Greenpoint’s decades-old businesses may be sadly dwindling, but one local staple is reinventing itself in 2021. Polemost Liquor, owned by Elizabeth and Mike Radziwon Polish immigrants who landed in Greenpoint in the 1970s, has moved to 591 Manhattan Ave., after nearly a century at 698 Manhattan Ave.
In fact, Dunne’s Polemost Liquor was Greenpoint’s first liquor store following Prohibition. The original store was called Dunne’s Liquors at one point, however, the subsequent owner, who was also of Eastern European descent, added in the word ‘Polemost,’ which at the time was connected to the fact that Greenpoint had the most Polish residents of any borough.
Mike started working at Dunne’s in his twenties, and eventually took over the business. “My parents have successfully kept the business alive and thriving, becoming a neighborhood staple – that’s what I call the American dream,” said Catherine Radziwon, their daughter. “Upon taking over, my parents wanted to keep Dunne’s spirit alive, and of course, connected with the significance of Polemost, so they decided to keep the name.”
The store’s aesthetic did not change significantly throughout the decades, offering some vintage charm of Old Greenpoint reminiscent of when the Radziwons took over the shop 35 years ago. “It was the quintessential old school liquor store, loved by many,” Radziwon said. “With time, the upper walls were all surrounded by vintage liquor advertising mirrored signs, which my dad collected since he started working there!” The biggest change was the inventory on the shelves. “We always want to carry what our clients are looking for, and we also like to try new products,” Radziwon added.
Dunne’s Polemost never had plans to move to a new location, but a significant rent increase forced the business to relocate. “With gentrification, comes the wave of corporations buying up buildings for development and, or exploitation of rent values,” Radziwon said. “The offer the new landlord put forward was not viable one, given the astronomical rent increase. It was a very hard decision for us to make, but we did not want to lose our business. We have committed 35 plus years to building not only the business, but all of the relationships. We love interacting with their clients everyday, it is what excites us to go to work every morning, and throughout the years a lot of the clients have become like family.”
The silver lining: The new shop at 591 Manhattan Ave. is bigger, brighter and offers a lot more space to walk around and browse. “The process of moving has been a labor of love, but slowly it’s all coming together,” Radziwon said. “Of course, we offer the same great prices and selection, and are even working to expand the assortment.” A new storefront sign is expected in upcoming weeks to finalize the move.
“Dunne’s Polemost is a true family run business, and our family is very hands on and we plan to keep it that way,” Radziwon said. “Small businesses are what set Greenpoint apart, creating a close knit community, and we hope to keep that alive. We are passionate about our business, but mostly all of the relationships we have built with our customers thus far.”