Coffee And Doughnut Chain Tim Hortons Makes New York City Debut

Tim Hortons Coffee Debuts in New York CityCanada’s leading coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons opened 12 new stores in New York City on Monday, July 13, entering the competition against Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts for the first time in the Big Apple. The Tim Hortons shops will mostly open in former Dunkin’ Donuts locations that were shut down Friday, July 10, before undergoing a fast renovation over the weekend for its Monday debut. The chain opened its doors in key tourist destinations like Broadway, Times Square, Penn Station, and Madison Square Garden. Two locations are open in Brooklyn.
Three additional locations are expected to open in August as well. These three will open in existing Cold Stone Creamery stores as part of an ongoing test initiative to co-brand with up to 100 stores in the U.S. Debuting in New York City is a significant milestone in the Tim Hortons brand expansion.
The locations are operated by franchisee The Riese Organization, which operates 113 restaurants in New York City. The Riese Organization agreed to end its franchise relationship with Dunkin’ Donuts by July 31 and is therefore converting their Dunkin’ Donuts locations to Tim Hortons. The termination of the relationship is a result of a health violation dispute, and each are claiming they ended the relationship.
The Ontario, Canada-based company with a U.S. headquarters in Dublin, Ohio sells coffee, fresh baked goods, sandwiches and soups. There are about 3,500 locations in North America, 500 of which are in the U.S. with more to come.

If It’s Summer, It Must be the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival 2009

HBO Film Series in Bryant Park in NYCSummer is for movies. But it’s also for being outside. Big dilemma!
No, wait…go to New York City’s HBO Bryant Park Summer Film festival, and you can do both!
Now in its 17th year, the free (no tickets needed) Time Warner Cable-sponsored festival shows movies every Monday night approximately at sunset (usually between 8:00 and 9:00 pm) from mid-June through August 17.
The festival kicked off with “The Sting” and will end with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” In between, viewers are treated to such classics as the cult favorite “Harold and Maude” (with Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon; July 20); “The Defiant Ones” (Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis; July 27); and “Kramer vs. Kramer” (Dustin Hoffman; Meryl Streep; August 3). For a complete schedule, call 212 512-5700, or go to http://blog.when/hbofilmfest. AOL keyword: Bryant Park Film festival.
The movies are shown on a huge (22” x 43.5”) screen in the park, located between 40th and 42nd Streets and Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The lawn opens to viewers at 5:00 pm; you can bring a blanket and picnic on the lawn, or try to grab one of the 4,000 park chairs on the sidelines.
Tom Colicchio’s ‘wichcraft sandwich spots have kiosks set up where you can purchase sandwiches and ice cream, or you can bring your own food.
Either way, it’s the perfect melding of indoor-outdoor fun.

Wendy Williams Goes from New York City Shock Jock to TV’s Anti-Oprah

Wendy Williams TV Show in New York City Taking the leap from radio to TV, popular longtime New York City DJ and urban radio shock jock Wendy Williams debuted her new nationally syndicated daytime talk show The Wendy Williams Show on July 13. It airs on FOX 5, My 13 and FOX 11 channels all across the country. BET Networks have also picked up the cable rights to the show and added it to their lineup, airing weeknights at 11 p.m. starting July 13 as well.
The Wendy Williams Show test ran for six weeks last summer in New York, Dallas, Detroit, and Los Angeles before syndication company Debmar-Mercury signed a deal with FOX Broadcasting Company to broadcast the show beginning in July 2009. The preview shows included a fan-fave interview with Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth (of Celebrity Apprentice fame) to promote her book “The Bitch Switch”. In the interview Omarosa demonstrated that she couldn’t actually switch “The Bitch” off and all hell broke loose on the set, making the show an instant classic.
Like her radio show the Wendy Williams Experience, Williams will continue to cover a mix of hot topics like celebrity gossip, fashion, entertainment, advice, and interviews with a wide range of guests on her one-hour TV show. Williams has branded herself as the anti-Oprah and hopes to appeal to a more mainstream audience, just at a time when Oprah is experiencing her lowest ratings since 1992. The show will be seen on 95 percent of U.S. households with televisions.

Catch Tony-Winning Norman Conquests Before It’s Too Late

The Norman Conquests revival is winding up its run at Broadway’s Circle in the Square Theatre with just 10 days to go before it ends. This Broadway production (which originated in London) offers the rare chance to see all three plays in Alan Ayckbourn’s hilarious trilogy in repertory with the same excellent six-person cast. Fans of British film and TV will probably recognize at least two of the actors, Ben Miles (Coupling) and Amanda Root (Jane Austen’s Persuasion), and will quickly become fans of the other four as well after seeing their wonderful turns in all three plays.

The Norman Conquests follows three couples during a weekend at a country house, viewing the action from three different locales: the dining room in Table Manners, the living room in Living Together, and the garden in Round and Round the Garden. In a feat of fine craftsmanship, Ayckbourn managed to write each play so that it stands on its own, yet when you see all three, you have the benefit of getting the larger picture. A character’s exit in one play becomes his entrance in another, making an intricate puzzle. And while this set-up makes for some phenomenal farce that keeps the whole audience laughing itself silly, The Norman Conquests also has serious undertones. It’s at once a comic and tragic look at romantic relationships.

There are still three more trilogy days left, where you can view all three plays in one marathon day. If that’s a bit intense, you can also catch them on separate days, or just see one or two (Table Manners and Living Together were our favorites). Find out more info here.

Duck, Duck…Tourist? An Amphibious Tour Recreates Henry Hudson’s Voyage

New York City Duck TourYou may have been on a New York City bus tour or even a boat tour…but a duck tour? Well, now’s your chance. Starting in Times Square and making its way through Manhattan and then into the waters of the Hudson River (yes, you read that correctly; the “Duck” is an amphibious vehicle that transitions easily from land to water) the vehicle was inspired by the voyages of Henry Hudson’s ship The Half-Moon. Hudson, for those who need a refresher, was the 16th century explorer who is known for discovering both New York and the Hudson River.The road and river tour, that was up-until recently known as the New York Splash Tour, includes travels to view some of New York’s most famous sights (tour guides are on hand to point them out); and a stop in the NYC Ducks Theater, where you’ll experience a multimedia motion-simulator ride that mimics Hudson’s journey across the Atlantic (complete with rushing wind). While “Duck” tours are available at other locations around the world, this is the only one that offers the multimedia experience. The tour culminates with a splash into the Hudson River for a fabulous view of Manhattan. The Duck returns to Times Square after the tour.
The tour lasts between 60 and 75 minutes; and tickets can be purchased online (http://www.coachusa.com/nycducks/) or by calling 1-888-838-2570. Tour check-in is on 8th Avenue near Restaurant Row; the exact location will be given when you make your reservation. Departures are offered daily April-November.

A Guide to New York City’s Best Mobile Eats

NYC Mobile EatsThere is more to New York City food carts than hot dogs and soft pretzels. In the latest issue of Time Out New York, the magazine lists the best food trucks and carts New York City has to offer. Here is a brief roundup:

The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck
Doug Quint serves soft serve ice cream in cones with an interesting variety of toppings such as bacon, crushed pretzels, and Nilla Wafers. Various locations around NYC.

Calexico

Brothers Dave, Jesse and Brian Vendley sell gourmet Cal-Mex cuisine and have garnered a following for their flavorful meat and generous portions. Calexico carts are found at the corner of Prince and Wooster Streets as well as Broadway and Broome Street.

Cupcake Stop
Lev Ekster sells mini and regular-size cupcakes with flavors like Oreo crumb and chocolate peanut butter swirl. Catch Cupcake Stop daily at Fifth Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets and nightly at 23rd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

NY Dosa
Thiru Kumar offers vegan dosas, a delicate lentil-and-rice-flour crepe filled with vegetables and potatoes, with coconut chutney and spicy vegetable soup, undoubtedly one of New York’s healthiest carts. Look for Kumar on West 4th Street at Sullivan.

Kwik Meal
Mohammed Rahman opened his first cart in 2000 and three more since, becoming a popular Midtown fixture at West 45th Street at Sixth Avenue with his succulent lamb over rice and vegetable-filled pitas.

Kim’s Aunt Kitchen
This cart draws crowds for its fried whiting and flounder sandwiches served on Wonder, whole wheat or pita breads. Also try the beef bulgogi, a step above the usual street meat, at West 46th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Street Sweets
Inspired by a visit to Italy, Samira Mahboubian opened a food truck serving croissants with assorted fillings like Nutella and marshmallow crème. Check http://twitter.com/streetsweets for Midtown location updates.

Journalists Lose Tony Award Voting Privileges

Approximately 100 members of the press received a very surprising notice yesterday. Journalists on what is known as the “First Night Press List” (i.e. the top priority theater journalists) were informed that they are no longer invited to vote for the Tony Awards. The letter came without warning and did not include much insight into what precipitated the decision. The only reason suggested was that the Tony Management Committee sees journalists as having a conflict of interest (some members of the press, notably those at the New York Times, already have a policy of not voting for such awards). Some people have noted that considering the remaining 700 Tony voters are made up primarily of theater owners, Broadway producers, publicists, theater artists, and others who clearly have a personal interest in the outcome of the awards, the Tony logic is backwards. Suspicions are that this move is another step for the Tony Awards to become even more commercial, where the results are more about rewarding the Broadway shows with the greatest commercial potential than those of the highest quality. Several members of the Broadway press have already made their displeasure clear in their publications. The remaining fallout should be interesting to observe. The Tonys could see a drop in press coverage if the spurned journalists turn vengeful.

Two Popular New York Sightseeing Double-decker Bus Companies Merge

Grey Line Bus Tours NYCIn an effort to cut costs, two of New York City’s best-known rival double-decker tour bus companies are merging to combine operations in a joint venture. CitySights NY and Gray Line New York Sightseeing will continue to operate under the same names, but the new company will be called Twin America, with a fleet of 100 vehicles and gross assets of $28 million combined.
Supposedly no layoffs are happening as a result. The merge comes at a time with New York City’s tourism boom is taking a hit from the economic crisis and the number of tourists expected to visit New York are much lower this year.
Another double-decker bus and fairly young competitor on the scene is the Big Taxi Tour, a hop on, hop off family-run bus tour company bringing passengers to attractions in New York City. Their yellow buses with black and white-checkered stripes have been seen more and more throughout Manhattan. Big Taxi Tour is less expensive than CitySights and Gray Line with $25 rides through Midtown and Downtown, versus $44 for CitySights or Gray Line. Whether this bargain bus and the economy will harm Twin America is yet to be seen.

Hair Cast To Participate In National Equality March In Washington

The cast of the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of the rock musical Hair won’t be at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on October 11 for their usual Sunday performance. Instead, the peace-loving tribe will be in Washington D.C. to join the National Equality March, an event that will bring people from all over the country to show their support for gay marriage. The young cast of Hair is headed by Tony Award nominees Will Swenson and Gavin Creel – they and the whole group are bound to help create an energetic and Broadway-flavored presence at the march. Ticket holders that were planning on seeing Hair on October 11 can exchange their tickets by visiting the Hirschfeld box office or by calling Telecharge at 800-543-4835.

New York City Beaches Make A Big Splash This Summer

Water Taxi Beach in NYCDon’t bother heading east to the Hamptons or Jones Beach this summer to relax on the beach. Instead, check out some of New York City’s little known urban beaches, that is, if you mind not swimming. Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City has 1,002 tons of imported New Jersey sand spread over 44,000 square feet and a wonderful view of Midtown Manhattan’s skyline across the East River. There’s beach volleyball, a snack shack and bar, and sprinklers that mist the beach. Deejayed beach parties for people 21+ take place Friday and Saturday nights starting at 8 p.m.
Former military base Governors Island is undergoing a transformation with a 40-acre park in the works and a new beach that officially opened on July 11. The beach features 300 tons of sand spread over 20,000 square feet, a café and outdoor grill, beach volleyball, basketball, and a view of Lower Manhattan. Live outdoor entertainment is also scheduled, with acts like Erykah Badu and The B-52s coming in August.
South Street Seaport also has a new 18,000-square-foot beach that opened on Memorial Day, located on the north side of Pier 17 with views of the Brooklyn Bridge and East River. Games like skeeball, ping-pong, and 9 holes of miniature golf are onsite, as well as Fish Shack for burgers and fish tacos, and Pop Bar for popcorn and soda. Like the beach in Long Island City, this beach has deejayed parties on weekend nights for the 21+ crowd.