Westside Market Will Close: For Renovations, or For Good?

By Carol Tannenhauser

Westside Market, between 76th and 77th on Broadway, is definitely closing on November 30th, for one of two reasons: either it will make a deal with its landlord and close to renovate; or negotiations will fail and it will close that location for good.

Right now, company Chief Operating Officer Ian Joskowitz said he can’t call it.

“We’re in a state of suspended animation, no closer to agreeing and no further away.”

Employees at the market have been telling some customers that they’re expecting the store to close. In fact, customer Mark Permann told us that the cashier packed his groceries in a tote bag instead of paper or plastic. “When I asked the cashier why, she said that they were closing in November and they had a lot of them.”

However, some of the information floating around — including a rumor that the rent was going to go up by 50% — appears to be incorrect. Joskowitz said rumors of an exorbitant rent increase by the landlord, the Triumph Hotel Group, are false. “To be fair to the landlord, we are two businesses trying to do what’s best for our businesses. If those interests coincide, we’ll make a deal.”

As we reported earlier, the issue is space. West Side Market wants to expand into available adjacent space, which the landlord is against for undisclosed reasons.

If no deal is reached, Joskowitz said, “Westside Market wants very badly to remain in the neighborhood. We are looking for space as close to where we are now as possible, preferably on Broadway. We’re determined to come back as soon as possible and to make West Side Market even better.”

Everyone in the store, from the managers to the cashiers, is in the loop, despite the fact that some seem to be leaking inaccurate information, Joskowitz said. “I explained it to them as I’m explaining it to you,” Joskowitz said. “I guess they believe what they want to believe.”

Photos by Carol Tannenhauser.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 52 comments | permalink
    1. Sean says:

      What? There is no villain in this story.

    2. Via says:

      A very mediocre store. Not worth it, I think.

      • Ted says:

        Via,

        I couldn’t agree more. The Economist’s coverage of the Westside Market negotiations is certainly more robust. The Financial Times has much better quantitative analysis but their conclusions are facile. Really how could you expect a neighborhood journalist to provide the hard hitting coverage that the closing of a small local super market demands? It’s as if the Westside Rag were trying to be the authoritative source on nuclear proliferation or stem cell research.

        Yes, Via your brief but pithy insights have shined a bright light on this journalistic charlatanism. Well done!!!

    3. Susan Kagan says:

      Let’s hope West Side Market finds another space; it shouldn’t be too difficult when there are so many empty storefronts along Broadway between 72nd and 96th Sts.

      • lynn says:

        Isn’t there already another Westside Market in the 90’s? I hope they stay or at least relocate closer to where they are currently located.

      • B.B. says:

        Vacant retail space is one thing, those that will allow food is another.

        For various reasons many owners of retail space will not lease to anything that involves food. You see this in listings and or signs stating such.

    4. Marjorie says:

      We’ll keep our fingers crossed for West Side Market. Like many, many others, my husband and I have depended on the market for decades. We care about the staff and management, and we appreciate the good service and the remarkably wide range of food they’ve managed to fit into a relatively small space. Thank you, West Side Market!

    5. Lis Krosov says:

      What l want to know is why won’t the landlord let them expand to the empty space…more landlord greed?

      • EricaC says:

        Is it landlord greed whenever they won’t do what you want?

        People do have a right to decide what to do with their property. It is disappointing when it doesn’t go the way we want, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily wrong or inappropriately greedy.

    6. Pedestrian says:

      This is really sad. Whatever people may say it is a convenient place to shop and it’s closure will make Fariway all those more crowded and chaotic.

      It’s unfortunate that a going concern will be pushed out because the landlord decides that the person runningnthe business is wrong about expansion. I’m sure it’s just a cover.

      • Sherman says:

        It’s the landlord’s building and he can do whatever he wants with it.

        He’s running a business, not a charity. Get over it.

        I happen to like Westsuse Market and I’m sorry it’s leaving but that’s life. There’s always Trader Joe’s and Fairway.

        • Why does it matter? says:

          A business is a charity according to the IRS. It is only in your mind that there is a difference not reality. In fact I would say West Side Market has done more for this community than almost all of the charities combined on any weekday.

        • Jenna Torres says:

          Oh dear! Perhaps your landlord will decide to kick you and your neighbors out! It’s his building after all. Its’s life. Hope you’ll get over it!

          • Sherman says:

            I own my apartment. I have no landlird and I can’t be kicked out.

          • Bob Lamm says:

            Bravo, Jenna.

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            since Sherman owns his apartment, that apparently gives him license to have zero empathy for people who don’t.

          • factshelp says:

            Umm, no Jenna. Read your lease and you will see that this can’t happen. A non-renewal is certainly possible and perfectly legal. NYC has some of the most tenant friendly laws in the world and no landlord will be kicking you out any time soon just because they feel like it.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              apparently “factshelp” is not familiar with the literally hundreds of cases on the UWS of landlords using both legal and illegal means to get rent stabilized tenants out of their apartments. CouncilMember Helen Rosenthal has stated that tenant protection is the most common constituent service request that comes into her office. tenant harassment is veyr common on the UWS.

              if you don’t have rent stabization protection — if you are a “market rate” tenant — you have few legal rights and the landlord can evict you upon lease expiration.

          • EricaC says:

            When I rented, that happened to me. I wasn’t thrilled, but I wasn’t shocked because that is the difference between owning and renting. I understand and support the limitations on landlords of peoples’ homes, though j think they sometimes go too far on paper in NYC – and not nearly far enough in reality in NYC. (Spend one day in tenants’ court and you can see cruelty and flagrant abuse of the law by some landlords, though you see it from some tenants too.) But in the context of businesses, I do not think the same factors exist to override a landlord’s property rights.

    7. Alan says:

      What a shame! Good and friendly staff. What a shame!

    8. Manhattan mark says:

      PLEASE, DON’T LEAVE THE NEIGHBORHOOD. WSM is the only
      food store that is open 24/7 including hurricanes and snow
      storms.It’s one of the things that makes this part of the UpperWest side so desirable and valuable to the people who
      live here. PLEASE……

    9. George A. Zeppenfeldt, says:

      Unfortunately, a closing would leave the UWS with even fewer 24 hour supermarkets which are particularly important for those residents who are only able to shop nights or early mornings because of their work schedules.
      Co-Chair, Business Committee, CB7

    10. adam cherson says:

      There’s space where gracious home used to be until lowes showed up.

    11. UWSSurfer says:

      I want and need Westside Market to stay!

      It has great prepared foods and best produce in the neighborhood. It is open 24 hrs with nice managers and staff.

    12. Jacey says:

      WestSide Market offers many items for normal middle class life in useful sizes.

      Such items and sizes are less and less available in the neighborhood, including the other local supermarkets. They are important to the lives of a great many residents of our neighborhood.

    13. your neighbor says:

      I like WSM and shop there often but anybody has to admit it is a bit on the dingy side.

      With the total makeover of the Hotel Belleclaire, I can see why the management wouldn’t want to give WSM even more space.

      Hopefully the landlord will get some concessions from WSM and WSM will be able to remain in the same space for at least a few more years.

      Stay tuned as the negotiations continue!

    14. Steven says:

      There are several West Side Markets. One down on 14th street. One in the upper 90’s & one around 110th street. Sadly, the one that’s closing is in the neighborhood I live in. The 2 uptown I feel are better & have a much larger variety from the hot food counter. And the one on 110th street makes INCREDIBLE salads. I do go into the local one on 77th street quite often & it’s a shame that it’s closing. I’m sure just like Big Nicks, the space will sit there empty for a few years. A shame for the neighborhood but I’m sure Fairway will be thrilled.

      • Fred DuBose says:

        The largest Westside Market (by far) is on the EAST side — Third Avenue between 12th and 11th. And its size suggests that whoever owns the WSMs has very deep pockets.

    15. Steven says:

      1 story I just remembered & wanted to share. Several years back when hurricain Sandy hit, everything was closed. Every restaurant, supermarket, deli, even the Duane Reads. I had no food in the house & something told me to call over to West Side Market & shockingly, they were open. I ran over there & got what I needed. I remember asking the cashier how she got in (as all mass transit was closed) and she told me that the manager said to all employees, who were willing to come in, to take a cab & the store paid for it.

    16. Scott says:

      Please STAY West Side Market! Where else can I get a 6-pack of Dogfish for $16?

    17. robert says:

      Word in real-estate circles is that they are gone, as the owners reps are asking brokers to bring in their “large scale” clients to look at space. It may just be a ploy to pressure Westside, but the people working at the store (not the workers, the mgr’s) have in private conversations with shoppers been telling us they are gone unless there is a 180 soon.

      • Cat says:

        So your info is coming from inside real estate circles or conversations with the workers?

      • Carlos says:

        The fact that they are showing the space is no guarantee that WSM is out – it is just evidence that the landlords have a brain. A smart landlord will start showing a space well before the lease is up to gauge interest. If no one will pay more than the existing tenant, renew. Otherwise, move on to a new, higher paying tenant.

        It always amazes me how many spaces there are where it seems like the owner hustled out a long time tenant in search of new riches then the space sits empty for years because they totally misread the market.

        • robert says:

          Without going into details in this public forum.
          The landlords reps have done a lot more than just “showing” the space. Paper has already been circulated

          • Carlos says:

            That’s fine. And to sustain my point, if that deal falls through, the owners will likely come back to WSM and agree to an extension. That is, if they are even slightly more intelligent than all of the landlords on the UWS with long term empty spaces. This is all negotiating 101.

    18. Iiari says:

      Can someone explain the “If we don’t get more space in the building then we’re closing” aspect to this story? I mean, are they in financial pressure and absolutely, positively require that extra space? It seems odd to throw away years of business and a dedicated customer base just for want of some more space, especially when the market itself admits the landlord is otherwise being reasonable in their demands. If you’re financially OK otherwise, why do that? I mean, I’d love more business and space for my job, but I’m not quitting the whole thing if I don’t get it…

    19. GG says:

      I prefer BROADWAY FARM anyway.

      It’s a couple blocks north but it is a family-run small business and it isn’t part of a chain like Westside. Support your neighborhood businesses y’all!

      • Juan says:

        Two thoughts:

        1. Average prices at Broadway Farm are significantly higher than at WSM. They really aren’t comparable.

        2. What’s with all of the hating for the chains? If the owners of Broadway Farm decided to open 5 more stores in other parts of the city, would you suddenly start hating them? I am all for supporting local businesses but there is a place for chains too.

        Think of something like Lenny’s (now Lenwich). It was founded by a hard working immigrant from South Korea. It now has about 20 locations across the city. Sounds like an incredible success story to me. But I guess now that they have so many locations you take your business elsewhere because you can’t support a chain?

        • GG says:

          Sounds more like the Hyper-Capitalism that many say is ruining the country (not to mention this neighborhood).

          We support our Mom and Pops around here…or at lease we try to because so few still exist. What part of ‘neighborhood’ and ‘family’ did you not understand.

          People on the UWS, generally, are not driven solely by greed. Or maybe I should say longtime residents. And we used to take care of our own.

          Except for real estate, then we just kick out all the old and poor people and put up a skyscraper.:)

    20. NYYgirl says:

      More than a little bit worried to read about the customer in your article who said that the cashier packed the items into the WSM canvas tote bag “because they were closing in November and they had a lot of them”…wouldn’t the owners be able to continue to use these bags at the 98th st or 110th st store? Am I missing something? Hoping the uptown stores will be staying!!!

    21. Lulu says:

      Well as of this morning those free bags are now $4.99 and they were giving them away a few days ago.

      • B.B. says:

        Likely once word got out those bags were “free”, demand increased. Retail 101 tells us never give anything away that you can sell.

        Or as that old song goes: “If I can’t sell it, I’m going to sit down on it”

    22. UpperWestSider says:

      love this Westside Market! Can’t lie, wont really miss it with Trader Joes, Fairway, Citarella and Zabars close by, but still love it & hate to see long time UWS institutions close 🙁

      i better scurry there to get a free tote bag lol

    23. Stuart says:

      Aren’t there empty storefronts one block north of the current location?

      • Bbinnyc says:

        The Children’s Place across the street left almost 4 years ago. It was one of the highest sales/SQF stores in the 1200 store chain. But the landlord asked an egregious and ridiculous price and the company rightfully walked away, so it has been empty for years. Now the building is full of rodents because they access the building through the empty store and there are constant squatting homeless people in the vestibule of the abandoned store. And we lost a super affordable, albeit far from crafty or artisanal, purveyor of kids clothes. All We have now are places for a $150 dress for your 6 year old. Awesome. Landlord not suffering bc they have owned the building for 75 years and their basis is zero. Tenants suffering with mice and squatters, and neighborhood suffering bc nowhere to buy a shirt for your kid for under $40 around here.

        Situation with Westside is different but similar. Landlord bought a beaten down SRO and wants it to be the Ritz Carlton so kicked out Nick’s and now the Supermarket. Is never going to be a 5 star hotel, and chi chi retail will never survive in that location. And it will be more empty space. They are being shitty neighbors and I will be sure to send my business to Nylo not the Belleclaire.

        Fairway and Trader Joe’s are already a nightmare. How much worse will they get? Sometimes you just want a carton of milk…in and out in 5 minutes. Is that too much to ask?