On Delancey and Essex, the Olympic diner has been in business for nearly 35 years. They'll be closing soon.
The mega-development known as Essex Crossing is coming, massive glass boxes filled with upscale retail, condos, a glitzy Warhol Museum, and some affordable housing.
From the website: "Essex Crossing will feature a compelling array of restaurant, retail, entertainment, and office space highlighted by The Market Line... a continuous three-block shopping experience."
Most of Essex Crossing will rise on parking lots, but here and there, some people and their businesses will need to be removed. The original Essex Market will be demolished, its vendors given a prime new space inside the development. (However, we hear the vendors' rents might go up, so who knows how that will actually shake out.)
The Olympic is also in the way. I asked if they were getting a new space inside the glass box to come and was told, simply, "No."
A young woman waiting for her order overheard this and chimed in, "That's not right. This is the best place to eat around here." It is a good place to eat. A regular old coffee shop, with cheap food and friendly service, it's one of a dying breed.
The Olympic has been on a month-to-month lease for some time. They're not sure when they'll close exactly. Maybe in July or August.
And we have to assume that, with this building coming down, we will also lose the neighboring Jade Fountain liquor store, locally famous for their sign that proclaims "AS OLD AS HILLS." How old? "Since 1920," according to the sign, "over 80 years old," which is most likely a vast exaggeration.
Jade Fountain is a gritty little spot, covered with graffiti inside and out.
There's a man who often stands outside, asking ingoing customers to buy him a half-pint of Georgi vodka, which he then quickly empties, tossing the empty bottle over the fence and into the parking lot next door. Piled up around the weedy ailanthus, among the litter of broken glass, are dozens of his bottles, a sort of accidental art installation. Sort of.
I tried to ask the Jade Fountain lady when they're closing or if they'll be getting a space inside Essex Crossing, but she only made an impatient sound through the Byzantine construction of bullet-proof Plexiglas and waved me away after I paid for my booze.
So we're left to guess that, like the Olympic, Jade Fountain won't have a place among the artisan bread and cupcake shops, the Prada and Pastis that fill the architect's renderings of the new shopping mall to come. When it's all done, Delancey will be a very different place.