Rumors of West Side Market’s Demise are Premature, But It’s Looking Dicey

By Carol Tannenhauser

Rumors are swirling, readers are asking, and store personnel are leaking about the future of Westside Market, on Broadway between West 76th and 77th Streets. Is it closing after nearly 40 years in that location? Employees there have told some West Side Rag readers that’s what they’re expecting.

Some readers are already talking about the market in the past tense: “Yes, there are other food options in the neighborhood, but Westside Market was the calm corner grocer located down the block from us, when the chaos of Trader Joe’s and Fairway, the prices and cramped space of Citarella, and the destination status of Zabar’s were just too much to handle,” wrote Daniel.

WSR went directly to the COO of the parent company, asking him to address the rumors.

“What’s happening is we’re still trying to negotiate a lease that works for both parties,” said Ian Joskowitz.  “Lately, there has been a lack of progress, however, we have not given up, and we’re hoping we can come to an agreement. We got an extension on our lease to the last day of November.”

The major issue is not rent, but space.

“We would like more space,” Joskowitz explained. “There is more space available adjacent to us. We would like it to be available to us. The landlord doesn’t want to make that space available to us.”

A rep for the landlord – the Triumph Hotel Group, owner of the the Hotel Belleclaire, which sits atop the market – had no comment on Joskowitz’s claims. But she previously noted that “negotiations between Hotel Belleclaire and West Side Market are still in progress, and there has not been a final decision,” adding the “the space may be too small for the market.”

“In this new business environment, with online grocers, an undersized supermarket is not ideal,” Joskowitz said. “We’re trying to give our store the best chance to succeed. We love the neighborhood. The neighborhood loves the store. We know that, and that’s important to us. You can’t imagine how many calls I get about this situation – from customers, politicians, everybody. The outpouring is amazing. We’re really hoping that we can stay.”

Joskowitz promised to keep us posted — and we will you.

Photo by Carol Tannenhauser.

FOOD, NEWS | 43 comments | permalink
    1. Scott says:

      Tip to West Side Market: stop playing music that drives shoppers out of your store.

      • UWSSurfer says:

        The 80s music is just one of the things I like about Westside Market. It reminds me of when we were all happier and younger…

        Other good things:

        Better produce than any other place
        Good prepared food
        Delicious soup
        Maria’s salad with blackberries
        Nice staff and managers
        Open 24hrs
        Fast checkout

        We can’t lose Westside Market!

    2. Bob Lamm says:

      Thanks so much for reporting on this. I love this supermarket and I’m hoping it won’t die.

    3. Carol Ardman says:

      Cashier told me the store is closing on November 30. I hope it’s not true.

    4. LFG says:

      I hope there’s hope. Yesterday a cashier told me Nov. 3 was the last day. I hope your report is more up-to-date. WSM has some great prepared foods and specialty items.

    5. Bill says:

      Assuming “Save Westside Market” was not a photoshop effort, those letters were erased this morning. The green paint looked fresh.

    6. Francesca says:

      Here’s hoping they can expand and be more like their more impressive locations, for example, the one on West 95 Street. Agreed that Citarella’s prices are mainly unjustifiably high, that Fairway’s prepared foods – even its greasy roasted chicken – are in inviting and that Trader Joe’s is, well … A larger WSM with its GREAT Maria’s Kitchen line would fill a void for many. What the heck would be better for Triumph? A long vacancy? Is Triumph in and for our neighborhood? Here’s hoping the answer is “yes.”

    7. Milanee says:

      What can we do? I am happy to write to everyone. I love the coziness and the fact that they cram so much in there. We would be in a grocery wasteland on Broadway between 74 and 87th!

    8. Christine E says:

      It’s not clear to me how more space will save them, or why after 40 years that is the defining issue. More space = increased fixed costs, and likely not more merchandise than now, as it would just effectively widen the narrow aisles, so revenue stays the same. Unless they want to add something like a coffee bar, which will give higher margin than the grocery line. That said, I do hope they stick around, I find it convenient to shop there.

    9. B Rapaport says:

      There are so many spaces available in the neighborhood that Westside Market could move to…Th
      Space that was formerly the Food Emporium
      Would have been perfect!! Our neighborhood is desperate for a market!! I shop at Westside Market which is 10 blocks from my home!

    10. jezbel says:

      NO! Say it isn’t so. This market is the opposite of Fairway (not that I don’t like Fairway) but it’s always jammed and always aloof. Westside may be small but has always been willing to accommodate special requests. It’s neighborhood-y. It’s “my store” our store, 24/7.

      • RF says:

        Agreed. I like Fairway for some things (larger selection of produce, for example) but if I’m just popping in to pick up a few items, or if I want to get my shopping done quickly, I can’t deal with the crowds there. Long lines, crowded aisles, too many people pushing and shoving. Someone suggested going to Fairway early in the morning/late at night to avoid crowds, but every time I’ve tried that I’ve found the store to be poorly stocked, with picked-over shelves and sad-looking produce. (Once I went first thing in the morning, and they didn’t even have donuts ready yet!) So nine times out of ten, West Side Market is my go-to. Short lines, fresh produce, better selection of cheeses, and some natural/organic brands that Fairway doesn’t carry. Plus they’re open 24 hours, which is helpful for someone with an unusual work schedule. Really hope they manage to stick around, either in their current spot or somewhere nearby.

    11. Paul says:

      Isn’t there a pretty big space open across Broadway?

    12. AC says:

      Good reporting , , , lets keep our fingers crossed for an outcome that will keep them there for another 40 years!

    13. young_man! says:

      WSM has some good prepared foods and decent selection and prices for the neighborhood.

      But….
      I can see why the building owners are balking at giving WSM more space. Building owners are trying to make their property look more upscale and WSM needs a serious makeover to fit into the vision of the building owners.

      This can’t go on forever, I guess we’ll know how it turns out in a couple of weeks.

    14. JeWhoSoFat says:

      [related]
      how long after Trader Joe’s opens do you think Mani Market (cor 94th/Col) will last?

      3 months?
      6 months?

      2 weeks?

      • UWSHebrew says:

        Looks like someone is a fan of schadenfreude. Mani’s will not close, he may take a hit, but he’ll be fine, he has a very loyal customer base — including me — and in reality, he offers many things TJ’s does not.

      • Jay says:

        Mani’s will last because they have something TJ’s does not: decent produce. The Dag’s on 91st will be gone within a couple of weeks, though

    15. Super P says:

      Other options are mentioned: Trader Joe’s, Fairway, Citarella and Zabar’s. Once again The Pioneer is treated like a red headed step child. All I need is the Pioneer. I’m good.

    16. Starfire876 says:

      Move up to the 80’s then there are plenty of empty store spaces between 79th and 94th street on Broadway. We need more grocery store options!!

    17. DEM says:

      Do you have the name/contact info of someone at Triumph Hotel Group, so we can urge them to reach an agreement to let Westside Market stay and add the additional, adjacent space?

      I love Westside Market, and would so much rather have it expand than close!

      • Bob Lamm says:

        In a comment above, Carol Ardman says she was told by a cashier that West Side Market is closing on Nov. 30th. I was told exactly the same thing on Thursday by two employees who I ran into on Amsterdam. They were aware that negotiations are continuing, but the word among the staff appears to be gloomy.

      • Cat says:

        It’s more a case of urging the market to renovate/upgrade the space they’re already in.

    18. francis says:

      There was a similar “will they, won’t they” debate about the Food Emporium on 90th St.

      Well they did then and will probably will now.

      And while I’m on the topic, a WSM would do great between 86th and 96th west of Columbus.

      Much better than 3 blocks from Fairway.

    19. Anon says:

      I never shop at Westside Market anymore for two major reasons…it’s overpriced (Amazon fresh will bring everything to my door and is usually cheaper) and the store is laid out horribly with aisles so tight that taking my stroller in makes me stressed. I don’t want to be in anyone’s way or sqeak around right corners. As it is, I have one of the smallest, narrowest strollers on the market. Most of my friends with strollers also don’t shop there for the same reason

    20. Steven says:

      I really hope it’s not true but it probably is. Several years back as most may remember, right after Big Nicks celebrated it;’s 50’s anniversary, they were forced to close. The sign outside said that the landlord raised their rent to $50,000 a month & there was no way humanly possible they could afford that. My guess is that the plan all along is to have all the stores on that block gone so they can build another high rise where studio apartments go for $5k a month or something along that nature. There was also a magazine store there next to it as well, also gone. Sad what is happening to our beloved UWS.

      • Sean says:

        Nope. Big Nick’s was disgusting inside. He was paying a 1962 rent on a lease that ran out. Being a landlord is being in business. Unless you own the space it ain’t yours. What is happening is that midtown is moving North which was inevitable after Lincoln Center was built. It just took 40 years.

        • AC says:

          Supposedly, WSM’s rent was being increased by 100K. From my poking around, the new building owners want a higher end grocery store. One that will complement their recent renovations and grand new entrance on B’way.

        • Steven says:

          I do agree that Big Nicks was in desperate need of an overhaul, but they’ve been gone for several years, all that time leaving the space there empty. Wouldn’t it have been smarter for the building owner to have raised the rent to something they could afford to keep rather then have an empty space for all these years & get ZERO rent from anyone?!

          • Sean says:

            The idea is and was to consolidate the spaces and restore the facade. What part of that does no one understand?

            • Steven says:

              Well, Big Nicks went out in July of 2013, over 4 years ago. How is having ZERO income from rent for 51 months now beneficial to the owner? I think THAT is the part that “no one understands” Sean.

    21. sara says:

      will the WSM on W.110 and broadway be under the same possible demise??

      • lynn says:

        One has nothing to do with the other. The store at this location is being pushed out by the hotel.

      • Giulia Pines says:

        With regards to the 110th st. location, I believe that’s a Columbia building and they like to curate a mix of actual, useful shops in their neighborhood. Unless something drastic happens I doubt they’ll push West Side out. It would perhaps be the end of my life – I’m 32 and have been shopping there since I could walk (with parents in tow of course!)

    22. Rita says:

      Love Westside Market. So convenient and easy to find things. I don’t care if it gets a bit crowded. I hope it stays there forever. What we don’t need is another empty space. What we do need is this wonderful neighborhood store!!

    23. UWSSurfer says:

      I thought what Belleclaire was really after was having their wine bar move to the front and be a sidewalk bar.

      I was under the impression Mille-Feuille was a temporary lease for the hotel until the renovation was done. Then, the hotel would take it over as part of their sidewalk bar.

      Westside Market would look modern with the Belleclaire renovated storefront (arched windows) and perhaps if they moved the outdoor fruit inside.

      I forgot to mention above, WSM’s cheese is better than Fairway and TJ.

    24. Sue says:

      Today one of the managers told me they’d be there until Nov 30 – and the see what happens. I hope somehow they can make it. But he did say Nov 30th – not the 3rd.

    25. Doug says:

      I’ve been a shopper there for many years… though recently noticed that their items were $1-$3 more than on FreshDirect. I always assumed they were cheaper.

    26. Erin says:

      I was there last night and asked a manager about the closing, he said there’s hope! So that’s good!