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

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 Is Now Officially Open!!!

Thanks go Google's blogger for hosting our blog for all this time however we have now officially made the transition over to our own site so make sure you go to: from now on!
Once again, we will no longer be updating this site and will be officially moving to: effectively immediately!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Pic of the Day - Old Melrose Beauty

After 18 years abandoned and distressed, this landmark Melrose mansion has been restored and is once again occupied.   More info coming very soon on this property and its history - past, present and future plans.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day From Melrose!

This morning we were treated to the sounds of bagpipes and a small mini processing courtesy of FDNY Division 6, Engine 71/Ladder 55 down Melrose Avenue to 149th Street as they escorted their fellow brothers who will be marching in today's St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan.  Residents quickly took out their cell phones, snapping pictures with shouts of "We love you FDNY, God Bless!"
It was a truly a wonderful surprise to hear out one's windows.
A big Welcome2Melrose THANK YOU to our local FDNY Firefighters who put their lives in danger to protect us every day!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Tree of Knowledge Grows In Melrose

Melrose (as is the rest of the South Bronx) is a literary wasteland.  Why?  Because big name stores like Barnes and Noble, refuse to open stores in the neighborhood claiming, in not so harsh words, that we're too stupid and poor to support a store.  Yet, local residents have to either trek to Bay Plaza, Westchester or Manhattan to get their book fix on.  

Enter Coqui Mexicano, the local Puerto Rican and Mexican fusion shop which is more than just an eatery but a cultural gem of Melrose.  Danisha Nazario, the coqui half of Coqui Mexicano and local resident and homeowner was frustrated at the lack of such basic services like bookstores.  Out of this frustration came a true labor of love:  A free literary project which provides residents with an opportunity to browse hundreds of books and take what they like - for free.  

Coqui Mexicano is a registered member of a project called BookCrossing which is a self-described "World Library".  It is the social network of books.  You can create an account, register a book and "release" it into the wild.  Through BookCrossing you can track your donated book and its journeys, reviews, etc. (pretty much like the project of dollar bills).

To date, Coqui Mexicano has contributed over 500 books as part of this free community library since they began in January of 2009 and in these harsh economic times, a penny earned is a penny saved.
This is what Coqui Mexicano has to say about this endeavor: 

"On top of wanting to own a business for the first time, we also wanted to make a difference in the neighborhood. Reading should not be a luxury and that is why we have started a bookcrossing in our establishment. Books can be expensive and during these hard times....why should we not learn how to share with each other, learn from each other, enjoy each other, and interact with each other?

We wanted a business that offered fresh food, culture, cleanliness,music, and a spot where people from different cultures, different ethnicities, differnet walks of life, different social circumstances felt comfortable enough to come together and interact with each other with the hopes that eventually we can all see that we have more in common with each other than we have differences.
We got obsessed with the particular location we are in now. The previous owner just didn't care about anything and it showed! We felt it just dragged down the whole surrounding area which has had a bad reputation for many years with no one to prove that reputation otherwise. The area cried for VIDA and that's what we wanted to contribute to it....VIDA!

Because we are humble people of the neighborhood who are of meager means......what we can offer at our establishment at this moment is very is clean....and it is fresh.

We hope that with your help we can get on our feet and expand to realize this dream!"
-from Coqui Mexicano's profile on BookCrossing.

So if you're in the mood for some good books, check out their collection by either going to the store (and don't forget to try their scrumptious food) or you can simply go to their profile on bookcrossings and browse the list from the comfort of your own home (sans guava cake, flan, flancocho, ricanized cous-cous or any of there dozens of tasty dishes).

Also,  before throwing out your books, please consider DONATING them to Coqui Mexicano so that they can in turn share them with those less fortunate at absolutely no cost.

Here's a big welcome2melrose THANK YOU for Coqui Mexicano's continued success in providing us with a quality establishment that gives back to our community.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dwight Hardy: A Diamond In The Rough

Not all stories that come out of the projects in Melrose are tragic ones that end in death or drug busts.
Dwight Hardy's is just that kind of story that shines like a beacon in the stormy seas of living in urban public housing in the poorest congressional district of the country.
Read more:
NYT: Dwight Hardy: From the Bronx t

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Celebration of Women Entrepreneurs in the Bronx

This coming Tuesday, March 8th please join us at PeaceLove Cafe as we celebrate Women's History Month with a panel discussion focusing on Bronx women entrepreneurs.  The panel discussion is part of a year long series of events hosted by The Bronx Entrepreneurs and Business Network, a local grassroots networking group.
See press release below for more info:

A Celebration of Women Entrepreneurs in the Bronx

The Bronx Entrepreneurs and Business Network, an independent grassroots networking group, will celebrate Women's History Month with a spotlight on women and Bronx entrepreneurs Tuesday, March 8th at the PeaceLove Cafe in Melrose. Free.

Press Release - Feb 28, 2011 - The Bronx Entrepreneurs and Business Network, an independent grassroots networking group, will celebrate Women's History Month with a spotlight on women and Bronx entrepreneurs Tuesday, March 8th at the PeaceLove Cafe in Melrose.

In these trying times with so many entrepreneurs and businesses struggling to stay in business, this event will feature a panel discussion on getting the most out of networking and referrals without having to spend a lot of money. Find out tips on choosing networking events that are best for you and your business. Learn strategies on using social media for your business effectively.

The event is 7-9 p.m. March 8 at the PeaceLove Cafe, 617 Melrose Ave. It is free and open to the public.

Clarisel Gonzalez, editor and publisher of PRSUN Communications, will moderate the panel.


Marcia Cameron, Bronx Women's Business Resource Center

Marcia Cameron is currently the Director of the Bronx Women’s Business Resource Center. This center seeks to empower women and minority entrepreneur by assisting them become economically independent through self-employment and is the only one located in the Bronx. Prior to joining the Women’s Center Ms. Cameron worked for both Wachovia Bank  and JPMorgan Chase Bank where she was responsible for the retention and acquisition of existing and new-targeted client segments. In both positions she earned awards and accolades from her employers.

A strong believer in giving back to her community she worked as a volunteer Literacy tutor at the New York Public Library and is  the Executive Director for the National Christian Chamber of Commerce Inc.

Ms. Cameron attended the University of Technology in Jamaica, where she earned a Degree in Electrical Engineering. She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Concordia College, a private Lutheran College in Bronxville, NY.

Cheryl Sanchez, The NetWorks Organization

Cheryl Sanchez is the Founder and CEO of TheNetWorks Organization and a consultant for a national radiology company. She is a graduate of Fordham University with a B.S. in Business Administration and an active member of the Fordham University Alumni Association as well as the Bronx Science Alumni Association and the Hudson Union Society. While looking for effective ways to network and market healthcare consulting services in 2005, Cheryl Sanchez learned that there was no one networking organization that could provide everything she was looking for. She subsequently established TheNetWorks (a play on words) as TheNetWorks Organization, LLC in 2006.

Roxanne Ferrance, Cake in a Cup

Cake in a Cup NY was founded in 2008 and has become one of the fastest growing cupcake and cake companies in the Bronx. The company customizes mouth-watering and decadent desserts, which are baked and delivered within 24 hours. The signature "Redds" is what really put us on the map. The business caters weddings, birthday celebrations, corporate events, baby showers and bridal showers too. Some of Cake in a Cup's past catering events included LaChanze book signing tea party for "Little Diva" and for Russell Simmons' Rush HeART Foundation luncheon.

Other highlights of the evening:

Featured artist of the night Cindy Casado aka Cindy SugaRush will perform.

Cindy is a budding & promising performer, passionately vocalizing her message through comedy, poetry, songs, writings of monologues, situations & real life experiences.

Comedian CindySugaRusH has been hard at work through out New York City's premiere comedy venues. In addition to her work as an artist, Cindy is also an entrepreneur of her own pet business.

Graphic artist Nina Cochran of CodeNYC has volunteered to take on the new logo project for the Bronx Entrepreneurs and Business Network. Many of Nina's work has an urban city edge to it.

Nina's mission is to spin-off urban themes by branding a mark to cover the 5 boroughs with cutting edge marketing and representation of City Life in all Advertising, Graphics and Promotions. Bronx Entrepreneurs and Business Network members are currently voting on the group's logo from a selection of designs by Nina.

About the venue:

PeaceLove Cafe, Darada David/proprietor

PeaceLove is a healthy food, music, Internet café. It is the first of its kind in the South Bronx. Darada David grew up in the South Bronx and decided to have her business here as a way of giving back and investing in the neighborhood. Darada believes that “healthy eating is so important for our community, for our world.” PeaceLove’s goal is to fill a lack of healthy choices. Darada promotes a “whole South Bronx Health Kick.”  At PeaceLove, patrons can relax to live Jazz while sipping on Organic Coffee/Tea and browsing the Internet. The three are inseparable. It looks like downtown uptown. Come by morning, or afternoon. Stop by Friday and Saturday evenings to hear some of the hottest live Jazz/ R&B musicians in New York or Thursday Poetry for a special treat. Visit, PeaceLove Café- Facebook.

Partners for this event are PRSUN Communications and the PeaceLove Cafe. To RSVP, go to

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

All African-American WWII Combat Unit Topic of Film Screening At PeaceLove Cafe

This Saturday, February 26th, join Italian filmmaker, Fred Kuwornu at PeaceLove Cafe for the free screening of 'Inside Buffalo'.  Inside Buffalo chronicles the story of the 92nd Buffalo Division, an all African-American segregated combat unit that fought in Italy during World War II.

Here's what the invite has to say:

Reconstructing for the first time an important piece of African American history and placing it within the context of Civil Rights history, the award-winning Inside Buffalo tells the story of the 92nd Buffalo Division, the all African American segregated combat unit that fought with outstanding heroism in Italy during World War II.
Called "Buffalo Soldiers," these men fought two wars at the same time: one against the Nazis, the other against racial discrimination. Those who survived found that their contributions went unnoticed upon their return to United Stated.
Director Fred Kuwornu, an Italian filmmaker of African heritage, finds little-known aspects of the story, including details of the friendships forged between African American soldiers and the Italian partisan fighters and villagers they liberated from fascist rule. It is a 2008 meeting with Spike Lee—who was shooting Miracle at St. Anna on location in Tuscany—that inspired Kuwornu to start this very personal voyage of discovery, culminating in the powerful documentary.
The last living African American soldier awarded the Medal of Honor in WWII, Vernon Baker, recounts vividly his wartime experiences and the heroism of his unit.
Film screening of the documentary and discussion with filmaker Fred Kuwornu.
Presented in collaboration with the and PeaceLove Cafe'.
Thank to support the Legacy of the 92nd Buffalo Soldiers Division in WWII and American Vets.

Visit Inside Buffalo website
PeaceLove Cafe'
617 Melrose Ave, between 151st and 152nd street, Bronx, NY
(347) 577 6397
Take the #2 or #5 train to 3rd Avenue 149th Street and walk 2 blocks to 617 Melrose Ave between 151st & 152nd Street
or Take the # 2,15,19,21,55 bus to the Hub Area.
Free Admission

Thursday, February 10, 2011

PeaceLove Cafe Hosts Bronx Social Media Week

Bronx Social Media Week was celebrated this past Tuesday, February 8th in Melrose and hosted at PeaceLove CafĂ© by Clarisel Gonzalez of PRSun Communications.  Panelists included an excellent representation of Bronxites such as  Mark Callendar of BronxMedia, Nicole Perrino, founder of Bronx Mama, BronxTalk's Gary Axelbank, and myself, founder and editor-in-chief of  Welcome2Melrose as well as Welcome2TheBronx and mynewyork.
Instead of boring you with my own personal details of the event and for the sake of trying to be as unbiased as possible, feel free to read more on the event by Shannon Lee Gilstad who attended the event and wrote about the evening from her own point of view.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Old Bronx Courthouse Hosts Most Exclusive Dinner of The Year


This past Saturday, the Old Bronx Courthouse in Melrose was open yet again.  This time it wasn't for a tour but for a special dinner for the First Annual Bronx Pipe Smoking Society.  The email invitation was quite simple:  Do not tell a soul of the event, dress code is to be "warm" formal (due to the lack of heat in the empty shell of a building), bring your favorite wine glass and arrive at 7PM SHARP.  Password to get in: Perique.  The fare?  Small game such as possum, fisher, muskrat, raccoon, beaver (yes...beaver...and raccoon).

I arrived at the old, grey landmarked beauty with 3 minutes to spare before show time.  Several other guests also began congregating at the gate all eager to get inside out of the cold - and into the cold again.  At exactly 7PM a gentleman came out to unlock the gate and welcome us to the event.  He asked that we simply follow the candles to the our destination.  As we made our way from the foyer and into the lobby we made a left and followed the trail of tea lights into a pitch black room.  The trail of lights led us to another room with tons of steel debris and a decrepit staircase lined with candles all the way to the top.  We braced ourselves for an awkward climb and within seconds we ascended into a large, cavernous chamber.

A long banquet table was set up to accommodate approximately 30 guests, candle lit and all.  Slowly but surely the guests began to arrive, many with dishes of the rather exotic menu.  Baron Ambrosia, our very own Bronx Culinary Ambassador, was the brainchild of this event and only someone like the Baron could pull this off.

The dishes were all prepared by various chefs and foodies with whatever game was trapped by Jim DeStephano, who the Baron became friends with at native american event.  It was very interesting to listen to the challenges the chef had to prepare something that they typically won't find at a local market further complicated by not having experience in preparing such dishes.  That, however, didn't stop them from creating quite the exquisite dishes.

The Raccoon Sexton, prepared by Julia Sexton, was deliciously sweet and was done as a confit of Adirondack raccoon with juniper berries, sage and rosemary served on a Balthezar baguette.  Rafael Mata Sr. owner of local Melrose Mexican restaurant, Xochimilco, made the Marta Pescadora Con Salsa De Guaje - fisher cooked with guajes and Chile morita served with chayotes over green rice.  Both of these dishes were particular hits.

These small mammals weren't the only exotic dishes on the menu.  In no particular order of exoticness were, Columbian Big Butt Ants (lightly pan-fried and pretty much tasted like popcorn), Dak Dae (a Thai dish of fried silk worm pupae) and last but definitely not least, Som Tum with Maengda which is a mixture of shredded green papaya, tomato, string beans and ground peanuts with giant water bugs.  Yes...water bugs.  And no...I did not try that last one.  I stopped at the Dak Dae which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Mostly everyone tried a little bit of each but there were a few, like myself, who were a little too squeamish to even consider trying the water bug dish.  All in all it was a great evening with great people, sharing stories of their experiences with exotic fare and if anything, we all basically learned how to survive in case of war or disaster.

I wonder what Baron Ambrosia will think of next?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Coqui Mexicano and PeaceLove Make It To am New York

Parranda @ Coqui Mexicano

The Scheme @ PeaceLove Cafe
In a recent article on "SoBro" in am New York (note to the readers:  Let's stick with the original names of our neighborhoods, i.e. Melrose, Mott Haven, Port Morris, etc) Coqui Mexicano and PeaceLove Cafe were noted amongst other local establishments as part of the "Artsy Side" of Melrose.  This is something we at welcome2melrose have come to known for quite some time and we are proud to know that the rest of NYC were let in on that very secret.
A big welcome2melrose CONGRATULATIONS to Darada David of PeaceLove and Diego and Danisha of Coqui Mexicano for making us proud!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Construction In Melrose Continues Despite A Weak Economy

Melrose continues to rise from the ashes of the 70's and 80's as construction is as active as ever.  With 6 developments under various stages of construction and 3 more developments for the very near future, Melrose is  definitely experiencing a construction boom like no other in the the Bronx and perhaps the rest of New York City.  Stay tuned for more information on these developments over the coming days as we bring you the latest on each site.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Duane Reade to Occupay Retail Space @ Boricua Village

Passing by Boricua Village the other day, I noticed that there was work going on at retail space of the corner building of Boricua Village at 163rd and 3rd.  One quick glance at the building permits showed that Duane Reade was occupying the entire corner.  One thing we don't have a shortage of in Melrose, other than banks which we have plenty of, are pharmacies.  They can be found in Melrose at least every 4 or 5 blocks so you're never far from one and judging by the size of this new addition to the neighborhood it seems to be a huge one.
Congratulations to Duane Reade on recognizing a need where 700 units are slowly being filled.  Let's see who else opens shop here over the next few months.