Our favorite spots to Make It Fun during NYNOW

Whether you’re a regular at NYNOW or if it’s your first time in the Javits Center, the FCTRY team knows you’ll probably need a moment to get away from it all. Every year we compile a list of all our faves around Manhattan, near(ish) the Javits Center. These spots are just a quick subway ride away — from steak to tempeh, matcha to margaritas, these places have you covered. And yes, they’re all very cool. We’re from Brooklyn, remember?

Match the number on the map to its partner in the below list. They’re also all linked to Google Maps, if that’s your thing. And by the way — this year we even printed the map out for you. Visit our booth (#7838) to grab one. And some gummy bears to snack on while you decide where to eat.


Make It Full: our fave food spots

  1. Little Beet Table – $$ – Modern restaurant offering an organic, vegetarian-focused, gluten-free menu.
  2. Shake Shack – $ – Located in the center of Madison Square Park, come for comfort food like burgers & frozen custard, stay for the outdoor seating & people-watching.
  3. Num Pang – $ – Local chain of eateries making creative Asian-inspired sandwiches, salads & sides.
  4. Mala Project – $$ – Cozy, hip spot featuring Chinese dry pot with a choice of spice level, plus appetizers & dim sum.
  5. Minca – $$ – Small Japanese ramen place offering many iterations of the signature soup, plus dumplings & sake.
  6. Jack’s Wife Freda – $$ – Simple spot serving American fare with Middle Eastern influences plus classic cocktails.
  7. The Bao – $$ – Chic eatery known for Shanghai-style xiao long bao soup dumplings with classic & creative fillings.
  8. Flex Mussels – $$ – Mussels & frites are the main event at this hopping seafood eatery also featuring homemade donuts.
  9. Chop Shop II – $$ – Modern Pan-Asian dishes & wine round out the menu at this sleek, minimalist eatery.
  10. Red Cat – $$$ – Popular Chelsea eatery serving New American fare in a narrow setting, with a buzzy front bar.
  11. Cookshop – $$$ – Energetic hot spot by the High Line serving American fare plus a popular brunch.
  12. Fonda – $$ – High-end Mexican cuisine & tequila cocktails galore in a festive dining room.
  13. Le Grainne Cafe – $$ – Relaxed, Parisian-style bistro with sidewalk tables offering classic French food, coffee & desserts.
  14. Tía Pol – $$ – A tiny, rustic space is an apt setting for traditional Spanish tapas.
  15. Penelope – $$ – Neighborhood spot serving American comfort-food staples in a country-chic setting.
  16. Cosme – $$ – Sleek Mexican spot with a big bar for locally sourced share plates, plus tequila & mezcal cocktails.
  17. ABC Kitchen – $$$ – Chic New American eatery sourcing local, organic ingredients.
  18. Red Bamboo – $$ – Mock meat & faux fish takes on Asian fare, plus vegan desserts. All-vegetarian menu!
  19. Los Tacos – $ – Bustling taqueria inside Chelsea Market serving tacos, quesadillas & aguas frescas in a street-style set-up (no seating).

    Make It Caffeinated: for when you need a buzz


  20. Cha Cha Matcha – $ – Place specializing in hot & iced green tea, plus coffee, baked goods & soft serve.
  21. Paper Coffee – $ – In the lobby of the Made Hotel, cozy cafe provides espresso & unique cocktails.
  22. Stumptown Coffee – $ – Inside the chic Ace Hotel, offering house-roasted direct-trade coffee, along with brewing gear & whole beans.
  23. Buvette – $$ – Popular, quaint bistro offering a French small-plates menu.
  24. Cafe Grumpy – $ – Hip local coffeehouse chain serving a range of house-roasted brews in a relaxed setting.

    Make It Strong: after-hours haunts

  25. Sake Bar Decibel – $$ – Underground sake bar offering a large list of varietals along with Japanese snacks.
  26. Lois – $$ – Bar in the same group as ABC Beer Co. serving 16 wines on tap & small plates in an inviting space.
  27. Loverboy – $$ – Casually hip corner bar serving clever house cocktails, tricked-out bar bites & pizza by the slice.

Protected: How The Real Life Action Figures Got Made

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6 RBG Reaction GIFs For Basically Everything

Because RBG says it all.

  1. In your 9am meeting and you haven’t had your coffee yet:

2. When ‘omg’ just doesn’t cut it:

3. When your friend tries to show you new music but you’re set in your ways:

4. Getting in the car and someone pulls up to wait for your spot:

5. When you’re already feeling that #PrideMonth joy:

6. When you win an argument that didn’t matter, but you want to gloat anyway:

Want your own RBG Action Figure? Make sure you’re signed up here.

You can even earn one for free by sharing with friends. Yes way.

You be the Judge!

The RBG Action Figure is calling on YOU.

We always want to be mindful of the things that are important to you, which is why we’re asking you to be the “judge” for us this time.

As we’ve done in the past, we will donate $1 for each RBG Action Figure sold via Kickstarter. We’ve gathered a few causes we feel passionate about, we just need help choosing one.

Feel free to visit the following links to learn more about these awesome organizations:

The National Women’s Law Center
The NWLC champions policies and laws that help women and girls achieve their potential at every stage of their lives — at school, at work, at home, and in retirement. 

She’s the First
STF supports girls who will be the first in their families to graduate high school and trains students everywhere to be global citizens.

Running Start
Running Start is a nonpartisan movement that helps young women leaders gain the skills they need to feel confident and ready to lead in politics.

Girls Write Now
GWN matches girls with professional women writers and runs mentorship programs on writing, portfolio building, publishing, college prep, and more.

And when you’re ready, complete the survey below to help us decide where our RBG donation will go! If you feel we should consider another organization, you can even add your own option.

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Finding Pope Francis

Sculptor Mike Leavitt Opens Up On Inspiration,
Action Figures & Latching Onto Positivity

FCTRY’s Zoe Cronin talked with Mike Leavitt, the designer of Real Life Action Figures, about finding “divine inspiration” during a moment of political upheaval.

Zoe Cronin: So, Jason told me a little bit about the story of how you created the Pope Francis Action Figure. I heard that the idea actually emerged out of negative feelings for Trump. Could you tell me a little bit more about that?


Mike Leavitt: It was towards the end of 2016, maybe January 2017, when that big bummer from the election started to kind of settle down a bit, although I think we were all sort of traumatized still. I was definitely desperate for something positive to do, something that I could latch onto. I wasn’t having any great ideas about it; I was kind of like, “ah maybe I can get politically active, give money to charities” and that was all good, but it was around that time in January 2017 that the Pope came out with a paper on the environment, and suddenly it kind of clicked like ok, this is awesome, this is a good person. My first thought was, we should do a Pope Francis action figure — and I think I texted Jason within the hour and he immediately texted back. All I said was something like, “the pope?” with a question mark, no major proposition, just like ‘hey what do you think of this’ and he said “I was just thinking the same thing”. He and I have sort of had that give-and-take in the past, where we won’t talk for weeks and months and then suddenly we’ll have the same idea at the same time. So it just seemed like it had to be done.



ZC: Sounds like it was divine intervention.


ML: (laughing) I think so, I think so. I think if you reach down into our non-Christian souls, yeah.


ZC: With Pope Francis, people probably don’t think of the Pope as someone who is superhero-like, but you talked about his statements on the environment and things like that. What is it about him that you think makes him a good action figure?


ML: Well, for one he’s really cute. He’s just kind of this adorable character. I think that was something we were missing from the last Pope and maybe the guy before, not just cuteness but also this warm glow. He’s someone who just has that hue. I think that was the feeling I got from the Dalai Lama and other spiritual leaders like that, and I think maybe that was something we were all wanting from a Pope-like figure that we hadn’t had before. It’s just this positive feeling that comes from him. I’ve never practiced Christianity at all in my life, but I remember growing up liking Pope John Paul II in the 80s and just thinking, ‘he seems nice’. Then I guess as an adult you get cynical and bitter, and somehow this guy Pope Francis tapped into that same nice feeling. I don’t know if that’s a superhero quality, but it definitely is a quality to symbolize as an icon.


ZC: I think, in 2018, just being nice probably does make you a superhero.


ML: (laughing) I guess that is what it comes down to. Just be nice and everyone will love you.

ZC: Absolutely. So, up until this point, the action figures you’ve created with us at FCTRY have all been political figures, particularly US political figures. Where do you think Pope Francis fits into that group?


ML: Well politically, the Pope always influences US politics. It’s always been a direct relationship there, on a larger scale. And that’s the way I feel. So much of the US is Christian or Catholic, and many US citizens are looking to the Pope as a leader. And I don’t know if you could call that a political leader, but I think he fills some of that role. As far as fitting in with the rest of our figures, it feels like a natural transition out of politics, because of the way Pope Francis has kind of meddled in politics — and I mean that in a good way — he’s that kind of guy, coming from South America and being politically active. So as far as Popes go he’s kind of a political guy. And Jason and I, as we’ve moved forward, we’ve wanted to get out of politics, knowing we’ll keep doing that, but wanting to branch out. It felt like this guy in particular was a nice step in that direction.


ZC: Definitely. So I know it’s probably a long process getting an idea to become an actual sculpture or an actual product, but could you break down for me the creative process you go through when you create these action figures?


ML: Yeah, so the first step was Jason and I saying ‘let’s do this’. Then I sit down and try to do a really nice, refined drawing. That really helps the design process. Then Jason and Alyssa and I and anyone else at FCTRY will look over the drawing and give general notes about the outfit, pose, and anything else. Then from the drawing it’s pretty much straight into sculpting. I do a lot of measurements and proportions from the drawing; now I even print the drawing to the same exact size that the figure will be sculpted at, so sometimes I don’t even have to make measurements. Then I’ll build a little armature to hold the clay, it’s pretty simple but it’s a steel wire base.

And then as I’m sculpting, the more we’ve done this, the more back-and-forth we do while I’m sculpting. So I’m taking pictures and sending them back to FCTRY and getting notes, and we move forward from there. But the sculpting process that takes up the bulk of the time is pretty intense; I have to really sit down and channel these characters. I’m printing out a lot of photos, doing a lot of reading, and trying to capture their essence and figure out what really moves them. A lot of times you don’t see it at first glance, but I try to get that in the subtleties, like how they hold their face or hands, or how their smile relaxes on their cheekbones, just little tiny things like that. It’s an intuitive process that I’m going through while I’m sculpting to get all that down.


ZC: It’s a big job to condense all that down to six inches!


ML: Yeah, and it is nice to work bigger so I can get more detail, but when something is that tiny and miniature, it’s more important for me to make the caricature simpler. I don’t have the luxury of doing a whole bunch of detail in an eye, so I just have to make it a little bit cartoony, and that actually demands that I capture their essence even better. It has to be a really simple snapshot.


ZC: That’s surprisingly very poetic. So, what is your biggest dream that people will get out of these figures? Do you have any thing that you hope people will ultimately gain from them?


ML: To be perfectly honest, I would love to see the Pope action figure being sold in the Vatican gift shop. That would be super cool. I think it would be very cool if a Catholic person or family who did a pilgrimage to the Vatican to go see their lifelong hero actually bought one of these things in reverence to him. I think a lot of our figures with FCTRY so far have been a little bit tongue-in-cheek, especially Trump and maybe a little bit Hillary, and I think there are a lot of Bernie lovers, but there’s still some irony that we’re playing with, and I love that. I’m definitely into satire. But I think this one in particular would be interesting for me to see — if people who do really love him, and there are a lot around the world — if they saw the figure in the same way.


ZC: Definitely. And as for the larger group, when you started making these political action figures, was there any major dream you had for them at the beginning?


ML: Yeah, it’s been a long time for me. I’ve been sculpting figures like one-offs and sculptures since 2003, so it’s been 15 years. And it’s only been in the last maybe 5 years with FCTRY. I guess my original inspiration 15 years ago has finally come to fruition, because when I first started sculpting them it was kind of a joke. I was like, ‘yeah, it would be funny if I made action figures out of famous artists’, and that went great. The one-offs I was able to sell in art galleries, and that felt really good as a sort of parody on art culture. So that I could really sink my teeth into, and I did for a long time.

But when I first started the action figures, it wasn’t just about making fun of consumer culture and toys, it was also because I used to love these things! As a kid I collected hundreds of them! And the idea that I could actually make money making them is a dream come true. And now in my adult art career, going back to that original inspiration is fantastic. And especially with Jason being a like-minded person, the two of us going back and forth and sharing a similar vision, he definitely wants to respect whatever I want to do. And that’s another layer of beauty — not only do I get to work with a toy company that’s helping my career, it’s also people who I love, and we can meander forward not necessarily knowing what we’re going to do next, but eventually finding something that vibrates really well.


ZC: Wow, I honestly wasn’t expecting this conversation to be so touching! You kind of stole my next question away from me — what is it about action figures in particular that is most impactful as a product? Because we could be making political stuffed animals, or we could just be selling sculptures, but what do you think it is about an action figure that makes these characters more interesting for you?


ML: Well one thing is that it’s figurative sculpture; it’s somewhat realistic and I really love that. That to me carries a lot of art history to it, because I’m still studying old masters like Michelangelo and Renaissance sculptors and all that, which I really love. I also love the fact that, with action figures, art history and figurative sculpture gets shrunk down to such a tiny scale so that it fits in your pocket. When I was a kid that was what made those things awesome. I could carry them out of my house and have like 5 in my pocket, and then wherever I went I could have them around and be able to play with them. And I guess nowadays for collectors who are adults that’s nice because pragmatically you have more room to display them or store them. And the other thing that we’ve landed on through the last few figures we’ve been doing, especially with Liz Warren and Hillary, it’s become really interesting to be doing action figures of women in particular in the context of dolls. We got into this when we were marketing Hillary. It was really interesting and powerful because when I was growing up with action figures, the whole joke was that “oh, you’re just playing with dolls”. And we’d always be really defensive and angry and say, “they’re not dolls, they’re action figures, don’t call them that!”. And that comes back into play because a doll has this kind of sexist body type that it’s supposed to be, but as soon as you try to make those proportions somewhat realistic, you call it an action figure.

ZC: That’s really interesting. One last kind of silly question, and maybe you’ve already done this in your life before, but if you could make an action figure out of anybody, who would it be?


ML: That’s not silly at all! There are so many of them, that’s tough. Of anybody?


ZC: I’ll give you permission to list a few.


ML: (laughing) Well, I haven’t made one of myself in a long time. It’s probably overdue to make another one of myself. My dad passed away last year, and I did one of him a few years ago, but I should do another one of him. It feels really nice to kind of memorialize people, and I’ve done this for other people sometimes as a commission, to make one of someone who’s passed away. So I think more of that. I’ve done a lot of famous people and celebrities, plenty of those. So I think it might be really nice to do more of those memorial-type figures. ●


Mike Leavitt is a sculptor and pop artist from Seattle, Washington, and the designer of Real Life Action Figures. For more on Mike, visit his website.

The Pope Francis Action Figure is available now on FCTRY.com.

How to get doughnuts from Elizabeth Warren

This fall, with the launch of our Elizabeth Warren Real Life Action Figure, we gave you a challenge: document your adventures with Liz and there might be a sweet surprise in store. After our mini-Warrens made their way to their new homes, we received over 100 entries to win a prize of Brooklyn’s finest doughnuts. Out of those, we painstakingly selected three standout entries that capture the Senator’s dynamic spirit.




Although we only picked three winners, we wanted to shout out entries that gave us a laugh.


#WithWarren, you rallied for change:

And made inter-species peace:

Our mini-Warren even made it to the Senator’s very own headquarters:

A huge thanks to everyone who entered — there were so many great moments, choosing just three to win was a formidable task to take on. This time around, we decided to stick with the popular vote of the FCTRY team’s favorite photos.



The champions of this challenge were selected for their ingenuity, quality, and dynamic nature — just like the Senator.


Warren got together with some friends and fought for net neutrality:

Cheered for teams big & small:

And caught up on some light reading:

by @lesliesue13

Congratulations Nicole, Taj, and Leslie! Thanks for sticking #WithWarren.

Of course, the best part of this contest was seeing all that you did #WithWarren by your side. If you want to have your own adventures #WithWarren, you can find her here. And you can find some of her friends (and one foe) here.

12 Best Cafes, Bars, and Restaurants Near the Javits Center

Here for NYNOW? Avoid overpriced, mediocre convention center food with the Winter 2017 FCTRY Guide to Places to Eat and Drink Near the Javits Center.

Let’s be real. No one comes to New York City and looks forward to bland, overpriced cafeteria food served in a dimly lit space. It’s the sort of experience you can expect at the Javits, and venturing outside can be daunting for the New York City newcomer. Once a barren desert of endless construction, more and more exquisite places to eat are popping up by the Javits.

As New Yorkers (okay, Brooklynites) and long-time Javits exhibitors, we took it upon ourselves to compile a list of our favorite places to eat and drink near the Javits Center so that you can make the most of your time in our fair city. From quick breakfasts to classy dinners for the hangry hungry buyer, we’ve got you covered for NYNOW with fresh bites for 2017!

Coffee that ISN’T Starbucks!

1. Think Coffee – 10 minute walk –  $
Think Coffee is a well-known and beloved NYC coffee chain and, lucky for us, they have multiple locations within easy walking distance from the Javits. Try out the one two blocks north of the Javits, hidden away in the courtyard of a residential tower. Its peaceful, chill atmosphere is perfect if you need to catch up on some work away from the noise.

Melissa’s Pick: Dough Doughnuts

2. Blue Bottle Coffee – 13 minute walk – $$
Located in the ultra hipster and swanky Gotham West Market, Blue Bottle Coffee has become a New York staple for caffeinated tastiness and quality baked goods. Stop in before, during, or after the show for a quick coffee fix!

3. Romeo and Juliet Columbian Coffee – 11 minute walk – $

Need an extensive coffee menu? And place to hole up for some work outside of the Javits? Romeo and Juliet has both, as well as decent selection of pastries.

Tyler’s Pick: Iced Coffee

Lunch Spots with Shorter Lines and (Much) Better Food

1. Friedman’s – 8 minute walk – $$ 
Friedman’s whips up home-style cooking and serves it with a friendly flair. They serve everything from breakfast favorites like pancakes topped with seasonal fruits to All-American dinner classics like steaks and burgers. You can’t go wrong at Friedman’s.

Reid’s Pick: The Lamb Burger

2. Sunac Natural Market – 10 minute walk – $
This full-service grocery store offers a wonderful array of healthy and affordable options for breakfast and lunch. Sunac Natural Market also features an impressive juice and smoothie menu for a morning or afternoon pick-me-up.

Highlight: Open 24/7

3. The Gotham West Market – 13 minute walk – $$
This landing pad is one of FCTRY’s all time favorites. It’s the ultimate artisanal food court with an artistic, urban ambiance. It’s home to a number of New York cult food hits, serving up anything from ramen to Mexican to sushi burritos.

Tyler’s Pick: El Colmado for the tapas
Erica’s Pick: Ample Hills Creamery for Snap Mallow Pop Ice Cream
Hunter’s Pick: Uma Temakeria for the Sushi Burrito

4. Rustic Table – 13 minute walk – $$
A cozy spot that serves the classic coffee, tea, and sandwiches that we all love. Serving up breakfast quiches to smoked salmon sandwiches, Rustic Table has a tasty treat for everyone.

Highlights: Farm-fresh food

Happy Hour? Drink Please!

1. The Press Lounge – 16 minute walk – $$
On top of the roof of the Ink48 Hotel, The Press Lounge has stunning and unmatched views of the city while overlooking the Hudson. This bar and lounge offers a menu ranging from unique cocktails to vino classics, alongside a modest sampling of bar foods. The Press Lounge does require an “elegant casual” dress code, meaning leave those Yankees baseball caps and LuLuLemons behind, and dress to impress.

Highlight: Rooftop lounge with views

2. ooviña – 14 minute walk – $$

ooviña is a tapas style restaurant with Mexican and Guatemalan influences. Unwind after the long trade show days with a small bite and a drink from their creative cocktail menu.

Amanda’s Pick – Yucca frites and the Sangria

* The FCTRY Booth – NYNOW Booth 7838 – FREE!!
If you’re at Javits Center and in need of a little late day pick-me-up then come over to the FCTRY booth after 5PM. We’ll be serving up some strong but tasty margaritas right there in our booth. It’s a little tradition of ours that we love to uphold.

Highlights – Handmade drinks served to you by Tyler in adorable Gummygoods bubbles bottles.

Dinner. Is. Served.

1. PRINT – 16 minute walk – $$$ 
Top FCTRY Recommendation! This trendy restaurant specializes in fine American dining, with dishes ranging from Wagyu Beef Carpaccio to more traditional fare such as Roasted Chicken and Ribeye Steak. Print is located at the Ink48 Hotel alongside the aforementioned drink pick, The Press Lounge, so head down once happy hour is over.

Alyssa’s Pick: Goat Cheese Gnocchi & Short Ribs
Jason’s Pick: Fettuccine

2. Bea – 18 minute walk – $$
Escape the chaos of the city by stepping into Bea. Bea offers a warm, intimate ambiance, making you feel like you’re in another time. Bea features a creative drink menu with some exciting twists on classic American cuisine.

Erica’s Pick: Ricotta and Honey Toast

3. Nizza – 20 minue walk – $$

In the mood for some classic Italian? Go to Nizza where you can load up on carbs. The best part is that they offer gluten-free options.

Amanda’s Pick: Gnocchi or the Pappardelle

 Downtown, for the Adventurous

We tried to focus on places you can walk to from the Javits Center but if we’re being honest, the only time we ever hang out up there is during trade shows. If you’re looking for something more authentically New York, you should probably head downtown.

1. Minca – 22 minute subway ride  – $$
According to FCTRY Ramen Connoiseur, Lucas, this is the best place to get ramen in the city. “Don’t go anywhere else [for ramen]. They’re all garbage,” he claims. With flavorful broths and satisfyingly chewy noodles, Minca’s a great place to check out if you’re in the mood for some authentic ramen. The Basic Broth is anything, BUT basic.

Lucas’s Pick: Basic Broth

2. Jack’s Wife Freda – 28 minute subway ride – $$
A simple and sweet spot for dinner in the West Village. Jack’s Wife Freda fuses American fare with touches of Mediterranean flavors. Dishes range from the classic hamburger to Spiced Rack of Lamb. If you’re looking for a nice, low key spot for dinner and drinks, Jack’s Wife Freda will absolutely fill that order.

Erica’s Pick: Chipotle Chocolate Cake

3. Vanessa’s Dumpling House – 30 minute subway ride – $$

Eric cites Vanessa’s as his go-to place for dinner when he’s in the downtown area. There is more than one location, but check out the one in the Lower East Side. Obviously go for the dumplings if you’re here as well as the savory pancakes.

Eric’s Pick: Fried Pork Dumplings, Duck Pancake

4. Flex Mussels – 20 minute subway ride – $$
Flex has an extensive list of original seafood entrees and platters, but if you’re at Flex, you’ve gotta go for the mussels. Obviously.

Janie’s Pick: Thai mussels and the Parma mussels, and any of the dessert donuts

What did we miss?

We know we’re not the only ones who’ve spent too much time around the Javits Center. What are your favorite spots? Use the comments below to let us know!

Stop by and say “I can’t live without Unicorn Snot” to get $5 off your order at NYNOW.
It only works if you say it in person.  🙂