This morning, there are no signs of any activity at Jeffrey’s Meats in the Essex Street Market and the display cases are completely bare. Yesterday, an employee told us it was the store’s last day in business. In the past week, fourth generation butcher Jeffrey Ruhalter has been deciding whether to renew his lease.
There have been ongoing conversations with the Economic Development Corp, which manages the market. Although Jeffrey’s rent had been raised 29%, the EDC was willing to keep it the same if the meat shop gave up some space. But it’s become clear Jeffrey faces much larger financial problems. There have been suggestions the shop could eventually return, possibly under new management.
The Ruhalter family was an original tenant of the Essex Street Market when it opened on the Lower East Side in 1940.
UPDATE 1:23pm See Jeffrey’s statement released this afternoon.
“For many reasons,” he said, “I regrettably closed the store today, temporally. I need time to re-group, to tap into resources that can help keep this piece of antiquity alive. I’m in trouble and I’m going to rely on fate to decide the future of my store.” Jeffrey also made it clear he appreciated the EDC’s efforts to help him.
A short time ago, we received a statement from EDC spokesperson Kyle Sklerov: “Jeffrey is a valued tenant at Essex Street Market and we will continue to work with him.”
The bottom line: it appears Jeffrey has some time to decide his future in the market. The city obviously won’t wait indefinitely but Jeffrey has some breathing room to sort out his options.