This year, Father’s Day (June 19) gets a different twist after learning the East End Avenue’s Gristede’s reprieve has ended – July 1 is the last day for this store and its caring staff, headed by managers Ellen and Joe. The community is in mourning to lose this store which so inordinately blessed this East End enclave for decades.
We mourn for the staff that thankfully has jobs at other Gristedes markets, but none together, sighed longtime checker Donna. This staff really cares about their customers – co-manager Ellen says, “If you ever need anything please call me!” Joe expressed the same concern. The staff are also “everyday friends,” especially important to the many elders who live alone to have this accessible store with people who care.
And about Father’s Day, let’s observe it by going by to say thank you and sign the lovely memory book grateful customer Susan Elefant so thoughtfully supplied along with my framed March 2015 column’s first warning that the building had been sold. And, so all this time we knew its days were numbered – and just kept hoping for more.
Not only on Father’s Day, of course, you might have brunch or dinner at the East End Kitchen, also housed in this lovely 1906 building where the rental tenants reluctantly took buy-outs. It, too, will be greatly missed, for its dinners, weekend brunches and continental breakfasts which bring neighbors together. Somehow the new high-rise should find space for this restaurant, not to mention Gristedes. It’s a progressive idea long, long overdue. This must also happen to Gracie’s Café, whose 81st and York corner building has been sold. Gracie Inn, sadly, closed months ago.
To stay with Father’s Day, above all, plan protest actions against the destruction of these places where everyday needs are met, and are within a short walking distance so essential for the growing elder population. Push for media coverage! Urge, no, even demand, that your local officials get involved, (See Helpful Contacts list in this paper). The mayor who lives on East End is blind to this critical need for neighborhood places. Indeed his bill was passed which overturns some zoning laws protecting low rises and enabling ever taller high rises to make room for affordable housing.
But where will these tenants buy or break bread?
Do urge civic, faith groups and any condo or co-op board’s etcetera to get involved. Infinitely much is at stake. Infinitely much is lost with the razing of 40 East End to be replaced with, of course, a luxury high rise condo serving only a select few. We lose the village we once had, needed by all, but especially for elder persons.
Ah, and Gristedes is wonderfully compact, so helpful for those who have trouble walking or with children in tow. Again, it is just such a community center – and open from 7 to 11, which also makes the avenue safer as well as convenient for those who work late. East End Kitchen also makes the side street safer. And while grateful for the small deli on East End, it has limited hours. We miss the old family Coleman deli it replaced, and Suzy Coleman who was so much a part of the community.
And you know all too well how losing community places is an epidemic all over the city. But how it so adversely, ruinously, affects the citizenry must get out there on a public level. Ongoing stories must be told about how the lives of the rental tenants, employees, and the neighborhood at large are afflicted – immediately and permanently. It must be recognized as a major health issue and that the destruction of community places is the real city crisis.
We won’t let this so profound East End loss go gently – indeed it must be the start of a citywide ongoing protest! Please, please share this column – it’s also online (ourtownny.com). And maybe leave flowers and notes outside the store, so everyone knows.
To be continued in the next column, on what we must do and why (your ideas needed) – and more about our beloved Gristedes and a staff which is like family.
Remembering your father and mine with very much love.