Tag Archive | "Business"

On Weekends, an Experienced Chef Teaches Ameuteurs How To… Buy Fish

To make a little money on the side, Chef Abigail Hitchcock teaches aspiring chefs how to navigate Chinatown’s fish markets — and then how to cook what they buy. Sarah Laing and John Light report.

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At a Manhattan Bridal Garden, Customers Purchase Wedding Gowns for Charity

One bridal store in Manhattan sells designer gowns for half the price. It sounds like a bride’s dream- almost too good be to true. Olivia Smith reports. Produced by Eleonore Hamelin.

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Against Odds, a Pork Shop Thrives

by Olivia Smith

Faicco’s Pork Shop in the West Village is thriving thanks to two unlikely factors: the recession and real estate.

“People still have to eat and they want good food,” said Eddie Faicco, the owner of the Italian shop on Bleecker Street. “You might spend $100 at an expensive restaurant, but for the same price you can feed two people for a week if you shop here.”

However, other small businesses in the West Village are not doing as well as Faicco’s. Some are shutting down or have been forced to move because of Manhattan’s sky-high real estate. But the Faiccos own their building, which makes all the difference.

“If I were at the mercy of a stranger I may not have this place,” Faicco said.

The Faiccos started serving the Greenwich Village community in 1900. Eddie Faicco runs the shop in Manhattan and his two brothers, Louis and Matthew, run the second shop in Brooklyn. The three brothers inherited the land from their grandparents, the original owners, who bought the land on Bleecker Street in the 1940s.

“Paying so much rent for a small business isn’t worth it,” Faicco said. “That’s why you see so many failing now.”

Joe’s Pizza, made famous by the Spider Man films, used to be around the corner from Faicco’s. It had to move locations when its rent was raised from $900 a month to $25,000 a month according to the owner’s grandson Sal Vitale.

“We were a small business, a hole in the wall,” said Vitale, who works at the pizza place’s new location. “Once [the landlord] saw how well we were doing he got greedy and went crazy.”

Avoiding rent has not only kept Faicco’s in the same place, but has also been a major factor in helping the shop maintain supermarket prices according to employee Joe Beshara.

“These are Brooklyn prices, not Manhattan prices,” Beshara said pointing to the deli sandwiches and balls of beef mozzarella. “We try to keep it reasonable.”

The butcher shop’s inexpensive products help it compete with larger specialty markets.

“Our prices haven’t gone up and that’s why we’ve had the same customers coming back for 40 years,” said Beshara.

These customers, who have returned to Faicco’s decade after decade, attribute the success of the century-old shop to its sausage and the seared broccoli rabe.

“I moved to the West Village 56 years ago,” said Lucille Tesoriero. “I’ve shopped here since then. The food is fresh and the people who work here are friendly.”

Faicco’s takes its cuisine seriously. There is a separate curing room for meat in the back of the store. But before a customer has a chance to get in line, they have to go about business the old-fashioned way and take a number at the entrance.

“I like it because its old-school and authentic,” said Jack Daley, an Italian-American who has been coming here for 12 years. “Faicco’s reminds me of places on Long Island that I grew up going to. There aren’t many places like it anymore.”

Certain specialty items that are imported from Italy may cost a bit more, but most things are reasonable. Rice balls are $1 and a pre-packaged meal like Chicken Parmigiano serves two people and costs $9.49. Canned Pastene tomatoes are $2.69 and La Nonna del Monello pasta is $5.99. The most expensive item is prosciutto for $28.99/lb. The least expensive is a piece of garlic for $0.50.

“We’ve been here a long time,” Faicco said. “That means something. I don’t think we’ll be going anywhere anytime soon.”

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Undocumented Irish Immigrants Find Work Easily

As published on irishcentral.com 

by Ines Novacic

Ten years ago, Paddy, a 32-year-old Irishman, arrived in the US on a 90-day tourist visa. He still hasn’t left.

The undocumented construction worker said he’s had no trouble finding work in New York – and he’s not alone.

“The tradition is there,” said Paddy, who declined to give his last name. “All my friends work off the  books.”

Irish immigrants have been streaming into New York City for decades through legal and illegal channels. But with immigration vaulting into the spotlight as one of the most contentious issues of the 2012 presidential race, there is renewed focus on groups like the city’s undocumented laborers. In a series of interviews, several said it’s far easier for them to work illegally in New York City than other nationalities.

“Irish guys tend to do better,” said Paddy, who recently became project manager for an electrical contractor.

Another undocumented worker from Ireland said he has landed a job without having to prove he has a visa.

“You can earn a nice little wage and live here no bother,” said Sean, 25, another undocumented  construction worker who asked to be identified by first name only. “In a place like New York, if you tried to get all the illegals out, the city would hit a standstill. It’s not like we’re unusual or the only undocumented group.”

James O’Malley, an immigration lawyer from Ireland and the head of the Manhattan-based O’Malley and Associates firm, said that Irish workers had grown accustomed to coming to the U.S. since the launch of the Donnelly-Morrison Green Card Lottery program in the late 1980s. This piece of legislation enabled more Irish to obtain U.S. visas, and it adhered to U.S. immigration principles of the 1960s, which  focused on family-ties rather than country-based quotas.

“Immigration quotas were fixed politically between 1989 and 1996,” said O’Malley. “But even now with relative immigration decline, the IRS, Department of Labor, and Immigrations Services lack the interest, time or politics to enforce rigorous measures against illegals.”

According to O’Malley, fewer Irish laborers have come to the U.S. since the demise of the country’s “Celtic Tiger” boom. Nonetheless, overall emigration from Ireland in the first half of 2011 was up 12 percent compared to the previous year. Figures published in early September by the Central Statistics Office, Ireland’s census bureau, revealed an increase of 11,1000 Irish nationals leaving the country. So far, that’s 110 Irish nationals a day.

George, 26, an Irish musician living in Queens, said that most of the Irish he knew worked in construction, with 80 percent of them “off the books.”

In Queens, a key Irish community stronghold, Irish laborers accounted for almost 65,000 of the  one-million-member workforce, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. In other words, legal Irish immigrants comprise 15 percent of the labor force.

In 2006, the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) estimated that there were 50,000 illegal Irish workers in the U.S. ILIR testified that Ireland received 160 Diversity Visas out of a global total of 50,000 and approximately 2,000 Green Cards from a global total of 1 million.

Sean dismissed the notion that the history of Irish-American labor and emigration Relations account for the unique standing of Irish workers.

“It boils down to skin color. Only Irish workers get the same as Americans,” said Sean. “You’ll never see a Mexican being drunk and disorderly in public. They’re careful because they know they can be deported anytime. An Irishman walking into a construction job, even now with the recession, will get a higher hourly wage higher than other non-white employees who’ve been there for a while.”

Sean acknowledged that the recession impacted upon the illegal as well as the legal workforce, especially during the slow season of winter, when contractors give preference to legal or unionized laborers.

“It’s not the same since 2008, but there’s plenty of construction work out there for us,” Sean added.“There’s hundreds of Irish-owned construction companies.”

Sean recounted a saying from one of his former roommates: “You could just go on the piss Sunday, and get a new job Monday, no bother.”

The Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens doesn’t typically process work-related requests, but the center’s lawyer, John Stahl, pointed out that undocumented workers have equal employment rights.

“If you do a day’s work in this country, you’re entitled to get paid. It’s not an immigration issue, it’s a work issue,” Stahl said.

Under the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of Homeland Security and Department of Labor (DOL), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) must refrain from engaging in enforcement activities at a worksite subject to a DOL investigation. Moreover, the report specifies that ICE can only intervene in cases concerning “a federal crime other than a violation relating to unauthorized employment.”

“The city would come to a standstill if government enforced deportations or ICE investigations  rigorously,” said O’Malley. “A person can also claim sanction under the 1996 Cancellation of Deportation law, if they’ve been in the U.S. for 10 years and have at least one immediate family member who’s American”.

Paul, 32, who lives with Sean, also came to New York a decade ago on a holiday visa. Paul said that he originally started working for an Irishman who owned his own construction business, which he later  merged with a big Manhattan-based contractor.

“I’ve been here for almost 11 years,” said Paul, “and no-one in my situation that’s in my circle, or my friend’s circle, has been targeted.”

Paul, who works as a carpenter, estimated that he gets paid $25-30 an hour. Large construction  companies, which generate approximately $150 million a year, negotiate wages with relevant unions.

The General Contractors Association of New York oversees 13 different trade-specific construction unions, and fixes hourly wages between $30-60, dependent on the worker’s skill level. Unionized carpenters typically make $40-45 an hour without benefits. With union membership fees taken into account, Paul earns slightly less in real terms than his documented counterparts.

On a recent day, several Irishmen watching a Gaelic football match in the Cuckoos Nest pub in Queens openly admitted to being undocumented.

“It’s the kind of thing you leave people alone with,” said George, Sean’s 26-year-old friend from Dublin

“They like us, so they tolerate us. And we try to avoid rocking the boat. It has a lot to do with people in the right places turning a blind eye.”

Despite the seemingly easy task of getting work, and the insular, protective nature of the Irish community, Sean predicted that he wouldn’t stay in New York for long.

“I don’t think making more money than other undocumented groups makes us successful,” said Sean.

“We’ve no representation and I’ve yet to meet an Irishman who’s not in construction or bar work. And it’s unfortunate how a lot of Irish in these communities like Queens still only eat Kerrygold butter.”



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Video: A Chinese Wedding Photoshoot, Months Before the Wedding Day

Many consider it to be bad luck if a groom sees a bride’s wedding dress before the wedding day. Chinese brides have no such concern — engaged couples take photos in tuxedo and wedding gown months before the ceremony. John Light reports from a Chinese photo studio in Flushing.

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