Cafeteria 61

April 19th, 2006 § 0 comments

I should start this story with a little background information. I work for NYU, out of a building on East 12th Street. If you’re paid by the hour and you haven’t got any cash on you, there aren’t that many options for a cheap lunch in the neighborhood from a place that takes credit cards. Consequentially, I have, for the past eighteen months, been a somewhat frequent customer of Cafeteria 61, a pretty generic deli at 5th Avenue and 13th Street. A little more expensive than comparable establishments, perhaps, but generally okay, and they took credit cards.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my coworkers, who also paid relatively frequent visits to the deli, mentioned that he’d run around the corner for a sandwich or drink, or some such thing, and was told by a burly-looking guy standing outside, “Hey, asshole! It’s closed!” Apparently, for some reason or another, the deli had been shut, and its tenants evicted. I walked around the corner myself to have a look, and hastily-written signs had been posted on the windows: “Closed. Store for lease.” Clearly, the occupants had left in a hurry; all the merchandise was still on the shelves, and the salad bar was still stocked. It felt sort of ominous, like someone hadn’t paid the rent in a while. The guy my coworker had mentioned early was still standing outside. The entire situation seemed a bit off-balance, even shifty.

Between that day and this morning, I must have walked by the deli twenty or more times, and nothing seemed to be very different. In fact, the fridges still seemed to be filled with soda and beer, and the same hand-written signs touting the property for lease were still taped on the windows. The bouncer outside the door had long gone, though.

This afternoon, when I arrived at work, I saw today’s Washington Square News, and today’s front-page article: Fire engulfs closed deli. According to the article, “Sixth Battalion Chief Edward Bergamini said [...] the cause of the fire is currently under investigation.”

I shall be interested to see what the cause turns out to be.

There are pictures in the gallery.

Update: Gothamist included the story in their “Extra! Extra!” Post.

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