'Pandemic and Landlord Were the Last Straw.' Amish Market Says Goodbye.

Mike Jording in the Amish Market dining area. "We used to serve 3,000 people here every day," he said. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Sep. 25, 2020

“We hung on as long as we could.” 

Familiar words from too many businesses of late. These come from Mike Jording, who runs Amish Market, the grocery and once popular lunch spot at 53 Park Place that becomes an empty 7,500 square feet on Saturday.

The 16-year-old store is one more ground-floor victim of the pandemic, as well as an “uncooperative” landlord, according to Jording.

Jording, who ran the Amish Market for owner Ernest Klein, Inc., declined to be specific about rent negotiations with building owner Clipper Equity, but emphasized, “It was not just him. We lost 90 percent of our business. Our business was mostly geared to doing lunch with the corporates and catering. There is no more corporate, the offices are not here and then the catering is not here. There are no meetings.”

At its height, Amish Market employed 100 workers and was serving more than 3,500 customers a day, mostly for lunch, Jording said. The number of employees dwindled to 12 by the end.

Beginning in May, Jording said, he was paying a fraction of his rent before receiving a letter of eviction. “He wasn’t flexible with any rent payment,” Jording said, referring to Clipper Equity chief operating officer J.J. Bistricer. In addition, he said, Clipper Equity, which owns Tribeca House, the 505-unit, two building complex that includes 53 Park Place (above Amish Market) and 50 Murray Street, would not allow him to use the sidewalk for outdoor seating. “It would have helped,” he said.

In response, Alexis Walberg, assistant property manager for 50 Murray Street, said in an email statement: “Tribeca House management is continuously working with all retail tenants during Covid-19. We arent aware of Amish Market’s request for outdoor seating.”

The store, until now, has endured through troubled times. In 2013, Adam Arici, the former owner of this Amish Market and four other food stores, including Zeytuna on Maiden Lane, went to prison on tax fraud charges. leaving the businesses in bankruptcy.  (His Amish Market, opposite the World Trade Center, had been destroyed on 9/11.) Ernest Klein bought the business at auction and Jording has been in charge since. In June, 2017, a gas leak from the store’s sub-basement boiler sickened 32 employees, sending them to the hospital. “As people were running up the stairs they were passing out,” recalled Jording, who carried six people upstairs to life-saving fresh air.

“We’ve been here thru Superstorm Sandy, the carbon monoxide poisoning…and now the pandemic, staying open thru every stressful time,” Jording said in a note to the Trib. “But the pandemic and the landlord is the last straw.”

“I want to thank the neighborhood for supporting us all thru those hard times,” he added, “and hopefully one day we will be back in a much better place in the neighborhood to serve everyone again.”