WNYC: Streit’s “Staying Put” on the LES

On the Lower East Side, some of the best things are still free. For example: a visit to the Streit’s Matzo bakery on Rivington Street.  As Passover approaches each year, major media outlets tend to make the pilgrimage to the old factory.  WNYC did just that for its “Niche Market” series.

In the not too distant past the Streit’s property was put up for sale. A couple of years ago, Alan Adler (who runs the company these days) told us they’d decided to stay put, although moving out of the neighborhood was a possibility if the right offer came along. Today WNYC reports:

The Streit family said they will stay put on the Lower East Side despite the inconveniences of having a factory in Manhattan. They believe the original oven and the New York City water are what makes the taste of Streit’s matzo unique.

Streit’s Matzo: More on Their Future in the Neighborhood

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The other day we mentioned that Streit’s Matzo, a Lower East Side fixture since 1925, has decided to stay in the neighborhood for now. This morning, we spoke with Alan Adler, director of operations for Sreit’s matzo. He said that after putting the Rivington Street manufacturing plant on the market several months ago, they received what he called “a good offer.” But some members of the board wanted more – so Streit’s decided to stay put for the time being.

Adler, great grandson of company founder Aron Streit, explained some of the limitations of the LES plant. Packed into four converted tenament buildings, there’s not enough space for the large matzo-making equipment they need to stay competitive. The buildings are only about 100 feet deep. Right now, the warehouse is in New Jersey. If they had chosen to move, all of Streit’s operations would have been consolidated.

Adler acknowledged that, given the company’s deep roots on the LES, moving away would have been an emotional decision. While they’re not ruling out the possibility in the future, Adler said the company is focusing on making the current baking facility work as well as possible.

Earlier: Mitch Weinstein’s tour of the Streit’s baking facility.

Streit’s Story: A New Friend Rediscovers the Joy of Fresh Baked Matzo

This is really two stories in one. As you might have deduced from the headline, it’s about the historic Streit’s Matzo Factory — their building on Rivington Street has gone on and off the market a couple of times in recent years. Alan Adler, the company’s director of operations, confirms they “have no plans to move.”  This post is also our way of introducing Mitch Weinstein, the guy who’s about to give us a really interesting inside look at the Streit’s factory.

Mitch, who’s been a LES resident for a few years, runs a teriffic blog called Tasty Travails. Unlike a lot of the other food blogs out there obsessing over New York’s restaurant scene, Mitch is focused on, well, food. He helps his readers navigate the wonderful but sometimes bewildering ethnic food markets in the neighborhood. Just as important, he actually explains what to do with all of those treasures once you get them home. Mitch is a native New Yorker who spent 18 years in California before returning to the city to attend cooking school. He’s cooked in restaurants, done some catering and worked as a personal chef. These days he’s mostly cooking for friends and family. He’s also a volunteer host of the food web site eGullet.

We’re thrilled that Mitch has agreed to share some of his food aventures with us. We begin with a post he wrote earlier this year on what really goes on inside the Streit’s Factory. You can read it after the jump.

Tuesday News Links

It'll be all Sotomayor all the time online and over the airwaves today. Sonia Sotomayor, a New York federal appellate judge, is President Obama's choice for the Supreme Court. She grew up in a Bronx Housing Project in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Her family came to this country from Puerto Rico. See more about her life story here, here, here and here.

The Tenement Museum blogs about Streit's Matzo, a Lower East Side institution, which has been on the verge of moving from its Rivington Street headquarters for at least the past two years. The company has had a tough time finding a buyer for the 47,500 square foot building.

Serious Eats gives us a pictorial tour of the locally grown and produced foods being offered at the old Fulton Market Fridays and Saturdays through the summer.

Afternoon News Links

Matzo machinations: What's the problem with Streit's (Jewkey)
Silver & Company in search of an MTA bailout solution (Gotham Gazette)
More red light cameras on the way for NYC (NYT)

Posted by: Ed Litvak