Jeffrey’s Meat Market Closes Temporarily

Posted on: March 7th, 2011 at 6:39 am by

Two weeks ago, Jeffrey Ruhalter emailed a desperate press release regarding the fate of his eponymous butcher business inside the Essex Street Market.  Sales are down, rents are increasing, and the fourth generation meat vendor is seeking investors or someone to purchase the company.

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According to Lo-Down, Jeffrey’s Meat Market closed end-of-day Saturday, clearing the shelves and cases.  Only temporarily, though, while the proprietor resolves other so-called “financial considerations.”  He released the following heartfelt statement:

I sent out a press release last week in a last ditch effort for help because I have run out of time and options. Only one of my issues was rent. The press release resulted in a barrage of responses directed toward EDC and I understand that the “landlord’ is an easy target. In response to the press release EDC requested a meeting with me. I expected to meet with their representative and expected to hear, “pay rent or get out”. Instead, when I arrived to the meeting, I was met with the top four executives of EDC. C’mon, really, I’m just a butcher, I don’t deserve this attention… Only after an hours long meeting did they bring up the issue of rent. I found myself meeting with the community, not my landlord. All they wanted to do was to find ways to help me. They represented you, the community, and they played their roll in helping me as your representative of the community. I was astounded at their position. I’m a black and white guy, if I can’t pay rent, I have to get out. Instead, they gave me options to survive. I don’t really know how to define what happened to me in that meeting but I started to breath again. While we worked out a plan to keep my rent the same, at this time I still must temporarily close, as we have other financial considerations that we must try to resolve.

This is my world; a week ago a lady came to my shop, drunk, and I knew that she needed food. I went to the Pain D’Avignon bread store in the market and wanted to buy bread for her, in which the bread company gave me some bread for free to help my cause, I came back and made her a sandwich to fill her belly. Moments later the next customer spent 45 dollars on some of my prime dry aged steaks to feed her family for dinner. I don’t decide who gets what, I respond to the communities needs as they arise because if it were not for the community I wouldn’t be here. I can say that the community feeds my soul as their butcher but in addition, is that the community fuels my existence. What I know to be true is that we belong to each other and without the community, you, I don’t exist. Thank you for giving my family our life blood.

For many reasons, I regrettably closed the store today, temporally. I need time to re-group, to tap into resources that can help keep this piece of antiquity alive. I’m in trouble and I’m going to rely on fate to decide the future of my store; my families history. It’s okay, I’ll continue to be who I am as a representative of the Ruhalter family. I know you’re out there and thank you for being with me and my family for 75 years.

Because this may be may my final ado I offer this:
I walk with my eyes open and closed.
I take a breath.
Feel the past.
Touch my soul.
Feel tomorrow.
Lay my head.
I say a prayer.
That you are here.

Jeffrey Ruhalter
Jeffrey’s Meat Market

Meanwhile, Gothamist is reporting that the New York City Economic Development Corporation decided to keep Jeffrey’s rent the same.  The ball is now in his court, and the EDC is reportedly awaiting a decision with regard to the oldest business in the Essex Market.

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