Fears Of Food Desert In NY's High-End SoHo As Grocery Closes

SoHo offers a bounty of food — each block in this Manhattan neighborhood seems to feature artisanal chocolatiers selling single origin cacao, juice shops extruding vegetables for $9 a bottle and stores peddling cupcakes and Cronuts. Yet while high-end delicacies with gold bullion prices abound, humbler places to buy a jar of nonartisanal peanut butter or a sack of plain old gluten-full flour are much harder to find.

And on New Year’s Eve at 9 p.m., SoHo will get more difficult for residents without Fresh Direct accounts or Dean & DeLuca-size wallets when Met Food, a neighborhood stalwart for more than four decades, closes its doors on Mulberry Street and shuts for good. According to its owner, Paul Fernandez, he was unable to agree to new lease terms with the landlord. Over Met Food’s 25 years at its Mulberry Street location, the store’s rent has risen to $90,000 a month from $9,000.

In a neighborhood bursting with food, the closing, residents say, leaves a hole for lower-income and longtime residents whose means have not changed as the neighborhood has gone over the decades from a homely enclave to a glamorous address. For the market’s employees — some of whom have watched their predominantly working- and middle-class customers grow up in the aisles of Met Food — and for the store’s regular shoppers, the shutdown is yet another moment in which the ever-gentrifying city becomes that much less livable.

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