Monday, August 04, 2008

The Return of the Slavs

Kurowycky Meat Products used to be at 124 First Avenue between 7th and 8th Street, but it closed after 52 years on 2 June 2007.

Today, Jeremiah's Vanishing New York reports on what is happening to the building. Apparently there was interest in opening the space as a restaurant, but the local community board turned down the liquor license application and the interested restaurateurs backed out.

So now rumor has it that it will be turned into a porn store. Jeremiah comments, “When a high-end restaurant is passed over for porn, maybe it’s time to say welcome back, bad old East Village!” But it seems there is still a chance that a liquor license will be approved, and the space will open as a restaurant.

The loss of Kurowycky Meat Products followed hot on the heels of
the final demise of Kiev diner, a major landmark for the local Ukrainians, the latest in a long string of Slavic establishments closing up shop in the face of gentrification.

Lately, though, the gentrification of the neighborhood has taken a new twist: the return of the Slavs.

First up was the Klimat (77 East 7th Street), near the unreconstructed Blue & Gold bar and the gentrified Café 81 (pregentrification: Verchovyna Tavern). Klimat is officially Polish, but has a beer menu and a wine list that covers most of Eastern Europe. The menu also includes pierogies, kielbasa and other Slavic East Village soul food.

And just last month, the Serbs set up an outpost in Alphabet City: Kafana (116 Avenue C, between 7th and 8th Streets). The most detailed review seems to be in the Village Voice. The menu is extensive, the food is excellent. And the Slavs are back in town.

Addendum: New York Magazine has just annouced that Veselka (144 Second Ave. and Ninth Street) is going ahead with the creation of a new location - Veselka Bowery - on East First Street, to be open next summer. Meanwhile, the original location is continuing with its planned expansion into a neighboring space on East Ninth Street.

Photos: Kurowycky from Jeremiah's Vanishing New York; Klimat from New York Magazine.