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The Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst (7802 Bay Parkway) held their popular annual Purim Carnival last Sunday afternoon. This year, the themed “Purim Spiel” incorporated a live theatrical performance and drew close to 700 locals to celebrate this festive Jewish holiday, almost double that of last year.

purimProgram Director of Leadership Development Michael Abdurakhmanov was the emcee at the carnival and said that turnout at the event trumped all expectations. A popular photobooth, costume contest, and hamantashen stand greeted event-goers inside the adorned first-floor gymnasium.

Alena Gomulina, the director of community engagement and communication at the JCH, said that this strong turnout was likely a result of complimentary admission.

“We started having these events for free after [Superstorm] Sandy. We’ll take a small loss if it means benefitting the community,” Gomulina said.

Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from the wicked villain, Haman, in the days of Queen Esther of Persia. Boys and girls wear costumes as part of the celebration.



Josie Marrero sometimes loves cats more than she loves people.

Every month, she spends $400 on veterinarian bills, $300 on cat food, $130 on kitty litter, and the rest of her saved income on personal groceries.

“I pay basic rent and utilities. Everything else goes to the cats,” Josie says.

As the founder of Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella, she has made it her life mission to help the stray and feral cats in Southern Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella is a nonprofit, no-kill, all-volunteer rescue organization.

With her team of six dedicated volunteers, Josie has been helping stray and feral cats across Shore Parkway and Coney Island since the group’s inception in 2011.

“It keeps snowballing. It gets worse every year,” she says. “The lack of compassion towards the plight of the cats on the Coney Island boardwalk is currently a crisis.”

Keep reading to find out about the Coney Island cat crisis.

Source: Selbe B/Flickr

If the crazed crowds, projected low of 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and scary Black Friday mobs still don’t hinder your urge to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade in person, here are some transit tips.

On Thanksgiving Day, trains and buses will be running on a Sunday schedule. The parade runs from 9:00 a.m. until 12 p.m.

Parade Route: According to the MTA website, the parade starts on West 77 St and heads down Central Park West to 59 St/Columbus Circle. It travels along Central Park South and Sixth Av to 34 St. The parade then turns west to end at Seventh Avenue in front of the famous Macy’s Department store in Herald Square.

D Line

Take the D train, departing every 15 minutes, up to 34 St, Herald Square, or 59 St-Columbus Circle.

N Line

Take the N train, departing every 15 minutes, up to 34 St, Herald Square, Times Square, 42 St, or 49 St.

F Line

Take the F train, departing every 19 minutes, up to W4 St, then transfer to the A Line to 59 St-Columbus Circle, or the D Line(see above).

Bundle up. Bensonhurst Bean wishes you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Holiday!

Sarah Zorn (Photo by Sharon Kunz of Globe Pequot Publishing)

Sarah Zorn (Photo by Sharon Kunz of Globe Pequot Publishing)

When Bath Beach author Sarah Zorn set out to write Brooklyn’s Chef Table, she wanted to string together her love of Brooklyn, her love of writing, and her love of food into a published work that fittingly featured all three.

Her goal was to highlight a recipe from as many neighborhoods as possible — from Bensonhurst to Sheepshead Bay; Red Hook to Borough Park.

“It’s a coffee-table book. It’s a great history of Brooklyn,” she says.

The cover of Brooklyn Chefs Table

The cover of Brooklyn Chefs Table

And, unlike so many cookbooks already on the market, Sarah decided to use her experience as a writer (she’s the food editor for Brooklyn Magazine and the L Magazine) to tell the second, parallel story of the chefs, pastry-makers, and pitmasters often richer than the food itself.

With narratives from Southern Brooklyn interspersed between the 50-plus featured recipes, Sarah spotlights the buttermilk nage, bucatini pie, pupusas de queso, and winter white pearl sangria — to name a few — that make Brooklyn’s food attitude so unique. From the get go, she says that her dream was not only to produce a book, chock full of pictures, about the chic-and-happening restaurant boutiques of Williamsburg. She wanted to write about the other guys, too.

“I never wanted to create a hipster book,” she says.

Sarah, a born-and-raised Brooklyn girl, and avid reader of former Village Voice food critic Robert Sietsema, says she used to pick up the paper and read Robert’s column on the train first, to ward off creepy train-men from talking to her, and shortly after, because she began to adore their shared obsession for food.

And when Amy Lyons, editorial director of Globe Pequot Press, called and asked her to write a cookbook about Brooklyn restaurants, Sarah (upon realizing it wasn’t “a prank call”) set out to do just that.

In a book that profiles what Sarah calls “amazing food porn” she interviews renowned chefs and pinpoints their favorite recipes.

“I want it to say to the home-cook, ‘It’s gorgeous and it’s food and you can do it at home,’” she says.

Rather than instructing which meal to showcase, Sarah says she asked the restaurant owners for their most beloved works.

“Telling restaurants what I wanted would be a real injustice,” she says. “I’d tell them, ‘Give me something that you think really represents the heart and soul of your restaurant.”

Among her favorite foods, (“Don’t make me choose!”) are four meals from L & B Spumoni Gardens (2725 86th Street), Southern Brooklyn’s hometown staple for Italian-food addicts. The pisan farmhouse pasta, dueling pork chops, sardinian-style shrimp, and baccala-style lemon sole a la Romana are among the coveted recipes.

Chef and co-owner of L & B Spumoni Gardens, Lenny Kern, and his team especially stood out to Sarah. Unlike many of the other celebrated chefs in the book, Kern didn’t share his classic recipe via Word Document. He wrote it on the back of a napkin.

When they invited Sarah to the restaurant for a traditional four-hour Italian dinner, she says they told her, “We’ll feed you and write these down together.”

“They’re that kind of people. Their recipes come from the tips of the fingers and the depths of their souls,” Sarah says.

It was that authenticity that she fell in love with.

She adds, “It was such an experience. It was the true representation of food and love.”

Another author-favorite is the A.L.C. Grocery on 3rd Avenue. Modeled after Bensonhurst’s famous salumerias, like D. Coluccio & Sons, Sarah says current A.L.C. owner Louis Coluccio is modernizing the industry while preserving his family’s business.

“What he’s doing is expanding upon the tradition,” she says. “It’s not just a continuation of his family’s business, but a representation of where his family is today.”

Stories like this one, of an air-dried salami bodega in Bensonhurst that gave birth to the A.L.C. Grocery in Bay Ridge, are woven into the pages of Sarah’s book.

Brooklyn’s Chef Table hits bookshelves on December 2, 2013.

The future site of 7-Eleven

The future site of 7-Eleven

Two gas station/food mart combos are opening one week apart, one block apart, in Bath Beach.

The first, a 7-Eleven/Shell Gas Station, at 20th Avenue and Cropsey Avenue is scheduled to open in one week.

The second, an A-Plus/Sunoco, standing at 19th Avenue and Cropsey Avenue, is opening its doors the first week of October.

Both stores will be open 24/7.

Altaf M., the manager of the A-Plus, said that he’s excited to be back in business in Bath Beach. After 13 years managing the former shop at the same address, he said that he missed the “nice customers” of the neighborhood.

He said that the A-Plus will offer fresh coffee, hot dogs and nachos, and icy drinks, adding that the store will have promotions for Bensonhurst locals during it’s grand opening.

The 7-Eleven project manager was unavailable for comment, but his team told us that they were excited to bring the franchise to the Bath Beach community.

When did a little friendly competition ever hurt anybody? Welcome to the neighborhood, fellas.

The future site of A Plus

The future site of A Plus


Five candidates vying for seats in two different Southern Brooklyn City Council districts participated in a heated debate on Sunday, focusing on reforming co-op laws to benefit as many as one million New York City residents of co-ops.

All candidates expressed support for a shareholder’s bill of rights, which would grant new protections from potentially abusive and exploitative boards of cooperative housing units. Despite the support, the frustrated shareholders – all with horror stories of their own – expressed a lack of confidence in much-needed reform and ultimately turned on the candidates.

Find out where the candidates stand, and how the audience reacted.


20th Avenue and Cropsey Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

20th Ave and Cropsey Ave (Source: Google Maps)

A 7-Eleven franchise will soon arrive in the heart of Bath Beach, Bensonhurst Bean has learned.

The empty husk of a former Shell gas station and food mart on 20th Avenue and Cropsey Avenue is undergoing an overhaul, eventually to relaunch as a 7-Eleven. It would be the first location of the national franchise in Bath Beach, with the next nearest at 2515 86th Street.

7-Eleven Project Manager Carmelo Saia declined to give an estimated opening date, but we’ll be sure to report it when we find out.

Welcome to the neighborhood, 7-Eleven!


Amid Donna’s Spicy Italian Sausage truck and the booth of “Interesting Items” stands Chip Cafiero, the organizer of the 86th Street Festival.

Stemming from a 35-year background in festival planning, Cafiero said that he would describe the rush of coordinating Bensonhurst’s big event in one word: Juggle.

“It’s a lot to put together. It always gets a little hectic,” he said. “But I know what to expect.”

The 86th Street Festival has been around for more than a decade. On Sunday afternoon, dozens of vendors joined together to showcase and sell their merchandise. Glass jewelry, five-dollar sunglasses, and bedazzled cell phone cases received the bulk of the attention.

Continuing from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on 86th Street between Bay Parkway and 19th Avenue, the festival encouraged a day of outdoor thrift-shopping with family and friends.

Cafiero estimated that close to 10,000 people participated in the day’s festival.

“Last year was the first year we sold out,” Cafiero said. “But it’s different this year. The economy’s different.”

For Sunday’s festival, it cost vendors $125 for a 10-foot booth and $200 for a 20-foot booth.

And while this event drew in vendors from across the tri-state area (with New Jersey at the lead), Chip’s main disappointment was that more 86th Street stores didn’t exhibit during the festival. There was minimal participation from Bensonhurst’s retail stores at the event.

“It would have been a great way to encourage people to go in their stores afterwards, but most vendors just didn’t want to do it,” Cafiero said.

He maintained that the hardest part is always wrapping up. “People don’t want to leave,” he said.

If you missed Sunday’s show, mark your calendars for the 3rd Avenue Festival on October 6. Cafiero insists it will be a homerun.

Check out the photos from 2013′s 86th Street Festival!

Benson Avenue at Bay 26th Street. (Source: Google Maps)

Benson Avenue at Bay 26th Street, the site of last week’s fatal accident. (Source: Google Maps)

The accidental death of a delivery man on a bicycle on Bay 26 Street and Benson Avenue has renewed a community push for a traffic light on that corner.

Mai Zhang, a 74-year-old bicycle delivery person for a local restaurant, was struck and killed by an SUV on May 27. And now Bensonhurst residents have resurrected requests for a traffic light in the intersection, where they say they see calamity on an almost daily basis.

(UPDATE [June 10, 2013]: The Department of Transportation reviewed – and rejected – this intersection for a traffic signal in 2012.)

A neighbor who lives on Bay 25 Street, Lorenzo DiBenedetto said that locals have repeatedly asked for a traffic light and not seen results.

He added that the city keeps denying their request.

“The whole thing behind it is that we need to put a traffic light there. There’s been numerous accidents and now there’s been a fatality. It is sad and there’s not much we can do,” said Lorenzo DiBenedetto. “For something like this to happen today, they know it’s a fatality and they really should do something about it now.”

Though DiBenedetto had yet to reach out to Bensonhurst’s local Community Board 11, he said that he did not foresee immediate action from the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Community Board 11 District Manager, Marnee Elias-Pavia, said that the Board has yet to receive any traffic light requests at that location from neighbors. She encouraged the community to reach out, noting that the Board would be happy to put in a formal request on behalf of Bensonhurst locals.

“We hope that everybody is aware and follows the rules of the road,” Elias-Pavia said. “We need to be aware of our surroundings and be safe.”

Elias-Pavia said the process of inputting a traffic light could take up to seven months, adding that the DOT does not count the number of fatalities when making the decision on whether or not a light will be added.

 Any resident can request a traffic study for a potential light by calling 311, contacting their City Council representative, or reaching out to the Community Board. The DOT then studies traffic patterns of the location to determine if it meets federal standards. If so, a light is installed.

DOT did not respond to a request for comment on this story.


At May’s Community Board 11 meeting last Thursday, District Manager Marnia Elias-Pavia announced that the Cotillion Terrace, a former catering hall, would be transformed into a senior and worship center. Situated at 7309-7321 18th Avenue, the senior center will be located on the first floor and a house of worship will rest on the second. The Salvation Army, which recently purchased the space for $12.75 million, also has plans to open a retail venue.

Joe Carlucci, a Bensonhurst local, spoke up at the board meeting, citing an issue with parking outside his electrical store, Sheraden Lighting Electrical. Located at 1617 63rd Street, Carlucci said that street parking has been an issue for local merchants. He said trucks and countless unregistered cars take spaces away from patrons. A petition was brought to the Board, with signatures of all the retailers on the block. Elias-Pavia said that she would reach out to the Department of Transportation (DOT) on their behalf to mitigate the situation and work to remove the unmarked cars.

Bensonhurst experienced serious flooding near the Belt Parkway early Wednesday morning, especially around Cropsey Avenue. Elias-Pavia said that she has reached out to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to make sure there’s no long-term flood damage with Bensonhurst’s sewage system.

Important Dates Announced:

  •  Friday, May 31 – Sunday June 2 | Liberty Weekend 2013 at the New Utrecht Reformed Church. 84th Street and 18th Avenue.
  • Thursday, June 6, 6 p.m. | Annual Public Meeting at the Coney Island Hospital. CIH Through the Storm: Rising to the Occasion. 2601 Ocean Parkway.
  • Wednesday, June 19, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. | Councilman Domenic Recchia is sponsoring free screening mammograms for women 40 and older who have not had a mammogram in the past year.  445 Neptune Avenue.


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