Be an Operator, Not a Hustler…and Other Tips for Business Success

BUSINESS OWNERS SHANE WELCH, FOUNDER OF SIXPOINT BREWERY in Red Hook, Matthew Tilden, founder of SCRATCHbread in Bed-Stuy and Charlie Sahadi, proprietor of Sahadi Importing Co. in Brooklyn Heights, showed their business scars and shared some hard-earned wisdom at a recent Brooklyn Public Library conversation, “Fantastic Food,” led by photographer Randy Duchaine, whose “Created in Brooklyn” exhibition of portraits inspired the series:

If the adjoining property comes up for sale, buy it.—Charlie Sahadi
Sahadi remembered this advice from his father when two buildings on Atlantic Avenue came up for sale in 1977 for what seemed, at the time, an impossibly astronomical price. “Owning your property is a very big plus. Landlords want to become your partner without doing the work. We scrimped and bought the buildings. Now when I look back at the price, of course, I feel as if we stole the property.”

“You have to innovate—adapt and change with the times,” says Charlie Sahadi (above). “Sahadi’s is an ingredients store, but then we opened a deli to show off what you can make with these ingredients.” Photograph © 2013 by Randy Duchaine

“You have to innovate—adapt and change with the times,” says Charlie Sahadi (above).
“Sahadi’s is an ingredients store, but then we opened a deli to show off what you can
make with all these ingredients.” Photograph by RandyDuchaine.com

When a cohort of producers grows up in a neighborhood, that’s good. —Shane Welch
“We all root for each other. If there’s only one place in a neighborhood, it might be hard to get people to come to you. But now in Red Hook you have roving bands of food tourists who make a day of it and stop at three or four places.” (Similarly, Sahadi talked about Trader Joe’s opening up near his store, which far from being a competitive threat, is introducing a whole new set of customers to Sahadi’s, he says, and helping make “downtown Brooklyn a foodie paradise.”)

“We knew Brooklyn would grasp what we were doing with beer,” says Shane Welch, front, with his Sixpoint Brewery crew. “And the mineral profile of the water here is virtually perfect for brewing.” Photograph © 2013 by Randy Duchaine

“We knew Brooklyn would grasp what we were doing with beer,” says Shane Welch, front, with his Sixpoint Brewery crew. “And the mineral profile of the water here is virtually perfect for brewing.” Photograph by RandyDuchaine.com

Don’t take yourself too seriously, but do serious work.—Matt Tilden
“Be humble. Work hard, focus on community betterment and sharing knowledge. A brand is a living breathing thing; for us, it’s a statement about food.”

Make the transition from hustler to operator—a perspective Tilden remembers Welch sharing with him over dinner one night.
Welch explains: “Everyone starts out hard-scrabble, hustling. But as you and the business grow and mature, you legitimize. Operators figure out how to get things done the right way. It can be poisonous if you remain a hustler. Say you do building without permits and then someone gets hurt. That could be the end of your business.”

Matt Tilden, founder of SCRATCHbread: “Brooklyn is approachable sophistication. It’s a family culture with an edge. I relate to raw and rustic.” Photograph © 2013 by Randy Duchaine

Matt Tilden, founder of SCRATCHbread: “Brooklyn is approachable sophistication.
It’s a family culture with an edge. I relate to raw and rustic.” Photograph by RandyDuchaine.com

Give people a good product, at a fair price, with good customer service.—Charlie Sahadi 
When Sahadi says, “Our customers become our friends,” you believe him if you’ve ever stepped inside his store. “Shopping with us has to be a pleasurable experience. We’re part of our customers’ lives. Otherwise, we’d just be another store on Atlantic Avenue.”

Can’t the City Make It Easier?

This is one they all could agree on. Regulations are one of the biggest threats to New York City small businesses, they said. You have to be on top of them, and there are hundreds of them—city, state, federal—and they seem to change almost hourly. Dept. of Agriculture, NYC Dept. of Health, Landmarks Preservation, Dept. of Buildings, the list goes on.

Yes, of course these owners value their customers’ safety and health. But can’t it be easier? A 2008 update to the NYC building code complicated everyone’s lives enormously, they report. Sahadi’s first planned a store renovation in 1999; they got all the approvals, but then decided to postpone construction when they bought a big warehouse in Sunset Park. By the time they were ready to build, the 2008 revision was in effect. “It drove us a little crazy to get all the right permitting,” says Sahadi, “especially since our buildings also come under the Landmark Preservation Commission.” He credits his son, Ron, and his daughter Christine with managing the project and getting it done.

A sole proprietor can find it overwhelming to manage the contracting, building and running back and forth to city offices for permitting while keeping the business going—not to mention staying on top of the regulatory changes. Shane Welch finds himself dealing with the Dept. of Homeland Security now, since the Tax and Trade Bureau, which governs the excise tax on beer, was swallowed up in it. Day-to-day, it’s a little like being nibbled to death by ducks. For instance, SCRATCHbread got a ticket recently because its benches were three feet further out than they were supposed to be—one of hundreds of details a business must keep track of. “Now don’t you think the inspector could simply have pointed it out?” Matt Tilden wondered. “I’d have been happy to move them.”

The “Created in Brooklyn” exhibit is on display at Brooklyn Public Library until August 31. The conversations continue in June and July, on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 pm: June 26, Design Crafts; July 10, Urban Adventures; July 17, Art & Music.

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Start-ups Aren’t for Sissies

Created in Brooklyn: Food and Drink Entrepreneurs Talk Shop 
Sharing their business stories: from left, Matthew Tilden of SCRATCHbread, Shane Welch of Brooklyn Brewery and Charlie Sahadi of Sahadi's

Sharing their business stories: from left, Matthew Tilden of SCRATCHbread, Shane Welch
of Sixpoint Brewery and Charlie Sahadi of specialty food retailer Sahadi’s.

ANY BUDDING ARTISANS IN THE AUDIENCE at a recent Brooklyn Public Library panel, “Fantastic Food,” would come away both sobered and heartened. Three business owners—Shane Welch, founder of Sixpoint Brewery, Matthew Tilden, founder of SCRATCHbread and Charlie Sahadi, proprietor of Sahadi Importing Co.—all shared disaster stories and cautionary tales but there they were, smiling happily about the businesses they ran, unanimous that they’d go through it all again in an instant.

The June 19th event was the first in a series of conversations the library has organized around an exhibition of portraits by photographer Randy Duchaine called “Created in Brooklyn,” which will be on display until August 31.

Photographer Randy Duchaine led the conversation.

Photographer Randy Duchaine, whose portraits inspired the conversation series.

Duchaine, who led the conversation, has evocatively captured dozens of Brooklyn makers and creators who “come here to live their dreams, express themselves, start a business and contribute to society through their talents,” as he puts it. “They represent…a sense of independence and the ability to stand on their own two feet and proudly say, ‘This is what it means to be an American in Brooklyn!’”

The lively interchange was followed—lucky us—by samples of the businesses’ artisanal breads, beers and Mediterranean appetizers. Here are some of the start-up war stories they shared:

Shane Welch, Sixpoint Brewery  “It’s hard to secure a commercial lease with no assets, no credit, no money. So we had to hard-scrabble it.” In 2004, he and a partner found an 800-square-foot garage to rent in Red Hook, not exactly ideal for a brewery and full of old equipment. “It was a junkyard really.” They cleaned it out and bought a couple of used tanks for a few hundred dollars at auction—one had been a dairy tank and another was rusted out. That one came with its own craft brew karma. It turned out it had been used originally by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in California and had probably literally worked its way to the East coast, being handed from hopeful brewer to brewer. “I have a background in chemistry so we made a solution that no living organism could survive. We emptied them, scrubbed them out, sanitized them, bleached them.”

Bright Side: Sixpoint just closed on the purchase of property next door and is establishing power cred in the red hot world of craft beer. It is on the brink of a big expansion, planning to build a new brewing facility to suit this time.

Charlie Sahadi, Sahadi Importing  “I was 23 when my father died suddenly. I’d been working in the business, but my father’s approach was, ‘Let me worry about the business, you take care of the customers.’ So when he died, I had no idea how to do certain things. ‘Where do we get the feta?’ I asked his partner. ‘I don’t know.’ ‘How about the olives?’ My father had been the dominant partner so all the details went with him.” Luckily, Sahadi was able to get in touch with a bookkeeper his father had used in the past, to come in and temp. She knew exactly where they bought the feta and a lot more besides, and her “temp” job has lasted 25 years.

Bright Side: Sahadi Importing has become an institution on Atlantic Avenue and is celebrating its 65th year in business. “You wake up and every day’s a challenge, but that’s what I love.” The store went through a recent renovation and expansion, overseen by his daughter Christine and son, Ron. Charlie Sahadi has justly earned the title of the Ambassador of Atlantic Avenue.

Matt Tilden, SCRATCHbread: “I was working as a chef 115 hours a week and wanted out. I kept thinking, I really don’t want to work somewhere where a pan gets thrown across the room because someone made a mistake. I answered an ad: ‘We have wood oven, you make bread’ and began moonlighting as a baker. I traded bread for rent; for a while I lived out of my car. Four years later, I wanted my own place. We raised a little money from selling at markets and Kickstarter. With no capital there are so many adjustments you have to make. You can’t always do things the way you would with proper funding. I got a friend to deposit money temporarily in my account so I could get approval for a lease. I staffed with interns, lots of interns.”

Bright Side: Everyone’s on payroll now. After doing a wholesale business with restaurateurs like the Union Square Hospitality Group of Danny Meyers, SCRATCHbread has refocused on its retail presence in Bed-Stuy. “We are all about being a conscious owner. Eating healthy is hard, I know that. When you put something in your body, it’s fuel. We like giving people good nourishment, caring for people. We play good music, focus on hospitality, something I’ve always admired about Danny Meyer.”

More, later, on some of the business tips they shared—and one thing they all agreed on. Plus a few of Randy Duchaine’s photographs.

Mark your calendar for the next conversations in Brooklyn Public Library’s “Created in Brooklyn” conversation series led by photographer Randy Duchaine. Held Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8 pm in June and July: Design Crafts, June 26, Urban Adventures, July 10 and Art & Music, July 17.

Photographs by Basia Hellwig

Correction: An earlier version gave an incorrect date for the Design Crafts “Created in Brooklyn” event. It takes place on June 26.

The Best of Brooklyn is outdoors this weekend, April 20 & 21

“What a strange thing! to be alive beneath cherry blossoms,” Kobayashi Issa.
CherryWatch Blossom Status Map for those of you who really want to know what's in bloom at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, is updated every weekday during the season. (Photograph, taken on Thursday by Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool.)

A cloudy Thursday at the Garden. (Photograph, Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool.)
CherryWatch Blossom Status Map is for those of us who really want to know what’s in bloom at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and is updated every weekday during the season.

content_borough_hall_skyscraper_croppedTake a Walk • Downtown Brooklyn Partnership recommends a self-guided Architectural Walking Tour that hits eleven gems from DUMBO to the Barclays Center. Two highlights: 1) near Borough Hall stop to admire the circa 1901 Beaux-Arts style Temple Bar Building; 2) at 365 Jay Street, view the Old Brooklyn Fire Headquarters, described by the NYC Landmarks Commission as one of the city’s best and most striking architectural compositions. With regular stops for snacks, drinks or lunch along the route, this can make an interesting day of discovery. Brooklyn Artisan suggests a start with Juliana’s in DUMBO, an iced coffee from Betty Bakery, and a pop into Ample Hills Creamery to end.

hotSauceExpoCapsaicin Alert • 1st annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo. With a claim that hot sauce production is one of the 10 fastest-growing industries in the U.S., the Hot Sauce Expo promises to have spicy food vendors, live music, fire breathers, eating challenges and contests and lots of tasting opps both local and beyond. Hot Sauce vendors include PuckerButt Pepper Company, Fort Mill, SC; NW Elixirs, Portland, OR; Evil Seed Sauce Company, Jacksonville, FL; lots more. East River State Park, Williamsburg. Saturday and Sunday, 10am-6pm.

Babydoll lambs with mom Ginger—how cute is this? (Photograph, Julie Larsen Maher © WCS)

How cute is this? At the Zoo, newborn Babydoll lambs pose with mom Ginger. (Photograph, Julie Larsen Maher © WCS)

Saturday
Business_Fair_2013

• If you need a reason to go to the park, the Prospect Park Fair, at the Bandshell could be it. Enjoy a great spring day and check out the activities and programs featuring a pop-up Audubon Center, tennis demonstrations, food trucks, and volunteering info. Specials from local businesses include The Great Googa Mooga, Brooklyn Cyclones, New York Guitar Academy, and several others. Sponsored by the Prospect Park Alliance. 11am-3pm.

• Before or after the Prospect Park Fair, you might want to stop by the Prospect Park Zoo and meet Kings County’s cutest duo, two babydoll lambs named Arthur and Brooklyn. Brother and sister, born in March to Ginger, may just unseat baby walrus Mitik as the sweetest faces in the borough.

wyckoff-garden• Maypoles, horse shoes, hydroponic gardens • Wyckoff Farmhouse, NYC’s oldest house, holds a Spring Fling: A Celebration of Spring’s Traditions. English country and contra dances led by renowned caller Tom Amesse, folklore tales by storyteller Robin Bady, carnival games, crafts, and more. Sustainable Flatbush (see Sunday, below) will demonstrate the solar hydroponic garden system being installed on premises, while the the house itself will also be on tour. Flatbush. 1pm-6pm.

Magpies caption goes here

On Church Avenue: Magpies poptarts won’t ruin anyone’s appetite.

Sunday

Meet the neighbors • While shopping at the Church Avenue Street Fair, grab a bite at the Pop-Up Picnic Plaza that includes $1 specials from neighborhood eateries Lark, Am-thai, Shayna’s and more. Belly dancing demos, on-site animal adoptions, a children’s concert, make-up and hair styling discounts, and Magpies homemade poptarts are all part of the fun. Prospect Park South. 12pm-6pm.

sustFlatFor a greener thumb • Grassroots organization Sustainable Flatbush and community-owned Flatbush Food Coop have paired up to sponsor a Spring Plant Swap. Trade perennials and other plants, meet and learn from other gardeners, get help starting your garden. At the Flatbush Food Coop, Ditmas Park. 12pm-3pm.

Earth Day at Brooklyn’s largest park • The Brooklyn Dance Ensemble performs Earth Dances at the Salt Marsh Nature Center. As a perfect backdrop to today’s celebration, these 530 acres of grassland and salt marsh are considered a birdwatcher’s paradise. In NYC, the Salt Marsh Nature Center is protected as a Forever Wild Preserve. In addition to the dance performance, Roman “Red Hawk” Perez will perform Native American drumming and narratives. Marine Park. 2pm.

Familiar turf • Zip through the borough courtesy of the Brooklyn Brewery Mash:

2todoNOTEJoy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists. Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn for March 7 through March 10

Events sell out fast…sign up, buy tickets, reserve…don’t miss out.
Brooklyn Arts Council, Larry Racioppo, Silver Mermaid, 2002 C-print, 20" x 24")

Larry Racioppo, Silver Mermaid, 2002 C-print. Thursday evening opening reception for Sea Drift, a new show at Brooklyn Arts Council. Part of Armory Arts Week, see below.

Local and Beyond: food, gardens, environment
windflower farm caption

An early-season scene from Windflower Farm.

Thursday Park Slope CSA membership orientation for the 2013 season. Learn about the benefits of membership in a Community Supported Agriculture partnership. The Park Slope CSA’s deadline for the 2013 season is April 19, and you can sign up for full or part shares of deliveries by Farmer Ted from Windflower Farm, along with eggs and meat from Lewis Waite Farm and Hot Bread Kitchen. Distribution is at the Garden of Union, a community garden on Union Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues in Park Slope. Learn more this evening, along with a cooking demonstration and refreshments at the Old Stone House, Park Slope. 6pm-8pm.

TheFuture_hc_nospineFriday Former Vice President Al Gore will discuss his latest book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. This new book is billed as a frank, visionary, and ultimately hopeful investigation of six critical drivers of global change in the decades to come, written by a man who has looked ahead before and been proven all too right. Ticket purchase guarantees an autographed copy of the book. At powerHouse Arena, DUMBO. 6pm-8pm.

makingBklynBloomSaturday 32nd Annual Making Brooklyn Bloom sponsored by Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Slow Food NYC’s Urban Harvest program. This is a free day-long event at BBG featuring hands-on workshops, exhibits and speakers taught by community gardeners, BBG staff and greening experts. Gardening for a Resilient City is this year’s topic: to explore our local resources to rebuild a more verdant, sustainable Brooklyn in response to recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy. Workshops include: Upcycled Treasure: Tree Guards to Greenhouses; Using Stormwater in the Garden; The Global Gardener: Growing Food from Around the World; Brooklyn Urban Gardener Volunteer Program. Exhibits and Activities include: Therapeutic Horticulture; School Gardening; exhibits from local greening organizations. Dr. Vandana Shiva, global environmental activist, author and founder of Navdanya will present the keynote address Cultivating Resilience: Diversity, Democracy, Community. Advanced registration is requested for many events. 10am-4pm.

snailofApproval

iCi caption

Fort Greene’s iCi received Snail recognition in 2012.

Related: Slow Food NYC Snail of Approval, a website/directory of restaurants, bars, food and beverage artisans that have been awarded the SFNYC Snail of Approval. To be considered for this distinction, establishments must meet standards that contribute to the quality, authenticity and sustainability of the food we eat and drink in New York City. 2013 recent awardees from Brooklyn include Red Hook-based Waterfront Wines & Spirits and Uncouth Vermouth. Previous-year awardees include Ted & Honey, One Girl Cookies, Lot2 and many more.

Saturday Bread & Brew: A Celebration of Dutch Foodways in Breukelen at Wyckoff House Museum. Tour NYC’s oldest house and learn about brood and bier, important foods in the Dutch-colonial diet. Brooklyn Brewery’s beers will be available to sip; taste bread (including beer bread) that has been baked using traditional colonial methods on an outdoor fire pit. Reservations requested. East Flatbush. 4pm-6:30pm.

Bunnycutlet Gallery exhibit Printmouse. Alexandria Kwan, KVDZV, silkscreen

Alexandria Kwan, KVDZV, silkscreen. Printmouse exhibit at Bunnycutlet Gallery, part of Williamsburg After Hours.

Armory Arts Week in Brooklyn

The Armory Show is an international contemporary and modern art fair held every March, not in an armory, but on Piers 92 & 94 in Outer Brooklyn. The Show has expanded to include arts events and exhibitions throughout all of NYC during Armory Arts Week, where neighborhood arts scenes are highlighted. Below, here’s a small selection of what’s happening in Brooklyn. Check the website for the complete list of events.

Thursday First Thursday Gallery Walk, DUMBO.
This newly-retooled website (check out the DUMBO Decoder) has tons of gallery events as well as other info for the area:

A.I.R. Gallery, the first all female cooperative gallery in the U.S., opens this evening with 40/40: A Double Vision. Celebrating 40 years of advocating for women in the visual arts, this exhibition celebrates the past, present and future of A.I.R. Gallery. 6pm-9pm.

Brooklyn Arts Council, Sea Drift, a group exhibition featuring the work of seven Brooklyn-based artists, presents a meeting of mythic ideas and realities regarding the waters surrounding Brooklyn. Opening reception, 6pm-8pm.

Related: Happy hour in DUMBO drink deals from ReBar, Superfine, Gran Electrica, more…

willAfterHours

Intentionally conspicuous Williamsburg, really?

Saturday Armory Arts Week—Brooklyn Night
Full listing for all Brooklyn Night events is on the website.

Williamsburg After Hours. 23 galleries will intentionally make themselves conspicuous with light, music and video installations that will be visible in doorways, sidewalks and adjacent buildings, along with performance art in the streets. 7pm-10pm.

Brooklyn Metal Works spoon-making workshop class caption here

Brooklyn Metal Works holds  spoon-making workshops in their studios. On Saturday, they are a part of Brooklyn Creates.

Brooklyn Creates is one part of this day devoted to Design and Glass. Begin with a visit to the Museum of Art & Design, one of Brooklyn Artisan’s favorite spots, for a screening of Toledo Workshop Revisited. Follow with an opening reception at Heller Gallery of glass artist Amber Cowan’s Reconstructions. End the day back in Brooklyn with Brooklyn Creates, an evening showcase of farm-to-table food and homemade brews, served in hand-crafted glass and metal tableware. Sponsored by Landhaus, Bitter & Esters, Brooklyn Glass and Brooklyn Metal Works.

2todoNOTEJoy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists. Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn for the beginning of March

Biodynamic wine…and cheese…and beer, always beer • food shopping renewals • talks about dinners and sports books • the original New Orleans Jazz Band
Themed merch at Brooklyn Museum's store. (Photograph by Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool.)

Themed merch display at Brooklyn Museum’s store. (Photograph by Brooklyn Artisan Photo Pool.)

Supermarket News

fairwayFriday, March 1 Fairway Red Hook re-opening! “We love this neighborhood,” says Fairway’s website. The feeling is quite mutual…and we can all celebrate starting at 8am as this foundation of the Red Hook community opens for business after four months of renovations and restoration after Sandy. Of course Marty is going to show up, along with performances by Brooklyn Dodger Symphony Band and an appearance by Brooklyn-based Miss America, Mallory Hytes Hagan. Fairway has partnered with Restore Red Hook to continue supporting those hit by Sandy—the small businesses, residents, employees—and will match donations up to $20,000. PLUS: Red Hook Lobster Pound and Red Hook Winery will reopen on Friday too.

We Were Heard Windsor Terrace Green Beans. Back in June 2012, Key Food, the only viable, non-bodega supermarket in Windsor Terrace, suddenly closed, leaving residents without a full-service place to shop for food. Worse, the landlord then leased the space to pharmacy-giant Walgreens creating a dearth of local food shopping choices, along with potentially jeopardizing business at two well-liked local pharmacies. Both the landlord and Walgreens representatives refused to discuss the neighborhood’s desire to include a grocery store in any of the plans.

Summer, 2012 protest. (Photograph, DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht)

Summer, 2012 protest. (Photograph, DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht)

This story is being tagged co-working, grassroots, citizen advocacy, sustainable markets, neighborhood-supported small business.

While the Windsor Terrace Key Food was bona fide awful to many, it was still important to this community of 12,000—enough, so that neighbors banded together to form Green Beans Not Walgreens, a grassroots resistance organization with the message that any Walgreens would be boycotted unless a sustainable fresh food market was worked into the plans. Citizen advocates, community leaders and local elected officials were initially rebuffed by corporate Walgreens, but pressure intensified to get the message heard. On February 21, the community received more positive news from Walgreen officials and Key Food corporate representatives that a hybrid space would be developed to include a “state-of-the-art” Key Food as part of the Prospect Avenue space. Next up: many residents have the means to shop at more upscale food businesses (Fairway, Union Market, Park Slope Food Coop, Fresh Direct, Trader Joe’s, an impending Whole Foods, even Costco) so Key Food will need to earn its reputation to be taken seriously. In this neighborhood that values shopping locally, especially the Prospect Park West shopping strip, there is still a lot of concern that small-town friendly Ballard Pharmacy and Oak Park Pharmacy will be priced out of business by the Walgreens pharmacy. The fight continues on.

globes

What a difference it makes to the neighborhood when a shop owner cares about their place!

Elsewhere…

< Friday, March 1 Open House/Cocktail Party at Windsor Place Antiques & Ephemera. Owner Rebecca Rubel is a Brooklyn Flea regular and has had an Etsy store since 2009. Her first brick-and-mortar shop is located on a corner site that was for decades an eyesore of a legal office, but now showcases her love of maps, especially large school maps, globes, and all other sorts of well-loved stuff, displayed in eye-catching, clever groupings. Windsor Terrace. 6pm-8pm.

preservationJazz

Rolling Stone calls Brooklyn Bowl “…one of the most incredible places on Earth.”

Friday, March 1 Preservation Hall Jazz Band performs at Brooklyn Bowl. Don’t miss the one-and-only from New Orleans. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, dating to 1961, has a mission to nurture and perpetuate the art form of New Orleans Jazz. PHJB Creative director Ben Jaffe is the son of the original founders, Allan and Sandra Jaffe, and has spearheaded programs such as the New Orleans Musicians Hurricane Relief Fund. Sound familiar? At Brooklyn Bowl’s performance space, in the former Hecla Iron Works (circa 1882), you’ll hear great music, enjoy food from Blue Ribbon, and can even get in a round of bowling at one of the 16 LEED-certified lanes. Advanced tickets for PHJB are sold out, but limited admission for $20 will be available at the box office at 6pm for the 8pm show. Williamsburg.

DinnerLoveStorySaturday, March 2 Dinner, A Love Story, a cookbook tasting event at powerHouse in Park Slope. Melissa Vaughan (The New Brooklyn Cookbook) moderates this sampling of dishes from Jenny Rosenstrach’s Dinner, A Love Story. Jenny notes that she’s kept a diary of every single thing she’s eaten for dinner since 1998; Dinner A Love Story is her website devoted to helping parents figure out how to get family dinner on the table. Park Slope. 4pm-5pm.

Pouring at Littlefield.

Pouring at Littlefield on Saturday.

Saturday, March 2 Urban Brew Fest and Craft Beer Festival at Littlefield. More than 50 craft and specialty brewers will be pouring at Littlefield’s sustainably-renovated warehouse. Food and music will keep you on your toes. Advanced ticket purchase recommended. Gowanus. 12pm-9pm.
Suggested reading: New York’s Ale Awakening: How a Cocktail City Learned to Love Beer

Saturday, March 2 Intro to Cheese Making at 3rd Ward. This class will demystify the steps of cheese making from milk to cream to curd and will teach you how to make creme fraiche, cultured butter, mascarpone and cream cheese. You’ll also take home a cheese-draining basket, and recipes using the freshly-made products and other creamery ideas. Williamsburg. 1:30pm-4:30pm.

catSunday, March 3 Community Bookstore and PS 321 host Writers Series #2: Influential contemporary books about sports. A discussion by sports journalists (and PS 321 parents): Steve Busfield, sports editor of Guardian US; Howie Rumberg, sportswriter at The Associated Press; Ralph Russo, national college football writer at The Associated Press. Moderated by Ezra Goldstein, co-owner of Community Bookstore (and originator of the unofficial Brooklyn Artisan mascot cat chalkboard). This event is geared toward adults, although children are welcome. At Community Bookstore, Park Slope. 2pm.

(Photograph from Jenny & François Selections.)

Domaine Binner Winery, Alsace. (Photographs from Jenny & François Selections.)

Natural Winemakers’ Week,
February 28-March 6

Organic, natural and biodynamic winemakers from France, Italy and Oregon will be in NYC for a week of wine dinners, classes and tastings. Here’s what’s featured in Brooklyn:
Saturday, March 2 Natural Wine 101 at Brooklyn Wine Exchange. Louis/Dressner Selections will introduce some of their favorite producers of small, family-owned wineries. Cobble Hill. 4pm.
Tuesday, March 5 Ides Bar at Wythe Hotel will throw a party featuring all the winemakers, 20 wines by the glass, a DJ, and a great view of Outer Brooklyn’s skyline. If you need an excuse to visit this cool hotel, this could be it. Williamsburg. 8pm-12am.

Loup Blanc Winery, Bize-Minervois.

Loup Blanc Winery, Bize-Minervois.

Wednesday, March 6 stop by Fermented Grapes for a free wine tasting with winemaker Loup Blanc. Prospect Heights.
Wednesday, March 6 winemaker dinner at The Farm on Adderley. Four course dinner paired with wines from Les Chemins de Bassac from Languedoc, France, and Pogiosecco from Tuscany, Italy. Reservations essential—the wine dinners hosted in the back room at The Farm are rumored to be delicious and a lot of fun. Ditmas Park. 8pm.

2todoNOTEJoy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists. Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

The Town’s Biggest Cigar Booster Since Fiorello LaGuardia?

Cigar entrepreneur David Diamante, creator of the Brooklyn Cigar Lounge a few blocks from the Barclays Center, is a fifth generation Ft. Greene resident. (Photo-illustration for Brooklyn Artisan by Mollie Ann Smith)

Cigar entrepreneur David Diamante, creator of the Brooklyn Cigar Lounge just a few blocks (some say “crawling distance”) from the Barclays Center, is a fifth generation Ft. Greene resident. (Photo-illustration for Brooklyn Artisan by Mollie Ann Smith)

Cigar in hand: Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in his famously messy office.

Cigars and the City: Three-term NYC Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in his cluttered office. A Republican, the former congressman (6 terms) was mayor from 1934-1945, and during a newspaper strike, famously went on the radio to read the Sunday comics. Only five feet tall, and sometimes called “The Little Flower,” he had a personality larger than life. He defeated the Tammany Hall political machine, united the transit system, built parks and public housing, reorganized the police and – an advocate of employment on the basis of merit – overcame the patronage system.

ON A RECENT FRIDAY NIGHT IN FORT GREENE, I sat in a leather lounge chair with David Diamante in his comfy Brooklyn Cigar Lounge and got a few pointers on rolling cigars. Diamante’s traveled to Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic to master the fine art of rolling. “It’s one of those things that you need to know the nuts and bolts to talk about it from an educated perspective,” he explains. And here’s what I learned:

1. Shred the tobacco into a uniform size. Spread it on a clean, flat surface, lightly mist it with filtered water.

2. After removing the center vein of the binder leaf, lay that on the same clean, flat surface, and sprinkle the shredded tobacco on it.

3. Wrap the binder leaf around the shredded tobacco and check it for consistent density. With thumb and index finger, squeeze it at one end and work your way to the other.

4. Spread a light coat of a binder such as bermacol, tragacanth, guar gum or egg white along one edge of the binder leaf, and ever so gently press against the rest of the cigar.

5. Trim off the excess leaf.

6. Roll the wrapper leaf around the binder leaf and seal it with bermacol, Tragacanth, Guar Gum or egg white, just like the binder leaf.

7. Overlap the ends of the wrapper leaf.

Using the Cigar Former

Place the cigar inside a former of the same size, which retains the cigar’s shape while its tobacco dries. (The former is made by nailing wooden strips onto a board. The former is  covered with a top and clamped down.) Wait for about 30 minutes, unclamp the top of the former, turn the cigars over, reclamp the top for another 30 minutes. Then place the former inside an oven just hot enough to warm the former, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. When the cigar is dry, trim the ends. Store the finished cigar inside a humidor for a few weeks.

Diamante's Brooklyn Cigar Lounge on Oxford Street in Ft. Greene

You’ll have no trouble spotting Diamante’s Brooklyn Cigar Lounge on Oxford Street.

Diamante, who imports his own special blends for the lounge,  is not giving away trade secrets here. Rolling takes hours of practice, and seriously, where are you going to find good leaf tobacco in Brooklyn? It’s really better to just head over to Brooklyn Cigar Lounge and talk about the process with David — he’s the tall, skinny, well-dressed guy with dreadlocks down to his back pockets—while toking on one of his selection. As for the lounge, it’s in a restored brownstone at 108 Oxford Street, Brooklyn, 11217. (Call 646 MADURO, for Brooklynites who prefer dialing letters to numbers, or 646 462-3876, for out-of-boroughers.)

Executive Editor Phil Scott has previously written for Brooklyn Artisan about canning, shaving, glider-flying, and other manly pursuits.

Joy’s Best of Brooklyn for February 19—25

The American Revolution through gardening, get close to stinky cheese, monumental artwork at Brooklyn Museum and it’s NYC Beer Week in Kings County.
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The Old Stone House, portrayed in this historic rendering, is the perfect backdrop for a talk by
Andrea Wulf, author of The Founding Gardeners. See first item, below.

Thursday The Founding Gardeners, a talk and reception with design historian Andrea Wulf. Celebrate President’s Day with a fundraiser talk and wine reception for The Old Stone House. Our founding fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Bartram, Madison) were as passionate about gardening, agriculture and botany, as in their belief in liberty for the nation they were creating. Author Andrea Wulf will reveal their unique ideologies as the gardeners, plantsmen and farmers of the American Revolution. The Old Stone House, with its colonial heritage and habitat gardens, is the ideal setting and beneficiary for this evening. Advanced ticket purchase is recommended. Park Slope. 7pm-9pm.

caption here

“It’s a pungent job but
someone has to do it,” says
Stinky Bklyn. (Photograph
by Morgan Ione Yeager.)

Thursday Affinage: the Sophisticated Art of Aging Cheese, a workshop with Christopher Killoran, shown left, of Stinky Bklyn, in conjunction with The Horticultural Society of NY (“The Hort”). Affinage is the process of washing, innoculating and injecting young cheeses with the molds, bacterias, cultures and enzymes that will allow the cheese to reach maturity and become delicious. This evening’s event will discuss the whole process, all while learning how to use, serve and enjoy cheese. The Hort is dedicated to urban gardeners, with the aim to grow a green community that values horticulture and the benefits gained to the environment, neighborhoods and lives. Advanced registration advised. Outer Brooklyn. 6:30pm.

caption here

El Anatsui, Conspirators, 1997. Composed of individual strips of wood, this piece can be
arranged differently each time it is installed, reflecting the artist’s desire for his work
to remain dynamic. At Brooklyn Museum, see below. (Photograph by Andrew McAllister,
courtesy of the Akron Art Museum.)

Thursday Curator Tour, Gravity and Grace: Monumental Works by El Anatsui, Brooklyn Museum. Curator Kevin Dumouchelle will lead a free tour of this fascinating exhibit of wall and floor sculptures and installations. Ghanaian artist Anatsui converts found materials, often bottle caps, into colorful, textured hangings and site-specific sculptures. Prospect Heights. 6pm.

nycbg-centerimageFriday Opening Night Bash, New York City Beer Week. Rare and exotic beers from over 30 breweries will be poured at Galapagos Art Space. Sponsored by New York City Brewers Guild. DUMBO. 7pm-10pm. Through March 3, NYC Beer Week will bring together 12 NYC craft breweries, nationally and internationally renowned breweries, over 250 NYC beer destinations, celebrity chefs, and restaurants for the “beer spectacle” of the year. All Beer Week events in BKLYN and Outer BKLYN are listed on the site. Here’s a few other events that caught our attention for this weekend:

caption Robert Buchan

Beer Week tap takeover at Banter.
(Photograph by Robert Buchan.)

 Friday Banter, Williamsburg. New York tap takeover, with 24 craft beers on tap featuring rarities from New York’s finest brewers.

Saturday Fermented NY Craft Beer Crawl of Williamsburg, tour by Urban Oyster Tours.

Sunday The Owl Farm, Park Slope. Celebrating wheat beers: Berlinerweisses, Wheatwines, Weizenbocks, Goses and more.

montague street caption

A Montague Street view from The
Brooklyn Historical Society archives.

Saturday Big Onion Walking Tour of Historic Brooklyn Heights. Sponsored along with Brooklyn Historical Society, this two-hour tour will explore NYC’s first Landmark District. The walk starts at Borough Hall by Cadman Plaza, and ends with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Brooklyn Historical Society building. Along the way are sites associated with Gypsy Rose Lee, WEB DuBois, and others. Brooklyn Heights. 1pm.

61LocalSaturday 2 Year Anniversary Bash at 61 Local, a public house featuring locally crafted food, drink and the people who make it. Celebrate with special soda shandies from Brooklyn Soda Works, a raffle for a knife crafted by Joel Bukiewicz, Cut Brooklyn, with all proceeds of the evening to benefit BK Farmyards. At 8pm there will be a documentary screening that highlights the collaboration with these producers. Cobble Hill. Begins at 5pm.

Coney Island new: the shake was messy but great at newly-opened Tom's back in October 2012, pre-Sandy, but there's all that darn whipped cream! Read what my colleague Bruce Campbell had to say about Tom's Prospect Heights Egg Cream. (photograph, Brooklyn Artisan photo pool)

Coney Island new: the shake was messy but great at newly-opened Tom’s back in pre-Sandy October, but there’s all that darn whipped cream! Read what my colleague Bruce Campbell had to say about Tom’s Prospect Heights Egg Cream. (Photograph, Brooklyn Artisan photo pool.)

Saturday and Sunday Ice Skating in BKLYN: If you’re missing the Kate Wollman Rink in Prospect Park, closed due to construction, try an afternoon of ice skating en plein air at Coney Island at the Abe Stark Rink. Until March 24, the rink is open weekends from 12:30pm-3:30pm. Skate rental is available. Hydrate and refuel at Tom’s, a branch of the venerable Prospect Heights eatery.

Sunday Oscar Party at Pine Box Rock Shop, a bartender/musician-owned vegan bar and performance space. Cast your ballot and enjoy champagne specials and free popcorn during the awards show. Pine Box promises awesome prizes to those whose ballots match the actual winners. Bushwick. 7pm.

9781118062975_cover.inddMonday Sandy Benefit Concert with jazz guitarist, singer, raconteur John Pizzarelli. Tonight’s fundraiser at powerHouse Arena will feature music and talk from one of the connoisseurs of The Great American Songbook. Pizzarelli will sign copies of his new memoir, World on A String. As the son of jazz-legend Bucky Pizzarelli, as the opening act for Frank Sinatra’s last tour, to performing with Paul McCartney in 2012—Pizzarelli has a lot of material to work with. DUMBO. 7pm-9pm.

2todoNOTEJoy Makon curates Brooklyn Artisan’s Craft & Design coverage and creates the weekly Best of Brooklyn lists. Send items for listings to brooklynartisan@joymakondesign.com

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