Thursday, January 18, 2018

Picture Of The Day: Oh, Gowanus

The Union Street Bridge in Gowanus

Smith Street Workshop Building On Its Success In Carroll Gardens, Will Soon Open French Immersion Pre-School On Henry Street

Smith Street Workshop at 339 Smith Street 
Olivia Ramsey, Smith Street Workshop's founder and Director
Smith Street Maternelle's new home at 607 Henry Street

Since opening its doors at 581 Henry Street in 2015, Smith Street Workshop has grown dramatically in Carroll Gardens, becoming a comprehensive educational center, which provides the community with academic enrichment for pre-kindergarteners to high school students.
Recently, Smith Street Workshop has expanded into a beautiful second space at 339 Smith Street and is currently putting the finishing touches on a large space at 607 Henry Street for the brand new Smith Street Maternelle, a French immersion pre-school program, which is now accepting  applications for 2018-2019.

The expansion into the new spaces allows Smith Street Workshop to provide additional French language classes for children and adults, as well as immersion music and art classes for pre-schoolers. It also allows the Workshop to support students through individual tutoring across all academic subjects.  In addition, it offers SAT, ACT, Specialized High School and Common Core test prep classes.

Smith Street Workshop's founder and Director, Olivia Ramsey, was one of the founding teachers at Public School 58's French Dual Language Program. For five years, she taught kindergarten and 3rd grade at the school, before starting a small private tutoring practice out of her Smith Street apartment in 2013.  The practice was so successful that Olivia soon had a long waiting list, prompting her to open the space at 581 Henry Street.

Smith Street Workshop is an invaluable resource for students and parents in this neighborhood, so please help spread the word. Learn more about the french classes and tutoring programs at


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Ten-Ichi: New Ramen And Poke Eatery Coming To Smith Street Soon

(photo courtesy of Ten-Ichi Ramen)
Ten-Ichi, a Ramen and Poke restaurant has been operating on 7th Avenue in Park Slope since 2015. Now the eatery is expanding to Boerum Hill, taking over the former "We Olive" store at 116 Smith Street.
Ten-Ichi in Park Slope has earned some solid reviews on Yelp. The menu, which hopefully will be the same at this new location, includes wings, gyoza and shrimp tempura as appetizers. The place offers a nice selection of ramen with pork, chicken, salmon, tofu or vegetables, as well as two choices of Hawaiian poke and three types of buns.
This certainly seems to be a worthy new addition to Smith Street.  What do you think?

For those keeping track, before it was We Olive, a California franchise, this retail space was occupied by Lunetta

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

NYC DOT To Present Proposed Locations For Carshare Pilot Program In Community District 6 At A Meeting This Thursday

 The New York Department of Transportation will give a presentation on its new NYC Carshare Pilot Program and its implementation in our neighborhood at Community Board 6's Transportation/Public Safety Committee Meeting this Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 6:30 pm. The presentation will focus on the proposed parking locations selected to implement the city-wide program.
DoT is designating 15 sites for a total of 30 parking spaces that the agency plans to set aside in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill.  The same amount of spaces will be set aside in Park Slope. The program will also be implemented in Boerum Hill, Red Hook, Brooklyn Heights, as well as other New York City neighborhoods.

From NYC D.O.T.:
In line with recent City Council legislation, the NYC Department of Transportation is launching a two-year citywide pilot to designate about 300 parking spaces in municipal parking facilities and 300 parking spaces on-street in select neighborhoods exclusively for the use of carshare companies.

Carsharing is a service that gives members access to an automobile for short-term use ― usually by the hour or minute. Carshare companies typically provide either round-trip service, where members borrow and return vehicles at the same location (e.g. Zipcar and Enterprise Carshare), or one-way service, where members pick up a car at one location and drop it off at another within the company’s service zone (e.g. Car2Go and ReachNow). Carshare has the potential to:
-Improve local air quality and reduce congestion - New Yorkers who use carshare drive less than those who own their own car. Less driving means cleaner air and fewer cars on city streets.
-Shorten your search for parking by ensuring that carsharers always have a reserved space. Better yet, adding carshare spaces reduces personal car ownership, which benefits all drivers in the neighborhood by lowering the number of cars competing for the curb.
-Lower household transportation costs by providing reliable access to a car without annual car insurance and maintenance bills, tickets, and unexpected costs. You only pay for as much or as little as you drive.
-Improve access to services, friends/family, and recreation by making a car available when you need one.

In an email to constituents, Councilman Brad Lander writes:
"I know it may seem counterintuitive that giving up a small number of parking spots to a car-share program could actually make parking easier for others, too.  But data from other places suggests that will happen. Testing a pilot program here will let us evaluate whether that works in Brooklyn as well."

Local residents can view the proposed locations online for Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill here and for Park Slope here.
Comments on the proposed stations can be submitted here.

The Community Board 6's Transportation/Public Safety Committee meeting will be held at  P.S. 32, 317 Hoyt Street, between Union and President Streets.
All information on the NYC Carshare Pilot Program can be found here.

What are your thoughts on this pilot program? Do you think it will help alleviate congestion and facilitate parking here in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Scotto Funeral Home And Sal's Pizzeria: Is Carroll Gardens About To Lose Two Long-Time Businesses?

Pardon Me For Asking began as a celebration of Carroll Gardens more than ten years ago. In that decade, our little Brooklyn neighborhood has undergone tremendous changes. It has been painful to witness the closing of many small, locally-owned businesses to make way for the arrival of anonymous chains.
Some of the closings are due to ever increasing commercial rents.  Some, however, are due to the fact that neighborhood merchants, who also own their own commercial space, may be tempted to close their family business to become landlords to a high paying tenant.
When the high monthly rents potentially bring in more money than revenue from one's own business, who can blame the local shop owners?

Whether this is the reason behind Scotto Funeral Home and Sal's Pizzeria, two long time family-owned businesses here in Carroll Gardens, advertising their commercial spaces or not, their more-than-likely closure represents a nail in the coffin for the old neighborhood. (Sorry for the pun.)

Scotto Funeral Home
Scotto Funeral Home at 104 -106 1st Place was founded in 1926 by the Scotto family.
The business is situated in the middle of four brownstones owned by the family.
The imminent departure of the funeral home from this location has been rumored about for a while now. A listing for the huge space, which has been posted on the web site of real estate firm CPEX, would confirm what local residents had long suspected.
For generations of Italian-Americans in Carroll Gardens, Scotto's has been an integral part of the community. It is sad to imagine that one day, in the near future, the space may be occupied by a Gap or a Starbucks.

Sal's Pizzeria and Mama Mia
Sadly, another CPEX listing for 305 and 307 Court Street would indicate that Sal's Pizzeria and Mama Maria are also ready to close. Both the businesses and the buildings are owned by John Esposito.  Sal's was founded by John's parents Sal and Maria, who opened the pizzeria in the 1970's.
In 2012, the two businesses were featured on British chef Gordon Ramsay's television show Kitchen Nightmare, which may (or may not) have helped the eateries.

This, too, is a huge commercial space that may attract a chain rather than a locally-owned business.  After 40 plus years, it will be strange to see a new store occupy this corner of the neighborhood.

Change here in Carroll Gardens, as in the rest of New York City, seems inevitable.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Picture Of The Day: Filming Dietland

When night becomes day 
when Dietland is filming on President Street and Carroll Park is totally illuminated.

What's The Big Idea?: Young Philosophers Of New York Offers Kids Winter Workshop In Carroll Gardens

Young Philosophers of New York is starting an eight week winter workshop for 8 to 11 year olds at Court Tree Collective in Carroll Gardens starting tomorrow, January 11, 2018. There is still time to enroll your child, but don't waste any time.

The Young Philosophers of New York's mission to help children become confident and critical thinkers.
The workshop is entitled What’s the Big Idea? and is led by Dustin Webster, a 5th grade teacher at the Mary McDowell Friends School here in Brooklyn.
From Young Philosophers of New York:
"Kids are full of wonder and big questions about life, and in this introductory course, they will engage with these questions philosophically and creatively. Through inquiry and fun activities, kids will start thinking more deeply about these questions than they would anywhere else. This workshop will include an overview of some of the main topics of philosophy and how they relate to our everyday lives. We’ll ask questions like: What makes us who we are? How do we know what we know? What makes an action right or wrong? What is justice? What makes something beautiful? What is the purpose of school, and more! Each session will include a mix of inquiry discussions, games, activities, and art projects that will not only build critical thinking skills, but will also help students learn rhetoric and what makes some reasons for believing something better than others. This process will also help students develop a variety of cognitive and executive functioning skills. Flexible thinking, perspective taking, organization of thoughts, community building, conversational turn taking, active listening, and empathy are just a few of the areas that engaging in philosophical inquiry strengthens, and it does so through a fun process that comes naturally to kids. This is the workshop for any young, creative student who wants to start thinking philosophically and take on life’s big ideas!"

This workshop meets Thursdays, 4:30-6:00 p.m. at the Court Tree Collective, 371 Court Street, 2nd Floor. The tuition is $300.
Enroll your child in this workshop here.

After Thirty Years, Bron Yakov Shoe Repair Closes Its Doors On DeGraw Street

Cobbler Yakov Bron
(photo credit: Alex B. via Yelp)

Several Carroll Gardeners have reached out to us in the past few days to say that Bron Yakov Shoe Repair at 298 DeGraw Street is closing its doors.  Though the business only occupies a tiny little hole in the wall at the corner of Court Street since 1987, it will be missed by many.
PMFA reader Mary-Jean has been going to Yakov for the past twenty years and calls him "one of the last 'real deals' in the area."
Another reader, Kassie wrote of that the Odessa-born shopkeeper is "not the most talkative man in our ‘hood but he alway got the job done. I’ll be sorry to see him go."
According to reader Fred,  Made 4 Me, which sells special occasion dresses, will also be closing. "The woman in the dress shop next door who owns the building said he was in this location for 20 years. She’s been in business for 48 years and she’s closing later this year."
We hear that the shoe repair shop is now only open so that people can pick up their shoes. It was, however, closed closed yesterday at 11:45, when I walked by to take the photos above.

Michael's Shoe and Watch repair store on Smith Street between President and Union Streets is still
in business, though it did almost close in 2012 due to a rent increase.
Let us make sure to support Michael's before we lose the last cobbler in the neighborhood.


Monday, January 08, 2018

Picture Of The Day: Corner Café

When it is cold outside, nothing is more inviting than the warmth of a neighborhood café.
Smith Canteen on Smith Street

This Winter, Learn To Cook Authentic Chinese Food At Court Tree Collective

Amy Ng, who founded Court Tree Collective in Carroll Gardens with her partner Stephen Lipuma in 2013, is starting the new year by hosting two cooking classes "to educated about authentic Chinese food."
The first class, entitled Chinese Clay Pot Rice Cooking , will take place on Saturday, January 20 from 1 to 3 pm.
"Craving an authentic Chinese meal? This one (clay) pot dish is as delicious as it is easy. Steamed chicken and mushrooms marinated in ginger, soy and rice wine. Laid on top of a bed of soft rice with a distinct crunchy rice bottom. Mix it all up and you have a one pot dish! This is for beginners for it’s simplicity and for advanced cooks trying to learn more about authentic Chinese food. ALL STUDENTS WILL TAKE HOME A CHINESE CLAYPOT!"
The class is $75 per person.  Sign up here.

The second class, Chinese Vegetable Exploration, will take place on February 10th, from 5-7.

This wonderful neighborhood gallery is located at 371 Court Street.

After The Snow: The Award For Iciest Sidewalk In The Neighborhood Goes To....

(photo Credit: Brian)
South-West corner of Smith and Union Street at 11:20am on Saturday
Same property on Smith Street
Only a small path along the sidewalk had been cleared
Sunday, January 7 at 5 pm
Barely enough room for two people to walk next to each other.
Last night, same corner. Notice how small the path along Smith Street is.

Most owners or shop keepers in Carroll Gardens shoveled their sidewalk in a timely fashion after last Thursday's snowstorm, which dumped between 6 of snow on the neighborhood.
Others took a while before they got to it, making it difficult to navigate around certain properties.  However, some did not shovel at all or did the very least that they could do, while the snow turned to ice during the frigid temperatures this week-end.

Though I am sure there are quite a few such icy stretches along the neighborhood days after the actual snowstorm, here are just two that deserve the "Iciest Sidewalk" award. 

First is the property currently for sale on the South West corner of Smith and Union Streets. 
Carroll Gardener Brian reached out to PMFA on Saturday with a photo he took of the sidewalk on Saturday morning.
He writes:
"I’ve grown increasingly irritated with non-shovelers but this one is especially egregious. TerraCRG are commercial real company on Dean Street.
This [photo] is from 11:20 or so Saturday morning so PLENTY of time."

Brian contacted one of the agents listed on TerraCRG's 'for sale' sign posted on the property. He received an answer from Dan, the agent. According to Brian, Dan "wrote back apologizing, saying they're just the broker but they'll notify the owner."

Someone did eventually come to clear a narrow path along the stretch of sidewalk, but it was barely wide enough for one person.
We ventured out on Sunday evening at 5 pm to take a look for ourselves and took the additional photos above.  We were not impressed. A full three days after the storm, that sidewalk should have been shoveled properly.

Carroll Street between Bond and the Gowanus Canal along the EMS station
The EMS parking lot cleared, the sidewalk, not so much.
(photos courtesy of Michael)

The second winner of the 'Iciest Sidewalk Award' goes to...wait for it...the EMS station at 347 Bond Street.
Michael, another local resident, sent us photos of the station's sidewalk, which he took on Sunday
evening. He writes:
"Seems the parking lot has been cleared of snow, but the sidewalk has not. So near the EMS - a good place to slip and fall!!"
How insane is this?

Just as a reminder to those who may not know or have conveniently forgotten. It is actually the law to remove snow from one's sidewalk
From New York City's Sanitation Department's web site:
"According to the NYC Administrative Code, every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant or other person having charge of any lot or building must clean snow and ice from the sidewalks adjacent (i.e., in front of, on the side of, in back of) to their properties.
If the snow stops falling between:
7:00 a.m. and 4:49 p.m. - you must clear within four hours
5:00 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. - you must clear within fourteen hours"

Who would you give the award to in the neighborhood?