GREENPOINT — A beloved Polish deli, known for its home-cooked and affordable chicken cutlets, perogies and goulash, in a storefront that's been an operating deli since the 1930's, may get the boot from the block come August, the store's owner said.
Krystyna Godawa, 68, owner of the Polish comfort food shop the Park Deli at 209 Nassau Ave. across from McGolrick Park said her longtime landlord doubled the monthly rent from $2,250 to $5,000 when her 10-year lease expired in April.
While Godawa worried there'd be no way for her to afford the increase, she soon decided she'd try to make it work by expanding her menu.
"Maybe I'm going try and pay $5,000," she said. She'd try to do things, "a little bit different. We can try."
She went back her elderly landlady, Hildegard Daempfle, who she's been paying month-to-month since April, to discuss the terms of a new lease, but the building owner told her she'd already rented the store out to someone else starting Aug. 1.
"Now it's too late because they [found] someone," said a crestfallen Godawa, who emigrated from Poland and worked as a housekeeper before buying the Park Deli business 10 years ago from a friend. "[I feel] very bad. I like my customers. Too many people like the store."
Daempfle didn't immediately return a request for comment. Her late husband Rudolph bought 209 Nassau Ave. in 1986 with a $40,000 mortgage, property records show.
Park Deli has had different names and different owners since 1931 when William Mullenbrock built 209 Nassau Ave., honoring his German homeland in its architectural style, with exposed timber beams on the building's facade.
He opened Mullenbrock's Deli on the ground floor with the savings he'd made as a butcher, according to Mullenbrock's family, who delivered a framed photograph of the deli shot in 1939 to Godawa several years ago that detailed some of the store's early history.
Mullenbrock raised his family above the shop and later sold off the business in the 1950's. The deli was owned by Germans for several generations but has been in Polish hands for about two decades, Godawa said.
"When this place will be closed, it's like the heart goes away, the heart [stops] beating," said Joanna Wierzbicka, 37, a Polish Greenpoint resident popping in to buy rolls with her 16-month-old toddler Nicole.
While Park Deli is a hub for Polish Greenpoint residents who rave about the chicken cutlets, the Swedish meatballs, the sauerkraut, and cheese blintzes all sold by the pound, it's also a beloved breakfast and and lunch spot among police from the 94th Precinct and dozens of film industry workers at Broadway Stages a few blocks away looking for a hot home-style meal on a budget.
"There's going to be a lot of disappointed Teamsters," said Richie Vetere, 43, a member of a theatrical union who works at Broadway Stages. He said around 75 workers eat at Park Deli nearly every day. "We all come here."
Meanwhile, development along the waterfront, a swath of land rezoned in 2005 under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, continues at a rapid clip.
Sales for condominiums in the neighborhood's first skyscraper, a looming 40-story tower that dwarves the rest of the low-rise residential neighborhood, just began last week. Other sprawling complexes such as the Greenpoint Landing are expected to draw thousands of new residents to the neighbored in the next several years.