Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Olympic Diner & Jade Fountain

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.


Caleo said...

It truly never ends. The steamroller of luxurification will flatten everything until there is nothing left. I always thought this little slice of Delancey and the nearby parking lots were a safe space, too close to the bridge and the projects to be desirable to developers.
Obviously, I was wrong.
It will be funny to see real estate agents try to extol the virtues of living at the foot of the on ramp to the bridge, with 6 lanes of incredible traffic and noise every day.

JAZ said...

"highlighted by The Market Line... a continuous three-block shopping experience."

What the hell is a 'shopping experience?' Is that anything like, oh I don't know, 'shopping?' What used to pass for everyday life events all have to be redefined to make the sheep feel as continually pampered as possible while doing nothing special: shopping experience, dining experience featuring artisanal fare, it never ends, does it?

And 'The Market Line'? Is this real life??

Hey Carrie, hope you enjoyed the fucking cupcake

Montreal Meany said...

I wish I could afford to shop for three blocks.

Mitch said...

If you haven't seen it, you should read the story behind why these lots stayed empty for nearly half a century. Short version: racial infighting and Sheldon Silver.

Here is the money quote, at the end of the article:

'By 2011, with all the neighborhood changes, consensus finally seemed possible. The local community board adopted development guidelines that included 800 to 1,000 apartments, with 20 percent, or as few as 160 units, set aside for low-income tenants, and another 10 percent for low-income seniors. Mr. Silver gave the guidelines his blessing. Longtime advocates went along, seeing a portion of something as better than all of nothing.

'“Hopefully it will move forward, but it should not have taken 40 years,” said Mr. Delgado. “It’s sad because the truth is that they have more in common with us than with the millionaires moving in now.”'

12truck said...

RE: "(However, we hear the vendors' rents might go up, so who knows how that will actually shake out."

I'll give you three guesses how it actually shakes out.

JM said...

I'm done with New York, it's been mostly a swell 30 years, but as soon as I can I'm leaving. Will probably be a few years, so I'll get to feel like a complete alien among the privileged youth for that much longer.

Such a waste of what was such a vibrant, diverse city. But it's happening in a lot of places around the world. Someday it will come to a crashing halt, and the cycle will spin down again for a while, until that reaches an extreme...

Such is life. There are just fewer and fewer areas in the city I want to go to. So much of it is so bland and shiny. Have at it, cupcake generation, it's very much yours now.

P.S. Before some knucklehead brings up how dangerous and dirty it used to be in the old days, I would like to say you were either a wuss back then or a wuss now. It wasn't that bad by the 80s, you just needed some street smarts and to stay out of the worst areas. Unless you liked them.

Unknown said...

Here is my prediction. These new places will flourish until the economy full collapses which it will sooner rather than later. When that happens, the older businesses that could sustain low income and unemployed people will be sadly missed more than you can imagine. These upscale places are built on the idea that our economy has no place to go but up..and sad to tell you but that simply can't happen. It's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Anonymous said...

The Projects north of the WBurg Bridge & the subway station aren't going anywhere..
The 7th precinct is going to have one helluva time protecting the new owners..

Joey Blau said...

Do you like stores all covered with nasty graphitti inside and out?

I don't get it.

Dan said...

Isn't Jade Fountain the building that housed the "Real Estate Show" back in 1980? Which then spawned ABC No Rio? Or am I on the wrong side of the street?

randall said...

How sad that New New Yorkers will never know the experience of buying booze, or anything for that matter, through bulletproof glass.

randall said...

Oh and I second John Logsdon.

laura r. said...

JAZ you are right. in order to "sell", then the act of buying is turned into an "experience". bells & whistles for the trained dogs. for me shopping is: getting in, getting out w/a minimal amount of noise & distraction. which means smaller space, low or no music, no frills. this could be the very high end or very low end. i wonder about this "affordable housing" - anyone know the deal?

Anonymous said...

Everything's a "concept" now, simulacra attempting to replicate the authentic. Just wait until a soulless "authentic" concept-y diner opens in the new buildings. Ugh.

Lisa said...

Wow, they never stop, do they?

That was my neighborhood until I left in 2005. It doesn't appear that I would recognize anything at all.

Also, I loved the Essex Market.

Anonymous said...

Essex Crossing looks like a complete nightmare...How about a park and gardens FOR THE RESIDENCE OF THE AREA? Well...maybe it will lure the shopping generics and vomiting, screaming hordes of drunks that infest the other side of Delancey 24/7....

Unknown said...

This is just getting out of hand, New York for New Yorkers was already dead about 10 or 15 years ago depending on your perspective, but how much can you artificially prop up a location. As noted by others commenting, this location is poor, both socio-economically as well as locationally challenged. I agree totally with John Logsdon that these ubiquitous developments are a bubble waiting to burst and the rich developers and business merchants filling these spaces are free to pack up and leave one the ride is over and believe me, it will be over. Your local Mom and Pop would be more apt to ride out the storm and adjust with the changing times in order to humbly survive. Not so with these corporate speculative developments. There is no room for error (unless they need a tax write off of course) as their profits are publicly traded on the NYSE. These white-wash businesses create the storm in many cases. They turn a minor tropical depression into a category 5 hurricane by quickly pulling out and closing shop leaving vacant storefronts and the feeling that the town had been raped and abandoned. Places remain vacant longer because of the discrepancy of hugely inflated rents that the landlord property owner is now expecting and the reality of the mass exodus and squalor left behind. But don't worry, the property owner is also corporately owned by some Hollywood investment venture group. They can also just write it off and sell it to another venture firm and they can sell it as well! So no harm done, just business as usual. If it gets bad enough, just bulldoze and start over again! Good-bye New York City.