A popular corner store on Williamsburg’s busiest block closed this week after its landlord demanded a 40-percent rent increase by the end of month.
Mike Al-Humaidi, proprietor of Deli Mart, which has been on the southeast corner of Bedford and N. Seventh Street for 25 years, shuttered on Wednesday after rejecting a proposed $25,000 per month lease — up from the current $18,000, which had already been hiked from $12,000 earlier this year, according to neighborhood sources.
But the building owner evicted Al-Humaidi for not paying rent for the past two months, a source said.
The Deli Mart’s surprising closure has left neighborhood residents — and even its Bedford Avenue competitors — stunned.
“This is sad,” said Maher Abid, who runs the N7 Market across the street from Deli Mart. “He has a wife and four kids and his brother died, and he has a family, too. The landlord just wanted more money. Every year the rent goes up,”
Deli Mart is not the only store on the street that has received significant increases over the past year.
The Northside Pharmacy, located across the street from the Deli Mart absorbed a rent increase of nearly double this year.
And the owner of The Bagel Store, Scott Rossilo, has decided to close his Bedford Avenue bakery next year instead of signing a new lease that was twice as expensive as his previous one.
Residents believe that the only businesses that can afford rents as high as $25,000 are high-end chain stores, a restaurant or a bar.
“How about an Apple store?” said Phil DePaolo. “That would seem to fit the demographic and price point. Everybody around here is walking around with those white ear buds.”
Concerns about rent-driven exoduses of local mom-and-pop stores is nothing new in Williamsburg, but it flared up again last month when Duane Reade drug store opened across the street from Kings Pharmacy a few blocks south of the Deli Mart.
Some locals are boycotting the Duane Reade, though others appreciate the store’s longer hours and beer.