Following a shooting yesterday in broad daylight that left one dead, and other recent violence in the neighborhood, fed up residents of Coney Island are holding a rally to call for an end to area violence.
The rally will kick off today, August 27, at 6:00 p.m. on West 24th Street and Mermaid Avenue – the site of yesterday’s fatal shooting.
Local elected officials were slated to hold a legislative softball game at MCU Park this evening, but they canceled it out of respect following the shooting. Several, including Councilman Mark Treyger and Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, will attend the rally instead.
Sweet Island, a bonafide candy store, is now open at 1214 Avenue U.
The owners told us they opened up shop about a month ago, and the place seems like a slightly Eastern European twist on the candy shops of my youth. They’ve got the staple candies, including collectible M&M dispensers and such, but they also carry some imported candies and Eastern European baked sweets.
They also have ice cream, milkshakes, cakes, coffee and regular, not sweet snacks.
It replaces IMJ Kosher Market.
Good luck, Sweet Island!
THE BITE: After wrapping up my visit to the Brighton Jubilee this weekend, I walked up Coney Island Avenue and passed one the neighborhood’s staple Mexican joints, Tacos El Rey (3168 Coney Island Avenue). It had been a long time since my last visit, and I spotted a sign in the window declaring that the kitchen now offered up pupusas, a traditional Salvadoran treat that has long been unavailable in this area. I had to give it a try.
With a sister-in-law of Salvadoran heritage, I’m no stranger to pupusa – but this neighborhood sure is. Think of it as a pan-fried pancake made of cornmeal and stuffed with beans, cheese and other assorted awesomeness. It’s been made in the Central American nation for nearly 2,000 years, but remained the secret of a small hamlet until migration carried it across the nation, then to bordering countries and to our shores over the past half century or so.
The fillings vary depending on regions, but cheese, pork and refried beans are usually on the menu (individually, or mixed). At Tacos El Rey, they also offer shrimp, chicken, and “queso y loroco,” cheese mixed with a vine from a Central American flower bud. The restaurant charges $5.00 for a plate of two, with shrimp costing $8.00.
Disappointingly, Tacos El Rey was out of loroco when I stopped by. So I went with beans and cheese and the revuelta – a blend of chicharron, cheese and beans.
It took some time to arrive at the table, suggesting it’s not a frequently ordered dish at El Rey and had to made from scratch. To bide my time, I ordered a limonada ($3.00).
If you’re thinking this is the lemonade you grew up on, you’re wrong (well, unless you’re Latin American). It’s made from freshly squeezed key limes, some water and a liberal amount of sugar – and then blended with ice into a heavenly froth. It is a spectacular refreshment on a hot summer day.
Just as I slurped the last drops through my straw, the pupusa arrived piping hot, followed by the traditional sides of curtido – think spicy, pickled cole slaw – and a runny tomato-based salsa.
The outside was crispy; perhaps a little overcooked to some, but just how I like it. And the cornmeal dough was grainy and a touch sweet; again, how I like it.
In hindsight, I regret ordering two fillings that were so similar. They were at first difficult to tell apart. Those that are thinking of chicharron as deep fried pork rind beware – although it shares the same name, Salvadoran chicharron is simply cooked pork meat, and in the pupusa it’s ground to a paste and mixed with the beans. While I couldn’t tell the two apart by looking them, the revuelta had noticeably more flavor.
After a taste, I heaped the salsa on top, followed by a mountain of the slaw and blissfully dug in. As good as the pupusa was alone, the curtido was the perfect companion, accentuating the grain’s sweetness with vinegar and a spicy bite. The salsa, unfortunately, added little flavor or heat and just seemed to make my pupusa wet.
The verdict? While it’s not the best pupusa I’ve had, it’s the only one I’ve seen south of Prospect Park and I’ll definitely be returning to satisfy my occasional cravings. And it was a damn good approximation – much better and more authentic than I had expected for a Mexican restaurant.
Tacos El Rey, 3168 Coney Island Avenue (at Brighton Beach Avenue), (718) 769-0116.
The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ column exploring the foodstuffs of the Sheepshead Bay area. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.
Gunshots rang out on Mermaid Avenue yesterday afternoon, when Coney Island resident Ronnell Bradley, 21, was gunned down outside of a bodega as children played nearby.
Cops were called to the scene just after 4:00 p.m. for a person shot outside of 2327 Mermaid Avenue. They arrived to find Bradley with several gunshot wounds to the torso and legs. He was taken to Coney Island where he was pronounced dead.
There were no arrests and police had no suspects as of early this morning.
According to NBC, two young girls were also nearly clipped by bullets until a member of the Guardian Angels volunteer crime patrol pulled them to safety.
“The two little girls were shouting ‘Mommy, mommy,’” the Guardian Angel, Jose Colon, told the outlet.
Colon also spoke to NY1, telling them that violence remains a serious problem in the community and neighbors are afraid to speak out.
“Too much, a lot of people and they see something suspicious—they be quiet. And they say, ‘You snitch, you get…’ You know what I mean,” Colon told NY1.
The intersection where Bradley was gunned down is the same corner where a 10-year-old boy and 25-year-old man were struck by stray bullets in June. In May, another double shooting on Mermaid Avenue led local pols to call for more cops in the residential portion of Coney Island.
As of August 10, that latest date for which there are statistics, there have been 13 shootings, with 15 victims, in 2014 in the 60th Precinct, which patrols Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Gravesend. That’s a decrease from the same time period in 2013, which saw 17 shootings and 23 victims. Though shootings are down in the 60th Precinct, citywide gun violence is surging, with a 10.3 percent increase in incidents.
Shot on East 13th Street and Avenue U. She looks as though rubbing his beard gives her a sense of calm introspection. Maybe I should go there and try it myself.
Photo by Laine L.
Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to email@example.com.
Local pols are joining forces to host the “Pre-Labor Day Summer Senior Concert” tomorrow, August 27 at Amersfort Park, located on Avenue I between East 38 Street and East 39 Street. The concert will run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., sponsored by Councilman Jumaane Williams, Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Golden Crust, Chef’s Choice, caribBEING, Millenium Development, Emblem Health, and Sesame Flyers.
Free and open to the public, the concert will feature musical performances by East Flatbush Village Performers, Remsen Zumba Dancers, the IET Band, and the Sesame Flyers Steel Pan Orchestra. Each year, this concert has been a way to thank elders of the 45th District.
“Our elders are the backbone and the brain trust of this community,” Williams stated in a press release. “This concert is but one expression of how much we care and how committed we are to their well-being. It’s even better that we were able to do so with the music of our shared Caribbean heritage, a heritage that fills my Grenadian heart with deep pride.”
For more information about the concert, contact Farah Louis, director of community outreach for Williams at (718) 629-2900.
We apologize for the totally inappropriate video, but we just couldn’t resist.
Nearly two years after Superstorm Sandy came ashore, many of our neighbors are still struggling to rebuild. Local pols are trying to make it a little easier by bringing in-office services to the community.
Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch are both hosting reps at their offices from various agencies to help in the recovery.
Deutsch has a representative from Build it Back in his 2401 Avenue U office every other week, available by appointment only. After complaints from constituents that Build it Back was not readily accessible, even after the promises from the agency to ramp up its effectiveness, the rep is being made available to review cases one-on-one and cut through the red tape. Appointments can be made by calling the district office at (718) 368-9176, and the rep will provide help and insight, in addition to giving them a status update regarding their application.
Meanwhile, Treyger is working with The Legal Aid Society and the city’s Build it Back program to provide residents with free assistance at his 445 Neptune Avenue district office in Coney Island.
A representative from The Legal Aid Society will be at the office each Tuesday through mid-September to meet with residents still experiencing the impacts of Superstorm Sandy and to assist with the following issues: landlord/tenant disputes over repairs and rent abatements; Temporary Disaster Assistance Program (TDAP) vouchers or Section 8 vouchers received due to displacement by the storm; consumer debt collection; flood insurance issues; Small Business Administration (SBA) loans; and contractor fraud. The lawyer is available to meet confidentially by appointment or on a first-come, first-served basis on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In addition, a case manager from the city’s Build it Back program is available every other Monday from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
To make an appointment at Treyger’s office for either service, call (718) 373-9673.
“Many storm victims still have difficult and important decisions to make, so it is imperative that they have someone they can turn to for reliable information and advice. I urge anyone who needs legal assistance as a result of Superstorm Sandy or help navigating the Build it Back program to take advantage of these programs available right here in the community,” said Treyger in announcing the service.
Mandee’s to the rescue? More like turn tail and run.
The long-lived Brighton Beach Avenue location of Mandee is having a storewide sale as it gets set to close its doors for good. Its parent company, Big M, is retreating from the neighborhood following bankruptcy proceedings last year that it said were spurred on by Superstorm Sandy.
Signs at the location are calling it an end of lease sale. An employee of the store told Sheepshead Bites that the 713 Brighton Beach Avenue storefront would shutter in late October, a decision that will leave 20 to 25 people without jobs, she said. Employees have been directed to steer customers to their Sheepshead Bay location on Nostrand Avenue and Avenue U.
Big M, which also owns Annie Sez, filed for bankruptcy in January 2013, saying that Superstorm Sandy forced company stores in New York and New Jersey to close and that business had not been able to recover from the impact. The company was in the midst of a turnaround and restructuring when the storm hit, according to Bloomberg News.
At the time of the filing, the New Jersey-based company operated 129 stores in eight states, including 84 Mandee locations. It was founded by brothers Leon, Max and Bernard Mandelbaum in 1948 and remains a family-owned business.
Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be avoiding Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods that supported his electoral rival, Joe Lhota, including Sheepshead Bay and Bensonhurst, according to a report in the New York Observer.
The outlet reports that de Blasio has held press conferences in neighborhoods where he performed well in November’s elections, but has failed to appear at all in the more conservative enclaves of Southern Brooklyn.
Mr. de Blasio, a Brooklynite, held press conferences in Democratic strongholds like Williamsburg, Bushwick, Red Hook, Sunset Park, Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York over the first seven and a half months of his administration. But along the southern swath of Brooklyn–in neighborhoods including Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Boro Park, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, Mill Basin and Bergen Beach–Mr. de Blasio has not scheduled a public appearance since becoming mayor in January.
Mr. Lhota bested Mr. de Blasio in those southern Brooklyn neighborhoods, in some election districts winning as much as 80 percent of the vote. Citywide, Mr. Lhota was crushed, winning only 24 percent of the vote to Mr. de Blasio’s 73 percent.
Prior to the elections, de Blasio sightings were fairly common in areas like Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach. After votes were cast overwhelmingly in favor of Lhota in those neighborhoods, he hasn’t been heard from. The Observer reports that some in the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst neighborhoods are complaining of the same.
Public appearances are one measure of the mayor’s responsiveness to a community. Another could be the dispatching of high-ranking officials to those neighborhoods, and on that there appears to be mixed results. The Department of Transportation commissioner and Build it Back head have both engaged Southern Brooklyn communities and appeared responsive.
At the same time, the mayor’s office gave a last-minute denial to the Santa Rosalia Society’s request for a date change of the 18th Avenue Feast. The request was made to address community concerns about garbage pickup after the event, but the mayor’s office offered no explanation for the denial despite multiple requests.