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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.


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.


Bronze statue of Pierre Toussaint

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


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.


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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