Yesterday, the Daily News lamented that diners are disappearing from Queens and being replaced by chains (a Hooters took over the Future Diner in Fresh Meadows after it closed in 2005). The reason? “Deep-pocketed banks or chains are enthralled by the large square footage in dense New York City, offering a rent that most diners can’t match. So when a diner’s lease expires, the eatery’s run may end, too.” Plus, there’s the matter of changing demographics (“Greek immigrants who opened diners are retiring and unable to persuade their children to run the business”) and health consciousness. Today, the Local East Village is worried that bodegas are suffering a similar fate.
The Local cites a CPEX Fall 2010 Retail Report that shows in five years, East Village retail rents have gone up by as much as $200 per square foot; as a result, 53 percent of bodegas are at risk of closing, according to a 2008–2009 New York City Hispanic Small Business Survey. Seventy-four percent of the 937 bodega owners interviewed blamed high rent for their potential demise and 18 percent blamed the chains (from 2009 to 2010, the neighborhood saw a 9.93 percent growth of national retail chains).
Of course, this isn’t the first time these alarm bells have been sounded: A couple of years ago, the U.S. Bodega Association pointed out that four Latino-owned groceries close each month and worried that half of them would be gone from New York by right about this time.