Contact Welcome2Melrose at: 347-92-MELRO or via email at:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Join Us Tomorrow @ Hostos Community College for Coquito Tasting Contest!

For those of you who don't know, coquito is a Puerto Rican eggnog-like concoction for the holidays and is an alcoholic beverage - and you can sample some of the Bronx' best coquito recipes including our very own Coqui Mexicano recipe (who by the way, came in 3rd place last year in ALL OF NYC!!).
Don't miss a fun and exciting way to start off December!!
Be sure to check out last year's event which welcome2melrose attended!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Community in Action - Cutzone Barbershop Feeds Melrose on Thanksgiving Eve

Cutzone Barbershop on Melrose Avenue between 151st and 152nd Streets in Melrose was out on this cold day providing a free Thanksgiving meal to the community as a way of saying thanks and also to help out those less fortunate who may otherwise not have something to eat tomorrow.  The meal was very Puerto Rican in style with rice and beans, turkey, stuffing and of course pernil (roast pork for those not in the know).  This is what Melrose is about.  As an attorney who lives in Westchester, yesterday said, "Melrose is different from most neighborhoods in the city because it is more like a's boundaries are pretty defined and the community does rally together...there is a cohesion there (Melrose) that is wonderful to be a part of."
Here's a big Melrose THANK YOU to Danny, owner of Cutzone and his staff for giving back to the community.  Today they proved themselves not to just do business here in Melrose but to be part of our wonderful neighborhood.  Thanks also goes out to local resident Danisha, for calling in the tip.  For more on this story, stay tuned to News12 the Bronx as they were on hand to report on this breaking story as well.
Please make sure you patronize Cutzone Barbershop!  We need to support local business who give back to the community!  
Cutzone Barbershop
624 Melrose Avenue
Bronx, NY 10455

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Moment in Bronx History - LGBT and Straight Community United As One

This past Saturday, November 20th, 2010, members from both the LGBT and Straight communities of the Bronx united together as ONE VOICE against all the hate and bigotry against the Bronx Lesbian and Gay community.  The march and rally was a success as hundreds marched from Bronx Community College, over to the 1910 Osbourne Avenue (the site of the vicious attacks last month against 3 men who were thought to be gay), and then down the Grand Concourse for 2.5 miles to the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse at 161st Street and the Grand Concourse.
As the march made its way through the neighborhoods along the route of hundreds of thousands of Bronxites, thousands of residents and business owners listened to the chants of, "Homophobia must end", and "vive tu vida no la mia (Spanish for live your life, not mine).  Most nodded in agreement and supported the marchers while a few protested the activities, yelling out their windows for the "gays to go home."
It was a beautiful day of solidarity amongst all Bronxites regardless of their sexual orientation for a call to end of hate crimes in our borough and that it will no longer be tolerated.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Picture of the Day

Fall... two months later, autumn begins to show its colors...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Courtlandt Corners Open For Business in Melrose

After years of hard work and labor, the ribbon has been cut at Courtlandt Corners ushering over 300 brand new apartments in the ever growing neighborhood of Melrose.  Once a blighted span of two blocks of brownfields on East 161st Street between Melrose and Courtlandt Avenues, the new development through its architecture acts as sort of a gateway into Melrose with beautifully designed buildings on 'either side of the street.  Courtlandt Corners is yet another wonderful affordable housing development by Phipps Houses and was designed by Dattner Architects and built by Monadnock Construction.  Phipps Houses has a long history in New York City as the city's oldest and largest not-for-profit developer as well as owner of housing for low and middle income families.

The 323 units are a mixture of studios, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units made available to a wide range of low and middle income individuals and families.  The units are quite nice with large windows letting in ample sunlight.  Finishing touches such as countertops, tiles and flooring are pretty average and plain compared to competing developments like The Residences at Northrose of Boricua Village and The Eltona - which boast higher end finishes and hardwood flooring.  The good thing is that the 2 and 3 bedroom units more than make up for this lack of detail as each of these units come equipped with a washer and dryer.  This last detail is where Courtlandt Corners one ups the other developments mentioned as they only have laundry rooms on each floor.

During the opening speeches prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony several key individuals from all the partner organizations spoke of the remarkable turnaround that Melrose has made.   Andrew Weinstein, President and CEO of Phipps Housing and Development, spoke about how the site was a brownfield and all of the work it took to clean it up and turn it into Courtlandt Corners.  Mr. Weinstein also commented on the importance of this development to the community at large due to its location next to the Melrose Metro North station and his hopes that it will spur the MTA increase service to between the Melrose and Grand Central Station which is only a 13 minute ride and to the northern reaches of Metro North for those reverse commuters.  

Rafael E. Cestero, NYC's Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Preservation, spoke with pride of the metamorphoses of Melrose and how above all other neighborhoods in the entire city, Melrose has been redeveloped along with community leaders, government officials, and developers into a neighborhood that people and families are becoming interested in coming back to and not a neighborhood.  This is a major reversal of what was once the demise of a neighborhood that political leaders, banks and even its own residents gave up on.  

Ronay Menschel, Chair of Phipps houses also echoed what Andrew Weinstein said about working with the MTA to get better service to the Melrose Metro North Station which is an important regional connection right in our own neighborhood.  Ms. Menschel also acknowledged all who worked hard on making this project a reality for the community.

Courtland Corners consists of 2 sites directly across from each other on East 161st Street between Melrose and Courtlandt Avenues.  The northern building is lined with ground floor commercial space from Courtlandt all the way to Melrose Avenue and the southern site offers ground floor commercial space as well, from Courtlandt Avenue to halfway up the block toward Melrose Avenue.  The combined sites offer over 21,000 square feet of retail spaces.  Any savvy businessman, company, etc who is reading this should contact Charles Gross of Phipps at 212-243-9090 ext 236. The new retail and commercial spaces available at Courtlandt Corners is an opportunity not to be missed since Melrose is after all the fastest growing neighborhood in the Bronx and the development's mixed low and middle income tenants should be enough of a draw as well.

A big Melrose THANK YOU goes out to Phipps Houses, Dattner Architects, Monadnock Construction, Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Ted Weinstein, Director of Bronx Planning for NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the many others who made this development possible. 

Oh and a big Welcome2Melrose to all the new residents who will be occupying these lovely units!  Be sure to contact us and let us know how your stories about living there and why you want to move to Melrose!

Ed García Conde
The "Mayor" of Melrose

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Comité Noviembre: A Celebration of Puerto Rican Culture & The Arts

Hostos Community College will once again host Comité Noviembre's Annual Puerto Rican Artisan's Fair & Exhibit, a fun filled cultural experience celebrating the arts and culture of Puerto Rico as part of Puerto Rican Heritage Month. The event will be held this Saturday, November 20th from 11AM to 9PM and will be in the Hostos gymnasium.
Last year's event was a beautiful experience of sight and sound with so many Puerto Rican artisans displaying their creations with the cacophony of live music of traditional Bomba and Plena permeating the air.  Several live performances evoked the traditional jibaro (affectionate term for a hick) life in Puerto Rico which is important to our culture as it was a time of a more self-sustaining culture living off the land - a simpler time compared to today's faced-paced cosmopolitan and metropolitan lifestyles that have invaded the island and are now pretty much the norm.  This year's event promises to be just as exciting and enriching as last year's as well.  This is a great opportunity for art lovers to purchase some beautiful pieces.
Check out our video from last year's event!

For Immediate Release
5th Annual Comité Noviembre Puerto Rican Artisans Fair & Exhibit 
Hostos Community College - 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 
11AM – 9PM 

The Puerto Rican Artisan Fair & Exhibit was established in 2006, in celebration of Comité Noviembre's, 20th anniversary. Over 40 artesanos puertorriqueños from throughout the US and Puerto Rico participated and the event boasted an attendance of over 5000 people in this very first Fair. Last year's Fair continued to exceed CN's expectations with over 60 artisans participating and a steady 5000 people. 

The artisan fair this Saturday will include the following workshops: 

• Taíno Storytelling by Bobby González 

• Story of the 3 Kings and making of boxes and crowns by Teresa Santiago 
• Wood Working. Making Santos de Palo by Marta Iris Rodriguez 
• Spirituality and Taíno Petroglyph Art by Jose Muñoz 
• Introduction to Puerto Rican Genealogy by Charlie Fourquet 

Performing at the fair: 

• Master percussionist Obanilu Allende and the son of world renowned singer Danny Rivera, Daniel Rivera, Jr. 

For the past four years, CN has transformed, Hunter College West Building and the Church of St. Paul the Apostle into a typical Puerto Rican plaza with a fountain, palm trees, piragua and coquito carts and artists, sculptors, vejigante mask makers promoting and selling their wares while musical and cultural acts entertained throughout the day. This year will be no different at Hostos. CN will also continue to conduct cultural workshops for children and adults, like mask making, the history of the three kings’ celebration, Taíno storytelling in order to make sure that our youth learn about our culture. 

This free fair is an opportunity to kick-off the holiday shopping season by supporting our artesanos. 

For more information visit us online at: If you are on Twitter, follow us @comitenoviembre.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

March and Rally to Combat Violence Against the Gay Community in New York

This coming Saturday, November 20th, 2010, join forces with Welcome2Melrose, NYC LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Bronx Community Pride Center and numerous other organizations, LGBT community leaders and citizens and straight supporters in an historic event.
At 11AM we will begin to rally at Bronx Community College on University Avenue and West 181st Street then at Noon we will march to 1910 Osborne Avenue, the site of the brutal and horrific attacks on 3 individuals suspecting of being gay, for a prayer and then proceed to march to the steps of the Bronx County Courthouse on the Grand Concourse and East 161st Street to rally for a call to the end of anti-LGBT violence in the Bronx and the rest of New York.
I hope to see you there as this is not just a gay issue but it is a quality of LIFE issue for ALL Bronxites...we must rally together and call for an end to the violence in our communities.  Whether you march down with us from Bronx Community College or you meet us at the Bronx County Courthouse, your support will greatly be appreciated.

See you there!
Click Image for Full INFO

Monday, November 15, 2010

La Fortaleza Spanish Restaurant In Melrose

Does anyone remember the old La Fortaleza Spanish Restaurant which occupied the northeast corner of 3rd Avenue and East 156th Street?
Please do share your memories!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Drawings by Mexican Artist, Aurelio Del Muro On Display

Coqui Mexicano, who is not just a restaurant in Melrose but a local cultural institution, will be hosting, "Drawings  From the Story, "¿Un Anhelo?" - Aurelio Del Muro."  The exhibit is curated Hatuey Ramos -Fermin who is a self-described multimedia artist.
Aurelio Del Muro has been living in New York for more than half his life since 1978 and is originally from the city of San Luis Potosi, Mexico and since 1983 has been expressed his art through various media including sculpture.
So come on out and taste the arts in Melrose starting tomorrow, Friday November 12, 2010 from 6PM to 8PM with an opening reception at Coqui Mexicano where the exhibit will be on display until December 6, 2010.  Don't miss this great opportunity for having the arts brought into our community.
A big Melrose THANK YOU to Hatuey Ramos-Fermin for curating this exhibit and collaborating with Coqui Mexicano, one of Melrose's cultural gems.

Coqui Mexicano is located at
871 Brook Avenue 
(at the intersection of East 161st and 3rd Avenue, across from the Old Bronx Courthouse)
Bronx, NY 10451

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

3rd Annual Prep School Fair - Gauchos Gymnasium

It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Annual Prep School Fair, presented by Teamwork Foundation, will be held for the 3rd year now at Gauchos Gymnasium on Friday, November 12, 2010 between 6PM - 8PM.  This will be a great opportunity for inner city students and their families to explore other options that they may otherwise not have known about and admission is FREE.
For those of you who are not aware, The New York Gauchos is considered to be the country's most successful AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) after-school basketball program.  Teamwork Foundation, Inc, which runs the New York Gauchos, has been providing hundreds of inner-city youth with great opportunities that would not have been ordinarily made available to them.
Welcome2Melrose attended last year's fair and it was an amazing experience to see so many bright kids excited about opportunities that they never thought to be within their reach.  So with that said, a big Melrose THANK YOU is in order for Teamwork Foundation for their continued selfless support of our very own future:  our kids.
Gauchos Gymnasium is located at:
478 Gerard Avenue
(Between East 149th and East 146th Streets)
Bronx, NY  10452

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Doctor" Bob Lee of WBLS Live from Melrose At PeaceLove!

"Doctor" Bob Lee, of 107.5 WBLS FM, joined Melrose residents for the station's morning show.  Customers, as well as listeners of the station were treated to PeaceLove owner, Darada David's lovely voice belting out some tunes.  Patrons of the establishment watched on while enjoying PeaceLove's famous Sweet Potato Pie which is made fresh by Darada herself.
WBLS FM and "Doctor" Bob Lee's presence at PeaceLove Cafe is a testament to what a great thing we have going on here in Melrose.  The ONLY healthy food cafe in the South Bronx!  Where else can you network with other Bronxites whilst listening to live jazz?
By the way...yet another local Melrose resident joins the ranks of Bronx entrepreneurs...I had the pleasure of meeting Melissa Quintero, a life long Melrose resident and a fan of welcome2melrose at PeaceLove this morning.  Ms. Quintero happily told me that she will be opening a new business on 161st Street between Elton and Melrose Avenues in the Park View buildings.  She mentioned that she expects to be up and running within 5 weeks.  Welcome2Melrose will have more on that story in the coming weeks!
A big Melrose THANK YOU to "Doctor" Bob Lee and 107.5 WBLS FM for believing in PeaceLove and visiting us in Melrose!
"Doctor" Bob Lee enjoying a serving of Darada's awesome sweet potato pie...yeah it's that good

Monday, November 8, 2010


Local Bronx resident will be holding auditions for a short student film that will be aired on Bronx Net, our very own local cable access network.  The craigslist listing is as follows and if you are interested in the listing you should respond ONLY to the craigslist email address and not welcome2melrose!  Although if you do make that mistake, mayhaps I will forward it to the appropriate channels.

Two male actors are needed for a short student film that will be aired on Bronx Net (cable public access channel.)

The two men play grad students who endure a strained romance when their circumstances force them to stay in the closet.

There is no pay but you will be credited and given a copy of the DVD.

Age is somewhat flexible but we are aiming for late 20's. Any race or ethnicity. We are not looking for effeminate men but rather "regular" guys whose sexual orientation is not obvious.

You must be comfortable kissing the other man on the lips - no tongue.

You must be available to shoot in the Bronx on Saturday, 11/20, and Saturday, 11/27. Please note that 11/27 is on Thanksgiving weekend. Actors not available both of those dates should not audition.

Auditions will be held near The Hub (Third Avenue and East 149th in the Bronx) on Monday, 11/8, from 2:30 - 3:30 and on Wednesday, 11/10, from 6:30 - 7:30.

If you're interested in auditioning please e-mail your head shot and your acting resume if you have one. We will contact you with an audition time and the exact location.

  • Location: The Hub & Lehman College in the Bronx
  • Compensation: no pay but credit and a copy of the DVD
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Bronx District Attorney, Robert T. Johnson held a meeting today at 3pm at his offices to speak with the Bronx LGBT community on the recent anti gay hate crime in the Bronx last month.
The meeting was convened after the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered leadership of the Bronx expressed extreme concern after charges were dropped for 3 of the suspects in the case of imprisonment and torture of 3 men suspected of being gay.
First thing Robert T. Johnson said was that he wanted to apologize for not reaching out to the Bronx LGBT Community when the case first happened.  He also voiced his commitment to the LGBT community and everyone of the Bronx.
3 were dismissed because of lack of evidence against them, according to Mr. Johnson.  One of the reasons they also decided to drop the charges were to create a level of trust with the jurors as well to show that a thorough investigation is being conducted.
He also went to note that the Anti Violence Project has had contact with the DA's office when the case occurred.
Mr. Lewis Goldstein, vice president of the New York State Democratic Committee as well as an openly gay man made a passionate speech praising Robert T. Johnson's decisions regarding this case as well as speaking highly of Mr. Johnson's commitment during his career.   He also urged Mr. Johnson to work closely Bronx Community Pride Center to bring these talks to the schools to end the bullying epidemics.
Mr.  Dirk McCall, executive director of Bronx Community Pride Center said that one of the biggest concerns with the dropping off the charges was the message to the rest of the community that is open season on members of the Bronx Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community.
After several individuals spoke, the floor was opened for questions, several attendees expressed their frustration with the dropping of the charges on the 3 suspects.  Francisco Lazala said that DA's office, "should have waited a little longer to gather more evidence against those individuals." 
William Casari, Librarian at Hostos Community College asked Robert Johnson how strong was the evidence against the remaining 7 suspects to which Mr. Johnson replied that, "they're varying levels of evidence against each suspect" and that he's, "confident that overall it is pretty strong. "
Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz, Jr's staff was on hand to lend support to the LGBT community and express that his office is also outraged at the dropping of the charges.
Let's see where this goes from here people... after a two hour meeting there were many great ideas as well as concerns heard.
This is an exclusive welcome2melrose story and you heard it here FIRST.

Welcome2Melrose On The Recent Anti-Gay Attacks in The Bronx

As you already know, Welcome2Melrose has joined forces with other Bronx Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) leaders to discuss as well as come up with solid solutions to the events of early last month in October where 3 individuals, suspected of being gay, were held captive and tortured.
On Monday night, I received a call from Gary Axelbank of BronxTalk, the longest running weekly talk show in New York City, so that I can come on the special one-hour show dedicated to the same issue and speak about being gay in the Bronx. Some of the show's guests were, Dirk McCall, Executive Director of Bronx Community Pride Center, the Bronx' main and only LGBT Center, Diane T. Ort, M.S., Deputy Chairperson, School of Criminal Justice at Monroe College and City Council Member, Annabel Palma of the 18th District in the Bronx.  The show is a must watch as it brought together community leaders from different segments of society to discuss the conditions that may have led to the attacks as well as what we can do to prevent this from happening again - not just anti-gay attacks but anti-HATE attacks period.
Also, about a week ago, several Bronx LGBT leaders, including myself, congregated at PeaceLove Cafe to speak to the Mott Haven Herald on the same topic as well.  Check out, yet, another informative piece on LGBT issues of the Bronx.
A big Welcome2Melrose THANK YOU is in order for Gary Axelbank and everyone at BronxTalk for putting together a wonderful show and a wonderful panel of guests on such a serious and important topic.  The Bronx LGBT Community needs all the support we can get as well as outlets to let our voices be heard and what a better place than on BronxTalk.