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You know you are in for a unique experience whenever you have to descend stairs from street level to enter into a rathskeller. And if it is in the East Village, with antlers on the wall, a ceiling from the beginning of last century comprised of a series of barrel vaults and gothic arches, you know it is even more of a treat. Add a dedicated staff, wonderful farm fresh food and a wide selection of craft beer, spirits, cider and more, with wooden casks above the bar, all curated and presided over by a local Mayor, then you know you are at Jimmy’s 43, our Business of the Month.
If you spend any time in the East Village, and especially on 7th street, then you have no doubt seen Jimmy Carbone. Ever with a smile, he opened Jimmy’s 43 in 2005. Things have changed a lot since then. With the lease up on his previous venture, he came across 43 East 7th Street, and it reminded him of places he liked to frequent. And the former Ukrainian banquet hall was designed to accommodate such an experience. Although it is located below street level, Jimmy’s 43’s quality and ambiance are elevated, even earning a Zagat’s rating, among many other honors. And it’s located within the East Village/Lower East Side Historic District designated in October 2012 with our support and successful advocacy.
As Jimmy says, success in a small business is all based on hard work and service “exactly as it was 100 years ago.” He notes the challenging climate today and lamented the loss of Verdigreen on his street, noting that even a successful business can only pay so much rent. At the same time he also touted a list of local stalwarts like the East Village Meat Market, our 2016 Village Award winner, and Veselka, as places that really make a true neighborhood.
His pub is styled in the tradition of civic minded proprietors that served the larger community. Not only focused on his own business, Jimmy is also the president of East Village Independent Merchants Association, an initiative that is growing from the East Village Community Coalition. As part of their #EastVillageLoves campaign, they just released the Evill card, with which you can get discounts at participating shops.
He plays a leadership role in the annual Taste of 7th Street, which supports local businesses and raised money for victims of the 2nd Avenue blast in 2015. He also works on numerous fundraisers with local schools for his daughter, and hosts an annual coat drive on Boxing Day where you get a free pint, and he later brings the coats to a local spot and does not make any fuss about who is giving it or getting credit. “Sometimes you just have to do charity just to donate” Jimmy says.
While welcoming arrivals, getting hugs from regulars or recommending a craft beer to a quizzical patron, Jimmy also pays attention to detail and offered pro tips on the making of a Manhattan while noshing from a plate of locally produced cheese with a side of pickles.
Jimmy is really a true foodie. His grandfather grew a lot of his own food. Jimmy’s 43 sources at the GrowNYC Greenmarket at Union Square Park and sometimes at Tompkins Square. He has cultivated special relationships with a selection of NY farmers, including Flying Pig Farm.
This month he hosted a Long Island Cheese Pumpkin celebration with regional farmers that offered a taste the versatility of this regional squash that is not just for making the best pie on earth. Check it out on their menu. One Jimmyism is “Everyone should eat when they drink.”
The staff are there to work out their karma I was told, because it is “not a corporate hell hole.” But such humor is the sign of the truly close-knit family environment in their unique East 7th Street burrow. Much of the team have been there for seven to ten years, through flood, explosion and lizards. I did not ask about the lizards.
Jimmy’s 43 hosts numerous events for any taste and type, from the Battle of the Belgian beers to whiskey tasting with craft producers. Eliza was there to provide a tastings at Jimmy’s 43 because “it is the best of the timeless NYC” crowd.
At the same time Laughing Liberally comedy was setting up, as they do every 3rd Wednesday. As Scott said, “Some places couldn’t care less about who is there each night in the space, but Jimmy is personally involved.” You can have your own private or organizational party there too, as our partners at The Neighborhood Preservation Center have. They regularly host meetings on food policy, home brewing, cider making and more.
Emphasizing the stability of such a grassroots yet regionally and globally connected locale, Alexis behind the bar one evening put it succinctly, “It is a special place that the rest of the East Village forgot.” But we did not. That is why Jimmy’s 43 is our November Business of the Month.
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