10/25/16 8:59am
Photo: New Women's Space

Photo: New Women Space

“I feel different when I’m in a room of all women,” says Melissa Wong, co-founder of New Women Space, sitting with Sandra Hong, her co-founder, in the light-filled East Williamsburg storefront they’ve dedicated to female empowerment.

The 2100-square-foot, bi-level space is calming and minimalist with plants and comfortable couches and sunshine streaming in the floor-to-ceiling windows. New Women Space offers events and workshops, each affordably priced at $10-$50, focusing on a variety of topics ranging from yoga to comedy nights to financial and career advice to collaging and other creative projects. It is, as the founders put it, “a space for women to define.”

The idea of physical spaces specifically for women is having a moment in 2016. The Wing, a women’s only social club and co-working space, is now holding court in the Flatiron District. It may also be all over your Instagram feed, too, thanks to the PR wizardry of co-founders Lauren Kassan, who previously worked for Class Pass and Audrey Gelman, a communications specialist who helped NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer appeal to a broad audience.

In Washington, D.C. and California, there’s the Hera Club, a women’s-only co-working space and business accelerator. The Wing is application-based, and those who are accepted must pay the $185 membership fee, and the Hera Club’s membership plans vary by location, but can run anywhere from $89 per month to nearly $500 depending on the size of the office space required.

There’s a considerably lower barrier to entry at New Women Space. The only application process required is for instructors and potential event organizers. Anyone who wants to attend an event needs only to pay an admission fee that’s often as low as $10. “We are here for women of all experiences,” Wong emphasizes.

New Women Space also defines itself as “gender expansive,” meaning that men, and all gender identities, are allowed at all events unless otherwise specified. “We want men to be a part of the conversation,” says Wong. “But we do want all the content providers/project cultivators to be women since that is the audience we are particularly concerned with providing support for.” (more…)

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10/18/16 10:07am

This matchbox sized storefront sells "big city, small batch" products. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Julia Small O'Kelly will welcome you into smallhome with the stories behind all her treasures. Photo: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Julia Small O’Kelly will welcome you into smallhome and share the stories behind all her treasures. Photos: Meredith Craig de Pietro

Walking into smallhome, a matchbox-sized storefront on Metropolitan near the Graham Avenue stop on the L train in Williamsburg, feels like spiriting through a portal to rural America. Cluttered with handcrafted wares that range from white sage body wash to the perfect red plaid handkerchief, the store’s displays feature creative props like a rusted ladder, and assortment of wooden twigs and a vintage wicker chair. Although smallhome is, well, small, you could spend days sorting through the goods, uncovering treasures that you never even knew you wanted (like an astrologically-themed embroidery hoop).

Upon entering, you will probably be warmly welcomed by owner, Julia Small O’Kelly, who will definitely be wearing a work apron, ready to tell you the stories behind her collection. (more…)

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10/03/16 10:35am
fidanza saltie

Caroline Fidanza stands in front of Saltie, her seven-year-old sandwich shop on Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg. Photo: Georgia Kral

In a neighborhood like Williamsburg, which has arguably experienced more change than any other part of Brooklyn in the past 10 years, finding the familiar can feel like slipping into a snug sweater you thought would never fit again. On one corner, where there was once a modest building there is now an elaborate Whole Foods Market. Across the street, where lines used to form for bagels, people now wait for the latest iPhone, while tapping at their current iPhone.

But just four short blocks east on a busy stretch of Metropolitan Avenue sits a sandwich shop that looks and feels the same as it did when it opened seven years ago.

That place is Saltie, a compact “farm to table” eatery that makes sandwiches loaded with Mediterranean flavors with names like the Scuttlebutt and the Spanish Armada. It’s a neighborhood spot that, according to owner and chef Caroline Fidanza, has thrived in Williamsburg by not changing even as many things around it did.

“We have just tried to continue to be who we are and distinguish ourselves in that way,” she said, in a reflective conversation over unsweetened iced tea on a recent unseasonably warm September day. Fidanza is committed to her craft and business at a time where the restaurant industry, and customer tastes, are changing as much as Brooklyn itself.


“When we opened, it was all about sustainability. People would come in and ask ‘where did you get your eggs from?’ Because they cared, they wanted to know. Now, nobody ever, ever, ever asks anymore.”


We spoke at Saltie, which can seat maybe 10 people comfortably and has famously uncomfortable stools for just four diners. Over the course of 90 minutes, as we chatted about her desire for both change and stability, and about her views on current restaurant trends, more than half the customers chatted with Fidanza as if they’d known her for years, and indeed many of them likely had. (more…)

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09/06/16 11:24am

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Welcome back from the long weekend! Now let’s get right into it, Brooklyn.

If there’s one theme that has emerged in this long, strange trip of an election cycle, it’s that Americans, New Yorkers included, are ready for political change. If you are dedicated to change then you have to vote–not just every four years in November, but in election cycles big and small. It just so happens that the New York State and Local Primary is next week on Sept. 13 and you should vote in it.

Why? Here’s a quick and dirty explanation. New York City leans heavily Democratic in most races, state, local and national. If you are a new candidate challenging an incumbent of the same party, as is usually the case, that means that your state and local contest is in September. Come November, the Democrats who win next week (again, most state and local offices in NYC are held by Democrats) will be largely unchallenged on the ballot, either running unopposed or against Republicans with minimal backing, funding or actual intention of serving. When very few people vote in September, and the people who do vote are dedicated to the status quo, it makes changing up our representation in Albany very difficult–and leads to the incredibly long terms in state office that we see so often in New York City.

What does that matter? Well, did you know that New York state had one of the lowest voter turnouts in the country during the national primary? Did you read that only 9% of the entire U.S. voted for Clinton or Trump? Do you find it disappointing that pretty much every major candidate in this election cycle is close to 70 years old? There can be no new energy in politics, no new ideas, if voters don’t vote, starting with state and local elections.

Here are two Brooklyn candidates who will be on the ballot for State Senate next week, each running against other Democrats who have been in office for more than a decade. (You can view all the seats up for election here.) We’re not endorsing these candidates–we’re not here to tell you how to vote. We’re making the point that if you actually care about the system as whole, every race matters and there’s more opportunity to get involved in our political system than you might think. It’s also a chance to make sure that you are registered to vote on Nov. 8–the deadline to register for the general election in New York State is Oct. 14.  (more…)

05/23/16 11:48am
Falcon Laundry is courting locals for rooftop cocktails. Photo: Kelsey Smith

Falcon Laundry is courting locals for rooftop cocktails. Photo: Kelsey Smith

Williamsburg has a new waterfront watering hole. Falcon Laundry has cast itself as a new neighborhood staple, a place for in-the-know locals more than a go-to spot for tourists spilling over from Smorgasburg. Built inside a–you guessed it–former laundry, which also took a turn as a steel fabrication mill, Falcon Laundry is a two-level bar and restaurant with rooftop patio drinking just in time for summer.

Take a seat at the long bar if you’re a party of one or two, or settle in to one of the comfortable green leather booths tucked against alternating walls of brick and wood paneling, for unrushed table service with a bigger group. You’ll likely also notice that the prices are surprisingly gentle for this part of Brooklyn. There are several choices on the wine list that are less than $10 a glass; the rosé from Wolffer Estate in the North Fork is an especially great deal at $8. Happy hour runs until 8pm with a rotating cast of wines for $6 and beers for as low as $5, with many locally-sourced choices in the mix. (more…)

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04/04/16 10:40am
Tagine is king at Chez Omar. Photo: Spencer Starnes

Tagine is king at Bar Omar. Photo: Spencer Starnes

As far as New York restaurant buzz goes, Bar Omar received relatively little attention when it opened in Williamsburg in February. There were a few brief write-ups, but not much else, a curious fact given the French-Algerian restaurant’s rich history. Owner Yasmina Guerda opened the restaurant as a sort of homage to Chez Omar, a popular restaurant in Paris that her father, Omar Guerda, started in the 1970s. Chez Omar was one of the first North African restaurants in Paris, and to this day, it’s packed with both local Parisians and tourists. (more…)

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12/14/15 10:23am
Liquid nitrogen is the newest ice cream trend to hit Brooklyn, Photo: Elaheh Nozari

Liquid nitrogen is the newest ice cream trend to hit Brooklyn, Photo: Elaheh Nozari

I’ve had liquid nitrogen ice cream three times in my life. The first was in my high school chemistry class. The second was from a Dippin’ Dots at a mall food court. And the third was last week at -321 Ice Cream Shop in Williamsburg, the latest frosty treat purveyor in New York City with a nascent trend for us to try: chemically frozen ice cream.

Liquid nitrogen ice cream isn’t as high-tech as it sounds—it simply refers to the way the cream base is frozen. While traditional ice cream makers churn cream in a super-cooled, insulated vessel of some sort, then put the product in the freezer to let it firm up, liquid nitrogen ice cream makers forgo the freezer and use liquid nitrogen instead. That’s how those little pellets at Dippin’ Dots get their shape. At 321, they pour liquid nitrogen into the cream while it’s being churned. “It’s like flash freezing,” explained Allen Ruan, one of the shop’s founders. (more…)

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11/03/15 10:49am
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The new MOFAD Lab. Photo: Regina Mogilevskaya

Fancy yourself a flavorist for the day, an orchestrator of scent, and experiment with how combining three very gross smells can actually result in something that smells fairly like your…perfume?

Brooklyn continues to solidify its coveted role of being New York’s go-to borough for food experiences. The MOFAD Lab, part of the forthcoming Museum of Food and Drink, is now open to the public a former auto garage on the Greenpoint-Williamsburg border, with an inaugural exhibit called, “Flavor: Making It and Faking It.

“For a long time we had no money, no space, nothing but a compelling vision planned in a tiny East Village apartment,” says Peter Kim, executive director. “What are the links behind food and our cultural identity? That’s what we wanted to explore.” (more…)

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01/16/15 9:25am
Talib Kweli plays a show at Rough Trade NYC. Photo: Rough Trade

Talib Kweli plays a show at Rough Trade NYC. Photo: Andie Diemer

“You’re probably getting used to hearing news like this in Williamsburg,” Glassland Gallery began its self-penned obituary last year. “So we’ll cut right to the chase: this New Year’s Eve will be Glasslands’ final night of music.” The closing of the legendary performance space capped a brutal year for live music in Brooklyn, as it joined nearby Death by Audio and 285 Kent on the list of DIY venues that bit the dust in 2014.

None of these establishments specified reasons for closing, but one need only glance at the plans for the neighboring Domino Sugar Refinery, and Vice Media, to see that developers were involved. The fear that real estate may have finally defeated nightlife in the battle for the borough’s soul manifested itself most clearly last month when a group of artists held a dance party funeral for Williamsburg.

Of course, Brooklynites are nothing if not enterprising. For every cherished dancehall that falls, two more take its place. And while Glasslands has no immediate plans to reopen, there are plenty of other venues to be excited about in 2015. Here are five places to catch live music in North Brooklyn this year, from DIY spaces far from the high-rise land rush, to more easily accessible venues in prime areas. We’ve included as much info on their leases as the venue owners would divulge, so you can time your visit accordingly. (more…)

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11/14/14 8:54am
This storage bench, upholstered with reclaimed coffee sacks, is one of Recycled Brooklyn's signature designs. Photo: Levi Sharpe

This storage bench, upholstered with reclaimed coffee sacks, is one of Recycled Brooklyn’s signature designs. Photo: Levi Sharpe

When you start a woodshop in your kitchen, you have to make some sacrifices, starting with dinner.

“We were making dinner and building tables at the same time,” said Matt Loftice, 44, a thick-bearded former screenwriter. “It was a lot of dust, man—dusty pasta.”

Brothers Matt and Steven Loftice share a love for breathing new life into recycled materials by transforming them into furniture. After building pieces on nights and weekends for several years as a hobby, Matt gave the business a name, Recycled Brooklyn, and launched an Etsy shop in 2010. Steven, disenchanted with his career in advertising, quit his job and hopped on board full time, two months later.

Though their price point is slightly higher than entry-level Ikea–items start at around $180–it’s not far off mass market staples like West Elm and Pottery Barn, and their pieces are handcrafted. “I could never afford custom furniture, and most people can’t,” said Steven, 42. “That’s why at 10 o’clock in the morning the line at Ikea is half a mile long.” (more…)

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