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Source: Lutzina

Lutzina Bar & Lounge, a posh new hookah lounge, karaoke bar, and dining venue is celebrating its one-month anniversary in Bath Beach this week.

Nesting at 2031 Bath Avenue, the lounge resembles a classy, contemporary page out of a Martha Stewart Home and Garden catalog.

Stepping in, you feel as though you’ve been whisked straight out of Bensonhurst. The pale-white ceiling above the bar resembles a cracked hard-boiled egg. The faux diamond chandeliers revive a 1920s speakeasy. The elegant white lilacs at the bar seal this entirely bizarre package with a bow and question where Lutzina came from and how long it’s planning to stay.

It sticks out in Bath Beach like a sore thumb. It’s an anomaly. It doesn’t fit in.

But that’s also part of its charm.

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June’s Community Board 11 meeting focused on three main points: the curb-cutting ‘crisis’, the new Bensonhurst BJ’s location, and the Shore Parkway promenade changes soon happening in the neighborhood.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate and Councilman Vincent Gentile joined Community Board 11 at Thursday’s meeting at the Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare to give share their thoughts.

Curb-Cutting Crisis

Councilmen Gentile spoke passionately about his proposed bill to end what he called “the epidemic of illegal curb cuts,” a situation where non-approved parking spots are created by residential owners.

According to Gentile, the bill would require that the Department of Transportation (DOT) commissioner have an illegal curb cut restored at that property owner’s expense.

“It takes away legal spots,” Gentile said. “It is a huge quality of life issue.”

The bill received overwhelming support from attendees at the meeting, with many nodding in agreement and expressing their own frustration.

“We need to get this bill passed to [get] the blight away from our community,” said District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia.

The Board previously expressed frustration with the curb cuts in 2013, when Chairman Bill Guarinello asked the Department of Transportation to look into the problem, and then appealed to mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to make it a priority.

New BJ’s Location

Bensonhurst’s BJ’s is opening on July 12 at 1752 Shore Parkway and the company is hiring — fast.

Elias-Pavia and Gentile are teaming up to co-host a Job Information Night at 6 p.m. on June 17 at the Sephardic Home Auditorium at 2266 Cropsey Avenue.

According to Gentile, there are 250 jobs available at this store and “we should give these jobs to the community.” Currently, 100 positions have been filled, leaving 150 opportunities still open, including those for clerks, cashiers, stock assistants, merchants, sales representatives, and more.

Shore Parkway Promenade

The stretch from Shore Parkway and 19th Avenue to Bay Parkway has been renovated. The redeveloped path is now open, paved, and accessible to the public. There are 15 new benches, freshly planted foliage, and new drainage systems that prevent massive puddles and flooding.

“You don’t see those moon craters when you walk any more,” Gentile said. “In two weeks, it will be fully ready to enjoy.”

According to Gentile, the project cost half a million dollars to complete.

Happenings This Summer, Save The Date:  

  • Bensonhurst Green Market: Sundays, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 81st Street and 18th Avenue
  • BJ’s Job Information Night: 6/17 at 6 p.m. at the Sephardic Home Auditorium at 2266 Cropsey Avenue
  • Free Family Movie Night, Frozen: 6/22 at 8:30 p.m. at Seth Low Park
  • Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting of the Second 47th Council District Office: 6/22 at 11:00 a.m. at 2015 Stillwell Avenue
  • Casino BBQ Night: 6/26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation
  • Free Family Movie Night, Wizard of Oz: 6/29 at 8:30 p.m. at Colonel Marcus Park  

Other Announcements:

  • There has been a small spike in neighborhood robberies. 62nd Precinct Captain, William Taylor, advises residents to not walk alone when it’s late, to be more aware of surroundings, and to keep cell phones and other electronic devices safely tucked away when walking in the dark.
  • Residents at Independence Avenue and 15th Avenue submitted over 100 signatures supporting the conversion of the two-way street at that corner into a one-way street due to poor visibility and dangerous driving conditions.
  • There are emergency sewer repairs at 67th Street and 18th Avenue, due to a pipe break. Currently, 300-feet of sewer pipe is being repaired, set to be completed by June 30th.
  • Elias-Pavia reported that she will be sitting on the planning committee to determine how to allocate $3 million of block grant funding as part of a Post-Sandy Gravesend/Bensonhurst community reconstruction project.

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Thousands of current and former Southern Brooklynites gathered on the pothole-pocked streets of Bensonhurst to munch on arepas, taste-test some homemade pink lemonade, and bargain-down designer-ish handbags at the beloved 86th Street Festival on Sunday, June 8.

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The festival spanned from 19th Avenue and 86th Street to Bay Parkway and 86th Street and ran from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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Dogs on leashes, toddlers on leashes, DVDs, bubble teas, chicken kebabs, bonsai trees, and at least 5,000 locals met under the el-train to enjoy a sunny outdoor festival that so many neighbors look forward to.

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Pam Lagana, a Southern Brooklynite who’s been coming to the festival since it started, said that this time, her favorite booth was the $10 massage stands.

“There were more stands this year, more vendors, more rides. It was very nice,” Lagana said.

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In fact, the 2014 festival seemed more strategically organized, with the entire block from 19th Avenue to 20th Avenue consisting of what must best be known as “bouncy castles,” with at least a dozen moonbounce attractions, slides, and playpens for kids.

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According to event organizer Chip Cafiero, proceeds from the event fund the Southwest Brooklyn Parks Taskforce to bring programming to local parks. Half of the proceeds also go to the 62nd Precinct Community Council for Bensonhurst quality of life maintenance.

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One thing remains certain: After more than a decade, the 86th Street Festival is more than just a thrifty day in the sun, it’s a neighborhood staple.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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