By George Capsis
A couple of people called me to say Gourmet Garage was closing—wow!
Sure, I, who grew up in the Depression, found the prices larcenous, but the breads were good and if you didn’t want to travel up to Trader Joe’s—that was about it… And bang—when you read this they will be closed. Gone.
Why? Money of course. They have been buried under a scaffold for months as the building owner creates luxury apartments.
We interviewed the very nice manager Michael Rafferty who already has a number of job offers on the table. To our question “Why?” came the loss of business by being scaffold-hidden and loss of traffic with the gym closed, and then he couldn’t stop himself—the rent will go to near one million.
OK, OK, many readers may understand West Village apartment landlords who will keep a shop or apartment vacant for months, waiting for their price, creating Bleecker Street vistas.
Trader Joe’s has an office that receives suggestions from would-be customers to build a market near them—and sooner or later they will build one in the West Village and other smaller markets will close.
What follows is an interview conducted two years ago with happy words from joint owners Andy Arons and Adam Hartman as they discussed what was then their sixth store.
Westview News: How is the business doing?
Andy Arons: Really well.
WVN: Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Fresh Direct have arrived in Manhattan since you opened. Our restaurant reviewer David Porat has written that New Yorkers want quality food but don’t always have time to cook, hence the demand for quality prepared foods. How has this affected you?
Andy Arons: Yes, it is a very competitive business and we can no longer offer wholesale low prices. Many other stores have closed. We are among the few locally-owned groceries remaining, and this is our strength. It is our relationship with the customer that sets us apart. We have loyal employees who get to know the customers. We all live in New York City for a reason–it is a more European experience as opposed to a big box experience. And we hope this resonates with customers and that they want to support the local economy.
Unfortunately, their hope was not prophetic.
Gourmet Garage Dies as Rent Hits One Million
By George Capsis