KOREAN DELIS CONTINUE TO FADE AWAY

103 deli

The Korean deli on 103rd street and Broadway has shuttered, the latest closure in the steady decline of the small delis that supply New Yorkers with their staples and small indulgences. It’s not clear how long 103 Grocery & Flower — one readers suspected it had been there since the 1980’s.

As we documented a couple of years ago, drug stores that serve food and paper goods, as well as new supermarkets, have hurt the delis.

As Joe Rappoport wrote:

“Sometime in the last week, the 103 Grocery & Flower — a Korean deli at Broadway and 103rd Street — shut its doors. It had been there, flowers in the front and a pretty wide selection of groceries inside, for decades, though I don’t know just how long. (I’ve lived near it for 17 years and in the neighborhood for more than 30; it probably opened sometime in the 1980s.)

There’s no sign and the fellow at the Korean deli up the block at 104th Street didn’t seem to know much about what happened. (I hope that place — a reliable place for flowers and avocados, among other items — survives.)

There’s no doubt that it’s tough for these delis, pioneers back in the late 1970s and 1980s, when virtually nothing was open late at night other than an occasional newsstand. A supermarket opened several years ago on the east side of 103rd and Broadway didn’t help, and other tastes have changed as well. They aren’t a place to do a great deal of shopping, given the price competition elsewhere.

The block on the west side of Broadway between 103rd and 104th is one of the few without a chain store; I hope we avoid acquiring the Upper West Side’s 39th drug store, 33rd Starbucks, 29th phone retailer or 21st bank.”

Photo by Joe Rappoport.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 20 comments | permalink
    1. manhattan mark says:

      I don’t remember when the deli opened, but I do know what was there before….the corner in front of the iron gate was
      a flower stand owned by the Abalafia family, next to it going north was Hanscom’s bakery , then came Hudes deliicateson
      after the war they opened the Carnagie deli on 55th and
      seventh Ave., there was a stationary store, a shoe repair shop
      a Spotless dry cleaner, The Broadway Barber shop and a fruit
      and vegetable store on the corner of 104th.

    2. Grew Up There in the 70s says:

      Worth mentioning these UWS Korean markets also revolutionized the availability of decent fruit & veg to neighborhood consumers. Something we all take for granted these days…

      • christina says:

        I agree! And I remember when people were up in arms that they were taking over and charging too much. Change isn’t easy.

    3. geoff says:

      in the seventies or eighties, the ny times covered a korean deli that was trying to open somewhere on lower park avenue.

      a vocal opposer who lived across the street asked the reporter “do you think i want to look out my window to see fruits and vegetables?”

      i can’t find it these days.

      some of them remind me of certain views in paris, and i love regarding them. but i never buy anything—always too expensive for me.

    4. Andrew says:

      Just bought holly there for a houseguest a couple weeks ago – they always had a great selection… nowhere else in the immediate neighborhood to get flowers. Coming soon: another nail salon that serves Starbucks coffee, has a Chase ATM and sells you a phone that will implode in upon itself exactly two years after you buy it. Welcome to NYC in the 21st Century!

      • Sean says:

        You forgot to add a waxing salon that does brazilian.

      • Antonio says:

        Actually Andrew – – the Korean-owned grocery right up the block on 104th and Broadway always had a broader selection of flowers and at better prices (although that might change now due to the loss of competition) because it wasn’t right in front of the subway entrance.
        Rest assured – – FLOWERS MAY STILL BE HAD!
        🙂

      • julie shite says:

        SO sad isn’t it. How did we end up in this sterile dull place? NYC used to have so much character.

    5. Bruce Bernstein says:

      we need commercial rent control, as originally proposed by Ruth Messinger in the 1980s.

    6. Bill says:

      I moved to the UWS in 1970 when it was still pretty much a “frontier town” (with the hookers blatantly touting their “wares” in front of the Babka Bake Shop at 79th and B’way). New arrivals don’t appreciate what a stabilizing influence those “Korean Pioneers” had on the neighborhood. I for one, am sorry to see them go. They will be missed by many.

    7. Robert says:

      The grocery closed Sunday night / Monday morning. The flower stand was empty by 10:00 Sunday evening but the lights were still on inside. When I walked past early Monday afternoon, the store was completely shut. The store owner might have seen the end coming. The signage above the awning had really deteriorated the last couple years.

      And although no one will miss a Radio Shack, it should be noted that the RS store across 103rd St from this location closed a few months ago after being there as long as I can remember, which goes back to the mid 1990s.

    8. Kico589 says:

      It opened in the mid to early seventies, it was one of the first Korean delis on the west side.
      Born and raised on the Westside, left NYC in 1998, but visit twice a year

    9. Lisa says:

      In the 80’s, I remember one time a crackhead went into that deli and tried to rob it. The lady behind the counter (Korean, looked like she was in her mid-60’s and about 5 feet tall)wasn’t having it. She pulled out a bat and chased him out the store.

      I hope the deli stays open. It was overpriced, but the flowers were great and in a pinch, it always had something. The LAST thing this neighborhood needs is another bank, phone store or drug store.

    10. Anthony says:

      103 Grocery & Flower was there in 1979 when I moved into the neighborhood – and had all the signs of having been there plenty prior to that.
      This was the era right after the blackout and the looting that gutted a number of stores right around 103rd Street. A different time in our history, but sorry to see this store go. That explains why it was in such poor shape – they must have known for some time that they’d be leaving when their lease was up. Just a supposition but a likely one.
      Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

    11. julie shite says:

      Give it a year or 2 and the chains of banks pizza joints, ice cream and cake shops, Duene Reads, 7/11’s, telephone shops will be all that there is left. A city for tourists from other parts of the US will be here watching repeats of old Broadway shows; taking pictures; getting on tour buses around the City, to Harlem (joke) …?
      What a bore for those of us who want to live in a community of interesting people and want to do more than stay in, order on-line, watch tv and get completely brainwashed and paranoid. We used to have fun living here.. Interesting, diverse people. Violence was/is a myth. I was never afraid to anywhere in NY, at night, on the subway. A woman alone. Amazing music in Harlem; superb restaurants all over the City; discos; local bars. All gone.
      We’re controlled by the bogey man. Watch out for those ‘terrorists’ .. Stay in. Watch the box and you’ll know how to think.

      • Bruce Bernstein says:

        well said, Julia.

        by the way, Mom and Pop store-based shopping areas are thriving in places like Jackson Heights.

      • webot says:

        If you hate it here so much now, why don’t you move.

        Some of us like the changes (not all of them, but the City is better today in our eyes).

        • webot says:

          Again, do you complainers get out at all?

          Just spent a great late night in Harlem and Red Rooster, then Jazz a Minton’s. Neither of which where open a few years ago. The streets where alive with all walks of people.
          Also, spent a night listening to live music at Prohibition on Amsterdam. Seriously, I think you all are just looking back on your youth with found memories. Nothing wrong with that, but stop demonizing the present.
          There is a whole new world out there and young people still go out, do silly things, and are doing fun and creative things all over this City – maybe not as much in neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, but that energy is alive and well in New York City, it just moved to Brooklyn 🙂

    12. The blame for the loss of small businesses is the residents of the Upper West Side. The culture that has been created by the media promotes the fast food, pop culture products and one stop shopping found in the chain stores. Its real easy to order groceries online at Fresh Direct or Peapod. You don’t have to take your deposit bottles back to the store because someone will do it for you and the five cents deposits is no big deal. The deli on Broadway has had a lot of good years in business, with a choice location at the subway entrance. It can’t compete anymore with the more attractive and brightly lit West Side Market or Whole Foods with products which are considered better quality by the neighborhood’s residents. The final nail in the coffin is the high rents in a constantly changing neighborhood. Big business knows this is a fertile ground for business and the landlords know it too.