covid-19

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.”

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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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Meet Riley Goodside: The Man Behind the Mask, Goggles, Gloves and Glasses

Riley Goodside near McCarren Park (Image via Ben Weiss)

Riley Goodside, 33, woke up early on the brisk morning of March 15th and was “disgusted.”  

Just four days earlier, the World Health Organization had formally declared COVID-19 a pandemic, but many people in New York City were milling about maskless in the streets, seemingly unaware that 329 people had tested positive for the coronavirus in the city alone.

“I saw this perfect storm brewing,” he said in an interview with Greenpointers

While his fiancée was still sleeping, he slinked out of bed and donned his elastomeric respirator, slipped on black nitrile gloves and strapped on clear, indirect-vent goggles. He then trudged over to the northern entrance of McCarren Park, where a number of Sunday brunch-goers were enjoying what would be their last mimosas out for months.

In full regalia, he stood in quiet protest. A photographer then snapped a photo of him and the impromptu sign he was carrying made out of an Amazon delivery box. 

It read: “CANCEL BRUNCH.”

That photo inaugurated Goodside’s rise as the pandemic poster child of the city. His signature getup—part theater, part protection—has graced social media and accompanied articles published across the country, from Miami to Alaska. Goodside’s image traveled internationally, too, appearing in publications based in El Salvador and Tajikistan.

Before his post-apocalyptic garb earned him international recognition, Goodside, a programmer who specializes in machine learning, explained that his accumulation of a wardrobe of personal protective equipment (PPE) began as an experiment.  Continue reading

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Blue Hill’s ResourcED Program Adds Greenpoint Pickup Location

Blue Hill’s produce box is full of seasonal bounty grown in the Hudson Valley

There’s no need to leave the city, or even the neighborhood, to pick up Blue Hill Farm’s sought-after food boxes. To offset potential food waste during the pandemic, the Tarrytown-based farm, agricultural center, and in normal times, highly acclaimed Stone Barns restaurant has been vending farm boxes for pre-order and pickup at its Westchester campus and Manhattan restaurant since the early days of the pandemic.

Now, Blue Hill is expanding its pickup area to include Greenpoint, Carroll Gardens and The Hamptons, as part of its ongoing resourcED food box program.

Greenpoint customers can pay a $10 delivery fee to pre-book a time slot on Sundays via Tock, when the ordered items will be available for pickup at 132 Franklin Street (the former location of a laundromat).


Blue Hill’s Greenpoint menu includes packages of farm-fresh Hudson Valley produce, organic eggs, a salad kit, chicken and turmeric broth, whole wheat bread, dairy products and beverages like wine, cocktails and Blue Hill’s kombucha. Continue reading

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Mike’s Hot Honey Is Offering Free Dip Cups to Help Pizzerias

Mike’s Hot Honey is now available in individual cups to drizzle on takeout pizza. (Image via Mike’s Hot Honey)

New York City is just heating up, and one Greenpoint-based company is preparing to make this unprecedented summer in the city a little sweeter too. Mike’s Hot Honey, the artisanal spicy honey company that started in the back of Paulie Gee’s Pizzeria (and is iconic to the shop’s Hellboy pie) is launching dip cups this week in an effort to better service pizzerias experiencing a sharp increase in delivery and takeout business.

To introduce the new individually packaged product to pizzerias across the country, and also offer support to pizzerias in need of a spicy boost amidst COVID-19Mike‘s Hot Honey is offering a free case of dip cups to any pizzeria that wants to use them in delivery and takeout orders (while supplies last).

“Pizzerias are the backbone of our business. When the pandemic hit the United States, we began outreach to our friends at pizzerias to learn more about what they were experiencing and how we could help,” says Mike Kurtz, founder of Mike‘s Hot Honey.

Chicken fingers dipped in hot honey are always a good idea

Each dip cup contains .75 ounces of hot honey and will be made available nationwide through a distribution partnership with DOT Foods. Cases include 90 dip cups, plus 100 promotional stickers.

For those not yet familiar with the joy of hot honey is a pizza topping, Kurtz recommends, “Drizzling it on the pie just before you take a bite.” The new small cups let pizza lovers drizzle in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Pizzerias interested in receiving a free case of Mike’s Hot Honey can fill out this dip cup promo form.

“Nearly everyone we spoke with was seeing an increase in delivery business and a need for honey packaging that fit this model. We developed the dip cups as a way for pizzerias to safely and efficiently deliver our product to their customers while adding incremental revenue to each order.” Continue reading

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See How the Pandemic Played Out in North Brooklyn As New York City Reopens

COVID-19 street art (Via @streetartandfriends)

Starting Monday, Governor Cuomo will allow some nonessential businesses such as retail to gradually reopen with proper safety measures as part the Phase 1 reopening plan for New York City.

Welcoming our beloved businesses back is cause for socially distant celebration, but it’s also a sober reminder that COVID-19 raged across the five boroughs for more than three months as the city emerged as the epicenter of a global pandemic.

North Brooklyn, while not as hard hit as other parts of Brooklyn, the Bronx or Queens, did not escape unscathed. Across the five zip codes that roughly encompass Greenpoint and Williamsburg, there are approximately 450 deaths and 5,800 confirmed cases, according to data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The number of total COVID-19 cases in five zip codes in North Brooklyn on June 6th.
Source: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Not all neighborhoods were equally affected by coronavirus. Williamsburg experienced comparatively higher consequences with more than 2000 cases and 120 deaths in the 11211 zip code alone; the curve also flattened more slowly than Greenpoint’s, where the city recorded only 30 deaths from COVID-19. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Masks In The Wild Commissions Artists and Promotes Public Health

Photo by Tayler Smith

In a time where public health and artists’ careers are at risk, Masks In The Wild boldly and resourcefully looks to uplift each of these vital entities. A grassroots project that provides aid to artists who want to create and distribute free masks to loved ones, healthcare workers, and those in need, Masks In The Wild is timely and, per its permit, an “essential business” aimed at removing the fear and stigma surrounding our new normal of mandatory mask-wearing in public. Through its mission, artists are commissioned to create, and the public benefits via the sharing of secure and free resources.

Launched by Wallplay and 25 KentMasks In The Wild symbolizes the innovative and community-centered ethos of Brooklyn creatives. All New York City artists are welcome to apply for a commission online, and to learn more, here is our Thursday Spotlight interview with Wallplay founder Laura O’Reilly.

Greenpointers: Your main work is with Wallplay, which based in the neighborhood. Can you explain the scope of your work there for those who may be unfamiliar? How has the company evolved in your time of leadership?

Laura O’Reilly: Wallplay is a hyperlocal platform that programs and operates vacant spaces with commercial pop-ups and art exhibitions until landlords secure permanent tenants. I founded the company with my best friend and cousin Alessandra DeBenedetti in 2013. Currently, Wallplay operates 14 spaces throughout New York City. In the summer of 2019 we partnered with 25 Kent to transform their ground floor spaces into “community hubs.” We strive for our spaces to be powered by the local community by facilitating the ability for locals to apply to program the spaces that inhabit their neighborhood.

New Yorkers model the distributed masks; see more on Instagram @masksinthewild

Talk to us about the genesis of Masks in the Wild — are you an artist yourself and/or did you want to utilize our creative community to its fullest potential?

I grew up in Manhattan in the performing arts community and the thing that has always stood out to me is the electricity in the street. You may see a man naked in a trench coat one minute and the most beautiful sax performance behind a piece of street art the next. Masks In The Wild was born out of a desire to help artists connect in a safe and essential way while bringing that same magic to the street that makes New York, New York. Instead of sterile medical masks artists can help create a new emotional response and bring a smile to New Yorkers who have been isolating. It’s been a traumatic experience for many. Art heals and we need to connect to art now more than ever.

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Thursday Spotlight: A Drink for All Seasons with Greenpoint Cidery

Nika Carlson, owner of Greenpoint Cidery

Settling into our third (!) month of the pandemic, many of us have moved from stockpiling the essentials to enjoying stress-reducing libations. Enter Greenpoint Cidery, the beverage whose effervescence is only matched by its diligent and ever-mobile owner, Nika Carlson. While a neighborhood staple for five years, Greenpoint Cidery is used to making transactions on the business-to-business level; now, the distribution is more personal as Nika shuttles between upstate farm and nearby neighbors to deliver goodies and make connections. As one of the beloved small businesses we’re highlighting in our Thursday Spotlight series, Greenpoint Cidery is both enormously affected by COVID-19 and also finding opportunity in a revamped business model. Here, Nika discusses the many hats she wears at Greenpoint Cidery and the upsides of operating an independent business amidst a pandemic.

Greenpointers: How have sales been doing during this time? And, on a similar note, is cider a drink that’s ever out of season?

Nika Carlson: Sales are good! I started doing home deliveries the first weekend the state allowed it just by posting on Instagram and taking orders via text and DM. That first weekend was mostly friends and acquaintances, but word has spread and at this point I even have regulars. It will be interesting to see how this evolves as our strange new world does.

As for the seasonality of cider, I’d say it’s always a great option. Cider can be a lot of different things, but I make it in traditional styles that are comparable to natural wine: low intervention, wild yeasts, and a long-aging process. It’s great for pairing with food, but also just for crushing on a hot day. The lower alcohol content means you can drink it without worrying about getting real tipsy, and because everything I make is totally dry, there’s less hangover there, too.

Your website states that you got your start in the Brooklyn bar scene. Can you talk about that time and how it acted as the springboard for Greenpoint Cidery?

I used to run a bar in East Williamsburg called The Drink, and we were always excited to sell anything unique. When we opened, all I knew of cider was sweet stuff like Woodchuck, but someone introduced me to Spanish cider, and my mind was blown. It was sour and funky and regional and just so cool. Cider was also experiencing a renaissance in New York around then, and I caught the bug. There’s a lot of really fascinating, beautiful history in apples and in cider in America. Now I’m a farmer-ish and cider maker (I’m also head bartender at Broken Land, at least in normal times, and wow I miss my regulars so much!)

No three words will get me jazzed more than Greenpoint, Hudson, and apples. Naturally, we all love Greenpoint, but Hudson may be one of my favorite towns in New York. What’s it like to shuttle back and forth between these two little havens for your work?

I feel super lucky to have the best of both worlds: nature and also the city I love so much. The cidery and orchard are just outside Hudson proper on about 80 acres some friends own. There are fields, forest, a creek to swim in, other dogs for my pup to play with, and friends to lend a hand when I need them. A dream that keeps me sane. I’m usually too busy working when I’m upstate to enjoy Hudson itself, but it’s a lovely town I’m grateful to have access to.

How long has your business been around, and how has it evolved? What are the challenges and rewards?

About 5 years? It’s changed a lot. I started the business with a partner, on a different property, with the goal of opening a cider-focused bar ASAP. Now I run it solo, and last year I moved everything onto this new space where I can focus on honing my craft, growing sustainably, and keeping an eye to opening a tasting room when the time is right. I do everything: build the fence, maintain the trees, make the cider, design the labels, clean the kegs, and, now, make home deliveries. It’s a lot for one person, but I love to work hard and to create something that brings people joy. It’s also been a wonderful lesson in patience and flexibility. Growing apples and making cider is a slow process, and Mother Nature doesn’t f*ck around, you know? You have to pay attention, and roll with the punches.

Do you distribute to bars and grocery stores, or just operate on a customer delivery basis? And what’s the best way that we can support you?

I do! But obviously bar and restaurant orders have died off. The state just started allowing home delivery in response to COVID-19, so that part is very new to me.

You can support me by placing an order! My delivery zone is literally the whole city, minus Staten Island. If you like it, tell your friends (or even order a few bottles to be sent to them). I’m working on adding shipping to the rest of the state, and you can also follow me on Instagram and/or subscribe to my mailing list. If you have a shop and are interested in carrying my cider, please reach out. I’m still taking wholesale orders and can do socially distanced tastings.

We’re so proud to highlight creatives in this series, and that absolutely includes culinary ones, especially those who represent our vital small businesses. As the leader of a small business, what’s something you’d like to share with our community at this time, or wish our community knew about managing a small business?

I know it’s a treat for customers to get home delivery, but it’s also a treat for me to meet everyone face-to-face. My cider work is usually very solo. All the positive feedback has really helped buoy me as I pivot and pivot again, planning for the short and long term, whatever that may look like. I’m not naturally inclined toward salesmanship, but I’m working on letting people in more on my process. People seem to like that, and they want to help, and that feels really good. So thank you!

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Art at Home: Eckford Street Studio Offers Remote Classes

Staying creative at home might seem daunting: even in our silenced world, the noise of the news and our worries can defeat any artistic itch we’ve been meaning to scratch. Fortunately, Eckford Street Studio has some at-home remedies. Below, they outline some of their remote initiatives to keep your brush painting and your mind distracted:

Join us for Community Mondays!

We’ll be hosting class Mondays at 3 PM via Zoom while the studio is closed. Click here to download Zoom and set up your account for free!

Each week, we’ll ask you to RSVP by Sunday for that Monday’s class so we can share the meeting ID with you, as well as a lesson plan and a list of materials your child will need for the day’s project (don’t worry, we’re sticking to stuff you will likely have lying around the apartment). Activities are designed with students in grades K-5 in mind. Let us know if you’d like to receive a weekly email with more information, or click here to register for next week’s class!

As always, Community Mondays are pay what you wish. If you are able, donations of any amount are greatly appreciated and will go far in helping us keep our non-profit community art studio up and running while our doors are closed. Click here to make a contribution.

Tuesday night Figure Drawing is back!

Join us for Virtual Figure Drawing on Tuesday nights from 8-10pm! Enjoy the same professional models, experienced Eckford Street Studio facilitators, and creative community you’re used to, from the comfort of your own home!

Click here to register, and we will send you log-in information for our Zoom-based art studio! Please RSVP by Tuesday at 5pm to attend that night’s workshop.

With Eckford Street Studio’s doors currently closed, our non-profit studio is in a critical position. We suggest a donation of $22 to participate in Virtual Figure Drawing, to help us continue running programs like this one throughout the duration of the Coronavirus outbreak. Any amount you can give is greatly appreciated, and makes a great deal of difference.

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The Other Art Fair, Popular Greenpoint Event, Postponed

The Other Art Fair, a traveling celebration of worldly and avant art that has popped by the neighborhood for a number of seasons, will be postponing its anticipated stop at The Brooklyn Expo Center from April 30 to May 3. Joining the chorus of a number of other companies’ and events’ cancellations due to the coronavirus, The Other Art Fair is merely the latest in what is likely to be a string of postponed public springtime gatherings. Uniquely, The Other Art Fair is cancelling all of their events around the country through the end of May, while most announced operations seem to be on some kind of hiatus only until early April, at least as of this moment. Greenpointers recently published a roundup of how some local businesses are handling this unprecedented, confusing time.

A message from The Other Art Fair’s founder Ryan Stanier follows:

“After serious consideration, and in light of recent announcements from the CDC and World Health Organization, The Other Art Fair regretfully announces the postponement of its Spring Fairs.

Our team, artists and partners have worked incredibly hard over the past months to present another fantastic event, and this decision has not been taken lightly. The health and safety of our visitors, artists and staff is our top priority in light of the ever-changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

The decision to postpone our events will affect the following Spring fairs:

London, at Truman Brewery, 19 – 22 March
Sydney, at The Cutaway, 19 – 22 March
Los Angeles, at Barker Hanger, 16 – 19 April
Brooklyn, at Expo Center, 30 April – 3 May
Dallas, at Dallas Market Hall, 7 – 10 May
Melbourne, at The Facility, 21 – 24 May
Chicago, at The Skylight at Board of Trade, 27 – 30 May

Ticket holders will be notified regarding new dates in the coming days. All tickets will be transferable and valid for future fairs, or refundable via Eventbrite should that be requested.

It may be uplifting to hear we are currently working in tandem with our partners at SaatchiArt.com on ways to bring our Fair artist’s collections online so everyone can still experience the impressive works of our artists. As soon as we have updates on this, we will email you with more information.

We are deeply disappointed to have to postpone, but look forward to seeing you again at a future fair. In the meantime, contact us at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.”

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