Just about 30 years ago to this day — on August 6, 1984 — New York published a shopper’s guide to the East Village that we’ve reprinted at the bottom of this page. At the time, the East Village was “a bastion of small, independent businesses” and “tiny shops exuding fresh ideas,” from the St. Mark’s Bookshop (which, back then, was actually on St. Marks Place) to the fashion designers whose “new New York couture” was influenced by the neighborhood’s “enormous energy and creativity.”
And yet the neighborhood was also “under siege by speculators.” Author Linda Dyett warned that “many of the small, independent shops (both old and new) are in danger of disappearing,” and indeed most of them vanished soon after she sung their praises. But others have hung on against all odds. We took an accounting of the survivors and the sinkers, to find out just how much has changed in the past three decades.
STILL GOING STRONG
Numbers correspond to the map below
1. Veniero’s – Owner Frank Zerilli has passed away, but his son Robert kept the place in the family. The ricotta cheesecake is now $8.50 a pound rather than $3, and the pastries (formerly 60 cents to $1.50) are now more like $2.95 to $4.95.
2. De Robertis – This pasticceria remains “astonishingly unchanged”: it’s still owned by John De Roberti and everything is still baked on premises — though the cookies are now $20.95 per pound instead of $6.
4. Moishe’s Bake Shop – this “time defier” remains just that, thanks to the continued stewardship of Hyman Perlmutter.
8. S. Russo & Sons – Over a hundred years after it opened on First Avenue and about 55 years since it was forced to relocate to East 11th Street, Russo & Sons is still in the fam and still turning out fresh mozz, not to mention meat-packed Italian sandwiches.
22. Pantry Supreme — These days, “the closest thing to a supermarket this neighborhood will ever frequent” is better known as The Open Pantry. According to its website, the shop began specializing in gourmet coffee beans in the 1980s in order to keep up with “gentrification of the neighborhood.”
St. Mark’s Bookshop — In 1984, the “finest bookseller in New York” took up two floors of the St. Marks brownstone that now houses Spot Dessert Bar and newcomer The Bao. A few years later it moved across the street to 12 St. Marks (incurring over $800,000 in debt) and then in 1993 it moved to Third Avenue. Somewhere along the way, it scrapped the “Vietnam” section and the spoken-word records described in the New York piece. The rest, of course, is history: its latest incarnation opened last month.
31. Barbara Shaum – Incredibly, Shaum has been crafting leather goods in the East Village since 1962 and is still at it at the age of 85. In 1984, before she was forced to leave East Seventh Street after her landlord died, her belts cost $24 to $75 — in 2012, when The Local East Village caught up with her at her current East 4th Street digs, they were $85 and up.
3. Black Forest Pastry Shop – In 1998 the Austrian-born owner of this bakery specializing in “apple pizza” sold it to his business partner who kept it going as Something Sweet. That bakery closed in 2012 amid health department issues and family health problems and the storefront now holds another Austrian-minded endeavor: Shnitz.
5. Kurowycky Meat Products – In 2007, this Ukrainian butcher with an “immaculate smokehouse and kitchen” in back closed after 52 years in the family. Though most of its Slavic customers had already departed by 1984, it hung on by catering to an “international” crowd as well as “young business people who have moved into the neighborhood.” By 2007, it succumbed to “younger couples and families [who] ate out or ordered in, as the Times reported. The storefront now holds Kim’s Video, which itself is closing.6. Maria’s Quality Produce – Thirty years ago, this grocer was “speedily heading upscale,” but a year later it had “surrendered to the competition from 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week greengrocers,” according to a Times obit. It gave way to a laundromat; there’s still one at the address.
7. Bink & Bink – Three years after opening, this “local institution” known for its “sensible and satisfying” meals was already planning to relocate to a bigger location on the newly trendy “lower Broadway shopping corridor.” The owners eventually opened Perry Street Greengrocers and 80 Second Ave now holds Cacio e Vino.
9. Fresh Jersey Eggs – The above video of the East 7th Street egg store was shot in the mid-’80s — and here’s a photo from 1978. It was still going strong in the early ’90s but the address ended up housing the FAB 208 boutique.
10. Garibaldi’s – The grocery was replaced by Angelica’s Herbs and is now the home of The Bean’s location at First Avenue and East 9th.
11. Mini Market – This spot for “tub butter from Jersey” gave way to another throwback, the Polish GI Delicatessen, which opened in 1996.
12. Di Bella Bros. – The 60-year-old home of “delicious stuffed cherry and bell peppers,” whose longtime owners had already retired in 1984, eventually gave way to a Hamptons Market, though its ghost signage stayed on for a bit.
14. Second Ave. Deli – We all know what happened with this one: it moved uptown and its old corner became a Chase bank.
15. Pasta Place – This spot for “beautiful and fresh” pasta eventually closed, but the corner of First Avenue and 12th Street is still home to a well liked Italian spot: Taralluci e Vino.
16. M. Schacht – in 1984, the owner of this 31-year-old spot said he and Zabar’s had “corned the smoked fish market.” Yoko Ono was apparently a fan of the place. The address, long vacant, will now be home to the relocated Brick Lane Curry House.
17. Luppino’s Fish Market – This 75-year-old seafood market eventually swam with the fishes.
18. Kanpyo – Its “wonderful sushi and sashimi” is gone, but the neighborhood hardly lacks it these days.
19. Al Buon Gelato – The building now houses Frank, which still serves Italian desserts, albeit not necessarily “superlative” ones.
20. Meadowsweet Herbal Apothecary – The “best-stocked of the five herb stores” on the LES seems to have survived till at least the early aughts, when it was listed in the Modern Witch’s Complete Sourcebook, but its address is now home to Random Accessories gift shop.
21. New First Avenue Bakery – This standby for “piping hot rolls” eventually gave way to Sticky Fingers Bake Shop. The address is now home to Cosmo’s laundromat.
24. Rivendell Bookshop – Seven years into its existence, this bookstore specializing in Norse, Arthurian, and Celtic works was already doomed in 1984, as a rent increase was due to force it out in November. An EV Grieve commenter shared that proprietor Eileen Gordon “died in 1989, right after she’d been forced to close the shop and do mail-order.”
25. Ea Eron Era Eros – New York predicted the owner of this one-year-old example of “the growing number of local designer salons” would “take off and become famous,” what with her “post-punk focloric romantic” designs. Not quite, though Pilar Limosner did go on to design costumes for several movies.
26. Archetype – Trafficking in boldly colored clothing that was “oversize but body conscious,” Carmel Johnson-Schmidt’s shop was probably too much a creature of the ’80s.
27. Lilla Lova – Newly opened in 1984, this designer’s shop was still going strong five years later but it didn’t survive the ’90s.
28. Carioca – Carolyn Dwyer’s “decidedly classic designs” for creative and independent businesswomen are no longer, but the shop’s building still houses boutiques like Meg and Cobblestones.
29. Black Market – The clothes were “among the most adventurous” in lower Manhattan at this shop where nearly everything was black. Its address eventually housed a boutique of a different color: Pinky Otto.
30. Brascomb & Schwab – So much for this repository of “beautiful, well made” vintage clothes.
32. O-Zora – a shop offering a “wide selection of Japanese wares,” from saws to kimonos.
33. Hollywood Florist – Owner Sandy Clothier went on to become florist for Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
34. Space Drama – a midcentury furniture store selling “detritus of the first Cold War.”
35. House Party – a store selling mid-century mod items a la Space Drama, but “marginally zanier.” The address went on to house the Avenue A location of San Loco for 15 years until it recently closed.
36. Industrial Hair – The address that belonged to this spot for “ultra-short, severe, androgynous” hairstyles now hosts the Second Avenue outpost of San Loco.