A ‘huge loss’: Fort Greene landmark Lafayette Grocery and Dairy closes

Lafayette Grocery and Dairy has closed.
Photo by Anna Bradley-Smith

Lafayette Grocery and Dairy has closed its doors after years serving bagels, sandwiches and wraps to its Fort Greene and Clinton Hill neighbors. The store at at 133 Lafayette Ave. lost its lease and was evicted by the city marshal on July 8.

A local alerted Brooklyn Paper’s sister publication Brownstoner to the landmarked bodega’s closure via Twitter, and a walk-by confirmed the news. Multiple marshal’s sale and possession notices are pasted to the front doors of the ground-floor store.

In a Google review, one local wrote: “Huge loss to our neighborhood, and the abandoned store cats Shadow and Midnight.” The space has been a deli since at least the 1930s, the historic tax photo shows.

According to the signs on the storefront, 133 Food Corp owes the building owner, J.O.J Holdings LLC, $158,469.48 plus interest, and the city marshal plans to hold a sale of the store’s contents (which the notice says includes furniture, equipment and food) on Aug. 1.

Photo by Anna Bradley-Smith

City data shows an eviction warrant was executed on the street-level store on Friday, July 8. Meanwhile, a complaint filed by J.O.J Holdings LLC against 133 Food Corp on Aug. 4, 2021 in Kings County Supreme Court alleged that the deli owner’s lease had expired on September 30, 2019. “Defendant has wrongfully held over beyond the term of the lease. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the terms and conditions of the lease carry over into the holdover period,” the complaint reads.

J.O.J Holdings LLC claims in the lawsuit that during the 10-year lease, the deli owner conducted work in the building without the owner’s permission or the correct permits, violating the conditions of the lease.

The work allegedly included electrical and structural work on the floor of the store and the ceiling of the portion of the basement that the deli occupied. As a result, the complaint claims, the building has suffered structural damage and has had received multiple violations from the city agencies, including “wood joist in the cellar being improperly and inadequately vertically supported, missing fire stopping in cellar leaving wooden joist exposed hazardous and work without a permit in cellar at rear – installed wood beam to support floor on 1st floor of the building, constructed two columns from concrete blocks below.”

Lafayette Grocery exterior in 2005.Photo by Sarah Westcott via PropertyShark

The lawsuit claims the current and previous building owners tried repeatedly to get the deli owners to vacate the store so work could be done to fix the violations, but the store owner “failed or refused to comply.”

Brownstoner reached out to the building owner, who declined to comment for this article. The deli’s phone has been disconnected, and attempts to reach the business owner for comment were unsuccessful.

In 2009, the property’s owners at the time received a warning letter from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for tearing out the existing storefront of the landmarked building without approval. The following year, they got permission from the LPC for changes to the storefront, redid it and resurrected the old signage, which had reportedly been stored in the basement. One noticeable difference: The sign now spells Lafayette with only one “t.”

The space could now remain empty or house a new business, but its exterior appearance — and even the grocery store signage — could stay intact, because it’s part of the landmark district.

This story first appeared on Brownstoner.

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