Thursday, January 3, 2008

Streit's Matzo Factory

VANISHING

Recently, Curbed broke the news that Streit's matzo factory, after a century on the Lower East Side, is selling their property on Rivington Street. They're asking for $25 million, but according to Jewish Week, "An offer above the asking price...is on the table." It seems the sky's the limit down here these days.



"We're doing this with a heavy heart," co-owner Aaron Gross told the AP. The move is an issue that the family has been debating for some time. Just in March, one of the co-owners told the NY Sun that Streit's would stay: "there's a lot of emotion tied to this factory, a lot of history. People come by and say, ‘My mother used to come here,' or ‘My grandmother used to come down here,' and that's always nice. So it's a touchy subject."



But in the pressure-cooker of the new LES economy, where glass towers sprout up overnight, the Streit's family has decided to build a new factory--probably in Jersey--and when it's done, in about a year, they'll be leaving us. What will take their place? It's not hard to imagine--oh, the luxury, the banality, the giddy out-of-town investors! The agent handling the sale, according to the AP, "expects a developer to convert it into pricey residential or commercial space." Here comes another bank.



Before that happens, go down and visit Streit's, a living brick machine that The Daily News ungenerously called a "hulking relic." The modest shop is stocked with matzos and more. They don't give factory tours anymore, not since an "incident" with a tourist, but from the shop you get a fantastic look into the bakery, where workers pull sheets of matzo from the oven, then break, stack, and load them onto floating racks for packaging. It's an elegant process and I could watch it all day.



I took several pictures on my visit and shot this short video, to which I added Tommy Dorsey's "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" for reasons too obvious to mention:



Maybe the best thing about visiting Streit's is that you can ask the bakery workers for fresh matzo and they'll oblige, wordlessly handing you a couple, hot out of the oven. Once Streit's has gone to Jersey, the feel of hot matzo in your hand and the taste of hot matzo in your mouth will vanish with them, so hurry already.

4 comments:

everystreetinmanhattan said...

sad sad sad

there's a great article in the latest new yorker i think you'd like. i don't think it's online line yet but there's an interview with the author here:
http://www.newyorker.com/online/2008/01/07/080107on_audio_bilger

Jeremiah Moss said...

thanks for the link. i will definitely check it out.

Carol Gardens said...

Oh no, where will I get my matzoh farfel year round? I will miss this place a lot. I love your site but it just keeps reminding me how many great places we are losing. WAAHHHHH!

jose said...

Oh man, I'm not feeling this. It's like my friend was telling me the other day. "No one's from NY anymore, and it's very rare for someone to tell you that they've been here all their life."

Damn.

And I'm adding this blog to my collection.

a new yorker, through and through ...