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Monday, August 30, 2010

Meet Your Local Bronx Bloggers!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 31st at 6:30PM join Clarisel Gonzalez of Puerto Rico Sun Communications as well as Bronx Latino and Welcome2Melrose at PeaceLove Cafe as we celebrate Blogger's 11th Anniversary with the first ever Bronx Blogger Fiesta!  
The Bronx Blogger Fiesta will be a meet and greet mixer with great networking opportunities.  Entertainment will provided by none other than The Scheme, a great band self-described as, "6 men, 1 woman from all walks of life...with a collective soul."
Bronx Bloggers scheduled to be in attendance are (in no particular order):
Lance Rios, Being Latino
Nicole Perrino, Bronx Mama
Mike Callender, BronxMedia
Anthony Ramirez, II, From The Bronx
and many more!

Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Time: 6:30PM
Location: PeaceLove Cafe
617 Melrose Avenue
Between E 151st and E 152nd Streets
Bronx, NY 10455
2/5 express trains to 3rd Avenue/149th Street

Friday, August 20, 2010

Melrose Milestones - PeaceLove Cafe Celebrates First Year Anniversary

On a hot, summer day a year ago, I was walking up Melrose Avenue on my way home when I stumbled upon something strange and unfamiliar in Melrose and the South Bronx in general - a cafe.  Of course, having lived in Manhattan for sometime down in the East Village as well as Kips Bay, this made me quite excited for this was one of those amenities I took for granted living downtown.  

Who dared to dream so bold as to open not only a cafe but the FIRST healthy cafe in all of the Bronx?  It was Darada David.  It soon became a love affair being able to walk down one block and sit down for a cup of organic coffee or tea or knosh on some of her great dishes like Turkey, Avocado and Swiss Cheese Sandwiches, amazing and hearty soups like shrimp and salmon or simply the best Sweet Potato Pie this side of the Harlem River.

However, Ms. David didn't simply stop at just offering healthy food.  She wanted to nourish not just the body but the mind and soul as well which is why PeaceLove opened up as a jazz cafe where you can sit down and listen to live music Fridays and Saturdays and also grab a mic and participate in the poetry slams which take place on Thursdays.

Since the opening of PeaceLove, it has become a local gathering place for people looking for an alternative to the unhealthy fast food options which overflow our neighborhoods.  The atmosphere is always very relaxed and a change from the hustle and bustle of the street and Darada's welcoming smile makes walking in that much better.

A big HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to PeaceLove Cafe and may you have many, many more!

PeaceLove Cafe is located at:
617 Melrose Avenue
Between E151st and E152nd Streets
Bronx, NY
2/5 express train to 3rd Avenue/149th Street
walk up 2 blocks!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Update: Health Department Report On Closing of Popular Restaurant, Giovanni's

Last week we reported one of the most popular restaurants in the area, Giovanni's, had been closed by the Department of Health.  While on site, I asked several managers what was the reason that they were closed down and their answers ranged from, "...something broke in the kitchen" to "There is a gas leak and we got shut down."  The real reason is what can only be described as a gross lack of sanitary conditions in such a popular restaurant.  

According to New York City's Department of Health website the following violations were present at the time of inspection resulting in a whopping 78 violation points which resulted in the closing of Giovanni's:

Violations from 08/12/2010 Inspection
Tip! "Critical" violations are displayed in red.
Violation points: 78

Establishment Closed by DOHMH. Violations were cited in the following area(s) and those requiring immediate action were addressed.

Sanitary Violations
1) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2) Food Protection Certificate not held by supervisor of food operations.
3) Raw, cooked or prepared food is adulterated, contaminated, cross-contaminated, or not discarded in accordance with HACCP plan.
4) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
5) Live roaches present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
6) Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
7) Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
8) Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
9) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
10) Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained and/or not properly sealed, raised, spaced or movable to allow accessibility for cleaning on all sides, above and underneath the unit.
11) Other general violation.

Administrative Violations
1) Manufacture of frozen dessert not authorized on Food Service Establishment permit.


As you can clearly see from the above excerpt straight from NYC's DOHMH website, it was clearly not a "gas leak" as reported by one of the unidentified managers.  

Clean your act up, Giovanni's!  I wonder what Carmen Arroyo and other local elected officials who are constantly seen eating there think about this???

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rainbow Triumphs Even Through The Clouds and Rain

The sporadic rain showers weren't enough to keep members of the Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered and Bisexual community of the Bronx from showing their colors yesterday.  Sunday, August 15th, Bronx Community Pride Center, which is located in Melrose on East 149th Street between Brook and Bergen Streets, celebrated the annual Bronx Pride event this time at the beautiful Crotona Park.

Family and friends enjoyed a variety of entertainment by the lake including acts by 1980's Freestyle legend, Safire who had the crowd dancing, Bronx spoken word artist, Simply Rob of El Grito de Poetas, and drag sensation, Sahara Davenport a former contestant on the hit LOGO show, Ru Paul's Drag Race just to name a few.

The show was hosted by the lovely Appolonia Cruz and statuesque Tyra Allure and local Bronx politicians were on hand to offer inspiring words of support including in no particular order, Congressman Jose E. Serrano, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr, NYS Senators Jose M. Serrano (son of the congressman) and Ruth Hassell-Thompson.  Even our own proud LGBT member, New York City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn was present to receive an award from Bronx Pride Community Center for her never-ending hard work on issues important to all New Yorkers including the LGBT Community.  Assembly District Leader (80th A.D) Kenny Agosto, the first ever openly gay politician from the Bronx was also on hand to enjoy the day's celebration.

This pride was also special as Dirk McCall,  of BCPC, celebrated his first Bronx Pride as Executive Director of the center.  He recently took the reigns and is working hard along with all the staff of BCPC to make sure that the LGBT community of the Bronx and their needs are served.  Over the next few months, keep your eye on Bronx Community Pride Center for many positive changes to come which with through the great work of Deputy Executive Director David Matthews on the team as well will put the Bronx on the map yet again.

A big Welcome2Melrose THANK YOU to Bronx Community Pride Center for making Bronx Pride 2010 the best one yet!  Keep up the great work!
Bronx Borough President, Ruben Diaz, Jr. with NYS Senator Jose M. Serrano and Congressman Jose E. Serrano

Bronx Academy of Art and Dance

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekend of Wellness Begins Today in Melrose

Starting today, My Wellness Solutions, a new holistic and wellness center, is celebrating a "Weekend of Wellness".  According to a press release it is, "the first holistic and wellness center of its kind in the Bronx..." and they are committed to assisting in improving the overall health of the community.  

"Now opened for 2 months in the HUB area of the Bronx, we have witnessed dozens of Bronx residents improve their health with the natural health services offered by My Wellness Solutions," says center owner, Indhira V. Santana and to date by far the most popular package, "is the Weight Loss Package which includes a series of Colon Hydrotherapy treatments."

My Wellness Solutions also features a Juice Therapy Bar and a variety of organic foods along with many natural and herbal supplements.  The center itself is not to be missed as architect, Bryon Russell of Syndicate Group of Companies did a pretty impressive job of making sure the space was something different than the norm giving you the feeling that you've entered a place that was well-thought out and a labor of love.

Make sure you stop by today or any time this weekend and get your complimentary 30 minute Ionic Foot Detox - a $30 value!  While you're there, take a look around at all the products and services which they offer including body work such as Exfoliating Glow, Aromatherapy Meltdown and Anti-Stress Therapy.

A big WELCOME 2 MELROSE to My Wellness Solutions, Indhira Santana and her staff!

My Wellness Solutions is located at 
3044 Third Avenue Between 156th and 157th Streets
Bronx, NY 10451

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Local Restaurant Shut Down By The Department of Health

Welcome2Melrose received the tip from local Concourse resident, William C., that Giovanni's restaurant - a local favorite Italian eatery at 579 Grand Concourse and East 150th street, was shut down by the Department of Health.
A walk over to the popular bar and restaurant did indeed the show that the gates had come down and that the DOH had placed the bright yellow, "CLOSED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH" stickers of death on two of the restaurant's entrances.  When two different individuals were asked why they were shut down, two very different answers were given.  One older gentleman did try to block me from taking a picture of the signs and he also claimed that "something" had broken in the kitchen.  Another man at the entrance on the Concourse simply stated that they were shut down because of a "gas leak".  Now we all know that Con Edison would have been on the scene not the Department of Health.

According to New York City's Department of Health website, the last inspection of Giovanni's was on 8/2/2010 and were cited for 3 violations for a total of 17 violation points.  2 of the 3 violations were considered critical and highlighted by red text which read as follows:
Sanitary Violations
1) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
Once a restaurant has been inspected by DOH and have received several critical violations, inspectors will return to see if the situation has been remedied which leaves one to wonder what else did they find upon their second visit?  Busboys and staff were scrambling inside vacuuming and cleaning up the restaurant but as I got closer to take a picture, the gates were lowered.

Comments anyone?  

With Little Fanfare, Boricua Village's Residences at Northrose Are Open

In what has been one of the Bronx's most anticipated residential construction project, Boricua Village is now welcoming its first residents at the Northrose, the project's 400 luxury, middle-income apartments.  According to the leasing office, the new residents have been moving in slowly over the past couple of weeks, however, the mega-project is still far from complete.  There are several buildings still under construction, the interior public and private gardens are not anywhere near completion and none of the retail spaces have yet to be filled.  
On the other note, Boricua College has begun filling in their new sparkling, 14 story tower with classes scheduled to begin this fall.  
Anyone living there yet care to make a comment on the building and apartments?  Are the promised amenities completed?
Great kitchen space...tons of cabinets

Modern bathroom with glass tile backsplash and wainscotting

Still under construction, this building sits behind Boricua College

Boricua College 99% complete

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

From Urban Blight to Urban Bright

The New York Post has declared that the, "Bronx is Burning, but in a different way" echoing what we already knew and what the BoogieDowners have been saying for a long time.  Check out what they have to say regarding our lovely neighbors on the Concourse bordering Melrose to the West.  Another great reason why Melrose and the general area is a great place to live!