Sunday, March 6, 2011

Jeffrey's Meat Market at The Essex Street Market Closes

I just read this over at the, (which is a great site for news and information about the lower east side that you should for sure check out)  that Jeffrey's Meat Market  in the Essex Street Market has announced that after 75 years will be closing to "regroup".  Mostly, it seems like the problems is rent, but I know a lot of the vendors at the market are worried about their future as the market building is part of the SUPRA redevelopment project that wants to tear the market down and redevelop it into mixed use housing/retail space.  I for one think that all the market buildings should be revitalized, not torn down.  I think there are 4 original market buildings up and down Essex Street, only one of which is being used, the rest are empty.  Why not return them to there former glory and create a "Market Row" with an emphasis on locally made, artisanal foods and seasonal produce from farmers?  It would be like what the New Amsterdam Market people are trying to do in the Seaport (maybe they'd settle for Essex Street?).   The neighbor hood is desperate for a good place to shop and seeing as how Fine Fare (ironic name, eh?) has a 20 year lease on their dump on Clinton street so a good place to buy quality groceries that was closer then the Whole Foods on the Bowery would be a boon.

Anyway I digress, here is the letter Jeffrey sent out.  I wish I had know I would have gone buy and bought something, he sold Bo Bo Chickens and wonderful Hudson Valley Duck breasts....

I speak to my/our community.
I sent out a press release last week in a last ditch effort for help because I have run out of time and options.  Only one of my issues was rent.  The press release resulted in a barrage of responses directed toward EDC and I understand that the “landlord’ is an easy target.  In response to the press release EDC requested a meeting with me.  I expected to meet with their representative and expected to hear, “pay rent or get out”.  Instead, when I arrived to the meeting, I was met with the top four executives of EDC.  C’mon, really, I’m just a butcher, I don’t deserve this attention… Only after an hours long meeting did they bring up the issue of rent.  I found myself meeting with the community, not my landlord.  All they wanted to do was to find ways to help me. They represented you, the community, and they played their roll in helping me as your representative of the community.  I was astounded at their position.  I’m a black and white guy, if I can’t pay rent, I have to get out.  Instead, they gave me options to survive. I don’t really know how to define what happened to me in that meeting but I started to breath again.  While we worked out a plan to keep my rent the same, at this time I still must temporarily close, as we have other financial considerations that we must try to resolve.
This is my world; a week ago a lady came to my shop, drunk, and I knew that she needed food.  I went to the Pain D’Avignon bread store in the market and wanted to buy bread for her, in which the bread company gave me some bread for free to help my cause, I came back and made her a sandwich to fill her belly.  Moments later the next customer spent 45 dollars on some of my prime dry aged steaks to feed her family for dinner.  I don’t decide who gets what, I respond to the communities needs as they arise because if it were not for the community I wouldn’t be here.  I can say that the community feeds my soul as their butcher but in addition, is that the community fuels my existence.  What I know to be true is that we belong to each other and without the community, you, I don’t exist. Thank you for giving my family our life blood.
For many reasons, I regrettably closed the store today, temporally.  I need time to re-group, to tap into resources that can help keep this piece of antiquity alive. I’m in trouble and I’m going to rely on fate to decide the future of my store; my families history. It’s okay, I’ll continue to be who I am as a representative of the Ruhalter family.  I know you’re out there and thank you for being with me and my family for 75 years.
Because this may be may my final ado I offer this:
I walk with my eyes open and closed.
I take a breath.
Feel the past.
Touch my soul.
Feel tomorrow.
Lay my head.
I say a prayer.
That you are here.

Jeffrey Ruhalter
Jeffrey’s Meat Market

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