The name, the color scheme, the flyer: it all caught my attention, and I had to have a conversation with the gentlemen at this cleaners. It is not everyday that one finds three childhood friends from Princeton, New Jersey, who decide that a great entrepreneurial idea might be to open a cleaners. Well Matt, Joey and Jared did, and from what I could discern, I believe they are absolutely onto something. The concept originated with Matt, who worked in finance and was having difficulty coordinating his schedule with that of his local cleaners. Growing frustrated, he decided that there were several ways to improve on this industry. He left his day job and went to work as a manager in the plant of a dry cleaning company, learning the ins and outs of the business. Upon opening his own shop in the spring of 2013, he made the decision to go paperless - receipts and notifications are emailed to customers. On top of that, they work hard to "meet each person's specific needs" and offer extended hours in an effort to accommodate as many people in the area as possible. Dry cleaning equipment is not allowed in residential buildings in NYC, so all of the clothing is sent to a plant uptown. The difference with these guys, though, is that there is always a person from Suits and Skirts overseeing the work being done. And once it is brought back to them on 28th Street, they inspect the items before repackaging them for delivery or pickup. What more could one expect from their local cleaners? The good news is that they are scouting around for location number two and hope to continue opening up around Manhattan in the future.
Originally known as the Manhattan Opera House, 311 West has had an interesting history. Oscar Hammerstein built the theater in 1906, but after a few short years, the Metropolitan Opera House came to him requesting that he not compete with them, and made him an offer that he could not refuse. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hammerstein sold the building to the Shubert brothers where they continued to feature a variety of shows and concerts. In 1922, it was sold again, and this time a Grand Ballroom was added. Unbeknownst to the builders, they had created an outstanding acoustic setup where musicians from Harry Belafonte to the Grateful Dead have performed and recorded. Over the past twenty plus years, construction has been on-going as more multimedia studios have been added and a refurbishing done to the Hammerstein Ballroom to accommodate large private events.
With construction starting in 1958 and finishing ten years later, Saint Vartan Cathedral represents the first Armenian Apostolic cathedral built in North America. Named after a saint who was martyred a millennium and a half ago defending Armenian Christianity, Saint Vartan Cathedral had a memorable beginning. During its construction and immediately following its completion, the building was visited by the highest authority within the Church, His Holiness Vasken I, marking the first such visit by a Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians in the United States. For a people so persecuted throughout history, and especially by the recent Armenian genocide, the building and consecration of this holy house was a monumental event in the community. His Holiness Vasken I, looking out at an assembled audience soon after Saint Vartan's completion, spoke of "an admirable picture of spiritual grace - a rare moment of spiritual bliss - to which we are all witnesses. " But far from being a relic, the church continues to thrive with the energy of the community it houses. I encourage any visitors to the church to walk through the intricately decorated doors and take some time to absorb the sheer size and depth of the church. Narrow strips of stained glass depicting biblical scenes and significant events in the history of the Armenian Church rise up to the impressive dome, which depicts Christian symbols in paint and stained glass, such as a human eye within a triangle (representing the omniscient Triune God), the wooden ship (representing the Church), and the white dove (representing the Holy Spirit). Closer to the altar, the “Head of Christ” is chiseled on a slate of stone in high relief. Silver and gold crosses decorate the distinctly Armenian altar. On the sides of the altar are paintings of St. Sahag and St. Mesrob, the two men credited with inventing the Armenian Alphabet, and a painting that seeks to honor the victims of the dreadful Armenian genocide.