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Alex Shlaferman China factory selfie

Alex Shlaferman selfie via Business Insider

The last time we wrote about Alexander “Xander” Shlaferman, it was for ending up in cuffs for throwing a huge hipster party on the Manhattan Bridge, shutting it down to traffic in 2013. Now, the millionaire wunderkind says he’s done with the parties, and focusing on the Chinese factory he just bought for his budding business empire.

“I used to think partying was so fun and crazy. Not so fun and crazy any more,” he told Business Insider, which profiled the 20-year-old entrepreneur this weekend. Instead, he’s using the revenues from his $10 million company to buy his parents a new house, having built his business in their Bensonhurst home on their dime.

“A few years ago, I was 16 and running my company out of my bedroom, using my parents’ credit cards. My first year in business I filed taxes for $110,000. Before we knew it, we hit $1 million and then $3 million. We’ve been growing by 300-400% every year,” he says. Last year, revenue was about $5 million but if he hits his hoped-for 2014 holiday sales, “We expect $10 million in sales this Christmas.”

The company’s “big thing” at the moment is Wallet Ninja, a Swiss army knife-styled tool that’s the size and shape of a credit card. To produce the merchandise, he’s purchased a factory in China and employs nearly 50 people.

Wallet Ninja comes after previous successes slinging a boomerang toy airplane called the Super Looper at age 16, and, his first start-up product, a DVD that teaches buyers how to levitate, which he made at age 11.

“I made a DVD that taught you how to levitate. I found a guy on Craigslist to film in my room with a bed sheet. Just me and this guy from Craigslist. I can only imagine if my parents came home, what their reaction would have been,” he told BI.

His next monied magic trick? Apparently he’s in discussions for his own reality show.

“I was really opposed to it in the beginning. I don’t want some drama-filled” show, he says. But the network (which he wouldn’t name) has him convinced it will be a real show about his real life, which between work, China, and training is crazy enough.

Check out the full profile.

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

A reader sent us the following letter to the editor, making a case for a pedestrian and bike path spanning the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and urging neighbors to attend a rally for the cause this Saturday:

A dedication was held on November 21, 1964 to open the Verrazano Bridge to the public. That day, a group of people spoke out that the bridge should have a walkway. One carried a sign, “Are Feet Obsolete?”

Robert Moses, then the head of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, didn’t want a pedestrian / bicycle path. Now, at the 50th year anniversary, it’s a good time to fix this mistake.

Some feel that a Verrazano foot / bike path would be too long because the length would be 2.59 miles. However, there are paths longer than this that are being built. San Francisco’s Bay Bridge foot path is two thirds completed. When done, the path will be 4.46 miles long. The Tappan Zee Bridge is being replaced. The new bridge will include a foot path that will be three miles long.

The cost of this foot / bike path? When a Department of City Planning study was done in 1997 the price to put a path between the cables of the bridge was estimated to be 26.5 million. That would be 39.2 million in today’s dollars. Is that too much for a path that will be there for generations when the net profit from the Verrazano tolls is estimated to be 250 million per year? Let the MTA use more of our Verrazano toll money on enhancements to the bridge instead of subsidizing their other projects.

It is time to put a path on the Verrazano Bridge. We have waited long enough. Come out to the rally for the path on October 18, 2014. That’s from 11:00am to noon at the Alice Austen House, 2 Hylan Boulevard, at Edgewater Street in Staten Island.

— Roy Fischman


Students applying to high school for the 2015-2016 school year can register for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) through Wednesday, October 22, at noon. Eighth graders or first-time 9th graders who are residents of New York City can register for the SHSAT through their guidance counselor. Students with disabilities and English Language Learners (ELLs) may be eligible to receive testing accommodations on the SHSAT.

There are nine Specialized High Schools in New York City:

  • The Bronx High School of Science
  • Brooklyn Latin School
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
  • Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts
  • High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College
  • Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
  • Staten Island Technical High School
  • Stuyvesant High School

For eight of these schools, admission is based solely on the score attained on the SHSAT. For LaGuardia High School, admission is based upon auditions and a review of student academic performance.

You must register by October 22, and most of the testing will be done the weekend of October 25 and October 26.

You can find more information on Specialized High Schools here.

Community Board 11's offices at 2214 Bath Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

Community Board 11’s offices at 2214 Bath Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

A concerned neighbor alerted Community Board 11 to a string of car break-ins and vandalism along Cropsey Avenue during the group’s October 7 meeting.

A man who introduced himself as Theodore said the incidents have stretched along the commercial corridor from Bay 16th Street to Bay 20th Street, requesting that the Board urge the 62nd Precinct to ramp up patrols in that area.

Reps from the precinct were in attendance and noted the break-ins, and also responded to other concerns. One included a woman’s frustration that soccer practices at the New Utrecht High School fields were causing parking problems and unfair enforcement.  The woman stated that parking is impossible in the most evenings between 7pm and 9pm. The resident said she received a ticket from a police officer for parking “right across” from her home when there were a handful of cars illegally and double parked  on the same street.

Also at the meeting, a representative from Councilman David Greenfield’s office reminded residents that the speed limit has been lowered in most areas from 30 to 25 miles per hour in order to reduce traffic fatalities. Some drivers, unaware of the change, have been getting caught in speed traps on Ocean Parkway because no official announcement has been made yet, the rep said.

Board members were excited to discuss upcoming plans once they began their portion of announcements. It was noted that Community Board 11 has been selected for a Planning Fellowship Program that will focus on Urban Planning. Steven Maples, a second year master’s student at Hunter College, will be aiding the community board in planning regarding illegal curb cuts and front yard parking pads.

Also, regarding budget consultations; the board mentioned some changes they would like to see from the Parks Department—trees being installed in front of curb cuts. There was a motion for a resolution to be submitted.

The board also took notice of complaints surrounding trash at the Waldbaum’s parking lot. Since the establishment is private property, the Department of Sanitation cannot be held responsible. Therefore, the board hopes to ensure close monitoring of the establishment to promote up-keep of the lot.

– Anna Spivak


A Five Guys Burger and Fries will be Bensonhurst’s newest neighbor. The popular food chain in under construction and is set to open at the Ceasar’s Bay Shopping Plaza. Standing at 1608 Shore Parkway, adjacent to the new Vitamin Shoppe, the venue will boast burgers, hot dogs, and its famous zesty cajun fries.

Good news? I don’t know; I’ve never had a Five Guys burger. But the Washington Post contends that Five Guys restaurants are the “Willie Wonkas of Burgercraft,” and GQ Magazine has dubbed the food chain,“The Best $5 Burger A Man Can Eat.”

And, if you can’t wait for the bacon cheeseburgers and bottomless topping-options, have no fear. There are currently four other locations in Brooklyn — two in Dumbo, one in Prospect Heights, and one in Bay Ridge.

Happy future food coma!

Local restaurants participated in the event's launch and tasting last week at Borough Hall (Source: Kathryn Kirk/Brooklyn BP's Office)

Local restaurants participated in the event’s launch and tasting last week at Borough Hall (Source: Kathryn Kirk/Brooklyn BP’s Office)

The 11th annual Dine in Brooklyn event is set to kick off next Monday, and with $25 prix fixe dinners offered at more than 150 restaurants across the borough, foodies can pack their pie-holes with cuisines from every part of one of the nation’s most culinary diverse counties.

Over eight days beginning next week, diners can get $15 lunch and $25 dinner deals at more than 150 restaurants. The exact dates blackout restaurants’ most busy days, but those willing to go for weekday food fun will find the deals at the restaurants from Monday, October 20, to Thursday, October 23, and again from Monday, October 27, to Thursday, October 30.

A mere $25 covers prix fixe dinner menus, and most of the restaurants will offer two-for-$15 lunch menus.

Organized by the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, the event is about exposing neighbors to their local restaurants and supporting one of the borough’s most prodigious industries.

“Dine In Brooklyn celebrates the five-star flavors that make Brooklyn a ‘must-taste’ destination,” said Borough President Eric Adams in a press release. “Our restaurants fuel our borough’s economic engine, and this event is an opportunity to support their continued growth while encouraging diners to discover – or rediscover – their favorite Brooklyn dish. Most importantly, Dine In Brooklyn fosters the connections and memories that make ‘One Brooklyn’ like no place else on the globe.”

The number of Southern Brooklyn restaurants participating in 2014 has swelled a great deal from years past, with dozens now on the list. Just a few of our favorites:

  • il Fornetto (Sheepshead Bay)
  • Mill Basin Deli (Mill Basin)
  • New Ruan’s Restaurant (Bensonhurst)
  • Clemente’s Maryland Crab House (Sheepshead Bay)
  • L&B Spumoni Gardens (Gravesend)
  • Oleandr Restaurant (Brighton Beach)
  • Theresa’s Place (Dyker Heights)
  • Anatolian Gyro (Sheepshead Bay)
  • Peggy O’Neill’s (Coney Island)
  • Mama Rao Cucina Italiana (Dyker Heights)
  • Buckley’s (Marine Park)

Really, though, that’s just a sliver of the long list of truly local restaurants offering the deal, many of which we hope to try. Check out the full list here.

Which restaurants do you hope to get a taste of during Dine in Brooklyn?


From 9:45am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, Coney Island-bound D trains are rerouted via the N from 36 St, Brooklyn to Stillwell Av.

  • Trains stop at 62 St-New Utrecht Av.
  • To 9 Av, Fort Hamilton Pkwy, 50 St, and 55 St, take the Coney Island-bound D to 62 St-New Utrecht Av and transfer to a 205 St-bound D.
  • To 71 St, 79 St, 18 Av, 20 Av, Bay Pkwy, 25 Av, and Bay 50 St, take the Coney Island-bound D to Stillwell Av and transfer to a 205 St-bound D.
    • From these stations, take a 205 St-bound D to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or 36 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound D.

From 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, Manhattan-bound D trains run express from 36 St to Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and skip DeKalb Av.

From 10:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, 205 St-bound D trains run express from 145 St to Fordham Rd.


From 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, Manhattan-bound N trains run express from 36 St to Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and skip DeKalb Av.


From 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, there are no R trains in Brooklyn between 59 St and 36 St—take the N. R trains run between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St, Brooklyn.


From 12:30am to 5am, Tuesday to Friday, 179 St-bound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av.

From 10:15am to 3pm, Wednesday to Friday, Manhattan-bound F trains skip Avenue U.

From 10:30am to 3pm, Wednesday to Friday, F service operates in two sections:

  1. Between 179 St and Avenue X.
  2. Between Avenue X and Coney Island, every 20 minutes.

Maria and Chubby Campanella (Source:

The street co-naming ceremony for Angelo “Chubby” Campanella last Sunday capped off a quiet, 5-year battle in which Maria “the Ice Cream Girl” Campanella beat back City Hall smugness to get her dad remembered.

The fight for the new sign at 21st Avenue and 77th Street was chronicled this morning by the Daily Beast’s Michael Daly:

When Maria began her campaign back in 2009 … the city insisted that such honors are reserved for people like the firefighters and cops who perished in the 9/11 attacks. Maria suggested that there are other kinds of heroes, including a man who dedicated his life to his family and his neighborhood and made himself part of the fabric of the community where he lived. And a man who then demonstrated that a wheelchair can be a chariot.

Chubby’s brand of of working class heroism is worth recognizing in a blue-collar stronghold like Bensonhurst, Campanella argued. The father and daughter became a team when he began taking her on his route to keep her out of trouble. He instilled pride and confidence in her, and taught her compassion for those in need. Together, they spread goodwill throughout the neighborhood – be it through making sure every kid got ice cream even when they couldn’t afford it, or chasing down hit-and-run drivers while working the route.

A number of elected officials, including City Council Member David Greenfield, City Council Member Mark Treyger, former City Council Member Domenic Recchia, and state Sen. Marty Golden, agreed. They joined the fight.

“It’s like the canonization of a saint these days to get a block named,” one of the officials notes.

Maria and her allies kept pushing. The final hurdle was a longtime city policy against nicknames in street signs.

“I said, ‘You got to put in ‘Chubby,’” Greenfield recalls. “They said, ‘Why?’ I said, “Or nobody’s going to know who is it is.’”

The article also touches on the continuing struggles the ice cream truck industry faces, including the “chaotic… incursion of Russian and Middle Eastern immigrants who interpreted freedom in America to include selling ice cream wherever your truck takes you.”

We’ve got a feeling Campanella isn’t so worried about that, knowing that her ice cream is made all the more sweet with a hefty dose of love for the neighborhood she patrols.

2007 Surf Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

A man was found fatally shot in the head Saturday morning in a Coney Island building with a history of recent tragedies.

Police responded to a 911 call at 8:45am of a person shot inside 2007 Surf Avenue, where they found a 43-year-old man collapsed in the 13th floor hallway. The man had a gunshot wound to his stomach and one to the head, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

No arrests were made, and the identity of the man is being withheld pending family notification.

It’s just the latest in a string of tragic incidents at that address. Most notably, on the very same floor as the shooting, a teenager allegedly set fire to a mattress in the hallway in April, sparking a blaze that ultimately took the life of the first police officer on scene, PO Dennis Guerra. His partner was critically injured and recovered, and 16-year-old Marcell Dockery has been charged with murder.

In August, 22-year-old Victor Rosado, an expectant father and community member, was shot to death in front of the building. He was believed to be an innocent bystander struck when an unknown gunman opened fire on a group of men playing chess.

In September, an officer suffered a possible heart attack at 2007 Surf Avenue, where he collapsed when responding to a call for shots fired.

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI): Here are some of the big stories you may have missed this week. You can keep up with what’s going on in the neighborhood all week long. Just follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our daily newsletter. If you have any news tips, story ideas, questions or anything else, e-mail us at editor [at] bensonhurstbean[dot] com.