Eyeing the Young and Moneyed, New Biz Comes to Arthur

Jeffrey+Coltin%2FThe+Ram%0A+This+year%2C+new+resturants+joined+Ferragosto%2C+an+annual+festival+featuring+free+samples+from+Arthur+Ave.+resturants.%0A

Jeffrey Coltin/The Ram This year, new resturants joined Ferragosto, an annual festival featuring free samples from Arthur Ave. resturants.

Jeffrey Coltin/The Ram  This year, new resturants joined Ferragosto, an annual festival featuring free samples from Arthur Ave. resturants.
Jeffrey Coltin/The Ram
This year, new resturants joined Ferragosto, an annual festival featuring free samples from Arthur Ave. resturants.

By JEFFREY COLTIN

At Rose Hill, change is constant. Freshmen move in and four years later, they’re gone. In between, we grow beards, experiment with styles, join the Frisbee team, quit the Frisbee team and try three different majors only to settle on political science. Change is most obvious on Eddie’s, where the trees go from lush to golden to stark and back again before you even notice the leaves are gone.

Change is not so clear on Arthur Avenue. The same people visit the same bakeries for years.  The same families sell meat out of the same stores for decades. And, the pasta is made by the same recipe Nonna wrote down in 1917.

That’s what makes new additions to the Avenue so striking. Arthur has welcomed three businesses since the beginning of the year, all catering to a new clientele. John’s Pizzeria, Magic Twists Frozen Yogurt and the Bronx Beer Hall are all looking to attract a younger, hipper audience — to put it simply, Fordham students.

“That was our first target!” Angela Cawley of John’s Pizzeria said. “Over half of our staff is going to be Fordham students.”

John’s is brand new, opening its doors for the first time on Sunday at Ferragosto.  It’s the fourth John’s Pizzeria, and it uses the same recipes and “no slices” commandment as its locations in Greenwich Village, Times Square and Jersey City (plus an Upper East Side location, which is run by a different family — “it’s a long story”).

In many ways, John’s is like many of the Italian restaurants lining Arthur Avenue.  But, unlike some places, John’s is welcoming Fordham students with vigor. They are joining the Fordham RamBucks program, where students can pay with money loaded on student IDs. They’re already talking about a plan for Fordham Family Weekend, and they’re in talks with the Athletics Department. “You might see somebody in a pizza suit running around during halftime at the football game,” Cawley said.

A less traditional offering is Magic Twists Frozen Yogurt. The neon-orange eatery is the Belmont neighborhood’s first go at the self-serve-add-toppings frozen yogurt craze that seems to have swept the nation over the past five years. Not surprisingly, they’re going after Fordham students too. Magic Twists manager, Jackie Chen, says the location between the University and St. Barnabas Hospital was definitely a factor in choosing the space.

Magic Twists opened on June 1. Despite its location far from campus, just north of Crescent Ave, students are often seen inside—or, like Jordan Catalana, GSB ’15, walking north on Arthur with Magic Twists’ distinctive orange cup in hand. “I think it brings in a whole younger demographic to Arthur Ave,” she said. “And it’s also [expletive] delicious.”

The most radical change to Arthur in the past year has to be the addition of the Bronx Beer Hall, the local-centric bar serving craft brews inside the Arthur Avenue Retail Market. “Fordham in the Bronx” featured the Beer Hall just after its February opening (“New Bronx Brew on Arthur Avenue”). Since then it’s developed into a place to be seen.

“It brings a fresh new energy, a new type of people,” Nora Geraghty, FCRH ’14 and employee of the Bronx Beer Hall said. “There’s a new place for young professionals to hang out.”

The main attraction of the Beer Hall to the young professionals is found in its name, but the team goes out of its way to attract a younger, low-to-mid-20’s clientele by switching beer offerings constantly, hiring Fordham students and having karaoke nights on Saturdays.

But, that’s not to say the Beer Hall is trying to limit its audience.

“It’s a community space,” Geraghty said. “We have old Italians, we have young Fordham students, we have people from Albert Einstein (College of Medicine) and people who work at the Botans and Zoo.”

A walk down Arthur Avenue during Ferragosto gives a sense of that community.  Two elderly men speak Italian outside Cosenza’s Fish Market. A mother walks by carrying a baby.  When the little guy grows up, businesses may be fighting to attract his dollar. But for now, the old men keep speaking, without a glance toward the baby. On Arthur Ave, change is slow, and that’s how they like it.