Friday, February 6, 2015

The Met Foods on 3rd Avenue in Gramercy Park is closing

Several readers have passed along word that the Met Foods on Third Avenue between East 16th Street and East 17th Street will be closing in the months ahead.

Readers made these comments on the Open Pantry post last Friday:

Just heard that the Met Supermarket on Third Ave. between 16th and 17th will be closing in April due to new rent demand. It will be a real loss for the neighborhood. They are all very nice people and the store is a real asset to have nearby.


I live on 19th off 3rd and I have to say, that Met is a dive. Always walk the few extra blocks to the Dag on 23rd and 2nd Ave or the new WestEnd Market. If they took care of the place a little better, maybe they'd have been able to afford the increase.


...this Met isn't the shiniest apple on the cart. When pressed, however, they did bump up their produce game. That was a clear response to Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and even the health food market on the corner of 16th Street.

But it wasn't enough. Their space isn't meant to house a 21st-century grocery store: low ceilings, three or four registers, exceedingly narrow aisles, and White Rose this and that. It's low-end, low-margin merchandise inside a marginal space, staffed by people who give off an unmistakable vibe of indifference (and I'd probably do no better after a spell working there, bless them).

The sad part is regular shoppers probably rely on it for location and cheaper necessities. Whenever I go in, I invariably see older folks and others who don't appear to have a lot of disposable cash. Coincidentally, the Duane Reade a block north has yet to undergo renovation --- it's still an "old" DR. So I wonder more about the economics of Third Avenue. There are a couple independent and excellent restaurants around 16th and 17th, and no shortage of foot traffic.

Still, the grocery business has notoriously thin margins and much competition; I'm surprised this Met lasted as long as it did.


A worker confirmed the April closure to us. The worker didn't really seem to know why the grocery would be shutting down.

We exchanged emails with EVG reader Harry Weiner about the upcoming departure of Met Foods.

"It has been in the neighborhood for many years – one of the last old-school stores. It will be a great loss to many residents. Prices were reasonable," he said. "I'm sad about this. I live nearby and have been shopping there for about 18 years. There are many longtime employees who will lose their jobs.

"Frankly, it's my favorite neighborhood store because it's a vestige of a fading grocery store era and reminds me of my Brooklyn youth."

Met Foods was founded in 1941 in Syosset, Long Island. It was purchased by its current owner DiGiorgio Corporation in 1964-65.


Anonymous said...

The upscaling of NY will drive out the not just the poor but the elderly poor. Who's next?

Anonymous said...

What's the problem with the White Rose brand? They're fine for loads of staples.


Bunch of fucking snobs. Who probably can't cook.

Scuba Diva said...

I haven't been in this store in several years, but I just had a hallucination of the old "bodega" smell of roach spray and cat litter.

I certainly miss New York; when I first came to the city, all groceries were like this, and none of them had good produce. It took the Koreans moving in with their markets to step up the produce game; before they came in, there were always neighborhood grocery moguls like Mr. Torece—Torece's Pantry was the name of the bodega at 9th street and 2nd avenue before it took over the neighboring storefront and became East Village Farm.

When I first came to the city, I lived in the Salvation Army women's residence—which was basically an SRO with a dining hall, no men allowed—on Gramercy Park. Naturally that has become luxury condos in recent years.

I just searched for my Yelp review of the Parkside, and while I initially thought they had taken it down—and wasn't surprised—I found it at this link:

blue glass said...

the met on lower second avenue is no longer a met. it was the go-to place for residents that watched their pennies and did their own cooking. many of their customers were elderly as was seen when NYU wanted to evict them for a high-scale market. time has changed this old met and they are more and more becoming the required up-scale market like the western market on 3rd avenue.
unfortunately the 3rd avenue met and the 14th street associated are still a valuable resource for those that cannot afford $25 a pound fish or locavore sustainable small farm expensive items. i predict food riots.
food is as basic as housing and necessary for life. they are both luxuries now

Anonymous said...

I guess this makes me a new-era douchebag, but I consider the state of groceries in the city to be much better than it was a decade ago. Consumers are demanding better quality edibles these days, what are you going to do.

nygrump said...

I can tell you "disruptive" is a hip word in globalist management consulting these days. Think Fresh Direct and Uber. Maybe its good, maybe its not. depends on your investment strategy I guess. personally, I'm sick of it.

Anonymous said...

I lived right across the street for a while a few ears ago and I had been wondering when this stretch of 3rd Ave between 14th and 23rd would get fully gentrified. The big 1970s buildings between 18th and 21st are full of older people who bought or rented back in the day and I'm sure developers can't wait to get their hands on all that space and jack up the rents or selling prices.
It will be interesting to see whether it turns into an extension of NYU/EV to the south or of Gramercy to the west, or even of Murray Hill to the north. Whatever happens, people like us won't be able to afford to live there.

Giovanni said...

If there's anything that Young People and their Bankster and Robber Baron Landlord friends hate more than our Old Timey stores, it's Old People. You see, Old people creep them out. Old People aren't cool because, well, they're Old.

Old People slow down traffic. It's super-hard to zoom the Mercedes through intersections while these Old People shuffle across the street. And you can barely get by them on the sidewalks.

Old People don't ride skateboards. You have to be a 40 year old hipster to ride one of those things. Preferably a long board that's impossible to steer while riding in traffic.

Old People remind them of their parents. And they hate their parents. Stupid old parents who just wont die off fast enough to give them their inheritance.

And that's another reason that Banksters and Landlords hate Old People. Not only to Old People clog up all the rent controlled and rent stabilized apartments, they also prevent Young People from achieving their dreams.

Because the next Big Bubble happens when the Old People die off and the Young People take that money and put it into NY Real Estate. They will pay anything to live here and be forever young. They have no plans to ever get Old.

Ken from Ken's Kitchen said...

I rely on the Associated on 14th St. Don't know what the people who rely on the 3rd Ave Met are going to do.

Anonymous said...

@Giovanni: Well said!

Harry said...

Councilwoman Mendez helped save another Met Food store several years ago. If you want to encourage her to intervene, her office can be contacted as indicated below -

Anonymous said...

I will be sorry to see this store close, since it was an affordable source of canned and frozen staples. I do feel compelled to point out, though, to those readers who are slamming Westside Market: in my experience, Westside has the best selection AND best prices for fresh fruits and veggies, than any other store in the neighborhood.

PeterG said...

That's a shame. We are just about to move to a building across the road and I thought this would be really convenient.

Anonymous said...

"Councilwoman Mendez helped save another Met Food store several years ago"

This store location is Daniel Garodnick's district, not Mendez.

Harry said...

It is still to Mendez' credit that she was involved in 2008 with the Second Ave. store controversy. Perhaps the District lines were different then? But the Third Avenue store is definitely in her district, and I hope she becomes engaged with this issue.

Anonymous said...

Giovanni, can you write up your post as a poem and I'll publish it!

Giovanni said...

I'm Young I am
I'm Young I am
I Do not like
Old People, Man

I like young people
We're really fun
Old folks are cranky
They can't even run

Would I like them
Here or there?
I don't like Old Folks

Would I like them
If they were cool like me?
Would I like them
If they were young and free?

I just don't like them
Can't you see?
Old people smell
And look creepy

They walk too slow
They look so weird
They don't know how
To grow a good beard

When I want to go fast
In my nice new ride
They pop out in the streets
On every side

Old people don't skateboard
They can't even pee
They're not much fun
Like you and me

Old folks remind me
Of my Mom and Dad
My parents are lame
When they're gone I'll be glad

I do not like the very Old
I do not like them, or their mold
I do not like them, truth be told
I wish their buildings would be sold

When all their apartments
Are market rate
We will party all night
Won't that be great?

Then I'll be so happy
My friends will be too
Partying with all my classmates
From NYU

Anonymous said...

The Met has been a part of my consumer life for the past 13 years. It has not been the best place, but it is the only PEOPLE'S PLACE in the hood. Yes, I guess for that reason it's a throwback --to a time when folks were on a budget, and overpaying was the same as wasting.
I like the sales, too. Where else would you find everything you need to make Eggplant Parmesan or leg of lamb, on sale, just before Easter?

Harry said...

If I squint sideways when I'm there, it's 1960 at the Key Food in Brooklyn again, except there are no trading stamps, pickle barrels, or the wood contraption at check out to manually push the groceries along.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to see it close however I would rather not romantise the Yoggi Berra inarticulate weirdo assistant manager or the grumpy manager or the cashiers who never make any effort towards saying or acknowledged thanks. It's a study on awful management style and we are a neighborhood held captive because there's nothing better around