Have any tips on where the owner might be or memories related to this shop? Please drop me a line.
Although I still do not where the former owners of Empire Purveyors are today, I am almost just as curious about what happened to the shop next door, which according to the sign on its window had been selling brass beds in New York City since 1855. What finally brought an end to a shop that had made it through the 1863 Draft Riots but did not survive the 2008 Great Recession? In its place is now a nail spa, whose name and ownership has changed within the past year. But what came before? What event brought the final death stroke to the bed store? The owner of the Smoke Zone, the narrow retail space, out of which Empire Purveyors used to sell takeout, catering, and choice cuts of meat to neighborhood restaurants, surely hopes for better luck. As the young, curly-haired shop assistant, arrived from Yemen a few years ago, informs me, if the shop fails it won't be from lack of effort. The owner, who like so many smoke shop proprietors is also from Yemen, is a "very busy, very busy" man.
A New York Magazine article from 1991 helped me find the former location of this business. And the records related to a court case told me that the former owner, Antonio, had died in 1999, upon which his sister, Toni, and son, Richard, took over the business. But my chat with the owner of a neighboring dry cleaners was more informative than either of these sources. She did not know Antonio but did know his sister, Toni, whom she described as very friendly, someone who would stop by either her shop or the nail salon next door with muffins or other treats. Toni, she told me, had to move out when the owner of the building doubled the rent. It was retaliation apparently for some complaints she had made. (Ownership of the building has since changed hands.) Not ready to give up the business all together, Toni and Richard then opened Beekman Marketplace in 2004, located just a few blocks south of the former butcher's shop. That business has since closed, taking the history of Empire Purveyors along with them.