photo by Brian
Brian writes in about the closure of Merchants, a popular Chelsea
restaurant that had been at 17th Street and 7th Avenue for 25 years:
"The owner was papering up the place because they closed on the 28th. I knew that the day was coming because a developer bought the corner of that block and shuttered the health food grill and the bodega last year. In fact, the bodega owner I’d known for 16 years was so upset that he went home and died of a heart attack. They had just put money into remodeling, a brand new awning, and repainting. Now it’s a graffiti magnet."
I reported on the bodega's closure in July. It is, indeed, still sitting empty, more high-rent blight, collecting graffiti and garbage. The new awning has been carved up, the name of the store removed.
"I spoke with the owner of Merchants and he told me landlords in the area are using the new Barney’s as a benchmark for their rents, meaning they’re not going to be affordable to the average non-corporate lessee. You need Walgreens or Red Lobster dollars to afford to open. He’s been looking to stay in Chelsea but says the prices are so high he’d have to do something beyond selling food and drink to actually make money."
And, as with many closures, there's a goodbye sign on the door. This one encircled with a glitter heart.