A ‘Mrs Maisel’ Star Likes to Hang at UWS Hardware Store

Upper West Sider Tony Shalhoub loves hardware supplies.

By Michael McDowell

Tony Shalhoub, who plays Mrs. Maisel’s father in the hit Amazon show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, is a longtime Upper West Sider. And like many locals, he likes to spend time at the hardware store. Specifically, Shalhoub reveals in an interview with the New York Post, he spends a lot of time at Basics Plus, the shop at 2315 Broadway, between 83rd and 84th Streets.

“When I’m home, I like to tinker and fix things around the house. There’s a place, up the street from Zabar’s, called Basics Plus. They have things for the kitchen and bath and will sharpen your knives. It’s one-stop shopping, which I love. I last bought some LED light bulbs there. They have everything you need. Then you go there and buy things that you didn’t think you needed,” Shalhoub told the Post.

“It’s true,” said Rafael Villar, who manages Basics Plus. “Just like he said, he walks in and says, ‘Eh, I’m just looking around, don’t mind me’ and then he comes to the counter with lightbulbs, a knife, things he probably doesn’t need. But why not?”

Rafael Villar.

As I strolled the aisles, it was clear that when it comes to home improvement, Basics Plus stocks almost everything under the sun: caulk, doorknobs, a menagerie of nuts and bolts, stove-top espresso makers. But even with such a selection, the well-organized store is impressively tidy.

Some customers ambled and perused, while others had a clear and present purpose: a well-dressed man was after a refrigerator lightbulb; a neighborhood doorman searched for a Christmas present for his wife (a set of knives, ultimately); a bespectacled graduate student needed to copy a key.

At a moment when so many local businesses have shuttered—it’s hard to miss the vacancies, on Broadway, Amsterdam or Columbus—Basics Plus is here to stay. Villar, who has managed the 2315 Broadway location for two years and has been with Basics Plus for twelve years, knows why local businesses matter: customer service, and community.

“Eighty percent of the faces, we see them every day. The neighborhood supports us,” he said.

And Basics Plus supports its customers, he says.

“We go the extra mile. Older folks, whomever, they ask for something: we make it work. For example, we do free delivery. The minimum is $25, but an elderly person, if he or she is spending only $10, I tell them, ‘You know what, I’ll send my guy. He’ll walk with you. He’ll help you up the stairs.”

“That’s how we do business,” Villar added.

At a time when it’s effortless to shop online, it’s the human touch that draws regulars—the human touch, and prompt service. Basics Plus currently operates seven locations in Manhattan. According to a 2008 piece in New York magazine, the story began in 1989, when a then 21-year-old Zvi Cohen and a childhood friend opened a locksmithery on the Upper East Side.

What does Villar like most about the Upper West Side?

“The people. If you treat them well, they can be very sweet.”

Shalhoub also called out Zabar’s and Barney Greengrass, as well as Celeste, the restaurant at 502 Amsterdam Avenue (84th), and Lokale, at 473 Columbus Avenue (83rd), as favorite spots.

“For dinner, we favor a little Italian place called Celeste, which you have to know about to find — Stanley Tucci introduced me to the place — and they don’t take reservations. The appetizer of fried artichokes covered with fried parsley is a revelation. Then there’s the Turkish place, around the corner from us. It’s called Lokale, and we can bring Scoop inside.”

Lastly, he mentioned loving H&H Bagels. But does he mean the old one or the new one?

ABSURDITY, NEWS | 12 comments | permalink
    1. Giulia says:

      What are you doing West Side Rag, trying to make me a stalker? 😉

    2. Eleanor Bell says:

      I love Basics Plus.

      Great service, and an incredibly vast assortment of items for your home.

    3. Catherine says:

      We love Basics Plus, too. My husband particularly loves their “kookie” socks and almost always comes home w a couple of pairs. They are always helpful and give treats to our dogs. Some might remember when half of their current space used to be called Riverside Housewares and the owners were Stanley & his wife, later w his daughter after he passed away. It was not nearly as organized, but Standley knew every bolt and widget in the store. They repaired things and they were always going to yard sales and antique auctions. You never knew what you might find there. I think the new BP is doing a great job!

    4. UWSHebrew says:

      Tony Shalhoub is great in everything he does. I remember how quirky he was on Wings. Scene stealer in MIB I and II.

    5. Irene says:

      I went to Basics Hardware for a repair to my Miele vacuum. The young man who helped me couldn’t have been nicer or more honest. It’s fantastic to have a neighborhood store you can run into for any number of things with service you can count on.

    6. Neil Borrell says:

      I’ve run into Kate Mulgrew in a hardware store on 102nd and Broadway.

    7. Yael says:

      I suppose many will be browsing for Shalhoub…umm… I mean hardware supplies at Basics Plus, more often than usual now. Just kidding! “Real” New Yorkers barely respond to celebrities. We allow them to blend. I think it’s in my dna to never make eye contact or stare at the famous. I just keep on walking. (Except with Bella Abzug, Michael Moore, Adam & Eve Purple. I suppose that shows my age, lol)

    8. Antonia says:

      Surely he means the old one for bagels. The new one is not the same at all. The people and variety of goods at Basics Plus are great, but for a serious old time hardware store with paint too and excellent advice on home improvement, don’t miss Beacon Hardware on Amsterdam near 77th street.

    9. Jen says:

      Wonderful actor and wonderful store. Happy we have both on UWS.

      Also, there’s a really good hardware store on w.72 street, both service and the selection are excellent.

    10. Mark says:

      I like Basics Plus, but it’s a little antiseptic as hardware stores go. In truth, the hardware store that occupied the space for more than 30 years before was better. It wasn’t a chain, but family owned and operated. I am sure people here will remember Riverside Hardware.

    11. Sheila Wolk says:

      I always go to this store when I need things in apt…I dont live ultra close but always make my way there anyway. They also have the best lighting department downstairs since that great Lighting store closed down on Amsterdam Ave years ago!…I always fund their employees very helpful and on occasion when i cant make it over there I do get deliveries.They always help me out on phone as well. A much needed store in our neighborhood…Thanks 🙂