Dial “P” For Pop-Up Party
by Allan Appel | Jul 9, 2012 8:39 am
Posted to: Ninth Square
A first-ever in New Haven “pop-up table” dinner for 75 unfolded plunk in the middle of a closed-off block of Orange Street. Meanwhile around the corner on Crown, Robert Greenberg demonstrated a dial-less “candlestick” phone of the kind his family used back in 1912 when it founded ACME Office Furniture Co, now one of the city’s oldest continually operating businesses.
In that way, and others, the old met the new Friday night as hundreds of strollers and eaters partook of centennial cupcakes, langoustines spiked with pea puree and squid ink, and a patriotic red-white-and-blue create-your-own poetry wall.
The aim of the festive series of events was to promote culture, commerce, and creativity in the Ninth Square. Billed as Independence On 9, the evening was the second “First Friday” organized by the city’s Department of Arts, Culture, and Tourism, the Town Green Special Services District, Project Storefronts, and the businesses of the Ninth Square.
At 6 p.m. a celebratory crowd stood in front of ACME’s two display windows at 33 Crown St. There artist, hoarder and archivist extraordinaire of New Haveniana Robert Greenberg and his dad Alan deployed a scary, 100-year-old pair of shears to snip a golden centennial anniversary ribbon.
One of the display windows was done up entirely with items from from the 1912-1918 era including the candlestick phone, an Underwood Standard typewriter, a 1917 New Haven city directory, and even an Edison cylinder recording with that catchy railroad tune everyone was singing back then about riding “On the New York, New Haven, Hartford” line.
The other window displayed a vintage dining room table by Eero Saarinen a Knoll credenza and other Mad Men-era furniture. Vintage items are now the heart of the current ACME business, according to Alan Greenberg.
Downtown Alderman Doug Hausladen, in presenting the Board of Aldermen’s official proclamation, declared, “The Ninth Square’s future is through its past.”
A half hour later, Hausladen and 74 others, each paying $29 for three courses and all the pinots and merlots they could drink, strolled over to precisely nine tables arrayed on the block of Orange between Chapel and Center.
The area of town that has innovated free stores and pop-up stores and galleries has now provided “pop-up tables.” The difference is that the fare is provided not by newcomers but by established restaurants in the area.
Looking like one large extended family dropped into town from a European movie, the diners commenced to feast on the lanky, dish-filling langoustines prepared by Will Talamelli of 116 Crown Street, a mango salad with jalapenos made by the chefs at Bentara’s, and other fare walked over to them by staff at these restaurants along with Skappo, Nini’s Bistro, and the Olde School Saloon on Court at State.
Danyel Aversenti and her Our Empty Space company organized the “pop-up table” that she said was a first for New Haven. The former staffer at the Heirloom Restaurant at the Study at Yale hotel, Aversenti said she had no idea if getting strangers to sit down in the middle of a street for a surprise menu would work in our town.
It did. “We sold out in three days,” she said. The success is encouraging her to plan more, perhaps the next “pop-up table” to be choreographed on High Street where many eateries, as in the Ninth Square, are concentrated.
Meanwhile over at 756 Chapel St., in the Project Storefronts gallery, dessert was already being served. But you had to imagine it, and in words. Artist and musician Pedro Yanowitz filled the front window with, among other items, Converse sneakers, a Royal typewriter, a copy of Catcher in the Rye, his favorite novel, and other items he loves. He expressed that affection by covering them all in red, white, and blue.
“These colors get so co-opted by an election year. It’s time for me to take those colors back,” he said.
Inside, as part of the show, titled Dreams Remixed, members of the public were invited to write their own poems using words on large metallic rectangles to be affixed to a white board.
Said Matt Walker, a philosophy professor in town to hone the humanities curriculum for Yale’s new college in Singapore, “I had dessert on the mind” when he composed his poem. His girlfriend Marissa Walsh wrote “eat raw fluff,” informing a reporter that marshmallow fluff was invented in her hometown, Lynn, Mass.
They both said they look forward to the next First Friday event. It’s scheduled for Aug. 3 and is being called “Noise on Nine.” As the name suggests, that evening will emphasize the Ninth Square’s music, said Town Green’s Economic Prosperity Initiative Manager Chris Ortwein.
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Rob Greenberg is a local treasure. His vast knowledge and interesting historical collections should be shared with the masses. He took me on a tour of his New Haven Museum on the top floor of ACME, and I was amazed at what I saw.
A newspaper depicting a photo of the Hindenburg flying over New Haven on it’s way to disaster. (photo taken by TWEED Airport Fame)
The YALE/HARVARD Game Brochure for a game that never got played because KENNEDY was Assassinated.
Every Glossy Government-Speak Propaganda pamphlet from the time of URBAN RENEWAL to every Economic Development Flavor of the Moment…..
Thousands of True New Haven Artifacts…...
All of historical significance, all made in New Haven.
Closing down a public street for an exclusive $30 dinner, however, just rubs me the wrong way. Not a very fun spectator event, and a poor use of public space (fundraising?)
Now, a large presence of local restaurants serving sample plates in the $5 range, that is a bit more festive and inclusive…..
posted by: streever on July 9, 2012 10:17am
This is great—New Haven needs more of this.
The city could start by making it easier for restaurants to have outdoor seating, unlike the draconian crack-down they are instituting on Orange Street, and not hassle a decade old festival like Ideat Village.
You can’t create things like this—you nurture the atmosphere that makes them possible.
You are so right about nurturing the atmosphere of possibilities.
Part of that is teaching people how to fish…
I am very upset @ a few things in connection with this..1 is the closing down of the block during rush hour and making it that much more difficult for people to park. It made access to the event limited as I cant walk that far (I have M.S.) Upsetting too if I were walking by watching people eat. and if a diner I dont know that I could eat while others cant..It should definitely be a $5.00 tasting menu - I would imagine far more people would be willing to eat at the different places then if we could more easily afford it.
2 Project Storefront has no business being in the “arts” of New Haven…What does PJ do with regard to the arts in NH?? Their 3 month free rent foolishness is a waste and a drain on the city’s budget. It is not an inclusive program at all but caters to a VERY small population! I want to see THE ARTS of NH not just businesses that have no way of succeeding. Only 2 or 3 of PJ’s “businesses” have made it past the 1st 3 months…