| 11 Nov 2014 | 02:15

    Amidst the subway construction chaos on a stretch of Second Avenue in the East 90s that has been described as looking like Beirut, a shop so shiny and beautiful has sprung up that it"s like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that the T-line will someday occupy. B.J. Magazines, at 1819 Second Ave. between 94th and 95th streets, is as glossy as the magazines it sells. Like an Uptown version of SoHo"s Universal News & CafÃ&Copy;, the store carries a huge variety of both domestic and foreign titles, which line the walls from floor to ceiling. I imagine it is quite a challenge to open a business in this economy's especially in an area of town with rerouted sidewalks, whirring construction equipment and on-edge residents who hurry past, wishing the subway had been completed long ago. A recent casualty on this stretch of street is Wine Lovers Wine & Spirits, at 1752 Second Ave. between 91st and 92nd streets, which closed within the last couple of months and is now just an empty space. Last time I checked, a â??For Rent sign was in the window. Also recently closed: First Wok Chinese Restaurant (1570 Third Ave. between 88th and 89th streets), which had been in the neighborhood since 1980; Starwich, a sandwich and salad shop that briefly occupied 1055 Lexington Ave. at 75th Street, just months after Crain"s New York Business reported that the company filed for bankruptcy protection in August; and Bar Vespa at 1609 Second Ave. between 83rd and 84th streets. While the vino-focused annex to the restaurant may be gone, the well-loved Vespa Restaurant (1625 Second Ave. between 84th and 85th streets) is still open and packing â??em in. On another note completely, there are a couple of spots that popped up before my column existed and deserve to be mentioned. While they are not brand spanking new to the Upper East Side, both are about two years old, still wet behind the ears and are being discovered by excited residents every day. KOKIN, 1388 Third Ave. between 78th and 79th streets, is a boutique specializing in hats and headpieces (from functional to cocktail to custom made), as well as accessories like evening wraps and jewelry. If you have ever passed by on foot, you have certainly been mesmerized by the eye-catching display of decadent, feather-topped, veil-flanked, ribbon-encircled hats's a shop window reminiscent of a glamorous, bygone era when an outfit wasn"t finished until one donned the perfect hat. Once you find a chic cloche to match your coat, head over to Peri Ela, a Turkish restaurant at 1361 Lexington Ave. between 90th and 91st streets. This warm and cozy spot just down the block from the 92nd Street Y, offers lecture-attendees and residents alike yet another upscale dining option in the area, aside from the ever-popular and perpetually booked Sfloglia.