Seaport Report, March 13, 2014

BY JANEL BLADOW  |  The ice skating rink and blow up music venue are gone. Sidewalk café tables are coming out. Spring must be on its way. And with it comes a lot of rebirth around our neighborhood.

Cha..cha..changes… Good and bad news with the closing of Meade’s on Peck Slip. Sadly our neighborhood hangout is now gone, but happily much of it is preserved over at Jeremy’s Ale House (228 Front St.). Most of the Meade’s staff has transitioned over along with tables and benches, with the crew dubbing the front corner “Club Meade’s.”

Two weekends ago, the famous Meade’s brunch was recreated and has proven a hit at the Ale House. Among the new favorites on the menu are the eggs benedict with lox and freshly made hollandaise. And the all the Mimosas special continues as well

“We have a slightly smaller menu,” says Lee Holin who will operate the venue on weekends. “And bring aboard Meade’s extensive beer menu, “ by adding more choices of craft beers in bottles and cans.

Mondays through Fridays, 8 – 11 am, customers can start the day (or end it!) with Pupu’s breakfast – an egg sandwich with a can of beer ($5) or a coffee ($4). 

“At the core, we will still have our dive bar atmosphere,” adds Jeremy Holin who will still be around part of the week. “There aren’t that many left in the city. And we are one of the longest running establishments here in the Seaport.”

Both say that their place is a little part of what the Seaport used to be.

But while they like to keep alive the old spirit, they are forward thinking. Soon they will embrace “green” and away will go the giant Styrofoam beers giving way to glass pints. “We’ve been thinking about it a long time,” adds Jeremy. “Customers like our big foam cups. But it’s time for them to go.”

Cha..cha…changes due (or two in Italian)… Transition over at Pasanella & Son Vintners (115 South St.) as well. After six years as wine esparto, Ryan Ibsen has returned to California to open a Loire Valley-focused wine bar. His great taste and help with selections will be missed. But in his stead comes an equally qualified taste-master.  Michael Doctor joins the staff as wine director/manager. 

Most recently in charge of the wine program at Ristorante Rosi on Madison Ave., Michael has a passion for the wine-food connection. And he sports a fun-loving pair of turquoise laces on his wingtips.

He will lead the shop’s upcoming wine tasting series, Tasting Tuscany. The four sessions will explore the winemakers of Chianti Classico, Maremma, Montalcino and Super-Tuscans. For details: www.pasanellaandson.com.

New to the hood… More changes and growth. Three new shops recently opened.

Lee Lee’s Forest, one of the new shops by the Seaport.
Lee Lee’s Forest, one of the new shops by the Seaport.

•Lee Lee’s Forest – while Leigh Ann Boatman and boyfriend Ryan Benz have had their boutique in the neighborhood for a while (first on Pier 17 then in the containers), their new shop at 14 Fulton St., is a welcome break from the Gap and Express of old.

“We only have four or five of everything,” says Leigh, better known by her nickname Lee Lee. “I wear dresses every day and I wanted to have a place for others to get casual but cute clothes.”

Lee Lee says they love the neighborhood so much that they wanted to stay. She plans to have community events in the shop, including yoga classes and acoustic music nights. Plus on Saturdays she serves a mean Mimosa until 2 pm to shoppers.

•Gilded Age – this upscale menswear shop harkens back to Old New York so what better than opening its flagship shop at 224 Front  St. Owner/designer Stefan Miljanic, whose brand sells at Bloomingdale’s and high-end boutiques, says he’s been looking for a place for his first store for a long time. The cobblestone streets of the Seaport fit his image perfectly. Here you’ll find stylish sweaters, shirts, scarves and jeans made of sustainable fabrics.

•Emily Thompson Flowers – A bit of spring popped up early when renowned florist Emily Thompson opened her flower shop at 142 Beekman St. in late February. The burst of color on an otherwise gray corner was such fun to see. The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and U.C.L.A.-trained designer started in floral arrangements 14 years ago with brother’s wedding and has gone on to decorate the White House for Christmas. Her forte is combining branches, nests and even sea fans with flowers and ferns for beautiful, ethereal displays.

Saving our hood… Much has been made of the gigantic vision of the Howard Hughes Corporation for the South Street Seaport and Pier 17. All the secret goings on have left most long-time residents stymied and dumbfounded. And finally the powers-that-be woke up and formed a committee to look into the “Redevelopment Mixed-Use Project.” And while the Seaport Working Group does have a couple concerned locals on board, including members of Save or Seaport and several politicians, missing are members of the South Street Seaport Museum, a cornerstone of our community and what remains of our seafaring past.

I’m concerned that with this key component to our history missing and the large number of politicians onboard, that the community’s concerns about corporate development and maintaining historical integrity may be overlooked. Hopefully not and the politicos represent the people as they were elected to do and not the commercial concerns.

I’m also deeply troubled that so far all of the working group meetings are closed to the public and press. Please raise your voice… a master plan must be developed that respects the South Street Seaport Historic District; money must be made available to continue and revive the wonderful South Street Seaport Museum…and all the dealings between the N.Y.C. Economic Development Corporation and Howard Hughes Corporation, their handpicked developer, be made public.

Honoring one of our own… A bit of brouhaha happened last month when a proposal came through to co-name Peck Slip after the late Harold Reed, a longtime neighbor and local activist for our community. The proposal went to Community Board #1 Seaport/Civic Center Committee. But after much concern from residents, the motion was tabled. 

The community feeling was that while it would be nice to honor this wonderful gentleman who contributed a lot to the neighborhood, renaming the street would further undermine the area’s history that we are already losing.

Why not honor him as the city/community did the colorful boat captain Jerry Driscoll, who ran oil lighters (refueling barges) around the city and longtime Seaport character? Unfortunately because of the current construction of the East River boardwalk, the brick monument and plaque in his memory are currently off-limits. But a similar plaque in keeping with the area’s historic image would be ideal.

But for that matter, there are plenty of other Seaport advocates who deserve noting. What about Peter Stanford, the still-living founder and first president of the South Street Seaport Museum whose energy and activism in 1968 earned Schermerhorn Row landmark status.