Tribeca's Best Market Closes: 'The Economics Couldn't Make Sense'

A customer, one of many on Tuesday afternoon, discovers Best Market closed. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Oct. 30, 2018

“I’m crying. I hate Whole Foods!”

Like dozens of other dismayed shoppers who found themselves standing outside the suddenly shuttered Best Market at 316 Greenwich Street on Tuesday afternoon, Doris Denizard was trying to come to terms with the closing of her favorite store—and bemoaning the Tribeca option, just down the street.

“I would go in every single day,” continued Denizard, 80, a 43-year resident of Independence Plaza. “I say, ‘What am I going to make today?’ And I know everybody there. They’re all my friends.”

“Whole Foods is not a convenient neighborhood store,” said another shopper, who did not want his name used. “I feel like a rat in a maze in there. This is a nice neighborhood alternative.” And less expensive, people agreed.

The unannounced closing of Tribeca’s main alternative to Whole Foods brought an end to the store’s two years and nine months in Tribeca. Best Market had taken over the space occupied by the struggling Food Emporium, acquired by the Long Island-based chain in a bankruptcy auction.

The store’s closing, which leaves only a Duane Reade standing amid the empty Independence Plaza storefronts along Greenwich Street, comes just weeks after the announcement that PS 150, also in Independence Plaza, would not be given an extension on its lease by the landlords, Vornado Realty Trust and Stellar Management. With the help of elected officials, school parents are hoping to reverse that decision. But in a phone interview with the Trib Tuesday evening, Or Raitses, co-owner of the 28-store Best Market chain, said, “There’s no hard feeling for us with the landlord.”

“They never asked us to leave but we were not profitable there,” he said. “To stay in the space with temporary extensions just didn’t make sense to us.”

Aside from the competition from Whole Foods, Raitses said, “Once Target [which sells groceries] came in, it put a little bit of headwind into our progress and then, also, we had a long period of time when there was scaffolding and screening in front of the store right when we opened. That made it very difficult for us to get some street awareness.”

By the time the store opened, Raitses said, there was only a year left on the former Food Emporium lease, which the owners extended for another year, ending last month.

A spokesperson for the owners told the Trib in a statement: “Vornado and Stellar Management are disappointed Best Market has declined ownership's offer to extend their lease at Independence Plaza and will be vacating the space. Stellar and Vornado are actively pursuing tenants for the space that will be a benefit for the residents and the surrounding community.

“We wanted to give it a good shot,” Raitses said, “and simply the economics couldn’t make sense any more.” He said the employees in the Tribeca Best Market would be kept on in other stores, closer to where they live.

“We’re going to miss you,” Denizard called to one of the workers exiting the store.

“I’m going to miss you, too,” he replied.

“But I’m going to be here this week,” he added, “helping them take this stuff out.”