This store serves more than just fresh produce.
A Brighton Beach grocery store has terrorized the local community, according to neighbors who alleged that the owners have left garbage littered on the sidewalk and cars crowding the road.
“It’s like a war between the community and the store,” said Arlene Brenner. “There’s more stuff everyday. One day there’s a truck parked on the street and no one can get through, the next day there’s trash all over the sidewalk.”
My Mandarin grocery store, located on the corner of Ocean Parkway and Brighton Beach Avenue, has been fined by the Department of Buildings several times since opening last December for a variety of Building Codes and Zoning violations, according to a department spokesperson. But that has failed to deter store owners from skirting the law, according to Brighton Beach resident Ida Sanoff.
“This is someone who does not care about rules and regulations,” she said of the store’s owner. “His attitude seems to be, ‘Screw you, I’m doing whatever I want.’”
Neighbors accuse the store’s management of leaving parked cars and trucks scattered around the property, and carelessly operating forklifts and other heavy machines on the premises, creating unsafe conditions for pedestrians.
“It’s become a really unsightly and dangerous corner. It’s an accident waiting to happen,” said Sanoff. “Visibility on that corner is very poor. There have been several near misses with people getting hit by cars.”
Other residents lamented the severe congestion problems caused by the store.
“They park a huge 18-wheeler truck in the no standing zone, and pretend they’re unloading, but it stays there for five or six hours a day. They use it as storage, and it creates so much traffic,” said Tislya Skibityanskaya.
Skibityanskaya lives in an apartment above the store, and claims that store management plays loud music and violates Department of Building rules by cooking food in a make-shift, unlicensed kitchen area outside.
“They cook food in the parking area, which is illegal. Last weekend we couldn’t even be in our apartment because of all the smoke,” she said.
The store also maintains generally unpleasant and unsanitary surroundings, according to Brenner.
“They left out cardboard boxes that food comes in, and it rained, so the whole area smelled like rotten food and cardboard,” said Brenner. “The corner looks like a third world country.”
Neighbors have expressed their frustrations with store management, but have been unceremoniously rebuffed by the store’s owner.
“He is arrogant. Every time you talk to him, he curses you out. He’ll scream at you to get off of his property,” said Skibityanskaya.
Some Brighton Beach residents have moved on to pointing fingers at city authorities, who they claim have failed to remedy the problem.
“The way My Mandarin operates is endangering public health and safety, causing embarrassment to our community, and is a prime example of New York City government inefficiency and inaction,” said Mendy Sontag.
Sontag has begun to organize community members around the issue, circulating a petition addressed to various politicians and relevant government agencies.
“Everyone has been responsive, but everyone keeps passing the buck,” he said. “They will tell us that they aren’t the ones responsible. It’s like playing ping-pong with all the different departments.”
Sontag hopes the petition can bring attention from lawmakers and local authorities, and finally end the nightmarish situation.
“You don’t see this on any corner in New York City,” he said. “Why is this allowed to continue in this neighborhood?”
The store’s management did not respond to multiple requests for comment.