Exclusive: BOOM! Studios Announces ‘Lumberjanes’ and ‘Gotham Academy’ Crossover Series

Ever since its debut just under a year ago, BOOM! Studios’ series Lumberjanes has stayed at the vanguard of comics. Often described as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls,Lumberjanes chronicles the adventures of five young women who are bunkmates at a “Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types.” (There’s definitely some Adventure Time flavor in there, too.)

The forest outside their camp contains supernatural mysteries, but — like many stories about teens encountering mystical adversaries — the Lumberjanes’ most important struggles are internal. They’re diverse in every sense of the word: Several of the girls are queer and mixed-race, one comes out as trans, and all of them offer complex versions of being a teen that comics (and media generally) routinely deny girls. It’s not surprising that the series is up for a GLAAD Media Award this year — or that it’s a bestseller.

All of this means the Village Voice is incredibly excited to offer the exclusive announcement that this summer, Lumberjanes will get a six-issue crossover series with Gotham Academy, DC Comics’ story of boarding school students set in the darkness of Gotham.

It’s a natural fit: Both series follow an ensemble cast of young characters as they grapple with normal teenage stuff (love, tragedy, identity) and the kind of stuff that most teens will never have to face, like yetis (Lumberjanes) and Batman’s nemesis Killer Croc (Gotham Academy). The limited series is written by Chynna Clugston-Flores (Blue Monday) and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (Lumberjanes).

This is BOOM!’s first-ever crossover, and it’s quite a way to start. Peep the full cover art by Mingjue Chen below, and look out for the series when it debuts in June 2016.



NYC Enacts Styrofoam Ban; World Does Not End

On July 1 New York implemented a controversial citywide ban on Styrofoam. Pursuant to Local Law 142 of the city’s administrative code, the new policy does away with single-serve foam cups, beach coolers, takeout containers — even those pesky packaging peanuts. Because these items can’t be recycled, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office estimates the ban will remove up to 30,000 tons of annual waste from landfills and waterways.

Sounds like something we can all get behind, right?

Not exactly.

A coalition called Restaurant Action Alliance NYC, along with the American Chemistry Council lobbying group, opposed the ban when it was proposed by de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, in 2013. In April of this year, Restaurant Action Alliance NYC sued the city, arguing, among other things, that Styrofoam (a/k/a polystyrene foam, a/k/a E.P.S.) is indeed recyclable.

Some of the city’s smaller restaurants, meanwhile, worry that the new law might threaten their very existence.

But at the overwhelming majority of eateries around town, Wednesday was business as usual. “Many restaurants currently use sustainable food containers, or at a minimum have transitioned to non-foam containers prior to the ban taking effect,” points out Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, a local trade group. “For those restaurants who haven’t, we’ve connected them with experts to discuss alternate packaging options that will hold the quality of their food.”

Businesses that were late to catch on are likely to see an adverse impact on their bottom line, at least initially. “There will certainly be an increase in cost for restaurants that need to change their containers,” concedes Rigie. “So there’s always a chance their customers may see a slight increase in menu prices.”

How much of an increase? Grace Best, marketing director of Imperial Bag & Paper Co., tells the Voice that the hurt depends on “the option they choose and whether the business is switching a cup, plate, or hinged container. There are roughly three different types of foam alternatives that we can provide,” Best says, estimating the average cost increase at anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent.

In a press release ushering in the ban, de Blasio pointed out that “if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and will cost less.”

Rigie notes that the city included a “hardship exemption” for nonprofits and businesses with less than $500,000 a year in revenue. There’s also a six-month grace period that gives all businesses until January 1, 2016, to comply with the ban. After that, violations are punishable by fines. (According to the city, for the first year of the ban, businesses will be issued a warning in lieu of a fine.)

It all seems reasonable to the businesses that were in compliance long before the ban was enacted. “You can’t survive unless you’re using a product that’s detrimental to society? I think that’s a weak argument,” contends Ross Smirnoff, counter manager at Dizzy’s Diner in Park Slope. Although a large portion of Dizzy’s profit comes from takeout, Smirnoff says, the eatery always resisted Styrofoam. “Adapt or die,” he says. “New York City isn’t going to miss you.”


Pommes Frites Owners Crowdfunding for a New West Village Spot

When Suzanne Levinson and her partner Omer Shorshi were looking for a new space for their destroyed Pommes Frites restaurant, Levinson knew they’d found it when she looked around MacDougal Street. The feel and look of the tiny street in the shadow of New York University, she says, reminded her of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

“It just looks like a mini Bourbon Street,” Levinson tells the Village Voice. “What better place for Pommes Frites to move to than that? It just had the right feel, the right traffic because it has the students and the tourists there as well that used to come to our store on Second Avenue.”

After months of inactivity, in which the pair dealt with the fallout from the East Village gas explosion that destroyed the building housing the restaurant and two other buildings nearby, Pommes Frites is slowly inching toward an opening date this fall. It has now set up a fundraising page at Indiegogo and hopes the response from the community will help Levinson and Shorshi raise $64,000 toward new kitchen equipment for the space.

This is the second fundraising effort the pair has engaged in. The first one netted $2,500 but Levinson says they weren’t comfortable taking donations without the ability to give anything back. This way, she says, customers will be able to engage with the shop and support it at the same time.

“Opening a restaurant in New York is very, very hard,” Levinson tells the Voice. “And now we’re basically starting from scratch. We had such an amazing response from the community when the store was destroyed that we hope they will support us through this once again.”

Rebuild Pommes Frites from LaunchPack Team on Vimeo.

The store at 128 MacDougal Street is about 300-square feet bigger than the old hole-in-the-wall on Second Avenue. Levinson says she’ll now be able to customize and build the space up in an old-world European way, which they weren’t able to do the last time around because of the space’s constricting 500 square feet. Now, she wants to design a bar and bring in some design elements that will mimic the Belgian-style she fell in love with.

As of Wednesday, the Indiegogo campaign had raised nearly $5,300 from 129 people. The contributions range from $6 for one order of regular frites to $10,000 for a two-hour party for 30 that includes unlimited frites, sauces, and drinks. So far, the most popular item seems to be the $10 contribution for a combo of frites, three sauces, and a soft drink. Nine people have opted for the $100 contribution, which includes ten orders of frites and an exclusive shop t-shirt. Those who contributed to the restaurant in the first fundraising effort will also receive these perks depending on their donations.

“In our eyes, the biggest tragedy from that day in March was for the families who were impacted, and they are always in our prayers” Levinson says. “It was a much smaller loss that our restaurant had to close. The response we received from our customers and friends after that day was completely overwhelming, and we knew we had to find a way to involve them in our reopening.”

Levinson has also filed for a wine and beer license — that hearing is set for July 14. Since the space will have about 20 to 25 seats, she hopes customers will be able to enjoy a Belgian ale with their order of frites. Right now, however, she says the focus is on rebuilding. They have estimated that the entire venture will cost about $367,500. The biggest cost, $175,000, will come from building the space, which Levinson says will include new plumbing, gas, and electrical work. The rest is split between equipment, rents, permits and leases, food inventory and other miscellaneous expenses.

“I had always dreamed of having a place closer to Washington Square Park, where visitors could take their cone of frites to sit down and relax,” Levinson says. “Now we’ll have that.”


While Diners Eat Small Plates, Bergen Hill Staff Takes a Bite Out of Crime

Whatever your opinion on the city’s recent crime statistics, it’s reassuring to know that some of New York’s kitchens have their diners’ backs, as was the case late Friday night at Bergen Hill (387 Court Street, Brooklyn; 718-858-5483,) the popular seafood-focused small plates restaurant in Carroll Gardens. According to Chef Andrew D’Ambrosi, a man entered the restaurant to use the bathroom and attempted to walk out with a patron’s wallet. Before the man could make his way to the door, kitchen staff apprehended the would-be burglar and confiscated the wallet. D’Ambrosi thanked his staff on Facebook, and tells the Voice that staff released the thief once they recovered the wallet, adding, “The police came later as it happened, so fast the staff had no time to call. I’m assuming a bystander or customer made that call.”

D’Ambrosi is busy getting ready to open two new venues: tiki-inspired Mother of Pearl, and a vegan restaurant called Avant Garden, both slated to open within the next few months.



It’s Official: New York City Is the Best Place to Eat in the World

New Yorkers, stand proud: Three of the city’s restaurants made the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, announced yesterday. Which proves New York is the best city in which to eat in the whole world.

If we extend geographic boundaries to include Blue Hill Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York has a total of four entries on the list. That’s the same number as France — all of France — and one more than the peninsula of Italy. Japan has just two.

The list, first compiled in 2002 by London-based Restaurant magazine, is not without controversy, however. Some fair-minded people got together this year in protest. Occupy 50 Best argues the list is basically sexist, elitist, and the opposite of transparent in its voting methods.

Whether you buy into the drama or not, and no matter how seriously you want to take these rankings, it’s still a great time to be dining out in New York City.

Quail egg crostini at Eleven Madison Park
Quail egg crostini at Eleven Madison Park

Coming in at No. 5 is Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Avenue; 212-889-0905), the top-ranking American restaurant on the list. OK, so it was No. 4 last year, but chef Daniel Humm picked up a Chef’s Choice Award too, which helps mitigate the drop.

Le Bernardin (155 West 51st Street; 212- 554-1515) climbed in the rankings, from No. 21 to No. 18. Celebrations are in order for Eric Ripert, if he’s not too cool to throw his hands in the air.

Per Se (10 Columbus Circle; 212-823-9335) dropped from No. 30 to No. 40, but stays on the list. Per Se’s ranking has tumbled in recent years; its high point came back in 2013, when it reached No. 11. But it still rates higher than Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, and bonus — you can actually get a table at Per Se, with a little forethought.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns (630 Bedford Road, Tarrytown; 914-366-9600), not quite within city limits, made its debut, sneaking right in at No. 49. Congratulations to chef Dan Barber.

On the longer list (it goes up to 100), last year’s No. 40, Daniel (60 East 65th Street, 212-288-0033), dropped down to No. 80, part of a general downtrend that saw Jean-Georges, Momofuku Ssäm, and Marea drop off the list altogether. Nomad (67), Momofuku Ko (69), and Masa (94) retained spots.

Newcomer Estela (47 East Houston Street; 212-219-7693) broke through big time at No. 90.


Jimmy’s No. 43 Is Back in Business After Explosion

The East Village explosion that leveled Sushi Park and Pommes Frites also temporarily shuttered a number of surrounding businesses, including a pair of our favorite diners, B&H Dairy and Stage Restaurant, and craft-beer stalwart Jimmy’s No. 43 (43 East 7th Street, 212-982-3006). We get word now that Jimmy’s just got the final OK from the health department and is open, just in time for the weekend.

Jimmy’s owner Jimmy Carbone tells us the spot will serve a limited menu of go-to dishes, including beef sliders, shishito peppers, cheese plates, and fries. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi and phones are still down in the restaurant, so the credit card machines are not working, nor is the ATM. Be sure to bring cash to pay for food and drinks.

“Mostly, we want to thank all the first responders and the many people who have shown support for us these past two weeks: FDNY, the Office of Emergency Management, NYC Small Business Services, and all the patrons, who we invite to come in and celebrate our reopening,” Carbone told us in an email.

Carbone also noted that nearby craft-beer bars Standings and Burp Castle are reopening tonight as well, but that Enz’s Vintage Store, which he calls “the original punk rock shopping spot,” remains closed.

You can support the small businesses affected by this disaster by joining Jeremiah Moss’s Small Biz Crawl for the Second Ave. Explosion Mom-&-Pop Survivors; the creator of Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York is leading people to Gem Spa, Himalayan Visions, B&H Dairy, Paul’s Da Burger Joint, Bar Virage, Hot Kitchen, San Marzano, Via Della Pace, the New Yorkers Foodmarket, Café Mocha, and the Enz’s East Village pop-up store at 103 Allen Street on the Lower East Side. Stops are subject to change; you can RSVP on Facebook.



Jersey City’s The Merchant Has Shuttered, Reopening in December as Park & Sixth 3.0

In downtown Jersey City, expiring leases and expansion plans have lately made an impact along Grove Street’s original restaurant row south of Newark Avenue. Hard Grove Cafe is currently relocating to a storefront on Newark Avenue’s pedestrian plaza; the former Bar Majestic is now home to Razza, one of New Jersey’s top-ranked pizzerias; and its neighbor, The Merchant, shuttered on Saturday night after 12 years of service. That last space is scheduled to reopen in early December as the third home of chef and restaurateur Brian Dowling’s original Park & Sixth (364 Grove Street, Jersey City; 201-918-6072), the first version of which opened in 2009 at its titular Hoboken cross-street.

“Dave, the owner, moved to Australia, and his sister Ann-Marie was looking after the place. They were ready,” Dowling says of the amicable transaction. “I didn’t want any animosity, I don’t want to lose their customers. It’ll be a nice transition.”

That transition means mostly aesthetic changes to the space at 279 Grove Street, where renovations began yesterday. Once he gets approval from the state for acquisition of The Merchant’s liquor license (expected anytime between mid-November and mid-December), Dowling will close the 364 Grove restaurant and focus on furnishing the new two-story address with pieces of his growing collection of classic American advertising, vintage telephones, and subway signs. When the doors open, even bigger changes will be under way.

Park & Sixth owner Brian Dowling, upon opening of his first Jersey City Park & Sixth location
Park & Sixth owner Brian Dowling, upon opening of his first Jersey City Park & Sixth location

Park & Sixth 3.0 will be open seven days week, and while the new space will, in time, continue to churn out classic burgers like the half-pound Beast, and sandwich specials like the Cuban Havana and meatloaf Bat Out of Hell, for takeout and delivery, a larger kitchen means a more ambitious menu.

“Once I got the liquor license, then I wanted to explore,” Dowling says of his restaurant’s continuing evolution. “I’m not a restaurant chef — I never owned one, never worked in one before, and I wanted to see what I can do.” That means a mix of classic dishes that made him, like his fresh mozzarella, and Philly cheesesteak rolls, but also new entrees like a double-cut pork chop, dry-aged NY strip, and a cioppino with locally sourced fish. To whittle down the forthcoming menu, he has plans to test new dishes as specials at the Park & Sixth Gastropub (247 Washington Street, Jersey City; 201-630-4184) over the next several weeks.

While the larger venue also means the possibility of entertainment, like the jazz brunch and bluegrass nights the gastropub currently hosts, it’ll still be all about the food.

Pieces from Dowling's collection of classic Americana set to decorate the walls of the former Merchant space.
Pieces from Dowling’s collection of classic Americana set to decorate the walls of the former Merchant space.

“We’re a restaurant first,” says Dowling. “I don’t want to be known as a bar, but I have a restaurant that has a bar. I don’t want a crazy late-night crowd, with DJs and pulling the tables, deterring people by becoming a loud scene at night. We’ll be open till midnight and a little later on weekends, but no 3 a.m. craziness. Nothing good happens at 3 a.m.”

He also addressed another pressing neighborhood concern, the recent petition circulated by the owner of Two Boots pizzeria, Aaron Morrill, seeking to eject food trucks and other stalls selling prepared foods at the farmers’ market that operates outside the Grove Street PATH Station.

“I signed the petition but I think I was misrepresented,” Dowling says. “I support the downtown association, Groove on Grove, I pay every year for the vending booths — the farmers’ market’s great. I just don’t like that somebody can come in with a truck, in front of a restaurant that takes the risk. We pay the rent, the taxes — somebody who buys a permit can come in from Bayonne and park their truck, and that was my problem. And I made that perfectly clear.”

Ultimately, however, Dowling’s satisfied with the state of his competition downtown.

“I’ve been here so long now,” Dowling says of the downtown dining scene. “I’ve heard ‘The renaissance is coming, coming, coming,’ and now it’s here. The weak will perish and the strong will survive.”



Breaking: Chef Ilan Hall Brings Knife Fight to Brooklyn

Former Top Chef champion Ilan Hall made waves in the Brooklyn dining scene earlier this summer, opening his restaurant, the Gorbals (98 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, 718-387-0195), to positive reviews. Now he’s bringing his show, Knife Fight, to Williamsburg as well.


The polarizing chef’s program has been a major draw on the year-old Esquire Network. Each episode pits a pair of notable contestants against one another in his kitchen. A unique set of ingredients are introduced at the start, which must be incorporated into at least three dishes, cooked within a specified time limit.

Formerly shot in Hall’s original Los Angeles Gorbals location, Knife Fight now makes the shift to his new digs, hidden away atop Space Ninety 8 on North 6th and Wythe. Filming begins in the middle of the month, with several prominent names from the land of celebrity chefs stepping up to the plate for a new tournament style of competition. Expected contestants are Bryan Voltaggio, Joey Campanaro, Dale Talde, Richard Kuo, Edi Frauneder, and Wolfgang Ban. And look for judging appearances from Kris Morningstar and Naomi Pomeroy.

The new season, which will include 16 episodes, premieres in January, 2015, on the Esquire Network.


Breaking: Pastis Will, Indeed, Be Forced to Relocate

When Keith McNally indicated he’d have to close Pastis (9 Ninth Avenue) for a long remodel, rumors began swirling almost immediately that the restaurant titan would have to relocate the eatery. For his part, McNally remained steadfast that he’d reopen on the spot as soon as construction was finished.

But now we get word that he will, indeed, have to move.

McNally’s team tells us, “At the moment, it doesn’t look like Pastis will go back into that building (9 Ninth Avenue).”

We’re waiting on a statement from McNally himself, and we’ll update this story when we have it.

Pastis made a major impact on the Meatpacking District over it’s 15-year tenure in the neighborhood, drawing celebrities and gastronauts to a once-underdeveloped part of the city.

We dug into the changing restaurant rent landscape in this week’s Village Voice; head to our story to read about what’s driving the shift.



Breaking: At Long Last, Sarge’s Deli Rises From the Ashes

Sarge’s Deli (548 Third Avenue, 212-679-0442), the beloved 24-hour Jewish deli/diner hybrid in Murray Hill, is finally reopening its doors at 11 a.m. tomorrow, Thursday, March 6, nearly a year and a half after a fire tore through the space in November of 2012.

This 50-year-old neighborhood institution has less name recognition than Katz’s and Second Avenue Deli, but insiders know the pastrami here is just as moist — and the wait times are half as long.

Owner Andrew Wengrover says that while there are some small updates to the menu — like fresh strawberry and blueberry compote for the blintzes — the classics remain largely unchanged, including the Monster, a sandwich the deli proclaims is “New York’s Largest,” a compilation of corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, turkey, salami, sliced tomato, lettuce, cole slaw, and Russian dressing on thickly cut rye.

We recommend the massive homemade cheese blintzes, which are stuffed with a secret three-cheese blend and fried in butter for a crispy exterior that you can’t find anywhere else.

We’ve missed you, Sarge’s. Glad to have you back.