Historic restaurant preservation

Restaurant critic Robert Sietsema wrote in Eater recently about how historic restaurant preservation might function in a city with plenty of historic restaurants. Recently, Gray’s Papaya was forced to shut down when their rent from $30K to $50K, which is a lot of hot dogs. Sietsma has a list of suggestions for what a historic restaurant preservation system would look like, and a list of 30 restaurants who might be the first 30 protected.

Let’s say we appoint a committee of three, consisting of a chef, a city councilperson, and a real estate representative, who are tasked with the responsibility of selecting a list of irreplaceable dining institutions that deserve to be officially protected. The committee can make choices themselves, and also take suggestions from the public. Let’s start with 30 places as a pilot program.

Historic restaurant preservation

The high price of hot dog vending in New York

The New York Times recently wrote about the high fees some of NYC’s hot dog carts pay for prime locations. The highest fee is $289,500 paid for a cart near the Central Park Zoo. Which, as the famous joke goes, is a lot of hot dogs. It’s unclear if the person writing this article understands hot dog economics, because while the first paragraph talks about the $289,500 bid, the thirteenth paragraph quotes an employee of the cart claiming it makes about $750 a week – a shortfall of about $250K a year, more when you take costs into account.

The zoo entrance drew the highest bid among the 150 pushcart sites in public parks, but the operators of four other carts in and around Central Park also pay the city more than $200,000 a year each. In fact, the 20 highest license fees, each exceeding $100,000, are all for Central Park carts.

This sounded familiar to me, and lo, here is a 2009 Gothamist post trumpeting Pasang Sherpa’s bid of $362,201 (North) and $280,500 (South) for the rights to vend at the north and south entrances of the Met. (Alas, Pasang Sherpa’s fledgling hot dog cart empire lasted only 9 months before he was evicted.)

The high price of hot dog vending in New York

What would you do if you found a baby?

Well, if your Peter Mercurio’s partner, you adopt him. This story is so made for TV it’s hard to believe, but it seems like everything is working out and that’s nice.

The caseworker told us that the process, which included an extensive home study and parenting classes, could take up to nine months. We’d have ample time to rearrange our lives and home for a baby. But a week later, when Danny and I appeared in front of the judge to officially state our intention to adopt, she asked, “Would you like him for the holiday?”

What holiday? Memorial Day? Labor Day? She couldn’t have meant Christmas, which was only a few days away.

And yet, once again, in unison this time, we said yes. The judge grinned and ordered the transition of the baby into our custody. Our nine-month window of thoughtful preparation was instantly compacted to a mere 36 hours. We were getting a baby for Christmas.

What would you do if you found a baby?

5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche review

Just saw the Off Broadway production of ‘5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche.’ My friend, Thea Lux is in it, which is why I went, but I think you ought to check it out, too, if you like having a good time. I’m not a theater reviewer, but it has been getting good reviews, including one in the Times. The funny parts were REALLY funny, and there were a lot of them, though some stretches went longer that I’d like. You’ll pick up on the running joke early on, and just when you think it’s going to be beaten into the ground, the play shifts. You can bring your drinks up into the theater from the bar downstairs, which seems like a fun way to watch theater. The show is running until 11/20 on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, at the SoHo Playhouse. Check it out.

5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche review

Pizza price collusion

Earlier this spring, the NY Times covered a pizza price war that had two neighboring pizzerias incrementally reducing their pricing in a mutually destructive fashion. Well, in a blatant example of collusion, both pizza shops have raised their prices back to a dollar, and FOR SOME REASON THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE IS REFUSING TO COMMENT.

“Any agreement to fix prices is illegal per se,” Harry First, a law professor at New York University and an antitrust expert, said. The action could violate not only state law, but also federal law if it involved interstate commerce. “Who knows?” Professor First said. “Maybe the cheese is from out of state.”

Via akuban

Pizza price collusion

The Queens of Montague Street

This essay, about growing up as a teenage girl in Brookyln, by Nancy Rommelmann, is the first best read of the new year.

If I’d set a fire or slit my wrists, the process might have been clearer for the adults involved. A female teacher might have pleaded my potential; I can easily imagine her standing by at dawn on a Sunday, offering support as my parents trundled me into a car bound for a sanitarium in New Jersey. But there was no female teacher, only an administration alarmed at having a garden-variety bad girl on the roster; someone who did not show up for school for no good reason; whose anecdotal reports from fifth grade on included some version of, “If she’d only apply herself…”

The Queens of Montague Street

‘Book of Mormon’ profitable and Variety is unreadable

Good for Parker and Stone and their musical getting to profitability, which is a nice story, but the reason I’m calling this out is the writing in Variety. I’ve read articles in Variety before and never noticed it. Is it always this bad? Also, South Park fans, you’re not part of the ‘legit world’ apparently…

Musical’s sales are powered not only by the international popularity of Parker and Stone’s ‘South Park’ the Comedy Central skein that’s amassed a huge fanbase over 15 seasons, but also by the enthusiastic response of the legit world. Tuner won critical raves when it opened and then in June took home nine Tonys, including the new musical laurel, the one theater kudo generally believed to have a real impact on box office.

Complaining about a periodical’s writing style? Who am I?

‘Book of Mormon’ profitable and Variety is unreadable