By Michael McDowell
Manuel Chavez, a longtime Zabar’s employee known for his friendly and humble nature, died last month of Covid-19.
Chavez, who most knew as Manuco or Victor, passed away on April 2, 2020. He had worked at Zabar’s for more than thirty years, and was a member of union RWDSU, Local 338. Chavez’s death first came to light in a video from Atlantic magazine about the store, though the video did not say the name of the worker who had died.
“He was a wonderful, nice, decent, man who was quiet, humble, and hardworking,” Scott Goldshine, general manager of Zabar’s, told the Rag. “Everybody liked him. He was one of those guys that came to work, did his job, was friendly with everyone, never caused a problem, never said no. I saw him every day, and he always had a smile on his face.”
Chavez worked in The Mezzanine, behind the scenes in receiving and stocking, where he was a well-liked team player, according to Bernardo Muniz, who manages the housewares department. According to Goldshine, Chavez was approaching 65, and started working at Zabar’s when he was in his thirties. He was originally from Ecuador—either Manto or Quito—and was unmarried and had no children.
“He spoke limited English, but we always said hello to each other. I’ve been here 43 or 44 years—I can’t even remember—and this was someone I met over thirty years ago.”
Chavez is survived by a number of relatives; the Rag attempted to contact them but we have been unable to connect.
“He had a bunch of relatives, and had relatives who had worked here,” Goldshine recalled. “We’re all family here, we have a tremendous staff. We serve the community, and we know what our responsibility is to the community. We take pride in it,” he affirmed.
“Victor was a pleasant, decent human being. He was loved by everybody,” Goldshine said.