LOWER EAST SIDE — Streit’s Matzos is shutting down its 90-year-old Rivington Street factory and shifting all of its production to New Jersey later this year, according to one of the company’s co-owners.
The factory is expected to shut down after Passover, which ends on April 11 this year, according to Alan Adler, whose great-grandfather Aron Streit started a bakery on Pitt Street before opening the factory nearby in 1925.
Most of the factory’s equipment was built in the 1930s, '40s and '50s, Adler said, and the company “can’t find anyone” to repair it. At the same time, new matzo baking equipment is too large to fit in the four buildings at 148-154 Rivington St., he said.
“It’s just economically unfeasible to continue operations in these old tenement buildings,” Adler, 63, said.
The business has also changed since Streit opened the bakery, Adler said. During his great-grandfather’s tenure, customers waited on lines that went around the block, he said. Today, the company sells most of its products to wholesalers that distribute the items to supermarkets across the country.
That shift has made the factory’s location less than ideal, Adler said. The Lower East Side's narrow streets cannot accommodate large trucks, delivery drivers charge extra to come into the city and the facility lacks a loading dock, he said.
“This may have worked when the Lower East Side was overcrowded tenements, but the business model has changed over the last 80 years or so,” Adler said. “It’s just a whole different ballgame.”
Adler said the family still owns the building but is in contract to be sold to a builder, which Adler could not immediately identify.
News of the closure was first reported by Bowery Boogie.
Adler said Streit’s will move all its production to Moonachie, N.J., where the company also has a factory and warehouse.
The Lower East Side facility focuses on matzo — unleavened bread traditionally eaten by Jewish people during Passover — as well as matzo byproducts like matzo meal and matzo farfel, Adler said.
Streit’s other kosher food products, like its potato pancakes and matzo ball soup mixes, are already produced in New Jersey, he said.
He said there are positions available for Rivington Street’s 30 workers in New Jersey, but he is unsure how many would be willing to commute there.
Adler said the family has considered moving for years, and the decision was very difficult.
“We’ve been putting this off for a better part of the decade,” he said.
“It’s very sad. My mother remembers this place when she was a kid. It’s just been in the family. Every family member who is alive has only known this factory.”