When we were looking for an apartment downtown and our real estate agent and friend Chris showed us the place we eventually rented, one of his first points of comparison was nowhere in the official apartment description.
He told us our place had excellent proximity to the corner deli. He’s a New Yorker and he knows what we all know. The stores usually on a corner, known as delis or sometimes bodegas* are the magic that keeps New York City running smoothly. It’s no surprise these beacons of everyday life were deemed essential during the pandemic. The typical deli will set you up with your morning, noon and night coffee, tea or cold drink and a choice of delicious hot and cold fresh sandwiches, wraps and salads. The fast, cheerful all day trade is all you need to know about how successfully our corner deli competes with the high end eateries further down on Greenwich Street. Not to mention the ready stash of essentials a deli stocks, like the Tylenol you somehow forgot to pick up at the big box store after waiting on the big box store line for an eternity.
Are you a mom of toddlers who ran out of milk? Run to the bodega.
Are you a construction worker with a craving for healthy munchies on your break? Bodega got you covered.
Are you a bride who celebrated too hard to actually eat any of your wedding dinner? (I’m looking at you, Maddy.) Spring Street Finest Deli has a chicken cutlet hero with mozzarella and roasted red peppers with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for you at midnight.
My mom routinely sent me to the corner bodega* when I was a kid to pick up a fresh loaf of Italian bread for dinner. Lucky for me (and her I guess) ours was located close enough at a half block away that even with my head in the clouds as it always was, I could remember what she needed me to buy.
These days unlike the construction workers who eat at our deli on a daily basis, I only go into our deli once in a while. But when Mac had his shoulder surgery right before the pandemic and was feeling nasty in the aftermath I didn’t want to leave him for long but I wanted to make him a special lemon ginger tea. Naturally, I asked the guys at the corner deli. Not only did they have fresh ginger, they refused to charge me for it. See what I mean?
*Bodega is a Spanish word that can mean storeroom, grocery or wine cellar. Typically in NYC bodega refers to a store that has more grocery items than fresh prepared food you find at a deli although there is some crossover. The bodega of my youth was called Frank’s and was owned and run by a Spanish family.