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SantaCon Spent Charity Funds on Crypto, Burning Man, Report Says

Plus, a popular Japanese chain is opening in Midtown — more intel

A mob of stumbling New Yorkers dressed in Santa Claus and elf costumes parade through the streets of New York City.
SantaCon returns to Manhattan on Saturday.
Gabby Jones/Getty

SantaCon, which returns to New York City this Saturday, says that it’s “raised over 1.1 million dollars for charitable causes,” but a new report from Gothamist claims the group has been naughty, not nice. Between 2014 and 2022, SantaCon raised $1.4 million, but only a fifth of that money went to registered non-profits, according to Gothamist. A third of its donations went to groups or individuals connected to art projects at Burning Man, while the group lost thousands on cryptocurrency investments in 2018. More than half of the funds were used to cover operating costs, like temporary staff, venue contracts, and permits.

A Japanese coffee chain expands

% Arabica, the hit Japanese coffee shop, has another location on the way. The Kyoto-based company is opening this month at 1250 Sixth Avenue, in Rockefeller Center, a spokesperson confirms. The chain is known for its minimalist cafes and cutting-edge coffee equipment; green coffee beans from across the world can be roasted on-site and taken home. The first U.S. location opened in Dumbo in 2021 and there’s now a second cafe in Nolita. It has 169 locations worldwide, according to its website.

More trouble at Gaia Italian Cafe

Gaia Italian Cafe is closed again. Owner Gaia Bagnasacco shared on Instagram this week that her popular Italian cafe had closed due to a “malicious” situation. A notice on the front door states the landlord is in legal possession of the storefront, according to EV Grieve. The small shop reopened last year after closing during the pandemic; it was open at its original location for over a decade. Eater has contacted Bagnasacco for more.

A new restaurant opens in Bed-Stuy

Che, a new cafe, opens this Sunday at 302 Malcolm X Boulevard, near MacDonough Street. Adam Keita and Kai Avent-deLeon, behind the coffee shops Daughter and Sincerely, Tommy, are two of the owners. Their cafe serves breakfast sandwiches, hummus toast, and millet porridge with toasted coconut. Soon, there will be wine and small plates at night. Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.