(Photos) Art Exhibition Precedes Destruction of Old Essex Street Retail Market

Photos by Roger Bultot.

Photos by Roger Bultot.

The new Essex Market has been open for about six months, and the old historic Essex Street Market building on the north side of Delancey Street will soon by knocked down to make room for yet another new apartment building as part of Essex Crossing. For the past couple of months, the Cuchifritos Gallery/Artists Alliance hosted a final exhibition in the abandoned, doomed 80 year-old structure (it closed this past weekend).

The installation, 00 00 00 00 00 [Essex Street Retail Market], was the creation of Italian artist Andrea Nacciarriti.  Photographer Roger Bultot viewed the exhibition and shared a collection of images with us. As Artists Alliance explained on its website:

The history of Essex Street Market is deeply ingrained in the history of New York City. Along every wall, inch of floor, and vendor display, one can find traces of the generations of residents who moved through the space. Responding to the building’s currently abandoned state, Nacciarriti will work inside of the historic location to realize a site-responsive intervention that reacts to existing environmental conditions—natural and artificial light, empty corridors, widespread silences—and introduces external objects produced by the artist. Marking Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space’s very last show in its old home, this final work unfolds along a solitary and mysterious path throughout the Market. A series of quiet and subtle gestures, these disappearing interventions become a paradox; the architecture’s fictional resistance to its impending destruction.

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After signing a waiver, visitors equipped with flashlights had the chance to explore the pitch-black environment practically alone. The low visibility was pierced by a bright white cube: the former Cuchifritos gallery, now housed in the location across the street. Its door and partitions were ripped away in a pile nearby, echoing other architectural instances of institutional critique removing gallery facades or opening up such hermetic spaces. The only foreign object introduced to the building was a representation of time in the form of a mysterious, red digital clock, reminiscent of the giant one in Union Square, counting down presumably to the end of the show’s run and thus civilian access.

Cuchifritos Gallery has relocated to the new market. You can see the current exhibition schedule here.











Samesa Becomes First Casualty of New Essex Market


The new Essex Market has its first flop. The shawarma counter, Samesa, has shut down just five months after the market moved into its new gleaming space as part of the Essex Crossing project. Samesa, a project from the high profile chefs, Max and Eli Sussman, was one of a handful of new ventures joining the Essex Market’s longtime vendors in the new facility.

Some merchants have benefited from the move, attracting new customers. But it’s apparent that some of the same problems that plagued the market for years (namely a dearth of regular customers) have not been solved by relocating into a new space.

The first part of the Market Line, a companion shopping hall below the Essex Market, is expected to open with 30 new food vendors later this month.

New Essex Street Market Opens on the Lower East Side


After a weekend in soft open mode, the new Essex Street Market makes its official debut this morning with a ribbon cutting ceremony and speech-making from city officials.

When we stopped by the market yesterday afternoon, vendors were stocking their display counters and greeting both longtime shoppers and new ones curious about the expanded facility. After 79 years, the Essex Street Market’s historic home on the north side of Delancey Street is closed for good. The new space, nearly three times as large, is a bright, modern showpiece for Essex Crossing, the residential/retail mega-project in the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.






Most of the vendors who made the move have additional space in the new public market. Some have added new features, Over at Nordic Preserves, there’s now a counter for customers to be seated and a stove. Once their liquor license is approved, you’ll be able to sit down and enjoy a beer and the old Good World Bar burger. Top Hops is also waiting on a liquor permit before opening its spacious bar in a conspicuous spot on the market’s south end. Cafe D’Avignon is now baking bread on site and offering sandwiches and a selection of quiches, something that wasn’t possible in their tiny former space.

The three grocery stores – Viva Fruits & Vegetables, Luna Brothers and Essex Farm – are essentially unchanged. Their prices do not appear to have gone up in the fancy new space. There’s more room to display their products, however, making it easier for shoppers. Luis Meat Market and New Star Fish Market are side-by-side down one aisle, offering the same affordably priced meat and seafood.





New vendors include Essex Shambles, a Harlem-based butcher specializing in locally-sourced beef. Right across the way, you’ll find Riverdel, a vegan cheese shop! Local favorites Sugar Sweet Sunshine and Chinatown Ice cream Factory (know as LES Ice Cream Factory in this corner of the neighborhood) are represented. Roni-Sue’s Chocolates is back in the market after a hiatus. Other new entries include Samesa (Middle Eastern), Don Ceviche (Peruvian dishes), Eat Gai (Thai) and Mille Nonne (Italian).






If you enter the market from Delancey Street, you will notice a small historical display, featuring old photos and drawings of the first public markets on the Lower East Side. There’s a gift shop called “The Pushcart,” where tourists can pick up Essex Street Market t-shirt. Upstairs, there’s plenty of seating (a major upgrade from the past), a space for public events and a large demonstration kitchen. The community space features a 720 square foot mural by Aaron Meshon.

Still to come, two full service restaurants will be opening, including an Indian spot called Dhamaka. In the summer, the first phase of The Market Line will open right below the Essex Street Market, adding about 30 additional food vendors.

The new Essex Street Market is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.  You can learn more about all of the vendors here.

Saying Our Goodbyes to the Old Essex Street Market

Eric Suh of New Star Fish Market on the final day of the old Essex Street Market.

Eric Suh of New Star Fish Market on the final day of the old Essex Street Market.

It was a day of high emotions on the Lower East Side Sunday, as longtime customers and vendors said goodbye to the old Essex Street Market building at 120 Essex St. The 1940 structure once described as “unlovely” by the New York Times, is now shuttered and will soon be demolished in favor of an eight story apartment building as part of Essex Crossing. Most of the merchants will reopen for business by Friday in a gleaming new space across the street at 88 Essex St.

When we arrived at about 3 p.m., a tearful woman was walking out for the last time, lamenting the demise of a place that has meant so much to generations of Lower East Side families. She may or may not have known that the market is about to begin a new era in a larger. modernized facility across Delancey Street, or that most of the vendors will be making the move, and in some cases, expanding their operations. But for her, and many others, the Essex Street Market as she’s known it is now a relic of the past. The quirky, rough-around-the edges building is a big part of what made the local institution unique.

By Sunday, a few vendors had already closed their old stalls. The breakfast spot, Shopsin’s, served its last meal in the historic market a couple of weeks ago. Peasant Stock and Aminova’s Barbershop were shuttered in advance of the move. Several stalls, of course, have been empty for months, including those once occupied by Saxelby Cheesemongers, Santa Lucia Religious Articles, Boubouki, Osaka Grub and I.M. Pastry Studio. For various reasons, they chose to opt out before the transition.

One vendor who originally intended to cross Delancey Street, but then reconsidered, is Ira Stolzenberg of Tra La La Juice Bar and Rainbo’s Fish. A fixture in the market since 1976, he’s choosing to retire. In 2016, Stolzenberg’s business and life partner, Ron Budinas, passed away. Stolzenberg decided the time was right to close the business, the oldest operating stall in the market.

For most vendors Sunday, feelings were mixed. They have an emotional attachment to the old building, and some of them would have been happy to stay in place indefinitely. At the same time, though, they’re excited about the brand new facility, where foot traffic will hopefully be better. The current market has suffered a slump in recent years, with several merchants going out of business. Quite a few local residents came through yesterday for a last look, snapping camera phone photos, and chatting with vendors.

In 2011, local residents mounted a campaign to save the Essex Street Market building. City officials were determined, however, to knock down all four original market buildings to make way for the redevelopment of the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. While there was some sentiment on Community Board 3 to retain the historic structure, NYC bureaucrats argued that the existing building was too small and antiquated to serve the city’s needs in the future. They cynically pitted market preservationists against affordable housing activists, suggesting that keeping the market in place would mean sacrificing affordable apartments as part of the project that would later become Essex Crossing. Community board members decided to prioritize housing and the well-being of the vendors themselves over the old building (the developers paid the vendors’ buildout and moving costs).

The new expanded market will officially open a week from today, with an opening celebration scheduled for May 18. About 20 vendors will make the move, along with 15 new businesses.







Saad Bourkadi of Essex Olive Oil & Spice.

Saad Bourkadi of Essex Olive Oil & Spice.




















An Era Ends Sunday as the Old Essex Street Market Building Closes For Good


If you want to visit the old Essex Street Market one more time before the vendors cross Delancey Street, Sunday will be your last opportunity.

The 79-year-old building at 120 Essex St. will soon be demolished to make way for another shiny apartment building. The newly expanded market will soft open late next week before officially debuting at 88 Essex St., within the Essex Crossing complex, Monday, May 13.

It was, of course, a shortsighted move by the city’s Economic Development Corp., which operates the public market, to obliterate all four buildings that made up the original Essex Street Market. The demolition will wipe away the last vestiges of the Lower East Side’s pushcart past (the market was created in 1940 to get the vendors off the streets).

There is a silver lining. The vendors, many of whom have withered in recent years, are hoping the new space will attract bigger crowds. In an agreement brokered with the community board years ago, the Essex Crossing developers were required to pay their buildout and moving expenses.

15 new vendors will be part of the refashioned facility, including Essex Shambles (a butcher), Lower East Side Ice Cream Factory (a spinoff of Chinatown Ice Cream Factory), Samesa (a Middle Eastern takeout counter from the Susan Brothers), Sugar Sweet Sunshine (a new outpost of the popular LES bakery), Roni-Sue’s Chocolates (an alumnus of the old market) and Don Ceviche (a seafood-centric Peruvian stall).

More thoughts about the big move after the weekend.


Lower East Side Voices: ‘Top Hops’ Takes Craft Beer Passion to New Essex Street Market

Today we wrap up our series on the Essex Street Market with a profile of Top Hops, the Lower East Side craft beer store that opened an outpost in the market three years ago. This project has been a collaboration with NYCity News Service. In late April or early May, the vendors will leave their historic home behind, making the transition to a brand new market in the Essex Crossing mega-project. So we thought it would be a good idea to check in with the merchants who will soon be making the move. This installment was produced by Cole Zerboni.

Lower East Side Voices: Mother-Son Team at Puebla Mexican Food Feel Right at Home in the Essex Street Market

The Essex Street Market has for many years been a refuge for startup businesses. As retail rents in stand-alone brick-and-mortar locations have become unaffordable, the historic market has been one of the few places where new ventures can take hold. It was a different story for Puebla Mexican Food. Irma Marmolejo and her son Jose opened a stall in the Essex Street Market after a rent hike forced them from their longtime storefront on 1st Avenue. In anticipation of the upcoming move of the public market across Delancey Street in the coming weeks, we have been featuring videos with some of the vendors. Today Trayonna Hendricks on NYCity News Service profiles this mother-son small business.

Lower East Side Voices: Owner of “Dominican Cravings” Feels Mixed Emotions About Essex Street Market Move

Like many people on the Lower East Side, Emmanuel Diaz has mixed feelings about the the looming move of the Essex Street Market from its historic home to the brand new Essex Crossing mega-development across Delancey Street. Diaz, owner of Dominican Cravings, will be joining about 20 existing vendors in making the transition shortly after Easter. In today’s installment of our series in collaboration with NYCity News Service, Diaz explains why he’s both excited and a little sad about the changes. This story was produced by Cristian Arroyo.

Lower East Side Voices: Essex Olive & Spice in the Essex Street Market

Big changes are, of course, coming very soon to the Essex Street Market. The vendors will be making the move from the market’s historic home at 120 Essex St. across Delancey Street to a newly expanded space in the Essex Crossing mega-development. To mark the occasion, we have been profiling some of the merchants. Our series continues today as reporter Shahar Golan of NYCity News Service introduces us to Saad Bourkadi pf Essex Olive and Spice.

Lower East Side Voices: A Taste of Japan in the Essex Street Market

Tucked in a corner of the Essex Street Market, you’ll find a little gem called Ni Japanese Delicacies. Fortunately it will live on in the new market, opening soon on the ground floor on the Essex Crossing mega-project across Delancey Street. In the latest installment of our series focused on the vendors, reporter Henna Choudhary of NY City News Service speaks with co-owner Saori Numata.

Lower East Side Voices: An Immigrant Success Story at the Essex Street Market

Today we’re continuing our series in partnership with NY City News Service on changing times at the Essex Street Market. In the very near future, the vendors will be crossing Delancey Street to a brand new facility in the Essex Crossing mega-project. Reporter Lakshmi Sivadas profiles Pan D’Avignon, the wholesale bakery with a retail outpost in the Lower East Side market.

Lower East Side Voices: Essex Street Market Changes Trigger Mixed Emotions


This week we’re partnering with NY City News Service for a video series on the historic Essex Street Market, just weeks before the vendors move over to a shiny new home on the south side of Delancey Street. The existing market will be demolished to make way for a new apartment building as part of the Essex Crossing mega-project.

The reporters from CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism found a variety of opinions about the transition. On one hand, residents (and some vendors) are sad to see the old market go. Its demolition will wipe away some of the last vestiges of the historic Lower East Side and the only reminder of the neighborhood’s pushcart past. But many of the merchants are eagerly anticipating the new order. They’ve been suffering in recent years as foot traffic dwindled. As part of an agreement with the community, Essex Crossing developers are paying both their buildout and moving expenses.

In today’s installment, reporter Karishma Vanjani offers this take on old vs. new.

Lower East Side Voices: Peasant Stock Prepares For New Era at Essex Street Market

In the next few weeks, the Essex Street Market will be moving from its historic home at 120 Essex St. to a gleaming new space on the south side of Delancey Street. Over the years, The Lo-Down has covered the happenings of the market almost religiously. At this transitional time, we wanted a fresh perspective on the changes ahead, so we asked the team at NY City News Service to spend some time with the vendors. We’ll be showcasing their videos in the next several days. Today, reporter Orla McCaffrey profiles mother-daughter duo Christine  Juritsch and Emma Kestler of Peasant Stock

New “Essex Market” Signage Goes Up in Advance of Springtime Move

essex market

Observant TLD reader Alan LeNoble was on the scene yesterday as signage was going up on the southeast corner of Essex and Delancey streets for the new Essex Street Market. The newly expanded market, which was supposed to open this past fall, is now scheduled to debut in the spring. Meanwhile, the vendors continue to operate across the street in their historic home at 120 Essex St.


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Osaka Grub Becomes Latest Casualty at Essex Street Market

The Osaka Grub crew - photo via Instagram, 2016.

The Osaka Grub crew – photo via Instagram, 2016.

Another casualty at the Essex Street Market. After months of struggling for survival, Osaka Grub announced last night that it would be closing.

In a letter posted on Facebook and Instagram, owners David Senn and Diana Tam said, “Running the restaurant has been tough. Lackluster sales and the insufficient foot traffic inside the market really has made it difficult for us to continue.” They added, “Sometimes dreams do not work out the way you want them to but we cherished the little stall we had built from scratch and all of the great memories we had.”

Just last month, Saxelby Cheesemongers decided to shutter its Essex Street stall after 12 years in the market. She also cited sparse foot traffic, in addition to other factors. Osaka Grub, a Japanese fast food concept, had only been in the market for two years.

The current vendors were supposed to have moved across Delancey Street this month to a brand new facility as part of Essex Crossing. That move has been delayed until next year. The developers paid for the buildout of the new stalls and will be paying the moving expenses for the Essex Street Market’s existing merchants.