The TCQ&A: “I Bought a Stuffed Wombat at Moomah”

wendy-gardner-by-tribeca-citizenWendy Gardner, creator of the Naughty Naughty Pets, has sold her plush toys worldwide. Based on her characters, she has created children’s books, an animated series on the Cartoon Network, licensed merchandise, and, currently in the works, a musical. She lives in Tribeca with her husband, with whom she has two kids and two cats. She’s also developing a new line of plush toys called Happy Sugar.

How long have you lived in Tribeca?
I moved here when I got married 15 years ago. My husband lived here and I was a Lower East Side girl. I used to Rollerblade across Grand Street to visit him. We first lived on Hudson  over a bar that we owned called Embassy.

estancia-by-tribeca-citizenWhich restaurants do you frequent most often?
I take my kids quite often to Estancia 460 [left] We’ve been going there forever, since it started as Sosa Borella. We love the fries!

Which restaurants do you tend to go to for special occasions?
We always go to Capsouto Frères on special occasions. When I was pregnant with my first child I craved the food there so much that we went several times a week. I found the atmosphere very calming. And we’ll never forget how they looked after us during those scary days after 9/11.

Where do you order in (or get take-out) from? Are there dishes you always order?
We order sushi from Tataki on Lispenard and pizza and pasta from Dean’s. We always get the square pizza.

Which shops do you find it hard to resist popping into when you pass by?
I always stop in at Moomah to get a cappuccino and look at all the craft projects. I don’t know if people realize they sell wonderful do-it-yourself kits and great books and toys for kids—and they make the best cappuccinos!

What was the last non-essential item you bought in Tribeca?
A stuffed wombat at Moomah
. I’m a plush toy maker and a collector.

Are there any services (salon, fitness, etc.) that you’re particularly glad are in the neighborhood?
I’m very grateful for the
Hudson River Park path and the tennis courts—I think they’ve done a great job fixing it up so far. My kids love to run along the top of the rocks. But what’s up with Pier 25? We miss the mini golf.

canal-pier-by-tribeca-citizenWhat’s Tribeca’s best-kept secret?
The pier at Canal Street [right]. I don’t know what number it is. I like to run backward down the pier and we ride our bikes there. It’s never crowded, just a few fisherman on the end of the pier, and in summer the it’s about 10 degrees cooler out there.

Where do you always take out-of-towners?
I always take my guests to
Smith & Mills for a pint. It’s like stepping through a time portal to 19th-century Europe.

pearline-lofts-by-tribeca-citizenWhich neighborhood building do you wish you lived in and/or owned?
I really like the
Pearline Lofts building [left] on Washington Street. My husband says it’s brand new, but I guess I wasn’t paying attention because I thought it was an old building that was renovated. It really blends in well and it fooled me! It seems to have a nice mix of luxury and old-style charm. But I’ve only seen pictures of the interior so it could just be good marketing.

What’s your favorite part of Tribeca (street, park, whatever)?
Even though I just moved from there I’m still fond of Washington Street. It’s the one part of Tribeca that still feels industrial and raw—though it’s changing fast. It makes me laugh when cars from out of town pull over on Washington to stop and make out or pee on the street because they think no one lives there!

Your most memorable Tribeca celebrity sighting?
Many years ago I was walking my friend’s dog, Katie, on Hudson and John F. Kennedy Jr. stopped to pet her and he said to me, “That’s a good looking dog.” I’ll never forget that!

If you could change one thing about the neighborhood, what would it be?
I guess I would stop it from changing.

zinc-building-by-tribeca-citizenWhat’s changed in Tribeca that you like? That you don’t?
I like the
Zinc Building [right]! Of course, my opinion is somewhat biased because my husband built it. To me it looks like a bright sparkly diamond on the ring finger of Tribeca! I also like that they are putting the cobblestones back on Greenwich Street. It must be expensive and I think it’s insane, but it looks cool. What I don’t like is that big 300-unit monstrosity, Truffles Tribeca, at Watts and Washington. I’m sorry…. It’s just plain ugly!

Why Tribeca?
Tribeca is the greatest neighborhood in NYC. It has it all: parks, open spaces, shadows, history. I feel like I’m living in a little village by the sea.

Any questions you wish you’d been asked?
I wish I’d been asked why I think Tribeca is fun for kids.

OK, then, why is Tribeca fun for kids?
Ever since my kids were little we’ve always run along the  metal ramps and loading docks, up and over them, through the railings. My kids just take them for granted but other neighborhoods don’t have them. Also, when it snows we’ve enjoyed the huge snow mountains that they dump in front of the Citigroup building on Greenwich, and that “plaza” is fun year round. My kids follow the “train track,” those red-brick paths that weave around the trees. There’s even a brick with my husband’s name on it. They always get a kick out of seeing that and I’m not even sure how it got there. I guess he donated 50 bucks a long time ago. There’s a lot more. Canal Park is great for practicing our bike riding. The grass along the Hudson is great for dinner picnics. And in front of the Ear Inn, where you can see where the river’s edge used to be, we pretend we’re swimming to shore. Endless fun here in Tribeca!

Previous TCQ&As:
Dan Rubenstein: Kitchenette’s Turkey Meatloaf Is My Favorite
• Pam Chmiel: “I Wish I Could Renovate Pier A into a Waterfront Home”
• Jeff Tabak: “I’d Put the Sawdust Back on the Floor of Morgan’s”
Kimberly Reed: “My Puppy Would Not Stop Sniffing Ed Burns”
Hanne Larsen and Melanie Zrihen: “We Wrote Our Business Plan at Kaffe 1668”


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