Friday, December 5, 2008

Bari bad news on the Bowery

Patrick Hedlund at The Villager reports this week that the Bari family is selling a massive, eight-building portfolio on the Bowery. The parcel of land across the street from the New Museum has nearly 67,000 square feet of buildable space -- six lots on the Bowery at Prince Street. As Hedlund writes, "The Bari family has owned the property since the 1940s, using it for restaurant-equipment supply operations, and stand to cash in on the neighborhood's emergence as a destination for art galleries and luxury development." (Patrick's story wasn't online just yet....)

According to the Bari Web site:

Bari Equipment is a family-owned business with roots that go back generations. The company was started by my grandfather when he came over from Italy more than 75 years ago. Located in New York’s fabled Bowery District, the business is still in the very same neighborhood. It has also remained in the family. Through the years, my father, uncles, and I – along with our amazing staff – have all upheld the traditions of excellence started way back when.

Of course, it’s tradition that sets us apart. Our pizza ovens, crafted with an eye for detail and quality, have withstood the test of time. In fact, the very same ovens purchased half a century ago can still be found in pizzerias across NYC and beyond!



Here's a passage on the Bari family, who once owned the Sunshine Hotel, from the July 2004 Times:

Watching all of these developments carefully is the family that owns Bari Restaurant and Pizzeria Equipment, a business that takes up 10 storefronts at Prince Street and the Bowery. As owners of one of the district's oldest shops, the Baris seem to know what's coming.

"I'm trying to envision it five, ten years from now," said Anton Bari as he sat on one of the restaurant chairs offered for sale in the Bari Gallery, one of the family's many enterprises. "I don't see the restaurant suppliers. I don't know if the reputation will still be here."

Mr. Bari, his brothers Mike and Nick and a cousin also named Nick run a company established in the 1940's by their grandfather, Nicola Bari, a radio repairman and purveyor of cheese graters. Besides selling an encyclopedic variety of restaurant supplies, the Baris manufacture pizza ovens and refrigeration units that are used in kitchens from Brooklyn to Russia.

On occasion, the Bari brothers are greeted by acquaintances who encourage them to turn their shops into trendy bars. But unlike many other suppliers on the Bowery, the Baris don't rent their stores -- they own them. They can sit back and watch the changes on the street without the pressure of a landlord or a lease.

Across from the Baris' main showroom at 240 Bowery, the family owns another building, but this one is not all mixers and ovens. Through a set of red doors marked "No Loitering" and up the stairs, an entirely different Bowery staple is still in operation.

"I can't stand the stink in here," said Mike Bari, squinting his eyes and turning toward the exit. He was standing in the hallway of the Sunshine Hotel, an S.R.O. above one of the Baris' warehouse units that the family inherited when it bought the building 15 years ago.

Once home to 200 residents, the hotel now houses just 40, with each man paying (or not paying) about $10 a day for the privilege of inhabiting one of its cell-like rooms. In the lobby, where a clerk collects rent and a painting of the main characters from "The Sopranos" hangs on the wall, the Baris greet nearly every resident with a warm familiarity.

"We're not looking to throw anybody out," said Anton Bari, when asked why he doesn't simply convert the Sunshine into $4,000-a-month apartments. "If they had to leave here, they'd be lost."

Here's a clip from the documentary Sunshine Hotel:

[Photo via Forgotten New York Sunshine photo via Tom Warren.]


Jeremiah Moss said...

noooo! another one i was holding my breath for.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. This isn't good. They were Bowery stalwarts.

Ken Mac said...

Bari's selling out? It's over. Done. FINITO! for Bowery.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Ken.

I keep humming this.

Of course, I just took some bad acid. So everything sounds like this.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. I grew up a few blocks away from these, still live here, and yes, it's a bit sad, from a nostalgia perspective, that the Bari stores will be gone. But do you guys buy lots of pizza ovens or something? Are you just innately opposed to all change? You make it sound like some kind of tragedy that a restaurant supplier will be moving somewhere to Brooklyn or Long Island, where it makes infinitely more sense for them to be. You will not be happy going through life convinced that the way things are is the only way it should be. I get it when you replace some artist squatters with a bank branch - ugh, sad. But a place that sells diner booths with art galleries? You're all reactionaries, yet I bet you vote democrat. Weird.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous- I couldn't agree more with you! The losers on these blogs that decry every step forward that developments like these represent are a puzzling bunch. These are the same dopes that call in complaints until restaurants receive tickets for "sidewalk obstructions" when they put out a chalkboard with their daily specials on it, but they get all upset when the idea of these illegals that literally conduct business- spraying paint, washing out ovens & the toxic compounds into our sewer system might be priced out of the market. Its more scary than sad.

Anonymous said...

Its not that people dislike progress, its that some things are anchors to an area and when they go, that's it for the area. To think of the Bowery being gentrified is something that one could not envision years ago, and its not that many years ago.

I think the Bari's were dumb to sell the property they own - it would have been better for them to devleop it themselves. Like the Italians in Little Italy, they are losing site of the long term benefits of owning -

Took the bus along the Bowery yesterday and wondered how much longer the lighting shops and food service industry will be there.
Seems there's no place left to get a good deal on things in Manhattan. I'm glad the Bowery is safer now, but.... By the way, Amato's Opera is sorely missed too.