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Honestly? The cool part of Fifth downtown is south of Broadway. The uncool part is just north of it.

Eatery-wise anyway.

Maybe that was Pierre’s problem. Pierre’s Place (1404 Fifth Avenue, at Ash, 619-727-4700) was a brand-new construction. Father Joe was behind it. Toussaint Center for homeless teens. It's a whole building devoted to the project and it looks beautiful. But not a lot of foot traffic.

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It's named after Pierre Toussaint, plantation slave from Haiti, born 1766, died 87 years later in New York, one of the city’s most beloved philanthropists.

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Bronze statue of Pierre Toussaint

This is a school and a hostel and all. Toussaint Academy of the Arts and Sciences.

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Pierre’s was where they trained kids for a life in the restaurant business. It did good and it was good. And so was its food. I had one of their Tuscan chicken panini once. Hot, crispy, squelchy.

And it became a talent center too. Open mikes, socials, meetings, usually something happening at night.

Called by the other night and…all the tables and chairs were there, but nothing happening. Darkness.

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Went in to the Academy next door. “They’ve been closed at least a month and a half,” says Molly, the gal at the reception desk. “It’s a pity because it was teaching teens responsibility, and marketable skills. But we’re hoping to open right up again.”

“What’s holding you up?” I ask. I kinda know the answer.

“Money, of course,” says Molly.

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