Friday, May 22, 2009

Opening and Closing - Streit's Matzos

Historic LES stores that have shuttered (or are about to), and the businesses that are replacing them.

The boxes of Streit's Matzo stacked in supermarkets across the country every Passover are produced not in China or along the Jersey Turnpike, but in an 84-year-old factory on Rivington and Suffolk Streets. Founded by European immigrant Aron Streit in 1916 and passed down to his granddaughters and great-grandsons, the iconic company is one of few mom and pop manufacturing firms left on Manhattan. With a grip on about 40% of the U.S. matzo market, it's still going strong. Rumor has it, though, that the factory has been put up for sale for $25 million for the second time in two years; the owners, who were initially reluctant to give up a piece of Lower East Side history, have struggled to find a buyer. (The business isn't closing, just moving elsewhere.) Because it lacks landmark status, the 47,500 square foot building could turn into just about anything if a deal goes through. Condos? A new Whole Foods? Your guess is as good as mine.

If you drop by 148-154 Rivington Street, workers (many of Puerto Rican rather than Eastern European heritage, in a testament to the neighborhood's changing demographics) might hand you some matzo samples.

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