Punjabi Grocery and Deli at 114 E. First St. between Avenue A and First Avenue enjoyed an uptick in business over the weekend... where some social media reports showed a line to enter the small shop (there currently is a two-person limit inside).
The inexpensive eats favorite reopened on July 10 after being closed for four months during the COVID-19 PAUSE.
As previously reported, there have been concerns through the years about Punjabi's future. The never-ending East Houston Reconstruction Project finally wrapped up at the end of 2018 — just six years behind schedule.
For nearly nine years, the construction zone eliminated parking spaces for cab drivers, who are a sizable share of Punjabi's business, making it nearly impossible for them to stop in for a meal or break. Those who did stop faced getting a ticket. Plus, there has been an overall decline of cab drivers in the Lyft-Uber era.
So Punjabi Grocery and Deli fan Jessica Morgulis launched a crowdfunding campaign back on Friday. Nicolas Heller, aka @NewYorkNico, helped amplify the campaign to his more than 400,000 Instagram followers.
As of this morning, the campaign had reached $38,000 of its $50,000 goal.
Meanwhile, cab drivers will still have challenges stopping by ... the taxi relief stand that finally arrived in July 2019 along Houston Street has been removed to accommodate the ongoing construction for a 9-story residential building next door...
This build has been a slow-go to date. The plywood arrived in May 2018, and workers are still in the foundation stages.
As for Punjabi's food, it's better than ever. Here's part of Scott Lynch's recap from two recent visits for Gothamist:
The trays holding everything from vegetable curries to fried samosas to sweet gulab jamun were all stocked full and fresh, the selection as extensive as ever, the prices still astonishingly low.
I ate way too much both times and everything was spectacular. This is all skillfully prepared food, loaded with flavor and much more spicy than I remembered. And, at $7, the combo platter of nicely chewy long grain rice topped with your choice of three vegetable curries—I went with the thick pureed spinach, the barely-sweet squash, and the lively "black chickpeas" — remains one of the best deals in town.
Previously on EV Grieve:
• How you can help Punjabi Grocery & Deli stay in business
• Never-ending construction continues to hurt Punjabi Grocery & Deli
• Taxi Relief Stand arrives on Avenue A; Punjabi Grocery & Deli relieved
• Concern again for Punjabi Grocery & Deli on 1st Street
• At long last a taxi relief stand for East Houston and 1st Street outside Punjabi Grocery & Deli