There was a time not long ago when Greenpoint was the ground zero for reasonably priced, delicious, home-cooked food. There seemed to be no end to the great cheap mom and pop little restaurants, delis and butchers that offered fresh, hearty food. Little by little, though,those solid family-run businesses have been disappearing, many the victims of rising rent. It seems that the latest victim is the Park Deli (209 Nassau Avenue), but the owner has vowed to fight to keep her business open.
The deli predates the present Polish ownership, going back 86 years when a German-American William Mullenbrock opened the business. His place drew a loyal following of locals who loved their cold cuts, salads and tasty sandwiches, all reasonably priced. Sold by Mullenbrock in the 50s, it stayed a German place until about two decades ago when Poles took it over, but continued to serve the same German-style food that has made the place a Greenpoint institution.
I spoke to the owner, Krystyna Godowa, who was dealing with a mix of shock and betrayal. When her ten year lease recently expired her landlady demanded a hundred and twenty percent increase from $2250 to $5,000, much more than Ms. Godowa could afford to pay and make ends meet. She agreed to accept a month-to-month lease, but suddenly she was told she had to vacate by the end of the month by her landlady, Hildegard Daempfle.
Ms. Godowa has not thrown in the towel yet and she told me that she will continue to fight to keep her deli alive, but with skyrocketing local rents, finding an affordable place will not be easy.
If there is one thing that might help her survive it is a loyal clientele, many of whom have shopped in the deli all their adult lives. Ms. Godowa told me that there has been an outpouring of support and offers to help. She told me that many of her customers are like family. Everyone in the neighborhood seems to be pulling for Ms. Godowa to survive. Let’s hope she can.