Wedding couple hoping to be first New York gay marriage in full planning mode

Editor's note: The Daily News will follow Mimi Brown and Carol Anastasio all week as the two plan their historic wedding Sunday, July 24 - the first day gay couples can marry in New York. The mother of the bride is 92 - and proud. "I am so happy," said Mary Brown, who is thrilled she'll finally get to watch her daughter Mimi Brown marry longtime love Carol Anastasio. "It's so unexpected." Brown, 57, and Anastasio, 49, were the first gay couple to show up at the city's Marriage Bureau to apply for a license - only to learn they had to wait 30 more days. Their eagerness earned them a free, top-shelf wedding at the Old Homestead Steakhouse on Sunday, the first day gay couples can legally marry in New York. "They get along beautifully together, and I'm thrilled," said Mary Brown, who retired from a bank and lives in Boston. "They had to wait a long time, but they weren't really waiting. They were happy together all these years." For Mimi Brown, the day came in time for her mom to witness. Anastasio's dad died July 1, just after gay marriage became legal. "He would've been so proud. He would've been grinning ear to ear," said Anastasio, who works for the city's Parks Department. Mimi Brown said her mom "didn't bat an eye" when she came out of the closet at 27. "She figured it out on her own. She's very supportive and always has been," said Mimi Brown, an editor with Getty Images. The lower East Side lovebirds, partners for 20 years, are now busy with last-minute wedding invites and menu planning. "It's really nice when people who always work hard and never ask for anything are actually given something," said Elaine Bishop, Brown's 64-year-old sister who is scrambling to organize her family's trip to the city. "They've been together forever. I just think it's wonderful." Sara Cytron, a longtime friend of the couple, will travel from Maryland for the celebration. "I would not miss this moment in their lives and this moment in history," said Continue Reading

Sarah Shay takes on first New York City Marathon for her late brother, Ryan, and Wounded Warriors

Far back in the massive pack on Sunday, a 34-year-old property manager from Austin, Tex. will spend four-plus hours running five boroughs worth of pavement in New York City, motivated by a brother and a dream and a cause. Sarah Shay figures she'll be on complete emotional overload during the ING New York City Marathon, but has no doubt it will be worth it. "I'll be excited and proud to run this marathon - one that (my brother) didn't get to finish," Sarah Shay said last night. "And in the end I will probably be bawling my eyes out." Three years ago Wednesday, Sarah's younger brother, Ryan Shay, died of heart failure during the U.S. Olympic Marathon trial, held the day before the regular marathon. One of the premier distance runners in the country and a heavy favorite to make it to the Beijing Games, 28-year-old Ryan Shay was stricken on East Park Drive, a short distance north of the Boathouse, about 5-1/2 miles into the trials race. Sarah will run right past the spot where her brother died. It will be approaching the 25-mile mark. She can't quite imagine the feelings that will come up, beyond the obvious one. "I'll be overwhelmed," she said. Sarah Shay ran competitively in high school in Central Lake, Mich., but is long past her days of trying to break the tape. She is running on Sunday for the same reason she ran her first marathon, in Austin, last February - to honor her brother and to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), which offers programs and support to severely injured servicemen and women as they attempt to transition to civilian life. Shay raised $13,000 for WWP in Austin. She thought she was done with marathoning, especially when she could barely walk up a flight of stairs the following day. A few days later, a package arrived at her door, with a commemorative plaque and T-shirt and hand-written note of thanks from the Wounded Warriors. Sarah Shay decided in that moment that she had to run New York, for Ryan and for the Continue Reading

Johnathan Lee Iverson is first New York and African American ringmaster of Ringling Brothers Circus

Only one rider aboard the Ringling Brothers Circus train enjoys his own rolling four-star apartment, custom-fitted with all the comforts of home. Yes, it's good to be the ringmaster. Johnathan Lee Iverson - the first New Yorker and the first African American to don the top hat and tails for Ringling Brothers - enjoys the perks that come with his time in the three rings. But it's definitely not his dream gig. "I wanted a career in opera, I studied voice for years, I grew up on the upper West Side, what did I know about the circus?" he said in his dressing room before a performance at Newark's Prudential Center one night last week. "Now I'm on the train, really a community without a zip code, 48 weeks a year," said Iverson, imposing at 6-feet-3 even in plainclothes. That train will be parked at rail yards in Long Island City when the circus comes to Madison Square Garden on March 25. The more than 200 performers will commute back and forth by subway. "When I was growing up, I never thought about the circus, or circus life," said Iverson, whose wife, Priscilla, a dancer with the circus, travels along with him and their two young children. Iverson, 34, sang with the renowned Harlem Boys Choir for 11 years and attended La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts. Shortly after graduating college with a degree in voice, he was asked to audition for the circus. "It was out of the blue. I was auditioning for dinner theater in Fort Atkinson, Wis., when a director I knew called and said Ringling Brothers was interested in a singing ringmaster," he said. That was 12 years ago and Iverson, a tenor with great range, became the youngest ringmaster in the history of the 136-year-old enterprise. Now, without question, the boy who grew up on 103rd St. and Central Park West has the circus deep in his bones. That's what happened to this son of a city firefighter and a postal worker after 400 shows a season, sometimes three on a Saturday. And he's Continue Reading

Walmart eying Brooklyn shopping center for first New York City location

Walmart is eying a proposed Brooklyn shopping center for its first New York City location, Crain's New York reported. The retail giant is scoping out the Gateway II shopping center near Jamaica Bay. Even though the proposal isn't official yet, community groups already are planning protests. Walmart is reportedly also checking out other unidentified sites in the city. Earlier efforts for outlets in Staten Island and Queens were scuttled by protests from labor and community groups, prompting then-Walmart CEO Lee Scott to declare that opening in the city wasn't "worth the effort." Now, New York is back on the big-box chain's radar. "We know that New Yorkers want to shop and work at Walmart, and as a result, we continue to evaluate potential opportunities here," Walmart exec Steven Restivo told Crain's. "New Yorkers want quality jobs and affordable groceries, and it remains our goal to be part of the solution." The plans of developer RelatedCos. for the 630,000-square-foot Gateway II center, near Starrett City, were approved by the City Council, meaning Walmart could move in without the Council's signoff. Opponents already are gearing up for a fight. "They'll have the battle of their lives," said City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn). "Walmart exploits workers ... and we want no part of that." Supermarket lobbyist Richard Lipsky said the developer could face a lawsuit because environmental studies didn't consider the amount of traffic a store like Walmart would generate. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Joe West booed before umpiring first New York Yankees game since insulting Bombers, Boston Red Sox

Joe West was behind the plate for Tuesday night's series opener against the Mariners, the first Yankees game he's umpired since calling the Bombers and the Red Sox "embarrassing and pathetic" for the length of their games on opening weekend in Boston. "No, I don't have any comments on it," West said shortly after arriving at the Stadium Tuesday night. "That was in April." Asked what type of reaction he expected to receive from the New York fans - he was booed, by the way - West shrugged and replied, "I hear 'em every time I go out there." The Yankees also attempted to downplay West's presence, with Derek Jeter saying, "We don't have any control over it. We'll go about doing what we do. That's more of a question for him." Still, Joe Girardi allowed that having West behind the plate "might be interesting. Who knows how the fans will react? "I didn't take it personal," Girardi added. "The way I see it, our team is based a lot on people taking a lot of pitches. That's the type of hitters that we have, the type of baseball that we play and that we believe in and that our general manager formulates our team. It's preached about in the minor leagues. I don't really get caught up in it. It is what it is. We've moved on." In an interesting coincidence to West working the game, Tuesday night's ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by John Isner. The 6-foot-9 American won the longest tennis match (11 hours) in history last week at Wimbledon - including a 70-68 fifth set. Unlike West, Isner received a huge ovation from the crowd - and both benches. CASH, ON RESERVESColin Curtis, Kevin Russo, Ramiro Peña and Chad Huffman, consider yourselves on notice based on what GM Brian Cashman told reporters Tuesday. "More than anything else, I think if there's an area of weakness, it's the bench," Cashman said. Asked if he thought the Yankees would be active on the trade market before the July 31 deadline, Cashman added, "I don't know. We'll be active if things make Continue Reading

Brooklyn Brewery co-founder Tom Potter plans to open first New York distillery since Prohibition

We'll drink to this!Brooklyn may be getting the first legal distillery to open in the city since the Prohibition era, the Daily News has learned. Tom Potter, who co-founded Brooklyn Brewery 22 years ago, is looking to get into the gin- and whisky-making business this summer with New York Distillery Co. "There's this long-term trend towards locally made beverage products. I saw it in the beer industry 20 years ago and that same movement is starting ... for distilled spirits," Potter said. "I think N.Y.C. deserves its own distiller, and I think I'm the man to do it." Potter got the idea to make his own gin and whisky a year ago after touring distilleries in California and Oregon. "Even though the stock market collapsed, I thought, 'I'm just gonna keep going with my plan,'" said the spirited entrepreneur, who hopes to raise $600,000 by the end of June to rent space in Gowanus, Red Hook or Williamsburg. "I'm optimistic. These are very challenging times to try to raise money, but traditional alcohol is recession-resistant: In good times people drink, and in bad times people drink," Potter said. Like the Brooklyn Brewery, the distillery will offer tours of the spirit-making process and a tasting room. Potter enlisted famed artist Milton Glaser, who helped create his beer labels, to design labels for his latest venture. "I'm still looking for a brand name. If you have an idea for a Brooklyn-based gin, let me know," he said. "I hope to get 10,000 cases out there within the next few years. They'll probably retail between $25-45 a bottle." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Broadway star Shannon Durig signed lease on her first New York apartment

The Closer: Real Estate Gossip*Which North Bronx new condominium project has stopped construction? It's happening in other city locations as well. We hope the buyers know. *Broadway star Shannon Durig, who plays Tracy Turnblad in the hit musical "Hairspray," just signed a lease on her first New York apartment. It's a one-bedroom rental for $2,400 at 75 West St. in the Financial District. Phillip Acha of Platinum Properties showed Durig apartments in the neighborhood. "We're a small boutique firm that's only 2%BD years old," says Acha, whose firm contains 142 rental listings in FiDi alone. "You'd get a fifth-floor walkup on the lower East Side if you're lucky for $2,400. It's all about value here. Shannon has water views, a health club, a 24-hour doorman and a roof deck." *Looking more like parts of Tampa Bay than Queens, The Towers at Water's Edge in Bayside has views of the Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges and Little Neck Bay and the Long Island Sound. Myles Horn, principal of MJH Birchwood, LLC, purchased 230 apartments in three 17-story high-rise buildings from the co-op board so he could upgrade the homes as renters vacated their waterfront units. Apartments range from 600 to 1,400 square feet and $300,000 to more than $795,000. Horn, raised in Bayside, thinks the future in New York real estate means Queens. "We're the undiscovered borough," he says, pointing out that these are waterfront homes. "There are at least 1,000 sailboats in the water out here through the spring and summer, and the waterfront esplanade is full of joggers, roller bladers and walkers. For Queens, Bayside is as upscale as you can get." To see a unit, call 718-819-0900. Bayside is 25 minutes from midtown Manhattan on the Long Island Rail Road. *East Harlem continues to drive interesting architectural developments. AFC Realty Capital's 2056 Fifth Ave., at 126th St., sold out 50% of its 22 homes without a sales office. That means they should sell more now that their fully functional on-site Continue Reading

FACE FIRST. New York boasts the world’s most expensive facial, and a slew of affordable world-class versions

In a town where a deli sandwich can set you back $12 and one month's rent could cover a few months of comfortable living in the Midwest, it's no surprise to see the world's most expensive ­facial pop up in New York. The Resculpting Facial at Tracie Martyn will set you back $460 (with the owner herself; associates get $300 for the same treatment). Martyn, who once commanded $2,000 a day as a premier makeup artist, parlayed her experience into a business that seemingly emulates the fountain of youth - and teems with a loyal celebrity following. The Resculpting Facial buffs clients' skin to a glowing shine with a diamond microdermabrasion machine, slathers them in hand-mixed products, infuses them with oxygen, and rejuvenates tired-looking skin with a unique machine that delivers electrical currents to shorten muscles, which temporarily lifts and tightens skin with reportedly miraculous results. As Madonna and Jennifer Aniston can attest, the ­facial is a singularly fabulous experience. But for those with red carpet tastes and city sidewalk budgets, New York is filled with fabulous alternatives at much friendlier prices. Some of the city's most affordable facials are just around the corner. DORIT BAXTER 47 W. 57th St., 1-800-836-4542 $69 for 55-minute facial Everything about Dorit Baxter's eponymous ­salon makes clients feel right at home - from a cozy space filled with natural light to the fruit and cookies the staff offers in the waiting room. Each ­facial is preceded by an extensive skin consultation, in which Baxter doles out customized advice, like avoiding sugar for those with a tendency for facial redness. She also advises on how to care for your skin at home, and then creates a made-to-order ­facial that's adjusted for skin type. And regulars, rejoice: If you purchase six facials, the seventh is free. ROMPAL SALON 319 Sixth Ave., Park Slope, (718) 965-9149 $45 for one-hour facial Rompal is a Continue Reading

First New York City Denny’s will serve Dom Perignon breakfast for the 1%

Wall Street has a new power breakfast. The Denny’s that opens Friday in the Financial District will offer a $300 version of its popular Grand Slam wake-up — complete with a bottle of 2004 Dom Perignon Premier Cru Champagne. The breakfast fit for a king is called the “Grand Cru Slam” — but besides the vino, it’s the standard morning eye-opener of eggs, pancakes, sausage and bacon. “It’s not an astronomical price for Dom Perignon,” says Mike Capoferri, who was hired by Denny’s to create a “craft cocktail” menu at its first Manhattan location. Yes, the FiDi version of “America’s diner” will also have specialty cocktails that start at $11. The bottle of the good stuff at Denny’s is a bargain compared to top restaurants in the area, which charge more than $400 for the bottle. “It’s a little absurd, but it’s really not a bad deal,” Zach Tirone, a sommelier at the LCL: Bar & Kitchen, tells The News. The upscale Midtown American gastropub sells the same bottle for $399. Even at a liquor store, this particular Perignon can cost $240 — and that’s without your breakfast for two. Some customers pair their Denny’s breakfast with orange juice or coffee, but Tirone said Champagne will keep your sunny side up. “The Champagne has great acidity so if you’re having richer and fatty foods like bacon it’s going to cut right through it,” he says. The 60-year-old chain has 1,680 locations across the country. But its first foray into the city demanded something a little more upscale. In addition to the fancy cocktails, the interior of the Nassau St. Denny’s features a mural of the Brooklyn Bridge, exposed brick walls, tin ceilings and leather booths. It's modern and sleek — as if Danny Meyer had a love child with an Continue Reading

Wegmans set to open first New York City store at Brooklyn Navy Yard

It’s not just a supermarket, it’s a job market. The upstate grocery-store chain Wegmans announced Wednesday that it’s coming to Brooklyn and bringing much-needed jobs, fresh produce and low prices with it. The Rochester-based company with a fierce cult following will open a 74,000-square-foot store on Admiral's Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “It’s a thrill to bring Wegmans to Brooklyn, along with hundreds of new jobs,” said Danny Wegman, the family-owned supermarket chain’s CEO. “Our employees are part of our family, and they are the reason for our success,” Wegman added. Wegmans will initially hire 450 people, including 150 full-time employees, the company said. It plans to eventually employ 600 people. While company spokeswoman Jo Natale declined to reveal what the jobs will pay, she told the Daily News, “Our rates are equal to or better than rates paid by other retailers.” Similar supermarket chains like Whole Foods pay employees, on average, $16 to $17 an hour. The company is committed to recruiting employees from the nearby Farragut, Whitman and Ingersoll housing projects, said Carlo Scissura, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “This new development will generate much needed jobs for residents in the area ...,” Scissura said. For 18 consecutive years, Wegmans has been ranked by Fortune magazine among the “100 Best Companies to Work For” — coming in 7th in the most recent survey. In addition to providing good health-care benefits, the company offers paid vacation for full-time and part-time employees and a matching 401-K plan. Since 1984, the company has spent $100 million on an employee scholarship program, paying the college tuition of 32,000 employees, Natale noted. Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen welcomed Wegmans as dovetailing Continue Reading