NYC Restaurants Experience Surge In Sales During Usually Slow Summer Months

More people are eating out at New York City restaurants this summerBusiness for New York City restaurants usually hits a low point during the summer months, slowing to a crawl as residents head to the beach or elsewhere on vacation, or bring picnics to the parks. Yet surprisingly, Crain’s New York is reporting that restaurant sales have seen a modest surge this summer and the recession’s effect on restaurants has also eased, ushering in strong growth.
Restaurant sales are finally stabilizing and tables are filling up since the recession took hold of the industry last October. For some restaurants, more customers are being fed in June and July compared to the same months last summer.
There are a number of possible reasons why New Yorkers are suddenly emerging to enjoy themselves and eat out: people don’t want to deprive themselves any longer, especially in summer, or perhaps they are feeling more confident with job security. Outdoor seating is also a draw in the summertime, and with the rainy weather the Northeast has been experiencing this summer, it’s safe to say that New Yorkers will do anything to get out of their apartments and find ways to beat the gloom.
NYC Restaurant Week is also making a big difference, which started July 12 and will end August 2, acting as a city-wide promotion of the best restaurants New York has to offer. Not only do Restaurant Week’s large discounts draw customers looking for budget-friendly options, but they want to experience the most ambitious eateries creating buzz in New York City.

He Still Won’t Grow Up: Peter Pan at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater

The Swedish Cottage Marionette TheaterMention the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, and you will either get a blank stare or a look of delight. Located in New York’s Central Park, the theater started life in 1876 as an example of Swedish design at an exposition in Philadelphia. The cottage was purchased by the New York Parks Department and moved to its current site when the event ended. It was completely restored about 10 years ago.
(To file under “Did You Know”: The cottage was brought here at the suggestion of Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park.)
This summer, the cottage features a new retelling of the “Peter Pan” story, called “Peter Pan & Adventures in Never Land.” What’s new? Well, for one thing, it’s set in New York City; for another, Tiger Lily is now a native of India rather than being Native American. Will Nana the dog, by far our favorite character, make an appearance? No word yet…The show runs every day during the summer (although show times differ).
The marionettes are hand-crafted; the setting is lovely; and although performances are geared to kids 3-9, it’s more of an “everyone” kind of experience, at least once.
PS Yes–it’s air conditioned.
The Marionette Theater is located on the west side of the park at 79th Street, south of the Delacorte Theater. For more information about showtimes, performances, and birthday parties at the Cottage, call (212) 988-9093.

Big Brother Will Soon Be Watching In New York City Subway Cars

Subway riders in New York CitySubway riders will soon have a watchful eye looking over them as they travel. By the end of the year, a single New York City subway train will have CCTV security cameras in every one of its cars as an experimental program by the MTA. It is a groundbreaking security initiative used to determine if similar systems should be installed on every train as a way to deter criminal activity and to aid officials in emergencies. The footage could also assist in determining the facts in incidents, as the MTA has had to shell out millions in damages to injured passengers who have sued.
The train will be outfitted with a digital surveillance system in the corner of every car. The system creates a computer-based log that can be viewed after a crime. The images will not be watched live because of financial constraints, but authorities are hoping that would-be criminals will think twice. Authorities also hope it will act as a weapon against terrorism. MTA officials won’t reveal which subway line will get the camera-equipped train, though it will likely be on one of the newest “letter” trains with the proper computer wiring.
To install surveillance cameras in all subway cars would be an expensive endeavor for New York City. The MTA currently has no money in its capital plan to pay for the installation of cameras in all trains, and it’s unclear if money could be allocated in the next capital program.

Central Park Zoo: Even Cooler Than Before

Polar Bear at the Central Park ZooNew York’s Central Park Zoo is pretty nifty already…but it’s about to get a whole lot cooler when “Chill Out!” its premier summer weekend event, runs from August 1-2 (this coming Saturday and Sunday.
The triple “p”s of animal cool—puffins, polar bears and penguins—have the starring role this weekend, since most of the events revolve around them. (And, let’s face it, they know a thing or two about cool, not to mention downright cold.)
What’s on the menu? For starters, try tilapia, whipped cream, and vegetable popsicles. Yum. Oh, wait: they’re not for visitors, they’re for the animals. At 1:00 pm, zookeepers grab their ingredients and duel to create the tastiest treat for the two polar bears. From 1:30-4:00 pm, wander on by the ice-carving station, where the carving masters from Ice Fantasies make giant ice animal sculptures (yes, they can be touched.) Other events include keepers giving out frozen treats (hence the popsicles) to various zoo residents from penguins to snow monkeys (taking place from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm), and two special theater performances.
While you’re there, visit the newest zoo residents–the snow monkeys in the Alison Maher Stern Snow Leopard Exhibit. Three new cats can be found (warning: they’re often hard to spot) in a replica of their home in Asia. Check out the “hidden” snow leopard display while you’re there.
The Central Park Zoo is located at Fifth Avenue and 64th Street. For more information, call (212) 794-0284.

Broadway Musical 9 To 5 To Call It A Day

9 To 5 Broadway MusicalThe new Broadway musical 9 To 5 couldn’t quite hack it in the high-stress New York City theater business. Alas, the show will be packing up and moving out of its office at the Marquis Theatre on September 6. Based on the 1980 movie about three fed-up working women who kidnap their boss, 9 To 5 has a brand new score by country music legend Dolly Parton and stars Allison Janney, Meg Hilty, and Stephanie Block. Though the musical seemed to get a pretty good response from audiences, the reviews were mostly negative and the show failed to nab a coveted Tony Award nomination for Best Musical, stalling the momentum it needed to continue a profitable Broadway run. However, 9 To 5 will hit the touring circuit, launching a national tour from Nashville, Tennessee in late 2010.

New York City Tops List Of Best City In The U.S. For Singles

singles mingling in NYCLooking to find love, but don’t know where to find it? Look no further. The Big Apple has just been ranked number one on Forbes.com’s annual ranking of America’s “Best Cities for Singles,” bumping Atlanta from the top spot. This marks New York City’s first time in the top spot since Forbes.com debuted the list in 2001. Following close behind New York City to round out the top five are Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Washington D.C. Ranking dead last is Jacksonville, Florida.
Forbes.com generated the “Best Cities for Singles” list by assessing 40 of the largest urban areas in the U.S. based on the cost of living alone, coolness, culture, job growth, online dating, nightlife, and the ratio of singles to the entire population of the city. With more active members living in New York City on Match.com than any other place in the U.S., online dating was a big factor in the city’s rise in the rankings. Singles make up 28 percent of the overall population in New York City.
The tough economy in New York City has led singles to shift their priorities to seeking happiness and comfort in others, taking the focus away from financial stresses. And with an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, New Yorkers are taking advantage of their severance packages as well as the city’s many restaurants, bars and museums, meanwhile meeting new people or bringing dates along.

Disney Pin Trading: As Close as Midtown New York

World of Disney Store

Disney pin fan? Love to trade? Trip to Disney World not in the offing this summer? No worries–grab your collection and head to the World of Disney Store on New York’s Fifth Avenue. The first Saturday of the month, from 10:00 am to noon, is the time for pin traders to show up. (Upcoming dates include August 1 and September 5.)
For the uninitiated, pin trading has been around since 1999, at the start of Disney’s Millennium Celebration, and the pins are available at the stores, the resorts and theme parks, and online. Thousands of pins exist, and (believe it or not) guidelines for trading and etiquette are even in place. Pins feature everything Disney, from movies to theme park attractions to characters (we’re big Stitch fans, ourselves), and range in price, style, and availability. Those in the know wear lanyards (long ribbons that hang around your neck and display the pins: warning–they can get very heavy.) And don’t worry that it’s just for the under-12 set—adults are major collectors.
While you’re at the store, pop up to the third floor and tour the Art of Disney Gallery; you’ll find posters, lithographs, giclees (generally, art prints created from an inkjet printer) and more.
Of course, you’ll find plenty of Disney merchandise as well; for further information, call the store at 212 702-0702. They’re located at 711 Fifth Avenue, which is at 55th Street.

David Alan Grier and James Spader To Star in Mamet’s Race

David Alan GrierCasting announcements have been trickling in for David Mamet’s new play, Race, arriving at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre this autumn. Film and TV star James Spader (Boston Legal), Kerry Washington (Ray), and Richard Thomas (John Boy on The Waltons) are all set to be in the play, and today it was announced that actor/comedian David Alan Grier will be joining the cast as well. Best known for his comedic work on the ’90s sketch comedy TV show In Living Color, David Alan Grier has been on Broadway several times before, most recently the Broadway revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He made his Broadway debut back in 1981 playing Jackie Robinson in the play The First. Although Race is hotly anticipated, the subject of the piece has remained hush-hush – though most have guessed that it deals with racial relations. Playwright Mamet (Speed-the-Plow, American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross) will direct this production of his own work, marking the first time he has directed a play on Broadway.

Second Avenue Subway Construction Saga Continues With New Due Date

Previously expected to be complete in 2012 and then in 2015, the long-anticipated subway running along Second Avenue on the East side of Manhattan has been delayed yet again, according to a yearlong review by the MTA of the ongoing construction. The Second Avenue subway line is now expected to open in July 2016, and possibly even in July 2017 if there are more delays.
The first phase of construction is currently taking place from 96th Street to 63rd Street, a 1.7-mile route, with new stations at 96th, 86th and 72nd Streets. The plan is for the subway line to eventually stretch 8.5 miles from 125th Street in Harlem to Hanover Square in the Financial District. The cost of the new subway line is expected to increase to about $4.4 billion.
Currently the 4/5/6 line is the only subway line like it running the length of the East side of Manhattan in New York City. The Second Avenue subway would benefit the community and the entire city once completed, and will reduce overcrowding on the Lexington Avenue line.
The MTA is encouraging residents to shop Second Avenue businesses despite the temporary inconvenience of construction, which has in fact been hurting businesses, mainly in the East 90s. There are also concerns in the Upper East Side real estate market that the construction could deter potential buyers from purchasing properties east of Third Avenue, though once complete, the far East side will no doubt rise in value.

New York Public Library Adds Wi-Fi Access

New York Public LibraryFor those who like their elegance in New York tempered with a dose of high-tech, the New York Public Library’s main building at 42nd Street has just expanded its wi-fi access.
Most recently used for special occasions, the Beaux-Arts Edna Barnes Salomon Room has been designated a room for both reading and wireless internet. It’s located on the third floor of the Stephen A. Schwartzman Building.
Seating (and free wi-fi) will be available for 128 users; starting July 28, laptops will be available for loan.
But don’t expect Formica and plastic chairs: new furniture in the 4,500 square-foot room features 16 custom-made black walnut tables and leather chairs that match the floors’ dark maple. New lighting fixtures have also been added. Although a spokesperson says the internet service is “fast,” you’ll need to stay in the reading room–and check it out for yourself.
Fun fact: The room was originally designed as a 19th-century picture gallery; it was restored and given its current name in 1986 to honor the 75th anniversary of the opening of the library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.
And who, you may ask, was Ms. Salomon? She was the wife of a former NYPL Chairman of the Board, whose leadership helped the library after economic difficulties in the 1970s. Perhaps the Salomon name will do so again.
If not, it’s still a nice place to browse the web or read a book. 212 930-0800