2020年1月23日 星期四

N.Y. Today: Is Fairway closing?

What you need to know for Thursday.

Is Fairway Really Closing?

It’s Thursday.

Weather: Mostly sunny, with a light wind and a high in the mid-40s.

Alternate-side parking: In effect until Friday (Lunar New Year’s Eve).


Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

It’s news that longtime New Yorkers are used to: A beloved institution is facing an uncertain future.

This month, an old bar almost closed in Queens. Last summer, a charming movie theater was shuttered in Manhattan. And now, Fairway, the treasured grocer that generations of New Yorkers have embraced for its low prices and hard-to-find global offerings, seems to be in danger.


A news report late Tuesday about Fairway’s imminent demise set off lamentations on the streets and on social media. But that news wasn’t exactly true, according to my colleagues. Still, the company isn’t out of the weeds.

What to know

On Tuesday, news reports said Fairway was preparing to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and would close its 14 stores in the New York area. But hours later, a Fairway spokeswoman denied those reports.

“Fairway Market has no intention to file for Chapter 7 or liquidate all of its stores,” the spokeswoman said in a statement, calling the news “untrue and disappointing.”

The company, she said, would soon announce plans for staying afloat.

This isn’t the first time Fairway has encountered problems

Fairway began as a fruit and vegetable stand in 1933 on the Upper West Side, and for decades was viewed as an indelible New York staple.


Eighty years later, Fairway went public, but its financial health soon suffered. A private equity firm, Blackstone Group, bought it two years later, but an expansion failed to generate what it considered sufficient sales. The company’s stock plummeted by 86 percent.

In 2016, Fairway filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, meaning it would produce a reorganization plan for how it would pay off its debt and pay back its creditors. By 2018, an executive announced the store had “bounced back,” citing various investments Blackstone had made.

Analysts have blamed Fairway’s struggles on factors including online grocery delivery, the underperformance of suburban stores and the arrival of Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

Why Fairway’s troubles matter

In 2016, the Times columnist Ginia Bellafante wrote that Fairway’s troubles represent the “disappearing New York of Woody Allen and Nora Ephron.”

Millions of New Yorkers grew up with Fairway, and it exemplified what Ms. Bellafante described as an “endearingly chaotic, unpolished New York retail style.” The supermarket had also etched itself into pop culture, having been featured in a “Saturday Night Live” skit and in movies set in New York.

Still, its perils are a stark reminder of local businesses’ struggles in the age of Amazon.

New Yorkers, celebrities and food experts react with shock and concern

“Quick! Somebody save #Fairway Markets!” tweeted Ted Allen, who was a food and wine expert on the Bravo series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” “This is (was?) the best grocery store I have ever shopped: I mean, ‘Don’t even THINK about asking us to cut the fat off the prosciutto!’”

Iris López, 75, said she goes to the Fairway in Harlem. “The produce is fresh,” she said. “The people are knowledgeable. It’s clean. If they ever close this store, I think I would cry.”

Some customers, however, suggested that there had been a decline at the supermarkets.

“The quality of the fruits and vegetables is terrible,” said Eleanor Mason, who lives on the Upper West Side and described herself as a former Fairway regular. “The prices have gone up considerably and the quality has gone down considerably.”

In an interview, Ms. Bellafante also noted the recent shuttering of the food chain Dean & DeLuca, adding that “there is probably more sophisticated home cooking going on now than at any point in the city’s modern history.”

“It’s surreal that this moment would coincide with the loss of our great grocery stores,” she said.

From The Times

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.

What we’re reading

Manhattan’s district attorney is struggling to raise campaign funds. [The City]

Governor Cuomo said e-bikes and e-scooters would be legal in New York this year. [Gothamist]

The “Holiday Bandit” has been sentenced to five years in prison. [Daily News]

Coming up today

The comedy show “2020 Vision: The Next Celebrity President” is at Improv Asylum in Manhattan. 8 p.m. [$12]

Learn about the future of food at “Plate and Pantry 3.0: Innovations in Food & Beverage,” at Betaworks Studios in Manhattan. 6:30 p.m. [Free with R.S.V.P.]

“M Train,” which explores Muslim life and culture, hosts a live podcast recording at BRIC in Brooklyn. 7 p.m. [Free]

— Melissa Guerrero

Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.

And finally: Runner safety

The Times’s Melissa Guerrero writes:

“New York City runners are spoiled,” my colleague Talya Minsberg told New York Today. “We have drinking fountains and bathrooms everywhere, and it’s rare to go on a run without seeing at least a few New Yorkers out and about. We never really run alone.

“But to be a safe runner you’ve got to be constantly in tune with your surroundings, even when you are completely in the zone.”

In 2018, Ms. Minsberg, an assistant sports editor, kept all of this in mind when writing an article, “Running While Female,” after the murder of Mollie Tibbetts rattled so many women in the running community.

Months later, Runner Safety Awareness Week was organized by the Run Collective. The 2020 event, which began Tuesday in New York and other cities, is co-sponsored by the Prospect Park Track Club and includes several running-themed workshops.

In Manhattan, free panels today and on Saturday will provide resources people can use to help protect themselves and one another. On Friday, run clubs will host “Citizen Runs” in all five boroughs.

“The catalyst is running, but the people that come to our programs this week don’t have to consider themselves runners,” said John Honerkamp, the founder of the Run Collective. “They don’t even have to run to learn how to be safer.”

It’s Thursday — run!

Metropolitan Diary: On the aisle

Dear Diary:

I was in a window seat aboard a train bound for Port Washington that had been sitting in Penn Station for a while. I was alone in the car. My consciousness had thinned into a 1 a.m. gossamer. I knew I wouldn’t be reading the book I had with me.

She floated down the aisle just before the doors closed and halted in front of me. Judging by the faraway look in her eyes, she might as well have been dreaming already.

Without a word, she stuck her ticket into the back of the seat on the aisle of the row I was in. She slumped down, resting her head on her folded arms in the seat between us.

I sat wooden in my seat, not knowing whether to even breathe. She stayed silent until the conductor came for our tickets. When she spoke, it was barely more than a whisper.

“Wake me before Manhasset, please,” she said.

I mumbled something back and tried to busy myself with my book. As expected, it was a lost cause.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her tiny frame rise and fall with each silent breath. She looked to be around 23, certainly not older than my 26. I wondered whether I should be worried for her. I didn’t know her, after all. But I worry over everything.

I woke her as the train pulled out of Great Neck.

“What time is it?” she asked.

“Not too late,” I said.

When I woke up, the train was stopped at Port Washington. The engine was off and the doors were closed.

I didn’t remember falling asleep.

— Kendall Bates

New York Today is published weekdays around 6 a.m. You can also find it at nytoday.com.

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