I knew you were a bodega when I walked in (and saw a cat!!!). Photo by NYC & Company
Welcome to the Brokelyn Files where our resident unlicensed P.I. Sam Weiss answers the local questions you never thought to ask. Got a lead on a Brooklyn mystery? Write us in the comments below.
The bodega — symbol of New York City, bringer of breakfast sandwiches, canned foods and very old candy, beacon of light at 4:30am when everything else is closed. Broadly, we all know that the word refers to a New York City general store, but to try to put a finer point on what exactly makes a bodega a bodega brings a world of ambiguity: When does a grocery store become a bodega? Are all delis bodegas? And why do we call them that but the rest of the country doesn’t? This week, the Brokelyn Files seeks to answer those questions and more, because we want to know exactly from where our bacon, egg and cheeses are coming. (more…)
As you know, thousands of Yemeni bodega workers across the city yesterday fed their cats, turned off their coffee pots, shut their gates and went on strike at noon to protest Trump’s Muslim travel ban. The strike and subsequent rally at Borough Hall were met with cheers of solidarity by most New Yorkers. But as New Yorkers asked their Yemini neighbors what they can do to help, the rest of the country was asking: “What the hell is a bodega?”
Twitter users across the country (and some abroad) were stumped when hearing news about the bodega strike yesterday, because they had never heard the word before. Merriam-Webster, better known as the official dictionary of the resistance, reported a spike in people looking up “bodega” yesterday too. We know we’re in our New York bubble here, with our own languages and habits and various ways of telling people to get the f outta here, so let’s take a minute to appreciate the parts of the country that have never known the joy of a store where you can get a hot sandwich, a six-pack, condoms AND mysterious endurance pills at 4am, even during a hurricane. We doubt any of you took your bodega for granted, but you’ll appreciate it even more now. (more…)
Stock up on BECs, toilet paper and Goya products while you can because Yemeni bodega workers across the city are going on strike tomorrow to protest Trump’s Muslim travel ban. Buzzfeed reports from 12-8pm tomorrow, an estimated 1,000 Yemeni-owned (yeah, that’s how many just Yemeni bodegas there are in New York City) stores citywide will shut down to show their opposition to the ban, which several courts have already told the Trump administration to get the FOH with. It comes on the heels of the of the yellow cab drivers’ union refusing to pick up at JFK over the weekend in solidarity with the protestors. Yemen is one of the country’s on Trump’s ban list. A protest at Brooklyn Borough Hall is planned for 5:15pm too.
“This shutdown of grocery stores and bodegas will be a public show of the vital role these grocers and their families play in New York’s economic and social fabric and, during this period, grocery store owners will spend time with their families and loved ones to support each other; many of these families have been directly affected by the Ban,” according to the event’s Facebook page. (more…)
Yes, having a bodega cat is not technically “legal,” but it’s not “legal” in the way that drinking wine in the park or bringing your dog into a bar isn’t legal, which is to say it’s an accepted form of New York life that no one minds so long as you don’t make a big deal of it. Yet someone did make a big deal of it in a (what now appears to be deleted) Yelp review of S.K. Deli in the East Village last month, revealing themselves as potentially a fresh-off-the-bus noob or maybe someone who has somehow never needed beer, condoms and Windex in the middle of the night.
The, reviewer, Diana D., has been getting roasted by fellow Yelpers with comments like: “No one likes you. This deli has pretty much anything you might want out of a deli. Owner is a hard ass but the cat is awesome,” which is about the perfect description for most bodegas in New York. UPDATE: Someone created a petition to legalize bodega cats once and for all. (more…)
Are you in den-aisle about how much you’re saving? via Brigitte / Flickr
The beauty of living in New York City is having almost anything you need at your fingertips whenever you need. I could take out my phone right now and order bahn mi, batteries and an eighth of sativa delivered to my door. But where cost is concerned, convenience is cruel. We don’t have the sort of expendable income to be throwing away our cash haphazardly.
But how much would you actually save by going to Costco? Is it worth the train ride there and back and the membership fee to get those sweet bulk prices? We conducted a comparative shopping test of a grocery store (Key Food), a bodega and Costco, all in Sunset Park. Keep in mind that prices are going to vary depending on your neighborhood, weekly specials and bodega of choice. But if you’ve ever wondered whether you were wasting money buying toilet paper one roll at a time at the corner store, maybe this will help ease your inner Suze Orman. (more…)
Say it’s the middle of a New York City heatwave and you pop into a bodega looking for a refreshing name-brand Ginger Ale. Instead you come across the bottle in the photos above, staring back at you with obvious disdain for the normal expected patterns and packaging standards you’re used to seeing in the refrigerated cases across the city. Seems legit, right?
Our music editor Lilly Vanek spotted this in a bodega in Harlem last week, on the shelf with the rest of the sodas. Presumably the labels got ripped off at some point and the shop owner (or their kid), eager to not let the product go to waste, created a new one — though most branding experts will probably advise against putting a frowny face on your packaging. But bad news all you aspiring artisanal packaging bodega artists: we checked with the city and this is definitely not legal. (more…)
Turn these ingredients into a delicious black bean and corn tortilla soup. Photos by Lauren Paige.
The friendly neighborhood bodega is a staple of New York living. You know them by the faded awnings, vivid pictures of sandwiches on the walls and the smell of bacon a mile away. Most bodegas are open 24 hours, even if you have to order through the window after 12. When you are in a pinch and can’t make it to an actual grocery store, the bodega can be your saving grace.
Thanks to gentrification, we are now blessed with a new wave of bodegas called “gourmet delis.” While you can still count on them for the regular single beers, baconeggandcheese and lemmegeta’s we all know and love, some of these upgrade include new additions like fresh produce, organic dry goods and bright glass storefronts. If you’re shopping at one of these, you might be able to snag yourself some fresh produce, but if you can’t, try channeling your inner Grandma and grab some canned veggies from a good ol’ fashioned bodega to create something baller on a budget. (more…)
Duane Reade and grocery apps can never replace this style
What would a world without bodegas look like? It’s a question that would get you laughed out of the room a few years ago, but now as the New York Times reports, the very existence of the convenience stores/community hubs/homes to iconic signage is now threatened by rising rents and chain convenience stores.
To be sure, this is something that’s happening in Manhattan at the moment, and you don’t have to chain yourself to the place down the block just yet if you live here. One day though? Well, if Manhattan’s high rents have swept into Brooklyn and Queens like a virus, so there’s no telling when one day you open the paper to see the same kind of story about the outerboroughs. (more…)
Get it while it’s cheap, kids. (via Flickr user Nick Perez)
How often do we stop to give thanks to bodegas — the great New York life source that pumps cheap beer and deli sandwiches into the vagrant masses anytime, anywhere? We don’t pay homage nearly enough and we should rectify that immediately. According to GrubStreet, a big bad merger involving two of the city’s three biggest beer distributors — Manhattan Beer Distributors and Phoenix Beehive Beverages — is threatening the price of that crappy Natty Lite that we all know and tolerate in a pinch. (more…)
May have once bought beers here to sneak into a nearby bar. Via.
Fierce bodega loyalty is a point of pride for most New Yorkers, as those local proprietors of late-night munchies and six packs are often the guys who let you run a tab or teach you some elementary Arabic/Spanish if you’re in tight with them. They come in tons of shapes and sizes, from the ones with nicer sandwich counters than Subway to the stores that are clearly a front for some kind of cat-protected business. You choose to shop there, even after another Duane Reade moves in down the street, because you sympathize more with the small business owner than you do with a big chain. And because they sometimes sell you illegally cheap cigarettes.
To celebrate the humble bodega, the Racked/Curbed/Eater empire is launching Bodega Week next week, and they want your input on the best bodega in the city, plus any crazy bodega stories or secrets, and pictures of the weirdest product you’ve found. Cats, magazine stands and other woah-dega curiosities will also get featured. So, Brokelynites, do you have a bodega worth of submitting?