Friday, November 8, 2019

Acclaimed pastrami purveyors Harry & Ida's will close this month on Avenue A

[File photo]

Another day, another high-profile closure on Avenue A.

The owners of Harry & Ida's have announced that their Meat and Supply Co. will close the weekend before Thanksgiving at 189 Avenue A at 12th Street.

Siblings Julie and Will Horowitz, who are also behind Duck's Eatery on 12th Street, discussed the pending closure in an Instagram post:

We are heartbroken to announce that we will be closing up shop at the end of the month. We have so loved being part of your community, your celebrations, your lunches, your dinners, and your hearty snacks in between.

Never in a million years would we have imagined that our (not so little) sandwich, once a late night pop-up @duckseatery would receive so much attention this many years later. As painful as it is, we are proud to go out on a high note with the shop busier than ever, our pastrami still holding strong on top national lists and the support of you, our beloved customers.

While our presence on Avenue A will come to an end, we will be carrying on the H&I name with some exciting projects on the horizon. Be on the lookout for our usual array of quirky, cured and smoked products, with a little more plant and a lot less meat this time around. To our fellow delis, we are proud to have served alongside you. Keep the tradition (and the not-so-traditional) alive.

They do not cite any specific reason for the closure.

In August 2018, they shuttered their offshoot Harry & Ida’s Luncheonette in the Financial District after 10 months in business.

Harry & Ida's arrived on Avenue A in June 2015, and immediately drew raves for their pastrami. The market, which specializes in a variety of preserved foods and smoked meats, was named for their great-grandparents Harry and Ida Zinn, Hungarian immigrants who had a store in Harlem.

In October 2017, workers finally removed the sidewalk bridge and scaffolding from the Avenue A side of the Steiner East Village condoplex between 11th Street and 12th Street. For 19 months, the entrance to Harry & Ida's was obscured by all this construction. In total at the time, 19 of their 29 months in business had been under the doom and gloom of a sidewalk bridge.

Other recent closing announcements on Avenue A include Obscura Antiques and Oddities and Three Seats Espresso.

H/T Kenny and Dave!


sophocles said...

When they opened I thought they had created an appealing atmosphere and that their pastrami and smoked fish sandwiches were very good. But it was not a New York style pastrami sandwich and it must have been impossible to compete with Katz's, which serves a supreme pastrami on rye with classic mustard and plenty of pickles...

noble neolani said...

Sorry to see they are closing shop and yes two years of scaffold will kill just about any business as well. I rarely eat meat and never eat preserved meat and I think sadly the EV is no longer a place for this kind of business. Katzs survives on Harry met Sally tourist and nostalgic ex-New Yorkers who live in NJ and LI.

Gojira said...

Don't eat meat so never tried their pastrami, but I agree that the sidewalk scaffold was a killer (they should sue Doug Steiner), as was the closeness of Katz's, kept afloat by its presence in tourist guide books. Sorry to see them go, I don't welcome yet another empty storefront for Avenue A.

Brian Van said...

I'm wondering what's truly behind the carnage on upper Ave A lately, but it's probably everything. Target is a wild success and TJ's is soon to come. The subway entrances are now open right there. Steiner is probably filling up with tenants. Tax assessments are going up, market rents are rising, and the new tenants are probably a lot more posh than the outgoing tenants. Everything is set up for a huge money grab in those commercial storefronts as their leases turn over / taxes go up.

As described, some of these shop owners are just tired of trying to keep up; others are probably struggling with finances like Harry & Ida's after expansion misfires. It's not the right place or the right time to ride out a storm of expenses.

It's really a shame; we're losing these good shops & probably getting high-turnover concepts or empty spaces in return.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

A damn tragedy. Their pastrami is a wonderful counter to Katz and it’s more affordable. I’m sure it’s a tough neighborhood to compete in. However most of these places you walk by never have anyone else inside. Why? It’s expensive to eat lunch daily in this city. Not only that but I’m sure if you don’t spark constant variety you’ll be left behind. Look at places like Superiority Burger. They constantly rotate specials and food keeping everything fresh and because of this there’s constantly a line out side of the door.

Walking into Harry and Idas I see a shelf of overpriced specialty ingredients that I’m sure no one is looking for, a small pricey menu, and they never have any specials. But you’re the only smoked meats vendor in Alphabet City and yet your restaurant has the same menu items every day, served by the same bored expressionless 20-something. It’s 2019 and vegetarian options are on the rise, how does your smoked meat restaurant compete with oily potato salad and oily broccoli salad?

Anonymous said...

Great! Bring in the next cafe with white walls so everything looks like a boring Apple store. So modern. So chic.

Anonymous said...

Commercial rent contracts should have a clause whereby the business owner only has to pay HALF their rent for the duration of any scaffolding that obscures the entrance to their business or which otherwise renders the business less evident to potential customers.

Anonymous said...

I'm also sad to see a real local place leave, though I didn't buy much there. I will say - in a hopefully constructive note to all of these emotional shop-owners - that, like Anon 10:47 said, unemotional counter staff matters as much as you do. If front-line staff is bored/apathetic/not knowledgeable...then I'll care a lot less about that business, too.

Anonymous said...

I really loved their pastrami, but had to cut back for financial reasons. I can only speak for myself, but with all my expenses going up, and my salary not keeping up (mine has actually gone down), I've had to stop eating out and shopping. There are many places in the neighborhood I used to patronize, but just can't anymore. I'm sure I'm not the only one and it's a shame as I'd like to support these local businesses more.

Shawn said...

Really cool space, I loved the screen door and interior. Strangely, they didn't need to have DOH letter grades because they sold more dry goods. I found the prices so high it just turned me off. Wish them the best though!

I still have not met or even have heard of anyone living in Steiner. Anyone else?

P.S. Great idea about scaffolding. It literally hides businesses, they should get some reduction of rent or other perk.

BagelGuy said...

My advice to any new shop owner in the EV. THINK SMALL. If you think small , you'll survive. Don't be fooled into thinking you or your shop are a 'brand.' You're a local EV shop. No more no less. Operate that way. Don't pay 5x per unit to have your logo stamped on paper bags, cups, stationary, or whatever else they try to convince you you need. It's going in the trash just the same. Don't let some merchant service bank shill convince you that you need to hand 5pct of net over to the banks. You don't. You didn't put your life, your blood , sweat , and tears on the table to make AMEX, Capital One , and Chase , richer. Trust me , they're doing just fine. Save $50, 000 per million in net and put that towards retaining staff and paying your rent . No PR. Repeat NO PR. Don't let some shmo convince you that you need to spend money getting your biz placed in Time Out or any other dopey magazine or website. Don't hire a social media person either. Instead be in your store day in and day out. Keep your product's quality and service high. Your guests will take care of the rest. Be on site day in and day out. That's what small biz is about. It's not a photo op and your not a celebrity. You're there to work. You can do way more for your biz by being there every day, seeing what works and what doesn't, and adjusting accordingly. It's a grind and if you aren't up for that then you're in the wrong line of work. I strongly believe that if you think small your store will survive.

Anonymous said...

Reasons that food shops close:
No business - losing money
Drop off of business - losing money
Rents raised too high - losing money
Board of Health summons - loss of business - loss of money
Death or illness in family - dreams die
Retirement - just plain tired of the grind
Retirement - time to actually enjoy life

We all hope that the owners will fall into the final category. Sit back and enjoy a nice pastrami sandwich as they watch the sunset on some beautiful ocean front piece of property.

Anonymous said...

Retail doesn’t pay nearly enough for you to demand smiling. Counter staff are there to take orders and ring you up, not to serve as geishas. Not being knowledgeable about the products is a more reasonable complaint, but how much do you need to know about a sandwich?

Anyhow, I’m sad to see Harry & Ida’s go. I liked their sandwiches a lot, although the smoked mushroom one was too smokey. I make my own smoked salt & whatnot but my ex complained that sandwich was like eating a bonfire.