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Gem Spa Bodega Transforms Into a schitibank

Gem Spa Schitibank
All Photos By Gail

If you’ve passed by Gem Spa, the legendary East Village bodega that is home to the city’s Best Egg Cream (#BestEggCream) at any point since September 11th of this year, you may have done a double, or even a triple take. We know that St. Mark’s Place has become increasingly gentrified, but is Gem Spa now a bank, or wait, what is going on here, exactly?

Gem Spa Schitibank

While it has been rumored that a citibank is slated to take over the corner lot which has been home to  Gem Spa since 1957, fear not: this an art installation meant to draw attention to, but also satirize, the phenomenon known as “Disappearing New York.” It isn’t very pretty.

Disclaimer text running across the bottom of the sign above reads:

schitibank has kept the historical appeal to this building to absorb their customer base. This schiti location is not affiliated with any other schiti locations. We don’t mean to gentrify, as schitibank is co-opting this space with Gem Spa to bring you an authentic banking, egg cream and vaping experience. Every customer is on surveillance cameras. Smile, you’re on camera.

Schitibank Storefront

The Gem Spa Schitibank installation is the work of Tommy Noonan and Doug Cameron of boutique marketing firm DCX Growth Accelerator, who are known for their ‘Artisanal’ publicity stunts (Google them and be very impressed).

Gem Spa Schitibank
Click Image to Enlarge So You Can Read the Fine Print!

God is definitely in the details here. Promotional posters for the ‘bank’s’ various perks and services include artwork by Robert Mapplethorpe as well as the likenesses of The New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.

Gem Spa Schitibank
Click Image to Enlarge for Detail

Gem Spa Schitibank

Schiti Identity Theft Madonna

More posters and props can be found inside the bodega!

Schitibank ATM
Schiti ATM!

Gem Spa Schitibank Exterior

We clearly do not need another bank in the village (or anywhere in NYC, for that matter) but we do need a cool bodega that’s been around forever, and we need our delicious egg creams! Gem Spa is located at the southwest corner of 2nd Avenue and St. Mark’s Place. Drop in and drop some cash next time you’re in the hood. Better yet, make a special trip to visit, so you can see the schitibank installation before they take it down!

Gem Spa Schitibank

Update, May 8th, 2020: Sadly, Gem Spa has fallen victim to the Coronavirus Outbreak. Read the Press Release After The Jump

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Vandal Restaurant Launches Pop Art Gallery in its Vestibule!

Vandal Pop Gallery
Image Source for Above Photo. All Other Photos By Gail.

Opening an art gallery inside a restaurant may not be an entirely original idea, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen more often. In fact, I think it’s a spot-on idea whose time as arrived! In a thrilling and logical partnership, TAO Group and Pop International Galleries have joined together to create a new art gallery in the vestibule of Vandal, one of the coolest contemporary pop art-themed restaurants and lounges in New York City.

Front Gallery Walls
Art by Dom Pattinson (Left) and Flore (Right)

It’s worth noting that Pop International Galleries’ home base is located just a few doors down the street from Vandal, and the Pop gallery inside Vandal features works by a select handful of popular street artists that the gallery represents. Along with original artworks by UR New York, Sean “Layercake” Sullivan, Flore, Dom Pattinson and RESO, a portfolio of ten very affordable, signed and numbered limited-edition prints by this group of artists are on exhibit and available for purchase.

Post Continues After The Jump!

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Pastizal Landscape Carpet By Alexandra Kehayoglou

Pastizal Carpet
This Image Source. All Other Photos By Gail.

It had been a few months since my last trip to Chamber when I popped in last week before an opening and found the store has all new merchandise! New Stuff – Yay!

Of course, it was hard to miss this amazing, one-of-a-kind carpet by designer Alexandra Kehayoglou, which — as you can see by my photos — is definitely the focal point of the stores’ main showroom space.

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Love Cafe & Bar: Russian Home Cooking Comes to Kips Bay!

Love Cafe Interior
Interior Photo Courtesy of Leigh Cort. All Food Photos by Anne Raso.

If you are a lover of Russian comfort food who thinks you have to hike it all the way out to Brighton Beach to taste Perogies and Chicken Kiev “like Grandma used to make,” then you will flip for Love Cafe and Bar, which recently opened in Manhattan’s up-and-coming Kips Bay neighborhood to astoundingly positive Yelp Reviews. And that says so much right there, because those Yelpers can be brutal.

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Big Smoke Burger Opens Flagship Store in Chelsea

Big Smoke Burger Storefront
All Photos By Gail

Do you like Burgers? I sure do. Burgers have been a bit of a Thing for a while now, so there are many different places competing for your money when you want a red meat fix. There are a few places scattered around the city that I frequent, and each does something special with the simple culinary pleasure that is the hamburger. Now, I am adding a new favorite to that list.

Burger Prep

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The Derby: Southern-Inspired Dining on the Lower East Side

Front Door Signage
All Photos By Gail

The choice corner lot that formerly housed Tiny Fork Oyster Bar (RIP) is now home to a bright and casual Southern-Inspired bar and dining hall called The Derby. While this lower east side neighborhood has its share of up-and-coming eateries boasting a farm-to-table ethic, as far as location goes, you probably couldn’t ask for a better spot to enjoy an early summer evening dinner. Weather permitting, the front room keeps the doors and windows open to the street while the rear dining area remains flooded with natural light from its east-facing span of tall windows. The vibrant yellow-painted metal chairs, dark wood tables and antique bistro lighting (possibly left over from the space’s previous incarnation) add to The Derby’s welcoming vibe. Of course, the people watching is excellent.

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Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Orale Mexican Kitchen

Jaritos Wall
“Pop Art”: Illuminated Wall of Jarritos Soda. All Interior Photos By Gail, Most Food Photos By Anne Raso

Hey do you like Mexican Food? I sure do. While there’s always been a dearth of authentic Mexican – or even the revered California Style Mexican – cuisine in Manhattan (and, let’s be honest, in the entire tri-state area) the Upper West Side has a new contender for at least a Top Ten List fixture with the arrival of Orale Mexican Kitchen, which has been open for just under a month.

Skull on Wall

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