Personally, I prefer my ice cream smutty.
Personally, I prefer my ice cream smutty.
Thank the lord for America’s independent, free press, delving into the weightiest and most controversial of issues, serving as a public watchdog, the fourth estate, protecting our freedoms… and eating mozzarella sticks for 14 hours so we don’t have to.
In case you haven’t heard, T.G.I. Friday’s launched a new promotion at select locations, giving patrons the chance to eat an unlimited amount of appetizers for just $10. Creatively, it’s called “Endless Appetizers.”
I know what you’re thinking. “Psha. Endless? Yeah, right. They’ll crack down on you by hour three and start demanding you order something or get out.” Especially in the no-nonsense, rough-and-tumble Sheepshead Bay location, right?
That’s what Gawker’s Caity Weaver thought too. So she did her journalistic duty, trekked down to Harkness Avenue, ordered some endless mozzarella sticks (you only get to choose one of seven appetizers – madness!), and sat their for four… teen… freakin’… hours.
Forget Israel. Forget the Ukraine. Somebody get this lady a Pulitzer and tell all those other reporters to go home.
What resulted from the effort was a whopping 6,000-word opus to utter self-contempt in a nearly minute-by-minute breakdown of her stay. All-in-all, Weaver didn’t eat all that much; just 7 orders, or 32 mozzarella sticks in total. That’s an amount most of fat, big-mouthed jerks behind keyboards think is just pitiful, but Weaver attributes it to the fact that Friday’s mozzarella sticks, which have been gussied in up in vain with a Parmesan and Romano dusting, were just god awful. And I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, because by the end of it she so clearly hated herself in a way that suggested she ate three times that amount.
The conclusion? Well, the Endless Appetizers deal is unlimited, although Weaver potentially sabotaged the report by disclosing to management before she began that she was there to test the policy. So further research must be done. (We’re on it.)
Other takeaways? Friday’s mozzarella sticks reportedly suck. Heinz makes you do too much to participate in their back-of-the-bottle promotions. The daytime service at Fridays is nice; in the evening, not so much. Weaver doesn’t care much for Plumb Beach channel, which she describes thusly, “as nice as any scenic bay or rainbow gasoline puddle.” There appear to be a few creeps who hang out there and say weird things to pretty girls covered in mozzarella-stick-grease.
Oh, and Caity Weaver is funny as hell. Read this thing. It was the best part of my day.
Sheepshead Bites reader Tamika J. sent us this photo of a sticker she spotted on a local Q train.
Designed to look like one of the MTA’s official notices making riders aware of the penalties faced for various violations, like assaulting a subway conductor, the sticker tells riders that “Not following your dreams is a felony against the soul punishable by up to 7 years of bad karma.”
Although it’s a pretty uplifting message to a successful bad-ass like yours truly, it probably makes most of you shlubs commuting to the job you hate a little more depressed than taking the subway normally would. And, at that, I laugh.
Wait, that’s probably bad karma, too. Damnit.
Oh, the struggles of life in Sheepshead Bay. A beautiful waterfront. A glut of mass transit options. Prideful mom-and-pop businesses lining the commercial streets.
Sounds like hell, right? That’s the way some residents make it sound. If I had a nickel for every time a reader has told me we need one corporate franchise eatery or another – Starbucks! Outback Steakhouse! Red F’ing Mango! – I’d have enough nickels to give up this journalism racket, open up a 7-Eleven, a shove taquitos down everyone’s face-hole while yelling “ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? ARE YOU?!”
The latest is this open letter by Sheepshead Bay resident DJ Alex Edge to Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer. Edge has just finished up Meyer’s book, “Setting the Table” and it made him hungry for a “beautiful cheese drenched Shake Shake [sic] double.” But Manhattan is oh-so-far. Forty freakin’ minutes!
Rather than take the hike to the bland, corporate Disneyland that is Manhattan, Edge goes for the more dignified approach. He begged… and gave the finger to Sheepshead Bay’s existing dining options.
I am not sure why but my neighborhood is pilfered with hundreds of sushi joints, Turkish shish kebab eateries, and Russian dens filled with lavish French delicacies. Even though I am from the part of the world that enjoys a good plate of caviar, I am a simple fellow Danny. One who enjoys a great burger that’s cooked just right. A burger that’s served with a generous amount of fries, a perfect smidgen of sauce and a smile that’s ripped right out of the pages of your hunger inducing book.
Hey, man. I’m all in agreement that the Bay would benefit from more variety, but our Russian dens and Turkish eateries are the tops, and the sushi joints… well, at least they’re cheap.
Anyway, Edge goes on to provide three reasons why Shake Shack should set up shop in Southern Brooklyn sooner rather than later. Which, quite honestly, are mostly good reasons for almost any business to be getting into the game down here:
I don’t know, man. I like my gyros. And the sushi… well, at least it’s cheap.
What do you think? Does Sheepshead Bay need a Shake Shack? Or would we do better to see a homegrown burger joint come into its own and take over the rest of the city?
Ah, the heady days of the 1960s. I’m told if you remember it, you weren’t there.
So we’ll forgive you if you forgot all about that time – May 9, 1965 – when a bunch of teenagers swiped a penguin from the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.
Why would they steal a penguin, you ask? Because, man, why not?
The story goes like this: an MTA detective was on the subway at Stillwell Avenue, minding everybody’s business like he ought to. He spots a group of teens hop on his subway car carrying a cardboard box. The kids leave, but leave the box behind.
Then the box moves.
Figuring it’s a seagull – because, man, why not? – he goes to grab the box to take it outside and release it. Only after getting bit on the thumb does this detective decide to get a little more inquisitive, and takes a look inside the container.
He called up the aquarium and they confirmed they were a penguin down, and it was returned safely.
Oh, yeah, then it happened again in 1967.
I learned all this after stumbling across the New York Historical Society video above, first released in 2012.
I bet those folks back in 1938 would’ve expected a lot of change to happen over the course of 76 years. I can just envision them, chomping on their cigars, flipping their derby hats in their hands, and saying, “Boy, oh, boy, in that there 2014, this here Sheepshead Bay Road will just blow your wig. Make no brodies about it, pally, there’ll be big ol’ skyscrapers everywhere, and clocks as grand as the sultan’s suds. I bet all the walls will have talkies showin’ all these tomatoes, and all the boys will be dizzy with dames on this here stretch.”
Well, they were wrong. This 1938 photo, taken from the elevated platform of what is today the Sheepshead Bay subway station, pretty much shows what a bunch of twits my imagined 1930s neighbors were. This road looks almost exactly the same now as it did then. Who would’ve thought it?!
Of course, there are some obvious differences. The building in the distance was torn down to make way for a bank (now Popular Community Bank), but that’s the only architectural change; all the other buildings still stand.
A real notable difference between the storefronts? They’re occupied in the photo. Also, the streets are clean and there aren’t 1,000 livery cabs threatening to bring a crushing end to your miserable life.
Anyway, just a side note: I found this photo up for auction on eBay. It lacks any description indicating the photographer or copyright holder. I wouldn’t normally do this, but old photos like this have a way of coming and going, and never being seen again – so I wanted to have it saved somewhere (thus the purpose of our Postcard series). If you’re the copyright holder, it’s not our intent to infringe, and you can contact me here.
Sheepshead Bay Police Precinct – now the NYPD’s 61st Precinct – was once located on Avenue U and East 15th Street. I stumbled across the photo above and set about doing some research.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t learn when it was built or torn down and, quite frankly, stopped giving a damn once I found this amazing account of the extraordinary bravery and heroism of the local police force that occupied that stately building.
The date was July 13, 1915. The scene was West 5th Street and Avenue U – now on the border of the current day 61st Precinct, but then firmly within its command.
Our valiant hero is named Cowboy Doody. Cowboy James Doody.
Some time prior to the incident to be recounted below, one James Murdock who resided at the scene set forth, had “been for a long time addicted to the habit of rearing goats.”
Indeed. His neighbors, no more understanding in those sepia-tinged days than they are today, complained to authorities. A lot. Mainly about the “near -fragrance” – and no, we haven’t gotten to Doody yet – “and plaintive sounds emanating from a barn on Murdock’s place.”
The courts fined him and fined him again, ultimately offering a choice – pay yet another hefty fine or go to jail. The crazy cat lady of his time, Murdock chose jail. He was principled. Why should he not own as many damned goats as he likes? Is this not America?
The authorities disagreed and off to the clink Murdock went, leaving “sixty-five goats of indiscriminate ages … practically without any guardianship watsoever.”
What happened next is best described by those intrepid reporters of The Washington Herald (yes, this made national news, and on page two no less):
He had lived alone and none of his neighbors thought it necessary to investigate the pleadings of the goats which resounded throughout Gravesend the whole night long.
With the coming of daylight the goats, having devoured all the interior fittings of the barn, walked right out through the wall on one side and permeated the entire neighborhood.
With ba-a-a-a and bleats of joy the goats proceeded on their work of devastation. The reidents were powerless. Many who sought to prevent the invasion of their premises were butted all over the place.
Butted all over the place! The carnage! The mayhem! Kings Plaza had nothing on the Gravesend streets of 1915.
What were the residents to do? Worry not, for this is the cue for our hero, Mounted Policeman James Doody, who appeared on the horizon and bellowed a mighty “Ki-ya!”
“Ki-ya!” he said. “Ki-ya!” as he “rode his fiery steed up and down and across the placid confines of Gravesend today, twirling his lasso above his head and ever and anon lassoing a goat.”
Our brave hero was not alone. Cowboy Doody – he was indeed a former cowboy, having “acquired said efficiency on the plains in the southwestern part of our country,” was assisted by “his associate centaurs of the Sheepshead Bay police precinct.”
But, alas, our Herald reports, “none of them could zip out ‘ki-ya’ with the penetra[ting] efficiency of James Doody.”
By noon the strange-eyed nuisance had abated. Doody and his centaurs corralled 42 goats into a barn behind the station photographed above.
Doody, with his “Ki-ya” and his no less valorous but less vocal assistants, were scattering out toward Sheepshead Bay, Flatbush, Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge in search of the most nimble and adventurous of the flock.
The legend of Cowboy Doody is new to us. But, this reporter has learned, his name to this day strikes fear into the black, freakish hearts of goats everywhere, and his mighty “Ki-ya!” brings, without exception, the following reaction from goats citywide:
If the Department of Transportation needs a copy editor, my services are available.
Seen on East 15th Street near Avenue Y. Thanks to Christina K. for submitting.
The beloved dough-tossers at Midwood’s Di Fara Pizza were forced to defend themselves against allegations that they existed only to feed New York City’s elite, after mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio declared it his favorite pizza.
The issue surfaced after the Daily News, in yet another hard-hitting policy report (akin to the “So… would ya’ kill a kittie?” fiasco), asked Democratic contender Bill de Blasio and Republican Joe Lhota which pizzeria produced their favorite slice.
De Blasio, erring on the side of, well, every freakin’ top-10 list in the city, said his heart and stomach are with Di Fara’s (1424 Avenue J).
“To all the Manhattan foodies out there: it’s not even close. This is clearly the best,” he told the newspaper, fawning of Dom’s use of “buffalo milk mozzarella, which is beloved in my grandfather’s province in Italy.”
The Daily News, in the business of creating controversy where there is none, declared that the rundown, generation-spanning family business is just a front for upper-crust snobbery, citing their $5 slice and $28 pie, believed to be among the highest in the city. They claim it’s at odds with de Blasio’s self-anointed status as a champion of the downtrodden.
“Mr. Tale of Two Cities eats his pizza with the 1%,” the paper claims. “But the man who says he’ll make the city a better place for the downtrodden if elected mayor insists the Brooklyn slice joint is worth the price — and the famously long line that snakes out its door.”
New York Observer’s Politicker blog, of course, wouldn’t let sleeping dogs lie, and turned to the pizza king for a rebuttal.
“No, I feel like we have a very unique product,” an employee told The Observer. “Anyone who tries it is going to find it to be a quality product. We hear people all day saying it’s one of the best things they’ve ever eaten. No matter what percent you’re in, once you try it, you’ll love it.”
And, of course, the whole idea that any pizza not laden with diamonds and the squandered dreams of Detroit factory workers is for the one percent is ludicrous. Even at the high price tag – $28 – a family of four can eat a meal and not break the bank.
What the Daily News should really be focusing on is Lhota’s answer. Not only can he not name his favorite pizzeria, he claims that his favorite slice is – gasp! – buffalo chicken! From Queens!!!
Of all the weird and wacky stories coming across our desks about Sheepshead Bay’s quirky business scene, this is easily my favorite. Rasputin Restaurant, at 2670 Coney Island Avenue, has reopened with new ownership and a new name: Romanoff Restaurant.
Like Rasputin, it will be a Russian-themed banquet and dance hall, doling out mounds of salmon roe for its ritzy clientele.
But why is it funny? Well, as most who follow this site know, Rasputin was shuttered in May after federal authorities seized the assets of its owner, Michael Levitis, who they’ve charged with fraud in relation to his side business, Mission Settlement Agency. He is accused of swindling clients out of millions of dollars in charges for debt settlement services never rendered.
In choosing “Romanoff” as their name, the new owners are tipping their hat – perhaps unintentionally – to the whole mess.
Romanoff, you see, was the surname of Michael Romanoff, a.k.a. Prince Michael Dimitri Alexandrovich Obolensky-Romanoff, but, actually, a man born in Lithuania as Hershel Geguzin. Romanoff established the famed Hollywood venue Romanoff’s, a beacon for L.A.’s elite in the 1940s and 1950s.
But Romanoff wasn’t who he said he was. Hardly a prince, he was one of America’s most legendary conmen. After traveling the world under different identities, he eventually settled in Hollywood and became a social gadfly, regaling stars with tales of his phony claim to Russian royalty, claiming to be a nephew of Tsar Nicholas II.
Ultimately, he was deported to France to serve time for fraud.
So, opening up on the site of another restaurant that was shuttered when its Eastern European owner was charged with fraud, and dubbing it Romanoff, the name of another Eastern European restaurateur charged with fraud… yeah, that’s funny.
Unfortunately, we doubt the owners had this in mind when they chose the name.
Regardless, good luck, Romanoff.