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  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:31 pm on August 28, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Brooklyn, Cafe Grumpy, , , , , having Cafe Grumpy, Jodie Foster, , , The Brave One   

    Cafe Grumpy 

    Recently I jumped into my minivan and took a road trip on the BQE to visit Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It used to be impossible to find a decent espresso in all of Manhattan, but now even Brooklyn boasts several world class cafes, of which Cafe Grumpy is one.

    Located in a handsome three story circa 1890s Renaissance Revival (correct me if I am wrong) building, Cafe Grumpy takes up the whole first floor. Notice a movie prop truck – apparently “The Brave One” starring Jodie Foster is being shot in the surrounding streets.

    Cafe Grumpy building

    Greenpoint is a formerly bad/industrial neighborhood that is being gentrified like crazy. Notice a fresh crop of condos in the background. I bet having Cafe Grumpy across the street is a strong selling point – it’s probably enough for a bloodsuckerRealtorTM to take the clients for a cup of coffee to seal the deal.

    Cafe Grumpy Logo

    Inside you find a typical Victorian interior of a high end cafe: pressed plaster ceilings, exposed brick and plastered walls, hardwood floors, schoolhouse lights, and mac-toting hipsters.

    Cafe Grumpy Interior

    The big selling point is not food.
    Cafe Grumpy organic eggs

    It’s the combination of the best espresso machine money can buy (Synesso Cyncra),

    Cafe Grumpy Synecco Syncra

    freshly delivered coffee roasted by some of the best roasters (Counter Culture in this case) and highly trained staff.
    Cafe Grumpy Counter Culture beans

    As I was enjoying an impeccable espresso and a latte with a perfect textured milk rosetta (made from two different types of beans), fresh beans arrived. I bought 3 half pound bags of Counter Culture-roasted goodness.

    There’s also an art gallery in the back, but I am not particularly into the local arts scene.

    Cafe Grumpy Gallery

    Cafe Grumpy is holding a “Coffee Nerd Fest” on Wednesday, September 6th, at 7:30 pm. There will be a cupping (sounds dirty, but it’s actually a technical term for coffee tasting) and beer. And maybe they’ll let me pull a shot or two on that Cyncra.

    They are located at 193 Meserole Ave, Brooklyn, NY. They have a website and a blog.

  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:18 am on March 16, 2006 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Atlantic Terminal, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Victorian Brooklyn, , Don Wiss, , , Flatbush Development Corporation, Kolle, , , , , , Prospect Park, the AIA Guide,   

    Japanese Brooklyn 

    Victorian Brooklyn is amazingly beautiful. In Victorian times skilled labour and land was cheaper than it is today and wealthy people were able to build really elaborate and architecturally significant residences rather than Mc Masions of today.

    In a big lot of old postcards that I picked up on eBay I found this – a postcard featuring “The Japanese House, Flatbush, N. Y.” It looks like this wasn’t the only time this house was featured on a postcard: here’s another one.

    Don Wiss of the Brooklyn photo store photo fame graciously allowed me to use his picture of the Japanese House, which turned out to be
    Frederick S. Kolle House at 131 Buckingham Road.

    Here are Don’s notes, mostly gleaned from the AIA Guide to New York City.

    I did a little bit more digging and found a New York Times article, which somehow is fully available.

    The house was built by a developer in order to promote Prospect Park area.

    Alvord advertised the house in Country Life in America in the summer of 1903, calling it ”a faithful reflection of the dainty Japanese art from which America is learning so much.” But the house was ”thoroughly practical,” the ad continued, with a ”porcelain Roman bathtub, also needle and shower baths,” and a 22-minute commute to Park Row. It was offered at $26,500.

    According to this calculator that translates to somewhere between 600K if you use Consumer Price index to 12 million if you use the relative share of GDP. Stupid Zillow is showing values in $1 million range, which is of course very wrong. I suspect that the current value of the house is much closer to the GDP share range :)

    The NYT article goes on to say that Dr. Kolle, the first owner of the house was a pioneering radiologist. It seems like he purchased the house on the cheap after the unusualness of it did not attract many bidders. Also, in 97 the house used to belong (and probably still does) to the director of Flatbush Development Corporation who bought the house in the 70s.

    The following quote made me drool:

    “Except for the kitchen, the ground floor interior of the Fischers’ house is completely intact, with dragon figures in the stained-glass windows, Japanese decorative detail around the fireplace and a definite feeling of thinness to the partitions — there are leaded glass windows between the sitting and dining rooms. The Fischers have furnished the house with an eclectic mix of furniture and artwork, from Belter to Bauhaus, as well as memorabilia from the Kolle family.”

    Apparently the Flatbush Development corporation is holding a Victorian House Tour, that at least in 97 featured the Japanese House as one of the stops. I wonder if they still do – I’d love to see it.

    Looking at the butt-ugly condos and renovation in McMansion syle that I see all over, I can’t help but think – will they build houses that are postcard-worthy again in Brooklyn?

  • Michael Krakovskiy 7:35 am on September 14, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Brooklyn, City Subway station, , , , Lena Horne, Others At Brooklyn Botanical Brooklyn Botanical Garden, , Woody Allen   

    Famous Claustophiles and Others At Brooklyn Botanical 

    Brooklyn Botanical Garden has many quirky little oddities, like a path with stepping stones carrying the names of famous Brooklynites. There’s one for Harry Houdini, Lena Horne, Woody Allen and of course, Dr. Asimov.

    Asimov’s article at Wikipedia contains this gem of a anecdote:

    “Asimov was a claustrophile; that is, he enjoyed small, enclosed spaces. In his first volume of autobiography, he recalls a childhood desire to own a magazine stand in a New York City Subway station, within which he imagined he could enclose himself and listen to the rumble of passing trains”.

    I am actually a claustophile too, and I also like the rumble of subway trains. But the thing is, subway magazine stands don’t really have air conditioning…


    Can I tempt you with these? I think I just did.

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