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1,500 bottles of beer on the wall

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A Fifth Avenue grocery is uncapping a new strategy to tap into Greenwood Heights’ shifting demographics — widening its already expansive beer selection.

To appeal to a wave of artists, yuppies and hipsters now moving into the micro-neighborhood between South Park Slope and Sunset Park, the venerable Eagle Provisions has added another 500 beer varities to the shop’s already crowded ale aisles.

The new brews bring Eagle’s total to 1,500 — likely the largest number of beers for sale in the metropolitan area, according to co-owner John Zawisny.

“The neighborhood is changing,” said Zawisny, who has owned the grocery at the corner of 18th Street with his brother for the past 29 years. “In the past two years, all of these people have moved in, they don’t cook as much [as longtime residents] so they don’t buy as many groceries, but they buy beer.”

And these heavy-drinking Greenwood Heights newbies are one of the only reasons that the 70-year-old grocery has been able to stay open.

“Customer demand really shoved us into selling so much beer; it’s the only thing that’s really growing,” said Zawisny.

With sales of Eagle’s famed kielbasa slowing, Zawisny decided to better serve boozehounds by dedicated a 2,000-square-foot section of a back room to barley and hops, lining the shelves with mainstream beers; microbrews like Six Point and Dogfish Head; an expanded selection of the cheap Eastern European beers that first put Eagle on the map in the first place; and more obscure foreign ales like DeuS, a Belgian beer brewed like French champagne ($25 per liter), and fruity Chapeau Banana Lambic Beer ($6.33 per 12-ounce bottle).

Unsurprisingly, news of Eagle’s expanded beer selection has created a buzz.

“It’s amazing to have a place that has that kind of selection,” said Eric Schutzbank, an Eagle shopper and beer drinker.

“It’s a benefit to the neighborhood, especially as someone who enjoys alcohol not as a tool juts to get you drunk, but as a craft and an art form,” he added. “You can go there and find something you’ve never heard of — probably from a country you’ve never heard of.”

Eagle Provisions (628 Fifth Ave., between 17th and 18th streets in Greenwood Heights). Hours: Mon–Sat, 6 am–7 pm; Sun, 6 am–5 pm. Phone: (718) 499-0026. All major cards.

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Reader Feedback

tw from greenwood heights? says:
I've lived in this neighborhood a few years now and I never thought to walk in this store until the other day. The selection is astounding. It's the kind of thing that makes you want to go home and do research, before going back.
Sept. 25, 2008, 6:16 pm

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