“Court Street Shops Defy the Odds” is the headline of a Crain’s New York Business profile of the main street that runs through Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, which surveys the 13-block strip between Warren Street and Fourth Place, where nearly 20 longtime, mostly Italian-American mom-and-pop stores maintain healthy business.
The story notes that row houses within the region “can now fetch as much as $3 million. Pricey cars dot the curbs of low-key streets. Celebrity sightings—from Jay-Z to British novelist Martin Amis—are increasingly common. Yet out along Court Street, one of the neighborhoods’ main shopping drags, there is a surprising degree of continuity.”
Crain’s says that many of the Court Street stalwarts—from cafés to a clothier, many of them dating back to the early decades of the past century—have been able to escape rising rents “that have killed scores of their erstwhile neighbors, because their forebears had the foresight to snap up their spaces while they could. And nearly all of them have found ways to adapt to the area’s ever-evolving tastes while carefully preserving as much of the old ways as possible.”
For one, veteran sausage purveyor G. Esposito & Sons Jersey Pork Store, “started hawking rice balls, sandwiches and pasta alongside its curtains of handmade sopressata and pepperoni that hang from the pressed-tin ceiling.” Up the street, the owners of D’Amico Foods has been thriving since 1948. Current owner Francis D’Amico, whose grandfather Emanuele opened the store, says that when it opened, there were two kinds of coffee: dark-roast Italian and an American brown roast. Today, Francis cooks up more than 100 gourmet blends, while his wife, Joan, “still greets some longtime patrons with hugs and many others by their first names.”
Changes have also come at pub P.J. Hanleys, which is going strong 138 years after its first beer hit the bar, and at Scotto Funeral Home, which has been laying locals to rest for four generations.
“I had heard about the old-school Italian vibe here,” says Rachel Kash, a writer who moved to the area from the East Village three years ago. “I just had no idea about how many of these places still actually existed. Few areas have this kind of character or heritage.”
Read the full piece at Crain’s here.
(Photo: Row House Magazine)