Seven years ago, Beth Lewand and Chris Gray turned a former Polish deli into Eastern District, a specialty shop focusing on craft beer and artisanal cheeses. Nowadays, the shop is part of the fabric on the northernmost stretch of Manhattan Avenue. It’s a place to grab a quick sandwich, drop off your flyers, and a CSA pick-up spot for those who don’t want to trek through Greenpoint with 30 pounds of produce in the heat of summer. But over the past year, Eastern District quietly changed hands. Beth and Chris were moving to Vermont (she’s now at Cricket Creek Farm) and didn’t want to close Eastern District outright, so they sold it lock, stock, and barrel to Sam and Sami Shah.
Longtime fans of Eastern District don’t need to be worried about missing out on the best cheeses and beers! Ever since he first tried yak cheese as a child, Sam has been intrigued by “the science and nature of cheese,” he says. And how did he get his hands on yak cheese? Well, both Sam and Sami are from Nepal, though they met and fell in love while living in Dallas, Texas. According to him, “faith and destiny” brought them to the East Coast.
Like many Americans, Sam grew up drinking commercial beers before having his world shook with his first sip of craft beer. This led him to “explore beer with different aromas, mouthfeel with more flavor and has a completely different appearance,” before ultimately wanting to be a champion for the craft beer industry. He and Sami didn’t know Beth and Chris personally prior to hearing about the store, but they knew they wanted to take it over once they stepped through the doors. Sami might even say it was love at first sight for her.
Sam and Sami have been extremely appreciative of the support they’ve gotten from the Greenpoint community. Her father is usually found running the counter alongside their in-house beer & cheese expert, Jorge, and both can guide you through the current offerings. As they find their way, they’ll be keeping all the products you love, but do want to bring in a few more French and Italian cheeses, and always, more beer. Also, they’ll still be a pick-up point for Lancaster Farm Fresh’s CSA this summer if you’re ready for those summer salads!
Eastern District is located at 1053 Manhattan Avenue. They are open Monday to Saturday, 11am – 9pm; and Sunday, 12pm – 6pm.