02/08/17 4:00pm
Court Street is in session: 6 old-school businesses surviving a changing Cobble Hill

Photo by Yelper Hans R. I base my anticipation for a cold cut on how many signs and knives the butcher shop has

Today, Court Street is the second most expensive place for commercial real estate in Brooklyn, topped only by Williamsburg’s Bedford Avenue. Pricey high-end baby clothing boutiques, such as Jacadi and Sprout San Francisco, seem to keep sprouting up, and stores like Rag & Bone have been replacing neighborhood bar and grills.

Recently, the strip of longtime mom-and-pop shops has seen some of its decades-old vendors shutter in the face of mounting rents, including two beloved bookshops. After 30 years in the neighborhood the notoriously cluttered Community Bookstore at 212 Court St. sold for $5.5 million last May, 10 times what owner John Scioli paid for the building in 1980. Then, just a few months later, fellow literary neighbor and Court Street community staple Book Court announced that they would be closing for good after 35 years of business.

An influx of Italian and Middle Eastern families immigrated to the neighborhoods in the early 1900s, setting up family-run stores and businesses. Even as the streets gentrify and become more commercial some of these businesses have stood the test of corporate greed and still stand, now generations old.

As neighbors worry that a sense of community is disappearing, they need to look to establishments like these five to be reminded that the old communities still exist. (more…)

01/06/17 1:00pm
The original artisanal: 6 old-school Williamsburg businesses that are still killing it

Metropolitan Meat Market has been serving the community for years. Via @EmilyBlincoe on Instagram.

In the age of intense turnover in New York City, it feels like something is closing every week. Whole Foods, Apple, Equinox, Chipotle and the laundry list of chain stores that have opened in Williamsburg in the past year or so seems endless. It’s easy to feel discouraged when big corporations start taking over once small unassuming communities, but particularly when there are still longtime business owners in the area adapting to the changes and aiming to serve big and do it well.

The neighborhood is still home to a special class of family-owned businesses in North Williamsburg, where the Italian community’s roots stretch back more than 100 years. All are within a 10 minute walk of each other in Williamsburg. They know each other, and they often work together by selling each other’s products. Although they may get a whopping offer from a real estate agent every now and then, or even every day, the people involved in running these old-school establishments seem optimistic and sure of their method. They’re emblems of a not-going-anywhere attitude while remaining loyal to their customers, with low prices and high quality products.

Part of being a good New Yorker is embracing the things that were in a neighborhood long before you came along so the neighborhood can stave off transforming into another chain-filled anywhere, USA. Here are six old-school Williamsburg businesses still hanging on, and some good reasons to visit each one too. (more…)

12/07/16 3:05am
Don't mourn, organize: 8 organizations where you can volunteer if you can't afford a donation

Stand up for love at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center. via Facebook

Dan Savage, American author, activist for the LGBTQ+ community and the voice behind Savage Love, recently posted a message to Instagram reminding the public that everyone appointed to Donald Trump’s cabinet so far has opposed LGBTQ+ rights, “just so there’s no confusion.”

It’s too easy to sit around feeling helpless right now, letting the dark cloud of anxiety regarding the future of America and its people make time stop. But the people need us. We need each other. We need to work together, to spread the message of inclusivity and take simple steps to make a positive change in somebody’s day. And if you’re not able to donate your money to worthwhile causes out there, there are still ways to get involved with local organizations that need volunteers and support, especially in a time where many of their missions are under fire by the president-elect and his team.

Volunteers for these organizations have a direct and positive impact on marginalized communities, and can assist families with legal issues and children of incarcerated parents. They can work on steps to spread anti-violence education and engender social change in their community. Last Saturday, history was made when the Army Corps of Engineers put a “temporary stop” on the building of the Dakota Access pipeline; it felt like the first good news of 2016. But more than that, it was proof that this stuff works.

Activism — whether through protests, ground relief, community engagement or otherwise — does work on a practical level, so long as we keep trying. In that spirit, here’s a roundup of local spots to volunteer your time, to work towards creating social awareness and change. (more…)

04/08/15 10:45am
l train shutdown

Go ahead, leave us. We don’t need you. via Flickr user Juha Uitto

[UPDATE: The MTA has pushed back the start of the work from this weekend to next weekend, starting at 11:30pm on Friday, April 17]

It seems we’ve all been angrily anticipating the spring service change on the L train that will halt all weekend service into Manhattan for the next six weekends straight from April 11  through May 18. Well, it’s time to look on the bright side! The L train shutdown means less Manhattanites which means that all of North Brooklyn’s dining, shopping and venues are yours for the taking. From bagels to burlesque shows, we give you the ABC’s of bars, restaurants, galleries, venues and shops stop by stop so you can effortlessly fill up your weekend calendars without leaving this side of the L. (more…)