"
Mario Guerrero, a black belt, has made a name for himself in the martial arts world for helping at-risk kids by giving them training in discipline, fitness, and hand-eye coordination. He now has studios scattered throughout the city, from Tribeca to the Upper East Side, where children and adults alike can learn kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts. Recently, Krav Maga, a form of Israeli street fighting, has been added to the roster. Modern Martial Arts advertises classes for everyone from "casual fitness seekers to trained, professional fighters." The studio does more than offer classes; however: they also create a community. Mario and his trained teachers offer karate birthday parties, fitness-centered movie nights, and "Parent's Night Out" evening classes for kids.We met with Adam, who was teaching an adult mixed martial arts class. He greeted each of the students who walked in with warmth and humor. Once the class began, the group transitioned from generic fitness exercises to work with punching bags and finally horizontal punching bags where the studio members practiced their "ground pounds." Watching Adam encourage his students to let out a "pshhh" sound each time they hit, I realized that the class was a terrific way to let off steam.