A river of tears is being shed privately at the loss of East End Gristedes and other neighborhood stores which serve the community’s everyday needs. And by men as well as women - those so profoundly affected by the loss of a neighborhood lifeline or a secure and suitable workplace. And as a microcosm of the thousands of lost or endangered neighborhood businesses, we again write about the East End Gristedes which for so many decades (even restored after a major building fire) has served this far east enclave with such small town-like devotion. During blizzards, hurricanes and I wish there was a photo of co-manager, Joe Linn, in the 2003 blackout standing at the door handing out ice and groceries to the community.
But it is the everyday service, the caring staff. co-managed by Ellen Ma, that has made it such an indispensable neighborhood lifeline. Ah, but the days dwindle down to a precious few. July 16 is the last day and the store will close early the last week. But bless the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association for hosting a bittersweet gratitude event there on July 12 around 4 p.m. And let’s hope local legislators will come and see the unique bond between staff and longtime customers and note the great ongoing hardship caused by the loss of this nearby grocery store.
Deserving a column, but legislators should also look in on the still open East End Kitchen Restaurant housed in the two-story subdivision of the doomed building. We can’t afford to lose this family restaurant, a type also on the endangered species list.
And I’ve written thank you notes to the Gristedes staff members asking them to keep me informed about the ongoing trauma of losing a longtime workplace and close colleagues, adjusting to a new job. These times are rarely if ever chronicled. This is also true for, especially, but not only for elder customers. These stories of the ongoing physical, emotional and also financial toll these losses exact, must get out there as arguments to really protect and yes, replenish these so needed neighborhood places.
And the concerned majority must stop being accepting and silent when so much is at stake – citywide. And yes, let’s march, but, for now, please call in your concern with the legislators listed on this paper’s Helpful Contacts column. Keep calling. Of course, share it with social as well as regular media.
Ah, and you may also wish to offer support now to your local police precinct – the 19th community relations officers’ number is 212-452-0613,