Archive for the ‘Site News’ Category


Founder Ned Berke

It is with great excitement that I announce Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean have been acquired by Corner Media, a fellow independent publisher of community news.

This is terrific news for our readers and business partners, as it gives us access to a greater network of resources. This deal enables us to provide deeper and broader coverage of our communities, experiment more with our reporting and technology, and offer our business partners greater reach. As associate publisher and senior editor, I will be working with Corner Media Publisher Liena Zagare and Managing Editor Mary Bakija to increase coverage of civic importance throughout the network and to develop new ways to pay for that coverage.

Corner Media’s team has been in this game just a tad longer than I have. With roots dating back to 2007, Liena & Co. operate the highly engaging Ditmas Park Corner, Park Slope Stoop, Fort Greene Focus, KensingtonBK and South Slope News.

Liena and I have been friends for years, and after putting our heads together over the past few months we came to believe it was a natural, necessary and exciting evolution of both of our networks. Having launched community news sites at similar times, and with like-minded focuses on our neighbors and businesses, we’ve long been an influence on one another. Liena and I share deep commitments to our communities and a passion for nurturing and supporting our mom-and-pop establishments, and it simply made sense to pursue these goals together.

I began this journey into community news publishing more than six years ago. It has, without a doubt, been the most rewarding experience of my life, in which I’ve been able to give back to the community where I was born and raised. I’ve made many friends from our ever-growing pool of readers, sources and business partners, and have been humbled to hear from so many of you about how our stories have helped you, sometimes in the most trying hours. I thank you for that. Many of you have made Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean a part of your daily lives, and I am eternally grateful for your support thus far.

It is with that in mind that I embark on this new leg of that journey. There have been other potential suitors over the years that I have turned down, and I did so because I felt they may not have the same sensitivity for our readers, our vision and our community. But I know that with Liena, Mary and the rest of the Corner Media team, I could not have found better partners with which to share the reins.

You will likely see a number of changes over the coming months. A long overdue (and mobile-friendly) design is in the works. We’re already kicking around ideas for new regular features. We’ll be introducing a number of new local writers on these pages. For our business partners, a host of innovative marketing opportunities across Brooklyn will become available. It’s going to be a great and exciting time in the history of Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean, and we’re energized over all the possibilities on the horizon.

I look forward to your continued support, and, as always, welcome hearing from you as we move forward.

Kind regards,

Ned Berke
Founder, Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean

P.S. – For those interested in keeping tabs on me personally, or about how the sausage is made, follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. In the near future I’ll be posting there about the transition, my personal reflections/rants, and my thoughts on the online news publishing industry.


This is what the header of looked like when we first launched in 2008. What was I thinking?!

Six years ago on this date, May 12, I registered the domain name Within two hours, I customized a blog template and published the first post to ever appear on this website.

Man, what a ride it has been.

Back then, it was intended to simply be a creative outlet while I worked a soulless gig at a trade publication. I never expected the outpouring of support from neighbors who, somehow, found their way here within the first few days of launch. Southern Brooklyn, it seemed, was desperate for some love, digital-style.

I certainly never expected that I’d leave my job and come to pilot this ship full-time, into the turbulent, uncharted seas of digital community news during the most challenging, empowering, stressful, inspiring, maddening and unquestionably rewarding journey of my entire life. Or that, six years on, we’d be sailing onwards evermore, lord willing.

I could sit here and recount Sheepshead Bites’ victories, our trying moments, or the subjects I’ve worked on over the years that filled me with so much damn feeling – pride, shame, empathy and exaltation – that my heart verged on exploding. Or I could harp on the support we’ve received from our business partners, testimony not only to Sheepshead Bites’ broad and growing audience, but also to the recognition of our local, loyal and independent message, which is at the core of Sheepshead Bites’ mission.

I could but I won’t. Because you’re here and you already know it, and I’ve never been one to preach to choirs.

So instead, I say something I don’t get to say often enough: Thank you. Each and every one of you. It continues to be such a privilege, and I look forward to continuing this uncertain but exciting voyage with you by my side.

Source: Vironevaeh/Flickr

In 2013, nearly 700,000 people visited Sheepshead Bites more than two million times. We published 1,861 new articles about Sheepshead Bay and the surrounding communities, growing the total archive of this blog to 7,359 posts. You, our readers, submitted somewhere in the vicinity of 45,000 comments.

All I have to say is thank you. Thank you for another terrific year of building the Sheepshead Bites community.

When I started Sheepshead Bites as a hobby nearly six years ago, I never expected it to grow to this size. Fueled by your tips, comments and notes of support, we’ve become the largest repository of online information about Sheepshead Bay and the surrounding neighborhoods.

A much deserved thank you goes out to our business supporters, too. Local institutions like il Fornetto Restaurant and Fillmore Real Estate have provided tremendous support that allows us to do what we do, all day, every (week)day. So make sure to stop by and say thank you to the various businesses you see advertising on this site, because they do it not just to promote themselves, but because they recognize the important role that online news plays in our community.

Thank you as well to the small army of people who help out Sheepshead Bites – writing, reporting, submitting tips and photos and so much more. There are too many to name, but you know who you are, and I cannot express my gratitude enough.

This year has been a very tough one – for us, for you, for the local businesses – as we all continue to rebound from Superstorm Sandy. But to see our neighbors plod along – especially our local businesses – and double down their investment in our community not only gives me hope, but inspiration.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014. We’ll see you January 2!

The team at Sheepshead Bites wishes all of our readers a Merry Christmas.

The greatest gift of all is getting to serve you, our readers and the community, all year long, and we hope we all share in a happy, healthy and prosperous year to come.

While we do love bringing you news, information and commentary from around the neighborhood, even we need a break. So we’re taking Christmas Day off, and will be back on Thursday with our stomachs filled and our minds cleared.

Have a great holiday!

Towne Cafe’s editable ad

Sheepshead Bites is proud to introduce a new advertising option that gives our business supporters an immediate, effective way to keep our readers informed: dynamic ads that businesses can update by simply sending a text message, Facebook post or Twitter update.

The Towne Cafe, Sheepshead Bay’s oldest bar at 1418 Avenue Z, became the first business to use the technology, launching their ad this past Friday.

Towne is under new management, and co-owner Lee Morgan is looking to turn the bar around and make it a landmark destination for the community. To that end, Morgan and Towne Cafe now host daily events, with live music, karaoke and DJs almost every night of the week. Morgan, a long-time patron of the pub who wanted to bring back some of the bar’s old charm, will use our new editable ads to tell readers about events, specials and future developments at the business.

We had a great time showing Morgan how simple the tech is to use. All we did was save a phone number into his phone to which he sends a text message, and the text of the ad automatically changes. During the demo, an excited Morgan took our iPad and showed off the new ad to some of the bar’s patrons.

“This is incredible. It’s like magic,” said Morgan.

The text of the ad can also be changed by picking up on a businesses’ Facebook or Twitter updates (and even narrowed down, using a hashtag), or automatically from an RSS feed for businesses with a blog. It can also be configured to automatically update photos within an ad.

The technology has a small monthly charge, and advertisers can update their ads as frequently as they like.

Readers: keep an eye on the ads in our sidebar to learn about events and promotions from local businesses using this technology!

Advertisers: if you’d like to sign up to use this new feature, just e-mail advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com or call (347) 985-0633.

This is what the Sheepshead Bites header looked like when we launched in May 2008. Yeah, it was that ugly.

Happy anniversary to us!

On Sunday, May 12, Sheepshead Bites marked the fifth anniversary of its first post, published on May 12, 2008.

The post was simply an “About Sheepshead Bites,” where I scribbled some of my ideas about why I started the site and what we’d be doing. And, although we’ve changed our about page several times and rewritten our mission ad nauseum, the core of what we do has not changed. Going back and reading this again for the first time in years, I can say, with pride, that we’ve stayed the course for five long years.

Many of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods still filled with genuine Brooklynites feature local characters and compelling, complex issues, but are going under-reported in both the established media and the nebulous Brooklyn blogroll. And while most of our neighbors sink further into either apathy or Monday morning quarterback-style governance, our communities are going on without us. They’re leaving their flair and character behind and moving forward in erratic, worrisome ways.

… Community meetings, development issues, local politics, interesting people, happenings and cool new places — these are just some of the topics the Bite will sink its teeth into. And what will set us apart from any other great blogs in the area is our humor and irreverence, blended in with the same passion and concern that comes from our colleagues.

While I originally intended to put together a long post – or even a series of posts to run throughout the day – filled with flashbacks, story highlights, reflections and more – I think something a little more simple is in order: a thank you.

Because of you, we’re at a great place, and heading towards something even greater.

For starters, our numbers speak for themselves.

We went from publishing a handful of stories a week to now averaging 125 stories a month – not to mention those we do on our sister-site, Bensonhurst Bean. Our readership has grown from two or three digits a day in our first few months to thousands – and often tens of thousands – a day, and more than 125,000 visits a month.

It’s even more impressive when seen over time. In the five years since launch, more than 1.5 million people have logged into Sheepshead Bites, devouring 6.5 million pages.

We’ve published just shy of 6,800 stories about you and your neighborhood, and accompanied them with countless photos and videos.

For our work, we’ve received praise. In 2010, The L Magazine named Sheepshead Bites the best local blog in Brooklyn and Manhattan. In 2011, CBS News editors picked us as their favorite source for local affairs coverage. And in 2012, I had the extraordinary honor of being included in the coveted City & State “40 Under 40″ movers and shakers list.

But our success isn’t just in the numbers or acclaim from legacy media. The greatest gratification of all is from what I hear from neighbors, community leaders and business owners in the streets – and they often reveal where we’ve helped the most.

Often I am stopped on the street, thanked for the work of my team on covering mega-stories like Superstorm Sandy, where we were the lone news outlet providing up-to-the-minute details about what our neighborhood was experiencing, and organized information to help your recovery. There was also the blizzard of 2010, when several feet of snow cut our neighborhood off from the rest of the city for as long as a week. While Mayor Bloomberg said all is well, our team, with help from the community, sounded the alarm and brought vital attention from larger media and city agencies into our corner of the borough.

Putting the spotlight on our neighborhood and getting us the attention we deserve is one of the areas in which we excel. We showed that in our coverage of the B4′s service cuts, and our advocacy to get it restoredwhich we did. We showed it when we made waves about construction on the B and Q line that would cause chaos for commuters – earning a promise from the city that work here would be done on-time – which it was, while similar projects elsewhere have been delayed. We showed it with our endless harping on garbage issues, which has helped spur the Department of Sanitation to make more pickups along commercial corridors. And then the traffic changes, street repairs, policing issues and on and on and on.

We show it every day, when our stories filter up to the city’s media and ensure our neighborhood is not forgotten in the larger narrative of New York City’s history.

It’s not just about making changes to the physical landscape or policy-making, either. When a stabbing or shooting happens, or a bad fire, or a madman like Maksim Gelman puts our neighborhood in lockdown, we’ve been there to explain it to our readers, give them up-to-the-minute information, and comfort them with a healthy dose of knowledge.

How many people panicked at the site of hundreds of police vehicles descending on Sheepshead Bay in February 2011, when Maksim Gelman began his murderous rampage through our streets? Although we could do no more than inform our readers, a little bit of knowledge went a long way to bringing peace of mind and a measure of security to our neighbors.

We’ve also advocated tirelessly for our small businesses, the backbone of any community. Whether it was being the watchdog that said the government should do more in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, or fighting to keep parking spaces when city agencies seek to gobble them up, Sheepshead Bites has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our friends in small business. And we’ve sought to develop events, like A Taste of Sheepshead Bay, that remind our community of the great treasures just feet from their doorsteps.

And all of this – all of it – is thanks to you and to my team. I am nothing but a maestro waving a baton. If it were not for my team – those who help me now, like Robert Fernandez, Erica Sherman and Willie Simpson, or in the past, like Ray Johnson and Laura Vladimirova or any of the many others – I would be a maestro without an orchestra.

And if it were not for the community contributors and tipsters and business owners and neighbors and community leaders whose daily prattlings form the notes of the indefatigable melody of life and living in Sheepshead Bay, I’d be a maestro with no song to play.

So thank you. The last five years have been enormously fulfilling. You inspire me every single day, and your support, acknowledgement and enthusiasm remain the fuel which drives us.

We don’t know what the future holds. It is a difficult present for all in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. But, regardless of what it holds, the last five years of this hobby-turned-obsession is but a prologue. We look forward to your support as we  march forward, into whatever dark corners, natural calamities and manmade mayhem is in store for our community, shining a light where it is needed, and celebrating that which is already bright.

Once more, thank you.

Your humble editor,
Ned Berke


UPDATE (11:00 a.m.): Well, looks like you can’t be that cool. A glitch with our ticketing system shut the sale down earlier than expected, and we can’t figure out how to reactivate it. So, if you still want tickets at the advance sale price of $25, you can call (347) 985-0633 and we’ll take care of you. This offer ends at 1:00 p.m., extending it by one hour. Thanks!

Original post: 

You know what all the cool kids are doing these days? Buying tickets online.

That’s right. Studies show that buying tickets online means you’re part of the “in-crowd.” You’re hip, you’re with it, and everyone likes you.*

It’s so cool that even Apple is working on a new product based all around it. They call it iSpendMoney.**

It’s all the rage in Williamsburg.

But your opportunity to buy tickets online is quickly vanishing. I mean, what other tickets would you want to buy other than those to tonight’s A TASTE OF SHEEPSHEAD BAY, featuring more than 60 dishes from 20 local restaurants, for, well, only $25 in the next two hours.

After that it’s $35 at the door.

Will you still be able to buy them at the door?

Absolutely. You just won’t look as cool doing it.


The full list of participating restaurants and event details can be found at the link above.

* No such studies exist.

** Apple is working on no such product that we know of. Please don’t sue us, ghost of Steve Jobs.

Source: City & State

Well, well, well… look who will be feted with an elegant dinner and accolades during City & State’s coveted elite exclusive Rising Stars “Forty Under Forty” award ceremony next week. The vehicle, showcasing New York State’s “most promising young talent,” has selected Sheepshead Bites’ very own venerable editor and publisher, Ned Berke, who is sitting mere feet from me at I write this, threatening to fire me if I don’t meet today’s deadline in — surprise! — “under 40” minutes from now.

Sponsored by the online government and politics website City & State, best known for “First Read,” the addictive early morning roundup of government news, gossip and goings on throughout New York’s political world, “Forty Under Forty” honorees are comprised of politicians, staffers, as well as “muckraking bloggers and intrepid reporters [Ed. – that’s where our guy comes in], and well-connected lobbyists and union reps.”

Ned, a lifelong Sheepshead Bay resident (he frequently loves to remind us of the time he has spent in Peru), had always dreamed of pursuing a career in journalism. The young journalist turned enterprising businessman revealed to City & State’s Aaron Short that he was finally inspired to dip his toe into the choppy waters of hyper-local blogging after being given a nudge by the late “Gowanus Lounge” blogger, Robert Guskind during 2008’s Brooklyn Blogfest.

With mostly Downtown Brooklyncentric blogs, such as “Gowanus Lounge,” “New York Shitty” and “Pardon Me For Asking,” dominating the Brooklyn blogging landscape during the mid-aughts, Ned felt it was high time Southern Brooklyn — particularly his home ’hood of Sheepshead Bay— got some respect.

Since that time, his massive undertaking and hyper-local news coverage has gotten him profiled, interviewed or otherwise recognized by such media giants as The New York Times, The Daily News, Washington Post and Boing-Boing, among others.

After three years of developing a steady following throughout the shorefront area, the 28-year-old entrepreneur’s empire branched out to other parts of Southern Brooklyn with the successful June 2011 launch of Bensonhurst Bean.

But blah, blah, blah… we know all of this, right? What we really want to know is, what makes Ned Berke tick? I mean, do any of us really care that, if he could have dinner with anyone, it would be Mark Twain or Ralph Waldo Emerson?

No, of course not.

So fess up, Ned, and tell us what we really want to know: boxers or briefs?

Are you waiting to get your tickets to A Taste of Sheepshead Bay 2012 at the door? Well, don’t!

If you buy online, you save money over the door price!

Remember, it’s $25 online, and $35 at the door. Additionally, check-in should be that much quicker, so you won’t have to wait in a long line as people rifle through their wallets.

And with all that money you save, you can go buy something from one of A Taste of Sheepshead Bay’s participating restaurants over the weekend. Amazing!

Finally, studies show that people who buy tickets online are cooler, smarter, faster and stronger than all their friends combined. Sounds like you, right?

Buy tickets now.

(Find the full list of participating eateries and event details at the link above.)

Sheepshead Bites has done quite a bit in the last four years, and now we’re being asked to list some of our greatest victories.

As an award-winning news outlet and recognized leader in the rise of hyperlocal online news publications sprouting across the nation, Sheepshead Bites is taking its mission one step further, being one of the founding members of a soon-to-be-announced national trade association to serve the interests of publishers like us, to help create journalism jobs, and strengthen a struggling industry.

Part of that requires telling the stories of our victories, educating the public, other media and potential colleagues about the great work that can be accomplished through outlets like ours. And so the trade association is putting together what we’ve begun to call our “Book of Awesome.”

The association leadership has asked us to submit a handful of examples where our reporting has helped make a difference. In turn, we’re asking you: how has Sheepshead Bites helped improve your life or your community?

Very often, when we meet our readers, we get a “Thanks a lot for your great coverage of ________. It really helped me!”

That’s what we want to hear. There’s a stand-out moment for just about every reader where our coverage surpassed all others and helped you, your family or your business. Share that moment with us, so we can share it with the world.


Next »