Tribute to Kellogg’s Diner

By Madeline Edalow | [email protected]

A view of Kellogg’s Diner from December 2023. Photo by Christine Stoddard.

New York City is ever-changing and long time residents grow accustomed to iconic establishments disappearing.

I am a life-long New Yorker. Within my lifetime, the gentrification of Northern Brooklyn has progressed at lightening speed. The luxury establishments that continue to open often feel inaccessible to me. I often feel like a tourist in the city I grew up in, not recognizing neighborhoods where I used to spend a lot of time.

As the area surrounding the Lorimer L train in Williamsburg Brooklyn felt the impact of trendy hipsterdom, one spot felt accessible to a wide range of people. I am speaking of Kellogg’s Diner.

Kellogg’s Diner has been open for nearly a century and will be opening with new ownership this year after renovations are complete. The original owners of the restaurant gave up after a long period of financial hardship. Irene Siderakis, the most recent owner, struggled to keep the doors open after the tragic passing  of her husband, who previously ran the restaurant. The new management plans to make changes to the establishment, so that it is more appealing to neighborhood patrons. It is still uncertain whether the new restaurant will hold up to what Kellogg’s represented.

Kellogg’s, in its way, was a universal meeting space. I don’t think I’ve eaten there once without seeing someone else I knew. The 24-hour schedule caused every person who partied nearby until the early hours of the morning to commune at the diner. The schedule also motivated some people to travel from distant neighborhoods to eat and drink.

I remember performing at an open mic on the Lower East Side and heading to Kellogg’s with a comedian friend after the end of the mic. I ordered the most enormous mozzarella sticks I’ve ever had. I was extremely intoxicated, but I remember that night well because I ran into an old friend I’d known through high school friends. I had entered with a friend I knew through mostly transplant-filled art scenes when I ran into this friend from the past. As a lifelong Brooklynite, it is always comforting to run into people associated with my upbringing, especially as it gets rarer and rarer.  Like I said, Kellogg’s served as a universal meeting space, where old New York meets new New York.

The plans to redevelop the diner include reinstating the 24-hour schedule and a new Tex-Mex menu. The new owner and management have a history of running other successful trendy establishments. The restaurant will also have a new cocktail bar.

I imagine the new direction for the famed diner location will be a success as the new influx of Brooklyn residents can’t seem to get enough of establishments that sell fancy cocktails.

I wish the new ownership well and hope they are able to keep their doors open for another century, even with the changes. The building staying a somewhat similar business is comforting to me and likely others who struggle to recognize their home city. I am hopeful that the menu will be affordable to the average New Yorker and not just the progressively wealthier residents of Williamsburg.

In this ever-changing city, it is harder and harder for classic spots, like neighborhood diners, to keep their doors open as they don’t provide for the modern tastes that have become popular in Brooklyn. I hope that even with the differences, there will still be places where new New York can meet with old New York. We will have to wait and see if the new management of Kellogg’s can provide for a wide community. I certainly hope so.

Madeline Edalow is an artist of many mediums and writer raised in Brooklyn. She is a graduate of City As School, the oldest alternative public high school in New York City. For work, she face paints at events of all kinds and is also a teaching artist at schools all over the city. She is a current student studying Public Administration at Medgar Evers College. She is deeply inspired by her upbringing in this wonderful city full of people from all over the world.

Small Business Saturday highlights local businesses

Small businesses were given a big platform this past weekend as part of Small Business Saturday.
Over a dozen small businesses set up shop in the King Manor House Museum in Jamaica to showcase and sell their goods.
For executive director Kelsey Brow, the sight of local vendors selling their products was a special one.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Brow. “I moved from the suburbs of Denver to New York City on purpose to get away from big box stores.”
Brow said it was significant to lend the historic space to local vendors who might not have a brick-and-mortar store. From beauty and healthcare products to artisan jewelry, the first floor of the museum was filled with 16 small businesses, a majority of them based in Queens.
Among them were Sha’s House of Bling, JBM Jewelry, Beauty Bar and Mr. X Stock Market Academy.
“It’s really meaningful, especially because we’re in such a central location,” said Brow. “It’s exciting to have such a wide variety of vendors here today.”
The event was curated by Adrienne Whaley, executive director of the Queens Underground International Film Festival.
Whaley, an artist and entrepreneur who sells her own soaps, set up her display of products alongside the other local small businesses for the all-day event just down the road from her own studio.
“It was important before and now it’s magnified because none of these people have a storefront,” said Whaley on the support of small businesses. “Since the pandemic, it’s become even more important. Shopping online is okay, but here you can talk to the vendors and you can touch the items.”
Whaley also curated a selection of over 30 music and poetry videos that were screened in the parlor of the historic house. A room once used for entertainment purposes was repurposed for the showcase event.
“Of course they didn’t have film back then, but they would have had magic lantern shows, kind of like an old-fashioned slide projector but it was hand done,” Brow explained.
In Astoria, an outdoor holiday event brought out families to Steinway Street and 31st Avenue, where crowds were treated to carolers from Christmas Matters, a puppet show by Penny and the Puppettes, and holiday music performances by the Academia De Mariachi Nuevo Amanecer.
Sponsored by the Steinway Astoria Partnership, the holiday event aimed to bring the community together to support the over 300 businesses on Steinway Street.
“It’s a ‘thank you’ to the residents of Astoria and the Steinway community,” said executive director Marie Torniali. “This little part of Queens is made up of families of many, many different cultures. They all come together as one. Hopefully they’ll support the small businesses that line the streets here.”

My Plastic Heart opens Greenpoint store

Since 2004, My Plastic Heart has been selling new, collectible, and vintage toys through its online store and later at a brick-and-mortar location in the East Village.
Earlier this year, store owner Vincent Yu and his team packed up and moved their in-person operation across the river to 40 Greenpoint Avenue, only one block away from the North Brooklyn waterfront.
“We were fairly familiar with the neighborhood and have friends here,” Yu explained during an interview. “We’ve also done shows at the [Brooklyn EXPO] convention center and we’ve been following the area as it’s developed over the past ten years.
“We were either going to stay in Manhattan or move here, and when we saw this space we knew we would never find anything like this again,” he added.
Although My Plastic Heart continues to sell a large amount of toys online, Yu believes that an in-person store adds to the toy-buying experience.
“A lot of it has to do with what we sell, it’s very tactile,” Yu said. “It also helps people know the size of a toy. Many times people have come in and said, ‘oh it’s bigger than I thought’ or ‘it’s so small.’”
My Plastic Heart is also hoping to fill a void in the Greenpoint community, which currently lacks many proper toy stores.
“We didn’t see anything like this in this area,” Yu said. “There are so many kids here who love to have somewhere to go. There are a lot of families and kids, and this feels like a great place for them.”
Ironically, the toys on sale at My Plastic Heart are traditionally targeted for an older demographic, namely adults ages 25 to 35. As Yu explains, big kids like himself are particularly attached to the media they consumed when they were younger.
Now that his generation is older and has some money in their pockets, they are ready to spend it on some nostalgia-infused plastic.
“When we were growing up, we had no computers, we had barely just gotten cable,” Yu explained of his own upbringing in Flushing. “We watched our three channels on TV and then wanted the toys from those three channels. That’s kind of where a lot of this comes from.
“It has a lot to do with nostalgia,” Yu added while picking up a Run-DMC action figure. “Some companies take toy licenses from the 80s from the 90s and recreate them. It’s not for kids, because no kids today are going to know Run-DMC.”
My Plastic Heart’s quirky dedication to the toys of yesteryear has already struck a chord with Greenpointers. Yu and company attribute the success, in part, to the dynamic sidewalks of North Brooklyn’s neighborhoods.
“From where we came from it’s like night and day,” he said. “That area was all commercial. Here, families and other people can just walk into stores.”
Having found great success in the area already, Yu hopes that My Plastic Heart can inspire others to take what they are passionate about and share it.
“If it’s really your passion, there is never a bad time to do it [start a business],” Yu said. “Even during the pandemic, we were able to make the best of it. So if it’s your passion, there are plenty of resources to learn about in New York City that can help you make it happen.”
My Plastic Heart is currently open Friday from 1 to 8 p.m., Saturday from 1 to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. The store is also open by appointment Monday through Thursday, but you can usually find a staff member inside ready to help if you happen to walk by.

Yaro brings ceramics, clay to Greenpoint

The streets around the Greenpoint waterfront are quickly becoming more and more developed with high-rise towers, however the area is still home to some genuine beacons of creativity and community.
Such is the case with Yaro, a new community arts center nestled quietly into the storefront of 76 Kent Street. Focusing on ceramics, clay, textiles, and other hands-on artistic mediums, the space plans on hosting artisans of all trades and already offers classes teaching local residents new skills.
Founder Andrea Kamini Parikh discussed the origin story and mission statement behind Greenpoint’s newest small business.
“I left a corporate job to start this,” Parikh said during an interview last week.
Raised in Texas, Parikh previously worked at a large architecture firm in the Lone Star State, where she quickly grew tired of the money-focused mindset driving the work. She decided it was time for a change, and set her sights on creating a new business — in a new city — that would be more fulfilling.
“I signed the lease right before COVID,” Parikh explained of Yaro’s Kent Street location. “That ended up being a good thing. I talked a lot on the phone with Diana [Rojas, Yaro’s Studio Manager] and was able to really explain my ideas, my thoughts about what the aesthetic should be, and how to execute it.”
Parikh is also relatively new to Greenpoint, and even though she had some concerns before moving because of the widespread gentrification in the area, she has since found her place among a wide network of like-minded friends and artists.
“I come from a mixed race, multicultural, multi-religious background, so I was a little concerned about living around just rich people,” Parikh said. “ I live on the other side of Greenpoint though, the manufacturing side, and it’s kind of like I know everyone over there.
“I know all the businesses, the places to always go to,” she added. “It’s almost like there are two different sides of Greenpoint.”
Parikh is hopeful that her work can support and encourage other groups trying to find their place in the greater North Brooklyn community.
“I think there’s a responsibility that you have to be aware of as a business owner,” Parikh said. “Our end goal here isn’t just to make a lot of money. Yes, you need enough to pay rent, but we are hoping to also incorporate a methodology and practice that supports artisans and teaches people something new through classes and workshops.”
Parikh has been fascinated with the arts her whole life, and spent her childhood learning how to work with clay, ceramics, and any other material she could get her hands on.
At Yaro, Parikh hopes to instill this same passion in others and to show people just how much they can accomplish with their own hands.
“I think it gives people agency,” Parikh explained. “If you can teach people to create a thing, then that teaches them that they can create things in other places in their life. It reminds people what it is like to really dive into something physical. There is something meditative about being really invested in a project.
“There’s a tactility to many materials, like clay for example,” she added. “There’s this approachability, like it’s inherent in our being that we know what to do with it. Maybe Patrick Swayze and Ghost helped out a bit too, but sitting at a throwing wheel feels natural and approachable for a lot of people.”
Currently, Yaro is offering wheel throwing ceramic classes, handbuilt sculptural tableware classes, and other workshops. In the future, Parikh and the team at Yaro are planning on inviting artisans from around the world to visit and work in the space as well.
For the time being though, Parikh hopes that her team’s success can inspire other people to pursue their passion in a way that will contribute something positive to their community.
“I think it’s really important, even for myself, to take some time and provide some space for yourself, to find a bit of balance in life,” Parikh explained. “We all make a lot of excuses to work really hard and be stressed all the time, but we work better and smarter when we are happier. So whether it’s making something physically, or cooking, or whatever, finding that balance is really important.”

Yang talks small business investment in Queens visit

Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang sat down with Thomas Lo, culinary director of Spy C Cuisine, to discuss what the city could do to support minority entrepreneurship.
Part of Yang’s approach is establishing a people’s bank of New York. The proposal would ensure that every New Yorker can access basic financial products and services, like checking accounts, but also support small business lending in underserved communities by guaranteeing loans and loan portfolios.
Spy C Cuisine is one of two Michelin-recognized restaurants in Forest Hills, and is located on Austin Street alongside many other small stores and eateries. It’s an area of Queens where the economic impact of COVID has resulted in numerous vacant storefronts.
“When I see a closed storefront, I see a family that invested years and years of blood, sweat and tears into trying to make that business work,” he said. “I’m very passionate about trying to be a true partner to small business owners and trying to make sure that as many small businesses can survive and reopen their doors as is possible.”
The bank would work closely with small business lenders and existing financial institutions that specialize in community development. By guaranteeing a level of losses, the bank would assume the risk that these institutions face in lending and incentivize them to be more inclusive.
“We have a two-year window to try and get this recovery right before the federal money runs out,” Yang said. To me, small business investment is a very effective way to go.”
Lo was born in Queens and has lived in Forest Hills for five years. In 2000, he was sleeping on his grandmother’s couch when he deferred from medical school to pursue his culinary passion instead.
Two decades later, Lo is a board-certified anesthesiologist, a former “Iron Chef America” contestant, and part-owner of one of Forest Hill’s most distinctive restaurants. He’s built his life around balance and describes himself as a “doctor by day and chef by night.”
“It’s always been my goal to introduce New York to how good Chinese cuisine is,” said Lo. “There’s more to it than beef and broccoli, and we love showing people how delicate and balanced our flavors are.”

Asian-owned businesses receive $10K grants

Ten Asian-owned small businesses received a helping hand from Fiserv, a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology.
At last week’s event at Citi Field, which was hosted in recognition of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, each small business received a $10,000 grant to support their ongoing operations and continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Minority-owned businesses continue to be disproportionately impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many Asian-owned businesses encountering prejudice in addition to economic impact,” said Fiserv senior vice president Mia Shernoff. ”Today’s grant recipients are pillars in their local communities.”
Grants were awarded as part of the Fiserv Back2Business program, a $50 million commitment to support small, minority-owned business that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and social unrest.
In addition to the grants, each small business was presented with a Clover Flex handheld point-of-sale device from Fiserv, with built-in capabilities to accept payments, conduct business, and track sales. Businesses also received a customized New York Mets jersey and tickets to an upcoming Mets game at Citi Field.
“We are proud that our home in Flushing is also home to more Asian and Pacific Islander New Yorkers than any neighborhood in the City,” said Mets president Sandy Alderson. “These grants will bring awareness and assist minority-owned businesses to get back to business.”
The small businesses receiving grants included:
• 3N Convenience – Binita Shah’s convenience store serves customers in the Bronx.
• 886 – Eric Sze and Andy Chuang fuse their Taiwanese heritage with New York City to create an ingenious, exciting restaurant experience.
• Big D’s Grub Truck – Dennis Kum offers food influenced by Chinese and Ghana roots. In 2020, his truck served first responders, hospital workers and others in need.
• Coffee Project New York – Owners Chi Sum Ngai and Kaleena Teoh not only serve coffee, they teach others how to make it professionally.
• Contra – Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske’s restaurant showcases New York state’s best produce, with a focus on natural wine.
• Erawan Thai Cuisine – Paul Lim’s restaurant has been part of the Queens community since 1999.
• Heart of Dinner – Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai fight food insecurity and isolation among Asian American seniors in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
• Maxi’s Noodle – Maxi Lau’s restaurant serves dumplings and Hong Kong-style foods.
• Pho Che – David Lee oversees this local Vietnamese restaurant that’s a favorite for delivery.
• Wowfulls – David Chan brings Instagram-worthy 1950’s-style egg waffles, a popular Hong Kong dessert, to New York City.
“The past year has been tough for small businesses in Queens, as we were the epicenter of the epicenter of the pandemic,” said Thomas Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “As the most diverse county in America, minority-owned businesses add to the unique character of our neighborhoods, are essential to our local economy and will play a pivotal role in our borough’s recovery.”

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