Wednesday, March 12, 2014

So Soon? After Barely Six Months, Big Apple Gourmet Hangs Out "For Rent" Sign

Well, that did not take long. In late September 2013, Big Apple Gourmet opened in the retail space at 303 Court Street, which had previously been occupied by Mastellone's, a long time Carroll Gardens Italian deli. Now, barely six months later, Big Apple is looking for a new tenant.

Big Apple Gourmet is owned by Billy Solmaz, who also runs Pacific Green, a popular Cobble Hill store at 151 Court Street at Pacific Street. In June 2013, it was reported that Solmaz was being forced out of his Cobble Hill location by his landlord, because national retailer J.Crew had penned a ten year lease for the space. Everyone seemed happy that Solmaz was able to relocate to the corner of Court Street and DeGraw Street.

But strangely, Pacific Green is still very much open to this day. Perhaps J. Crew changed its mind and Solmaz was able to renew his lease. That would leave him with two locations.  Which would not be a terrible thing, except Big Apple Gourmet just doesn't seem to attract too many customers.

Reader Daniella C. who alerted us to the 'for rent' sign writes:
"I honestly haven't seen the neighborhood take to Big Apple Gourmet since it's opening. I've been there, but I'm not sure it offers anything new. Although I find the prices at Union Market crazy, I don't think BA is any better, and I prefer the produce at KY. Perhaps my observations aren't off base?"

All along, one had to wonder why Solmaz chose to open a shop right across the street from Union Market and just doors down from K & Y, a great little produce store that always seems to do a brisk business.

As I walked past Big Apple yesterday, I spoke to one of the workers who was tending to the cut flowers in front of the store. He confirmed that the owner was trying to rent the store. I asked if Solmaz intended to keep his store on Pacific Street open. "I think so," he replied.

Personally, I still miss Mastellone's and would love to see another Italian deli open in this location.

Big Apple's sister store, Pacific Green, at 151 Court Street.


Anonymous said...

It smells horrible in there. That is why I don't shop there.

Trumbull Bully said...

I still do most of my produce shopping at K&Y, but Big Apple does have a very good selection of groceries. I could not believe the selection of risotto in the back. The drones shopping at Union Market should check it out. Katia - I doubt something similar to Mastellone's is going to occupy that space if Big Apple bails.

Anonymous said...

The store is open really late at night. Whomever watches over the store during the weekend night shifts creeps me out. I was walking on Court Street last month on the other side of block by Court Pastry, and the night manager just stood in some sort of catatonic state. Just peering out the window by the register. It made me feel awkward. Damn near peeping tom esque

Unknown said...

What we need is fruit and veggies on Smith St, but a decent one, not a smelly store.

Duckie said...

There have been several times in the last month that I have been grateful that this place is open until 11:00 pm. There is too much product duplication between it and Union Market and K&Y but the extra hour at night has been the number one reason I spent money there. For what it's worth, Mastellone's kind of creeped me out.

Anonymous said...

Apparently 4000+ people signed the petition in support of Pacific Green after news broke that J. crew was moving into their space. Mind boggling how those 4000+ people can't walk 4 blocks to buy their celery stalks and support them. Proves that the petition was a farce. Some time ago I did a health dept check on several food places I often frequented. I was shocked at the results. Needless today I haven't stepped foot in pacific green in 4 years. So it doesn't surprise me that Big Apple smells. As a result of its association to pacific green I've never been in big apple. Union market still my top choice.

Anonymous said...

Well, here's a hunch. Aside from the fact that there were few customers in Big Apple, there is the possibility that J. Crew pulled out of the Pacific Green location because Uniqlo (a major Japenese retailer), is planning to acquire J, Crew. This could easily put the brakes on J. Crew's expansion plans for the foreseeable future. The Pacific Green owner, realizing the poor performance of Big Apple and a reprieve in his Pacific Street store lease, decided to throw in the towel and rent out the Apple location for the duration of his lease there. As for the cleanliness of these stores, and I have referred to the Health Dept website from time to time, it's safe to say that too many stores have violations. This is not meant to condone Pacific Green or Big Apple's conditions, because to my mind, it doesn't cost money to be clean. But it is to say that less than stellar cleanliness ratings are found more often than not. A number of bodegas and grocery stores in the neighborhood don't have cats because they love the company of's a sure sign that they have mice and other vermin. I could go on and on, but I've got to go now.

Anonymous said...

The smell is truly awful, but I think it was also present when Mastellone's was in business. But I guess I tolerated it because Mastellone had decent mozzarella and diet coke. There is a need for a minigrocery for TP, cereal, and such. But not another purveyor of packaged $8 sausages.

Anonymous said...

I never noticed a smell in Mastellones and I shopped there for twenty some years. I noticed the smell at Big Apple for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Granted, I don't go there often so I thought it might have been that one time but I guess not.

Biraz Turk said...

That was a tough corner to open that type of store. Between K&Y Vegetable (my personal favorite) and Union Market that block was saturated with grocery stores. I wish they had opened on Smith Street.