There’s been a mini-outrage about a 101-year-old knish shop, Yonah Schimmel, potentially going out of business on the Lower East Side. However, people are ignoring exactly WHY this place is going out of business.
“The store, where the knish was possibly invented, is heavily reliant on longtime customers who travel by car from Brooklyn, the Bronx, New Jersey and other places to pick up large orders placed in advance. Anistratov estimated this loyal group supplies the store with at least 50% of its total business. But for many weeks now, only two eastbound lanes have been open on Houston Street. This had made it impossible for drivers to pull up to the storefront, located at 137 East Houston, where in the past they have parked for a few moments to pick up and pay for their orders.”
Listen, I love my neighborhood. But it’s a neighborhood, not a museum (except, of course, for the Tenement Museum). There’s no reason for this store to remain in the neighborhood if more than half of its business comes from the areas where all the old-timey Jews moved to. Right now it’s an anomaly, a curiosity. And even worse, those illegal parkers actually harm people in the neighborhood! Anyone who lives on the Lower East Side has been stuck in traffic on East Houston. Geriatric Jews from New Jersey certainly don’t help matters.
Yonah Schimmel should move to where the majority of its customers are and where rents and wages are cheaper so it can prosper. Right now the Lower East Side has great fast, cheap dining options in Katz’s Delicatessen, Pok Pok Wing, Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop, Vanessa’s Dumpling House, Meatball Shoppe and others. The market has spoken against knishes (and, more generally, Jewish cuisine) so Yonah Schimmel needs to pack up and go to where its actual customers live. Even if it gives way to a dreaded cupcake shop, at least people who actually live in the neighborhood now would go there.