Protestors Lay Flowers at Doorstep of the 94th Precinct

(Image courtesy of the McCarren Gathering)

More than 100 demonstrators laid flowers at the doorstep of the 94th Precinct Thursday evening, each flower meant to represent someone who had been affected by police brutality.

“It’s love and caring and compassion and empathy for humanity that’s actually going to push society forward,” said the protest’s principal organizer who wished to be referred to as Human X. (A Greenpoint resident, he would like to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal and to emphasize that his involvement wasn’t a form of self-promotion.)

“It was much more a protest of love than showing our outrage,” echoed Jessica Straw, a protestor and longtime resident of the Greenpoint who is a friend of Human X.

Officers at the precinct weren’t expecting the protestors’ surprise bouquet. As demonstrators placed flowers near the entrance, the police created a perimeter with metal barriers to keep the demonstration at more than an arm’s length.

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Yesterday we participated in a protest conceived by @bkwildlife and organized with collaboration of The McCarren Gathering from McCarren park to the 94th police precinct in greenpoint. where we presented/laid flowers down outside as a symbol of all the souls who have been affected by police brutality, harassment and/or unjust incarceration. This was a gathering of neighbors, humans, tax payers asking for equal and equitable treatment under the law and for an end to police brutality. Always remember that love is revolutionary. And for those of you who will ask, the cops stepped on the flowers and immediately threw them away. but we will not let them continue to step on or throw away BI+POC lives. we were so humbled to be a part of this experience spreading love #blm #brooklyninbk #brooklyninbrooklyn #brooklynfrombk #brooklynfrombrooklyn

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“The flowers, which presented a potential tripping/slipping hazard, were cleared after the protest in order to prevent injury to both members of the public and members of the Department,” Kathleen Fahey, the precinct’s Commanding Officer, said in a statement.

Thursday evening’s grassroots protest stemmed from a confrontation Human X, a Black man, had with the police a little less than two weeks ago. Continue reading

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Beloved Neighborhood Restaurant Jimmy’s Diner Closes After 13 Years

Jimmy’s Diner owners Blair Papagni and Josh Cohen outside their closed restaurant

Another beloved small business has closed in the wake of COVID-19. Jimmy’s Diner (577  Union Ave.) announced this month that the local restaurant would close for good. And yes, “The pandemic is absolutely the reason we closed,” says Blair Papagani, owner of Jimmy’s Diner.

Jimmy’s diner paused service in mid-March, when Governor Cuomo put New York State on PAUSE. “I had no doubt we would reopen,” says Papagani. At the time, she was beginning remote learning with her three kids, and assumed this closure would only last a few weeks. “In the first two weeks of being closed, we watched, like everyone else, I’m sure, the stories on the news of healthcare workers overwhelmed by the huge influx of patients into hospitals on a daily basis,” Papagani recalls. “We wanted to help and do what we had always done: Feed people.”  Jimmy’s partnered with North Brooklyn Angels to produce 450 meals a day for Woodhull Hospital healthcare workers and military personnel stationed there. This continued for eight weeks until the need subsided. Still, that wasn’t enough to keep Jimmy’s in business.

In early June, when became clear to Papagani that indoor dining was not going to be returning to normal anytime soon, it was time to make some tough decisions. “Jimmy’s is located on a busy stretch of Union Avenue and our sidewalk is quite small.  The idea of outdoor dining never seemed feasible to me,” Papagani says. “On a good day, when the world was a different place, Jimmy’s maxed out at 26 seats, eleven counter seats and fifteen table seats. When indoor dining returns we would not have been able to seat the counter and spacing people out would mean a maximum of 10 people seated at a time, if we were lucky. After thirteen years, it was no longer economically possible to stay open.  Delivery is not profitable enough for us to rely on and the takeout market is super saturated right now. I mean, even Peter Luger is doing takeout.”

Continue reading

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See Which Businesses in North Brooklyn Received COVID Relief Money

Temporarily shuttered Manhattan Avenue  stores in March following the initial coronavirus shutdown. (Photo: Aaron Simon)

Struggling businesses in North Brooklyn haven’t been shy in applying for federal aid. The U.S. government granted between $500 million and $1 billion worth of small business loans in the northern tip of the borough, according to an analysis by Greenpointers.

Officials in the U.S. Treasury Department released data this week on the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loans to “small” businesses struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic. The program has been shaky in its implementation, but there’s no question that some appreciated the infusion of cash.

The dollar amount (in millions) of PPP loans per North Brooklyn zip code.
Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury

Greenpoint, which roughly corresponds to the zip code 11222, has received the bevy of the federal windfall in North Brooklyn, raking in approximately $160 million. And more than 75% of qualified businesses in Greenpoint applied for aid, according to an analysis by Renthop.

Some of the companies in North Brooklyn that put the biggest dent in the federal government’s coffers are local favorites. ACME Smoked Fish received a loan of somewhere between $5 million and $10 million. However, more nondescript businesses like ConsenSys, a software company that specializes in blockchain technology, also received loans to the tune of millions.

Manhattan Avenue at the end of March. (Photo: Aaron Simon)

Unsurprisingly, companies in the retail and food industry, both of which were decimated by the economic fallout of the pandemic, made up the bulk of loan applications. The federal government also cut employers within the capacious category of “Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services” a healthy stack of checks. (This includes law firms, software companies and public relations agencies.)

The number of PPP loans per industry type in North Brooklyn.
Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury

Most loan applicants decided to neither disclose their gender nor their race or ethnicity. Of those who did, the majority were white and male. This could be due to demographic skews, bias on the part of those who administered the program or a combination of factors.

The racial and ethnic breakdown of owners who received PPP loans (of those that chose to respond).
Source: U.S. Department of the Treasury

The U.S. Treasury Department extended the deadline to apply for a PPP loan to August 8. In a city reeling from an ongoing economic crisis, there’s still an opportunity for businesses in Greenpoint and Williamsburg in need of extra cash to get support.

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Greenpoint Film Festival Will Host a Drive-In Edition This August

The Greenpoint Film Festival is happening this year! (Image courtesy of Greenpoint film Festival)

Summer movies in city parks seem like a distant memory, but several new drive-in theaters have made communal viewing possible in the wake of COVID-19. Now, Greenpoint Film Festival is latching onto the drive-in trend for the 9th annual Greenpoint Film Festival, which will screen 35 films between August 1st – 9th.

Films well be shown in the parking lot on Meserole Avenue and Jewel Street, hosted by Broadway Stages, and The Foundry LIC. The eight day event will showcase eight feature films and 27 short films. Special Guest Speakers and socially distant gatherings, which abide by state and city health stipulations, will also take place.


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This year we’ll be screening 35 films from filmmakers local and beyond.

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The line-up includes an opening night screening of the official Chuck Berry documentary Chuck Berry, the world premiere of before/during/after written by and starring Orange is the New Black’s Finnerty Steeves, the NYC isolation thriller Locked Alone, the U.S. premiere of wild grizzlies documentary Bear-like, feature documentary Microplastic Madness that follows Brooklyn kids as they face the global plastic pollution crisis, and short film American Marriage from Academy Award-winning Call Me By Your Name writer James Ivory. The full program is viewable on the Greenpoint Film Festival website, where tickets are also now on sale, starting at $20 per car.

Car ownership, or even a rental, won’t be necessary for those who want to attend the festival. Organizers have arranged for a row of parked, stationary cars to be available for those who need a vehicle seat. A dedicated cleaning crew will be appointed to consistently reset and clean between, before and after each movie screening.

In lieu of a traditional concession stand, Wilson Rivas Catering will provide food trucks. Bathrooms will be located outside the lot with a dedicated cleaning team servicing them regularly. Filmmakers and celebrity guests will be invited to participate in a drive-through green “red” carpet. Frontline workers are also invited to contact the festival organizers for complimentary tickets. Continue reading

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Where to Get Tested for COVID-19 in North Brooklyn

Altru Chemists in Greenpoint offers COVID-19 tests. (Photo via Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner)

While New York City’s COVID-19 curve has thankfully flattened, the pandemic rages on across the country. In Brooklyn, we’ve been able to keep coronavirus at bay by social distancing, wearing PPE (keep those masks on!) and sanitizing our hands like our life depends on it (it does), but another important part of limiting the spread of the virus is being tested.

New York City recommends that all New Yorkers get tested, and, when necessary, continue getting tested after potential virus exposure, such as after being around a sick person or in a group setting.

Testing is quick, often free and helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here’s where to get a test:

Walk-in at Jonathan Williams Houses (333 Roebling St.)

This city-sponsored walk-in testing center at 333 Roebling St. offers free tests, often without a wait. Walk in for a COVID-19 swab test: Monday- Saturday, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Sundays, 8 a.m.- 12 p.m. Antibody testing is also offered Monday – Friday, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. Continue reading

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Lili and Cata Adds Backyard Manicure And Pedicure Stations

Lili & Cata’s backyard garden is open for pedicures and manicures

It’s been nearly a year since Lili and Cata Nail Saloon opened its non-toxic nail shop and cafe on Greenpoint Avenue, and after over three months of mandatory closure, the café and salon is back and better than ever, thanks to a backyard addition.

Outdoor space is of course highly sought after in Brooklyn, and Lili and Cata always planned to used their backyard for nail services, but after opening at the height of summer 2019, the founders Lilly and Jorge Rojas decided to wait to invest in improvements until 2020. Like all of us who made plans for 2020, the Rojas’ expectations slightly shifted this spring.


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Ironically, Lili and Cata’s in-salon café got its liquor license five days after closing in March, which in an ideal world would allow the business to expand revenue streams, but in a pandemic world, was more of a “bittersweet” accomplishment, Jorge said. Last month, they tried selling wine and beer on weekends, but Greenpoint has a ton of competition, so, “We decided to wait until Phase 3 to put energy into the business,” he adds. Continue reading

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Men’s Clothing Drive Launched by North Brooklyn Mutual Aid

North Brooklyn Mutual Aid is accepting men’s clothing for donation.

The volunteer-powered organization North Brooklyn Mutual Aid that formed in response to the corniavirus crisis is now accepting men’s clothing donations in coordination with a local homeless shelter.

NBMA is currently seeking men’s clothes (size large is preferred) to be donated to The Bowery Residents’ Committee Shelter (146 Clay St.) in Greenpoint.

The shelter currently provides resources for 200 men in the North Brooklyn area and clothing donation drop-offs can be arranged by following the instructions here.

Clothing items sought include men’s shirts in size large – 3XL, men’s pants (size Large and above), clean men’s socks and new men’s undergarments. Continue reading

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Greenpoint Design Firm, Pink Sparrow, Creates Parklets to Help Restaurants

Pink Sparrow’s parklet prototype for 21 Greenpoint.

Dining al fresco can be a competitive pastime for New Yorkers who want to score prime sidewalk seating in the warmer months. Now, sitting outside is the only way to enjoy a restaurant or bar, a challenge for businesses that previously did not have substantial outdoor space, a familiar New York conundrum.

Learning about the open streets program that would allow restaurants to open for outdoor service, Greenpoint-based experiential design firm Pink Sparrow (24 Greenpoint Ave.), wanted to fabricate a solution. Locals may recognize their work from experiential booths at the Expo Center, but the company which relies on in-person events had all business trickle off this March, meaning they had more capacity to redefine what they do.

“We wanted to use our skills and expertise to reimagine what a post-pandemic world looks like, and really focus on starting to reopen and building community,” says Pink Sparrow’s marketing associate Maggie Balcerzak. Before Phase 2 started,  Pink Sparrow communicated with the city to learn what businesses would need to open, and how they could develop compliant products. 

Pink Sparrow’s parklet outside of Magazine Bar

Ideas started to roll, and Pink Sparrow created a prototype of its new parklet for 21 Greenpoint (21 Greenpoint Ave.), which is across the street from their 20,000-square-foot workshop. They’ve also outfitted Magazine Bar (130 Franklin St.) with planters and benches, the backs of which have reflectors for street traffic, to keep Magazine guests safe. They’re also cushioning businesses from needing to close. Continue reading

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Free Manicure Truck Hits Williamsburg Streets Compliments of BABE

The mobile manicure truck in action in Williamsburg this week. (Courtesy of BABE)

Approaching the 100 day mark since New York City’s nail salons were forced to close due the ongoing global pandemic, a socially distanced manicure truck is servicing North Brooklynite’s hands with free manicures compliments of the wine company BABE (full disclosure: BABE is a former sponsor of Greenpointers’ holiday markets).

The manicure truck in Wiliamsburg. (Courtesy of BABE )

Founder of BABE, The Fat Jewish (whose real name is Josh Ostrovsky), took to Instagram for the announcement:


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As Partygoers Crowd Berry Street, Police Enforce “Open Streets” Schedule

A crowd on Berry Street and N 8th Street this past weekend (Image courtesy of Moli Nex)

As crowds flock to restaurants and bars located on the mile-long, car-free stretch in Williamsburg, the police are enforcing the city’s “Open Streets” initiative that reserves Berry Street on a schedule of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for pedestrians and cyclists.

Residents say that the NYPD’s selective enforcement of the schedule runs counter to officers’ hands-off approach to maintaining and surveilling “open streets” citywide. It’s also a sudden policy change for Berry Street locals, who were accustomed to the police barriers’ presence from dawn until dusk.

Johanna, who lives on Berry Street and declined to give her last name, watched officers take down barricades on the street more than two weeks ago.

“We asked them why they’re taking them down, and he said, ‘It’s clearly being abused’,” she explained in an interview.

The 94th precinct is responsible for the northern stretch of Berry Street and confirmed that officers have been paying particular attention to what some residents call “Bourbon Street.”

“Personnel have responded to an increased number of 311 complaints on Berry Street involving crowds of people who refuse to adhere to the 8 p.m. end time,” corroborated Kathleen Fahey, the precinct’s Commanding Officer, in a statement.

In fact, more than half the number of 311 complaints citywide have concerned “social distancing” and “loud music/parties” near the Williamsburg waterfront since May 14th, when Mayor de Blasio added Berry Street to the city’s ever-increasing list of roads open to pedestrians, according to an analysis by Greenpointers. Continue reading

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