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Opinion: Allen Street Does Not Need a New Food Vendor

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This letter to the editor was submitted by S. Saks. It’s a response to our recent coverage of a new push to bring a food vendor to the old bath house on the Allen Street pedestrian mall.

Adding a food vendor to the abandoned structure on Allen Street, at Delancey Street is like putting salt on a wound. The area is already saturated with eateries, including mega food chains (ie: McDonalds, Starbucks, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, etc.) Also, there are many small privately owned boutique restaurants desperately trying to stay in business.

As someone practically born on Orchard Street and having a non–food family owned retail store on Orchard for over 80 years, I can actually remember what the sturdy brick structure was built for, and used for– BATHROOMS. There were two separate doors (still existing) facing Delancey Street, one for male patrons the other for females.

The Lower East Side is still a tourist attraction where many come from all over the world trying to find an area still reflecting the history of early New York City. The LES BID, ( now known as the Lower East Side Partnership) sponsors at least three yearly events on Orchard Street (just around the corner from the bath house) which attract 10,000 people on a Sunday afternoon. Multiple events are created, but no responsibility is taken to provide public restrooms in the immediate surrounding area! Prominent shopping and tourist areas all over the world can boast of new high tech pristine toilets. What can we boast of? Another food vendor!

Did the City Parks Dept. walk around the area, meet with residents and merchants, property owners, listen to the Community Board’s recommendations and hear what these locals have to suggest for the use of the vacant structure? A visitor’s center, with public restrooms, is the use shouting out for this space, as was its original use more than 60 years ago!

Editor’s note: City officials say any new food vendor in the Allen Street bath house will be required to renovate the bathrooms located in the building for public use.

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