New York Deli Closes, Another Business Falls in Chestertown

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The New York Kosher Deli on High Street has closed its doors after more than five years in business—citing a weak national economy and the lack of support from town government.

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Jeffrey Green, Owner of New York Kosher Deli on High Street has started packing up artwork and memorabilia that graced the walls his shop for more than five years. Green has been without electric or heat for a few days, unable to pay the utility bill.

“The first three years were good,” said owner Jeffrey Green, who started the business with his wife and son in 2007. “We were able to cover our expenses for the first three years.”

Green said the downturn in the last two years had forced him to use his social security check to cover rent and other expenses.

“As the economy in general took a downshift, there were less and less tourists coming and less and less activity here on the street. From that point on it has just gone down hill,” Green said.

At the local level, Green said the town government has done little to help merchants.

“I don’t think the town government has done anything to help businesses or the local economy,” he said. “They’ve stuck their heads in the sand and choose to believe everything is fine.”

Green said one thing that has hurt local businesses is the consolidation of several events on the same weekends—in response to local complaints about the number of tourist in the town.

“[Residents] were complaining from what I’ve been told,” he said. “Then all of the sudden they started compressing two or three activities into a single weekend to appease locals who didn’t want tourists around all week.” He said spreading the events out would bring a steadier stream of foot traffic to local merchants.

Green also disputed the idea that the Farmers’ market is good for downtown businesses.

“The market shuts down all business on the street on Saturday because there is nowhere to park,” Green said.  He said his business resumed to normal on Saturdays only after the market had closed—when parking became available again.

Market vendors sometimes come with “up to three vehicles and take up all of the parking spaces,” Green said. “By the time we would get here at 8:30 in the morning, there was nowhere for anyone to park.”

Green suggested that the Farmers’ Market be held at Wilmer Park, where parking is plentiful and the activities would not interfere with downtown businesses.Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 2.28.36 PM

In a strange irony, Green says he has received an outpouring of support and kind words lately from people who rarely or never came to his deli.

“I’ve had more people come up to me and tell me how sorry they were that we’re leaving. These are people to my best recollection that had never set foot in this place as a customer,” Green said. “People told me how important it was and how good it was for Kent County to have an ethnic restaurant, but they were never customers. If they were, it was once in a blue moon.”

“I could have stayed in business if I had gotten just part of the support financially that I have gotten verbally over the last few days,” Green said.

Green said he had some debts to pay off on the business and would probably return to teaching. “My license is still good.”

 

Letters to Editor

  1. Juanita Wieczoreck says:

    If we don’t support our local businesses, our quaint towns won’t be quaint anymore; they’ll be dead. I’m sad to see the NY Deli close. They had the best corned beef and pastrami, and they’d let you buy 1/2 a sandwich. Go ask McDonalds for 1/2 a Big Mac and see what you get.

  2. He has many good points….I hope someone is paying attention.

    • I think there are two things to be considered here.

      1) Support our local businesses. This support can come in a variety of ways; Shop there, Tell Others, and Give Comments to the owners on why they do or don’t shop there.

      2) In general Chestertown needs to stop thinking that they are a Tourist Destination. Chestertown is not on a main highway with signs leading folks there who just happen to see the signs as they drive by. It needs to be decided will it be a 18th Century Town with a water front (although looking around it may be more Victorian) or an Artist Retreat. Either or both would work to be a designation, but it needs to be marketed. It seems in the Spring there are things happening in Chestertown nearly every weekend, and this doesn’t include the Farmers’ Market. But once the Tea Party Festival is over the sidewalks are mostly put away until October. One big event per month would help a lot to bring folks into town.

      I feel sorry that another down town business has gone under and wish the Green’s all the best.

  3. Janice Dickson says:

    I went to the NY deli shortly after opening and wrote a rave review, especially about the chopped chicken liver. Flash forward 3-4 years.
    The place was dirty, food and cash handled by same ungloved person, counter people more interested in the seated group, stale and old appearing offerings in the near-empty display cases. One or 2 visits like the previous mentioned was enough for me to stay away.
    Perhaps the owners should look inside first before blaming the town or the farmers market for their failure to attract customers.

    • Well said Janice. I noticed that getting in at 8:30 am doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to make fresh bagels. The convenience of paying for half a bagged bagel isn’t enough to get my business. While I hate to see another empty storefront and I certainly don’t dispute any of the Greens complaints, there are other businesses doing just fine downtown. The difference? Probably the business model.

  4. Rachel Adler says:

    So sorry to see that the deli is closing! My husband and I tried to stop in at least a few times when we came from Michigan
    to visit my parents…..I know my husband will miss the pickled tomatoes.

  5. Fletcher R. Hall says:

    Another loss for downtown Chestertown. The Deli was a local establisment with real kosher food to enjoy. Any ethnic food is very difficult to find in Chestertown. With the food much wisdom was dispensed by owner Jeff Green, information shared and local,State and national issues discussed The Deli was frequented by many Washington College students who will find another venue no longer available on their jaunts downtown.

    I will miss the Italian ices at the Kosher Deli.

    More importantly, I will now have to look at another vacant storefront on High Street.

  6. joe diamond says:

    Jeff,
    Don’t do it!
    If you close all the Farmer Market people will have to pee down the street at the other coffee & biscuit place. I’ll drop bye to say hay….got to drop off five dollars in pennies at the town hall………..EM got a parking ticket over in the park. You gotta admit if you really wanted to discourage downtown parking…the meters would do it.
    Good luck with the teaching. Remember what our last principal said: “Mumble mumble mumble. . . You teach ‘em and I’ll interrupt the fights…you take the weapons and I’ll go hide and call the cops just like the old days.

    Joe

    • Stephan Sonn says:

      Joe

      For that you get the traditional
      wooden ruler crack across the knuckles.

      • joe Diamond says:

        I can take it! I found very little the nuns were teaching to be useful…….. I came away with tough knuckles.

        Joe

  7. Kevin Shertz says:

    Have to admit, I’m a bit confused: is it the lack of foot traffic or the fact that the Farmer’s Market brought in so many people that customers couldn’t find parking that led to the Deli’s demise?

    And who exactly in Town is complaining about there being “too many tourists?”

    • Keith Thompson says:

      Kevin, I sort of agree with you on the Farmer’s Market angle. The Farmer’s Market should be an opportunity to expand the customer base for downtown businesses. Perhaps it would help for there to be a marketing angle with the Farmer’s Market to shop at downtown businesses after the market closes, but it is largely up to the downtown businesses to make the Farmer’s Market work for them.

      As for the people against “too many tourists”, I think there’s an element of truth to Jeff’s complaint here in that I’ve heard it from folks in town government that one of their challenges (such as economic development on the riverfront with the marina purchase) are from the residents who don’t want the increased activity.

  8. Joe Diamond says:

    I know what Jeff was talking about,
    Numerous times I have intended to hit his place for lunch only to discover no available parking. Other times just the way other cars were parked made the open space unusable. Then there is the meter thing…they will only take two quarters so you end up watching your time and hoping you have enough change to go fill it up again. And on the meter thing……..this time of the year there are often open parking places……….many of them…..but feed the meter thing still applies. So I end up having to go roll more pennies and go pay the ticket.

    I have sat in Jeff’s place and watched as college kids go through an act of looking at the menus and getting ready to order…when the ladies in the herd finish using the ladies room…they all march out.

    So jeff’s customers ask the question…why go to Chestertown?

    Joe

    • Stephan Sonn says:

      Joe,

      There is a cold-natured lot commenting here today

      • Janice Dickson says:

        Should anyone care to check TripAdvisor regarding the NY deli, one will find many negative reviews in line with those in the Spy recently. Locals, strangers, tourists and visitors alike perceived what the problems were at the N Y deli. Speaking the truth may be difficult to hear, but cannot be considered to be unkind or cold. As I said in a prior remark about the deli, the owner should have looked inside his business rather than blaming the town for its failure.

    • Kevin Shertz says:

      So, I’m supposed to believe that folks who’d patronize a New York Style Deli are intimidated by the parking situation in Chestertown? Fuggetaboutit.

      The idea that Chestertown somehow doesn’t have ample parking — even during Farmer’s Market — could only be the perception of people who have no experience with “real” urban life whatsoever.

      Unless, of course, one wants to equate the inability to park directly in front of the business you choose to patronize with there being “no parking.”

      • Stephan Sonn says:

        I am very careful about what I write here
        although currently my truer thoughts are
        allowed in present op-ed opinion
        rather than dialogue printedhere

        In the context of other recent corrective events
        The village intrigues and cast of characters
        on agendas and vendettas sanitizes Peyton Place.
        Wish I were a better writer with time left to dabble

      • Stephan Sonn says:

        Kevin my favorite reply is, your answer is telling, and it is.

  9. Stephan Sonn says:

    Chestertown is far too insular
    to effect its own economic recovery
    mainly because most voters like it
    just like it is, and part of the deli story.

  10. John Mann says:

    Isn’t the concept behind parking meters, that they keep traffic moving b/c it becomes too expensive to leave your car in one spot all day? At the same time, I never have trouble finding free parking every day in town.

    Walking 1/2 a block is a “hardship” I’m willing to endure.

    • joe diamond says:

      John,
      I just skip downtown Chestertown because the meters are annoying. As parallel parking becomes a lost art I just got tired of fender dings and the traffic wait while the incompetent do their best to park. So I don’t get many parking tickets. My personal last one was for a walk into Scotties to pick up a parcel….cross the street…many open spaces…walk back in less than a minute…parking ticket. Then months later I was handed one from my wife…getting hair cut in town…many open spaces……meter timed out before she could refill it…parking ticket.

      The meters are working. They keep me out of town. I skip Washington D.C. for the same reason.

      Cool Hand Luke for sainthood!

      Joe

      • Stephan Sonn says:

        Joe
        There are plenty of parking spaces in town these days
        because there are fewer visitors in general
        But there are plenty of gatekeepers and trolls.

        • Joe Diamond says:

          Stephan,
          That is the surprising thing. These days TSA is snapping up all the gatekeepers and trolls. Somehow Chestertown has decided auto traffic is a source of income. Instead of increasing the number of parking spaces they feel the meter thing works. And they have found a ( insert fav insulting language) troll to write the tickets.

          In fairness, Chestertown parking issues are mild by comparison to other places. To the extent I can avoid places with crappy parking, that is what I do. Many businesses prioritize good customer parking.

          If I had to cite examples of good and bad parking cities…Towson, MD & .Annapolis, MD have downtown lots that can be used if you don’t need to hit the bars on weekend nights. Inner Harbor Baltimore has convenient parking…if you don’t mind paying $27.00 per day. Biloxi, MS has a huge FREE public lot right next to a huge casino. Williamsburg, VA and Rehobeth, DE have pretty good remote parking with shuttles systems into towns with impossible parking. Some of these places also use towing tactics that make Chestertown look like a walk in the park.

          Cool Hand Luke for sainthood.

          Joe

  11. Jas Trachan says:

    We would go there to buy bags of frozen bagels. The deli case looked dirty and somewhat sad always, and the store gave us a general sense of being unclean.
    Its unfair to blame the store’s demise on the town, or the farmers’market. Blame it on the presentation and the product. I wish it had been better, but ultimatly the market decides who prospers and who does not. Why does Sam’s pack people in year after year? The farmers’ market? What do the other merchants think? Does it add or detract to the downtown mix? My guess is it adds because it brings people to town.

    • Janice Dickson says:

      Bravo, Jas Trachan. I was beginning to think this exchange was spinning out on a parking meter tangent and assessing blame. Many people recognized the “issues” at the deli. Amen.

    • joe diamond says:

      Patina! All New York Delis have a patina; that look of being there forever and of being used constantly. Delicatessen code calls for low lighting and used cabinets.

      The menu is approved by Moses.

      Joe

  12. Sheila Walker says:

    There’s plenty of free parking at the courthouse on the weekends.

    • Stephan Sonn says:

      I know you mean well Sheila but there was a time
      before my back operation when I could not walk that far.
      And there is no handicapped parking designation.

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