Category: Times Square


March 17th, 2013 — 5:25pm

As I continue to navigate the roller coaster that is dating in New York, I find myself more thankful than ever for the constant of wonderful friends. This week, I enjoyed some quality catch up time with two of my greatest galpals.

Monday, I headed down to the East Village to meet up with my friend Lisa for a screening of , a romantic comedy starring and produced by Robinne Lee, a former colleague of hers. The charming, independent movie boasts a fantastic cast with Sara Rue, Dule Hill, Gabrielle Union and Jon Huertas of my favorite TV show, ABC’s Castle all making appearances.

Miss Dial: a romantic comedy worth watching

Miss Dial takes you through a day in the life of Erica, a consumer affairs rep who works from home and fields random questions about everything from microwave popcorn to dog food. Frustrated by her scripted conversations and seeking some real connecting, Erica starts randomly calling strangers – one of whom ends up being a hunky EMT she immediately clicks with. You can guess the ending, of course, but Miss Dialed’s charm lies in how the movie gets there and its believable, funny characters. Definitely worth seeing and available now on video.

Friday, and I experienced our latest five-star foodie adventure – after a slight change of plans. I had bought us a Groupon for what I thought was iconic bistro Chez Josephine in Midtown. Just before we met up, I realized it was actually, ahem, Chez Jacqueline all the way downtown and there weren’t taking reservations before 9pm.

So, with French food on our mind, we opted for Plan B, Saju in Times Square. This charming bistro offers Parisian charm and solicitous service with a smooth soundtrack in the background (Barry White, The Temptations, etc).

Escargot at Saju: Magnifique!

Both of us oohed and ahhed while enjoying the escargot, cooked to perfection in garlic, butter and olive oil. After our entrees (French onion soup for BP, chicken paillard salad for moi), we shared a sublime crème brulee. Along the way, we shared some laughs about travel misadventures, inappropriate confessions on disastrous dates and upcoming vacation plans.

The perfect end to our already delightful evening? Drinks next door at The Lambs Club, which blends modern touches (like Empire State Building light fixtures) with old school ambiance.

Lambs Club Bartender Jacques took good care of us

Handsome bartender Jacques of Cameroon whipped up a pair of heavenly cocktails as BP and I began contemplating our next night on the town. I can’t wait.

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November 11th, 2012 — 5:00pm

Wednesday, my fabulous girls night out with C continued despite the blizzard-like conditions. we walked past near Times Square, a bundled-up doorman  outside helped us decide our dinner plans.

Me and Da Marino's charming doorman

“You must join us Ladies – our bathroom has been rated number one in New York City.”

How could we resist an offbeat invitation like that?

As soon as we walked downstairs into Da Marino, we knew we’d made the right choice. The restaurant has cozy, rustic vibe offset by the energetic staff and lively entertainment. Waiters and hosts whizzed by  speaking frenetic Italian as we were treated to music from a piano player and singer who belted out tunes like “Con Te Partiro.” They handed out maracas so it was impossible not to get caught up in the fun. It felt like we were at a traditional Italian villa.

And it turned out the doorman wasn’t exaggerating about Da Marino’s bathroom.

Da Marino's bathroom is ranked as the best in NYC

With exposed brick, sculpture, a mini waterfall and even seating for two, it reinforces the restaurant’s authentic atmosphere.

As we sipped on Pinot Noir and enjoyed shared plates of fried calamari and mozzarella salad, C and I also shared some great conversation – reflecting on the cathartic joys of travel, the perquisites of a soulmate connection and the importance of being your own best champion.

Along the way, we managed to completely forget the nor’easter outside and feel grateful all over again to live in a city where you never know where the night is going to take you. Viva NYC.

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November 8th, 2012 — 9:34pm

Some nights unfold so serendipitously, you couldn’t imagine planning them any better yourself. Last night was one of them.

My good friend C and I met up at Caffe Bene, a rare slice of authentic coffeehouse charm  in Times Square. We braved the frigid, snowy weather with the intent of heading to Reflections Yoga studio for an eye gazing party  — which is basically the zen version of speed dating: multiple 2 min rounds of staring at strangers minus any conversation.

We showed up to the tranquil, inviting space (soft lighting, spa music, hardwood floors, etc) ready to practice eye contact. Not surprisingly, the noreaster made it a pretty small crowd — small enough that the Reflections crew said the event would be postponed.

C and I were halfway out the door when they invited us to stay because two men had showed up. We looked at each other and then awkwardly at the guys before deciding to take off. As we approached the elevator, another, ahem, new age , looking guy walked by., brushed past us.

“I think I’ll pass on the warlock,” C quipped of his, the stranger’s long, wavy hair.

We both laughed, appreciating the comedy of our ill fated attempt to broaden our social, dating horizons. The question now was, where to go next?

The answer came quickly — from a most unexpected source.

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May 23rd, 2012 — 10:35pm

I’m a huge fan of both Dirty Dancing and Skinny Cow. So I was beyond excited to find out is celebrating the iconic film’s 25th anniversary with a series of special screenings across the country. The festivities kicked off last night in Times Square – with a girls night out extravaganza that me and my friends Beth and Carmen are still smiling about.

Carrying A Watermelon (cocktail): Me, Beth and Carmen

Skinny Cow turned NYC’s Best Buy Theater into a Dirty Dancing fan’s paradise, with playful photo banners, memorable lines scrolling across various walls and replicas of Baby and Johnny’s signature styles (her pink dress and Keds shoes, his black tank top). And, of course, a selection of Skinny Cow’s delicious low-calorie treats including my new favorite: milk chocolate and caramel candy.  to see all of my photos from the party.

Of course, no Dirty Dancing soiree would be complete without Baby herself, Jennifer Grey. Looking as fit and fabulous at 50 as she did on screen all those years ago as Baby, Jennifer is an absolute doll in person. Warm, gracious and open, she spoke candidly and with affection about Dirty Dancing and its enduring popularity.

Jennifer Grey: Beautiful and super sweet. Baby is a doll!

“I still can’t believe it. We just made a tiny movie and it became this magical thing.”

When asked to name her favorite on-screen moment, Jennifer picked the scene when Baby comes to Johnny’s room for the first time – and became tearful as she reflected on Patrick Swayze’s passing and how precious life is. She also shared fond memories of the late, great Jerry Orbach.

“I lovvved Jerry. He was just such a fantastic human being. And I love that scene in the gazebo when I tell him that I just want his unconditional love and that he’s gotta love me even if I separate from him.”

Jennifer had us laughing with a few funny stories too — like having a bad case of food poisoning during the montage of Baby dancing on the bridge, and having an attack of the giggles during the “Hungry Eyes” sequence.

“The scene where he goes down my arm was supposed to be sexy and I couldn’t stop laughing because it tickled so much! Patrick was getting really irritated with me and the director, everyone was getting mad. But every single time, it happened I laughed so they ended up using that.”

We also chatted about Dancing With The Stars. Ever since doing the show, Jennifer’s been dancing weekly and she’s planning to open a dance studio too.

“I want everybody to feel that feeling that I get when I’m dancing and I think everyone feels it. And the only reason people don’t do it is because they get so self-conscious and think they’re not good at it. There’s really no such thing. It’s really about doing what makes you happy.”

The joys of dancing were a big part of what made last night so special.

Coming up…the scoop on Skinny Cow’s awesome afterparty and what it was like to see Dirty Dancing on the big screen again. Want to experience Skinny Cow’s Dirty Dancing celebration yourself? Visit the brand’s to find out about upcoming screenings in other cities. It’s a girl night out not to be missed!!

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May 6th, 2012 — 2:33pm

There are some nights that remind me how lucky I am to live in a vibrant, exciting city like New York. Friday was one of them.

It began with dinner at with my longtime galpal Sara and her friend Emily. A fixture for nearly 50 years, Victor’s serves up delicious Cuban fare complimented by swift, attentive service and live music. We shared Bartolito to start — sweet plantain filled with roast Berkshire pork, olives, and raisins over black bean sauce and goat cheese – and then all enjoyed ropa vieja. Yum.

Otherworldly Chemistry: Cassie Levy and Richard Fleeshman in GHOST The Musical (Photo: The Hartman Group, Joan Marcus)

After our delightful meal, we walked over to Times Square and the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre to see The classic 1990 movie about a banker who’s killed but stays behind to take care of some unfinished business translates well to the stage, thanks to charismatic leads, beyond thrilling special effects and a book written by Bruce Joel Rubin, who won an Oscar for his original screenplay. Having seen the movie multiple times, it was great fun seeing classic scenes – including, yes, the pottery wheel moment — brought to life once again.

Richard Fleeshman (Sam) and Caissie Levy (Molly) bring their own distinctive charms to the roles so  famously inhabited on screen by Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Having originated the roles in London’s West End, they have a sweet, believable chemistry together and powerful, dazzling singing voices. Tony Award nominee Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a scream as Oda Mae Brown and Bryce Pinkham rounds out the ensemble well as duplicitous Carl.

Ghost’s score, written by The Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard, is pitch-perfect pop and I loved how the ubiquitous “Unchained Melody” is woven through the show. The special effects are amazing – huge digital projections capture everything from larger than life silhouettes of the cast to NYC subways and neighborhoods racing by, and bring an epic feel to the afterlife transitions that are so much a part of Ghost. One of my favorite musicals this year, for sure, and definitely worth seeing.

The show ended just in time for me to walk across to the Marriott Marquis, where a huge crowd had lined up to see Ricky Martin after performing in . Within a few minutes of nabbing a spot, I caught a brief glimpse of Ricky, looking adorable in a black Members-only style jacket, sign a few autographs and wave before getting into his SUV.

Sigh. A truly perfect night in NYC!

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April 14th, 2012 — 7:50pm

Twice this week, I found myself falling in love all over again — with my hometown. The Big Apple produced a pair of memorable outings that I’m still smiling about.

Wednesday night, business intersected with pleasure during a visit to The Townhouse, flagship store of my PR client, iconic NYC tobacconist . The occasion — an El Tiant Cigar tasting with baseball legend Luis Tiant.

Baseball legend Luis Tiant and me

As I listened to Nat Sherman’s Michael Herklots talk with Mr. Tiant about how the cigar industry has evolved while they enjoyed a few stogies, I couldn’t help thinking of my beloved father. Dad was a cigar smoker for most of his life. Having tried a cigar for the first time only recently, I can now appreciate why he enjoyed it so much. There’s something about a cigar that, much like wine, lends itself to good times with good company.

After Michael and Mr. Tiant chatted with a handful of journalists, all of us adjourned downstairs to The Johnson Club Room, Nat Sherman’s private smoking lounge. Like the rest of the Townhouse, it has a classic, old New York vibe — dark wood, leather couches and vintage photography. I chatted with Sam Perry, a legend on the sales floor for more than 20 years now who’s served as tobacconist to customers ranging from Milton Berle to Jay-Z. I’m not surprised the celebs love him — Sam is a star in his own right, with his a to z knowledge of cigars and heart of gold.

The next morning began with a trip to Times Square to catch Ricky Martin and the cast of sing two numbers from the show on Good Morning America. and I secured a front row spot, where we marveled at how the performers navigated brisk 40-degree temperatures and a much smaller stage than what they’re used to.

Elena Roger, Max Von Essen and the cast of "Evita"

Elena Roger (Eva) led a rousing rendition of “Buenos Aires,” while Ricky was tender and pitch perfect with “High Flying Adored.” I can’t wait to see Evita a third time next month.

Ricky Martin lit up the GMA stage

Where else but New York could you go from a night with a baseball superstar to starting your day with a free, live performance from a Broadway blockbuster? Sigh. I love this town.

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March 15th, 2012 — 1:53pm

Monday, I enjoyed a supersized girls night out celebrating Ricky Martin’s return to Broadway in .

Pre-show fun: Jenn and me at Havana Central

The fun began at Havana Central in Times Square, where I savored a delicious dinner (arroz con pollo, churros for dessert) with about 25 fellow Ricky fans. I caught up with old friends Jenn, Donna and Sheila – my traveling companions to last year – and made a few new ones too. Having exchanged tweets for months, and I enjoyed meeting for the first time and discovering we work within walking distance of each other. Two words: lunch date.

Speaking of dates, I filled Jenn in about my favorite Nominate A Date bachelor and his earlier text about me being in countdown mode for Evita. After a two year wait since the Broadway revival was first announced, we were all beyond excited it was finally here. And we weren’t the only ones – we caught a glimpse of Ricky’s adorable longtime boyfriend, Carlos Gonzalez in the audience.

Take A Bow: Ricky Martin & Elena Roger received a standing ovation for their amazing performances

Ricky and co. did not disappoint. As Director Michael Grandage promised during, this version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s celebrated musical is infused with Latin flair. The orchestrations, choreography and sets – a number at a Buenos Aires bar took me right back to my experience of this magical city – feel as authentic as they are vibrant.

In his role as Che, Ricky proved why he’s such a dazzling entertainer, lighting up the stage with his energetic dancing and singing and swoon-inducing charisma. Argentina-born Elena Roger – who played Eva in the 2006 London revival – brings spunk and humanity to her portrayal of Argentina’s controversial first lady. She completely nails “Don’t Cry For Me” in the climactic balcony scene, rendered with the exquisite majesty and power associated with Evita’s most famous moment. Michael Cerveris (Peron) and the rest of the talented ensemble cast deliver knockout performances too.

Evita is a five-star production worthy of this show’s long and storied history. I can’t wait to see it again next month and, of course, enjoy another Ricky-themed girls night out!

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January 28th, 2010 — 6:54pm
NYC’s Havana Central is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a Week of Love. Two of the Cuban restaurant’s three locations are hosting fun events for singles.

On Tuesday February 9th from 7-9pm at Havana Central Times Square, kick off Valentine’s Week with the Love Potion Cocktail Challenge.

Cocktail lovers are invited to create a unique “Love Potion” cocktail using Bacardi rum. The winner will receive a $250 prize, credit on menus and a plaque commemorating this first-ever Cocktail Challenge at Havana Central.

Havana Central: The Cuban restaurant chain is hosting a series of Valentine’s-themed events

Entries should be emailed to lovepotion@havanacentral.com and for full contest rules and regulations.

On Thursday February 11th, join relationship experts Tamsen Fadal and Matt Titus for an evening of dating do’s and don’ts, featuring a panel of three men-about-town on hand to answer questions. Tickets are $15 and include one “Love Potion” cocktail. For reservations, email ylanfranco@havanacentral.com.

Finally, start off Valentine’s weekend with Spice It Up Speed Dating at Havana Central’s uptown location on Friday February 12th.

Geared toward singles ages 25-45, the event runs from 7:45 to 9:45pm. Ticket price of $59.95 includes tax, hors d’oeuvres and one Havana Central classic cocktail. To purchase, call 1-800-406-0832 or visit the following links:
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January 28th, 2010 — 1:54pm
NYC’s Havana Central is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a Week of Love. Two of the Cuban restaurant’s three locations are hosting fun events for singles.

On Tuesday February 9th from 7-9pm at Havana Central Times Square, kick off Valentine’s Week with the Love Potion Cocktail Challenge.

Cocktail lovers are invited to create a unique “Love Potion” cocktail using Bacardi rum. The winner will receive a $250 prize, credit on menus and a plaque commemorating this first-ever Cocktail Challenge at Havana Central.

Havana Central: The Cuban restaurant chain is hosting a series of Valentine’s-themed events

Entries should be emailed to lovepotion@havanacentral.com and for full contest rules and regulations.

On Thursday February 11th, join relationship experts Tamsen Fadal and Matt Titus for an evening of dating do’s and don’ts, featuring a panel of three men-about-town on hand to answer questions. Tickets are $15 and include one “Love Potion” cocktail. For reservations, email ylanfranco@havanacentral.com.

Finally, start off Valentine’s weekend with Spice It Up Speed Dating at Havana Central’s uptown location on Friday February 12th.

Geared toward singles ages 25-45, the event runs from 7:45 to 9:45pm. Ticket price of $59.95 includes tax, hors d’oeuvres and one Havana Central classic cocktail. To purchase, call 1-800-406-0832 or visit the following links:
, and
.

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November 25th, 2009 — 11:09pm
Friday night, I enjoyed an exciting second date with adorable 37-year-old PR executive .

Bond 45: Great food and service in a bustling Theater District landmark
(photo courtesy: Shanna Ravindra, New York Magazine)

We met up at historic steak and seafood restaurant Bond 45. E took my face in his hand and greeted me with a quick kiss.

“You look great,” he said as he sat down. I smiled, grateful for the good hair day that I was having thanks to a quick blowout at lunchtime.

Over a delicious dinner (skirt steak cooked to perfection), E and I talked about our shared appreciation for architectural history and “NYPD Blue,” and our fondness for the good music and fun to be experienced at weddings.

Upon mentioning that I’ll be attending a friend’s nuptials in Boston next month, E asked if he could be my plus one. If only I had been invited with a guest.

After dinner, while walking through Times Square, E kissed me. I could feel every part of me ignite at his touch and, for a moment, I literally forgot where I was. Heaven.

E treated us to one of the most entertaining Broadway shows I’ve ever seen, “Burn The Floor.”

The high-energy two-hour ballroom dance extravaganza features stunning choreography, fantastic music and couples that truly sizzle. Anya and Pasha of “So You Think You Can Dance” were among the show’s talented troupe, which also boasts dancers from as far away as Russia and Australia.

Next, we headed downtown to E’s office on Hudson Street, where we took in sweeping city views from the roof deck — and shared a few kisses in the moonlight.

Over drinks at a nearby Irish pub, E leaned forward and pulled at the ribbon on my top, clearly not realizing it was purely decorative.

“You need level 3 clearance for that kind of access,” I teased, “Right now, you’re only at level 1.”

“That’s okay,” he responded with a smile. “I have a lot of patience and I’m not going anywhere.”

Our last stop of the night was a tiny eatery designed like an old ship, where we shared a few appetizers and talked about favorite TV shows and portable gadgets.

Later, E walked me to a cab and pulled me into another knee-weakening, lingering kiss.

When it comes to second dates, it simply doesn’t get any better than this.

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