Hit Hard by Coronavirus Closure, Punjabi Deli & Grocery Crowdfunds to Stay on the Lower East Side

Posted on: August 31st, 2020 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Sara Graham

Punjabi Deli & Grocery is struggling, and recently launched an online fundraising campaign to help keep it afloat.

The bodega had remained shut for nearly four months. Sidelined at the outset of COVID-19, and returning only in mid-July. The round-the-clock operation at 114 East 1st Street took a massive hit during the closure, aggravating an already apparent decline in clientele. Indeed, pre-pandemic, Punjabi fell victim to the overall decline of cabbies in the ride-share era, a group which comprises a significant portion of regular customers.

There is now a crowdfunding push on GoFundMe to help the community store. Stated goal was $50,000, and nearly the entire sum has been raised as of this morning.

As a lifeblood for cabbies, this small sub-level pit stop has offered refuge since its inception on the block in 1993. The family-owned establishment is open 24 hours, making it an attractive break spot for drivers to grab a cup of tea and/or vegetarian food at insanely affordable price points. Or use the bathroom.

Punjabi Deli last made headlines when the city relocated the taxi stand out front to Avenue A, and ownership feared a steep decline in its core clientele of cabbies. The relocation happened as part of the East Houston Reconstruction Project finally wrapped up at the end of 2018 — just six years behind schedule. For nearly nine years, the construction zone eliminated parking spaces for cab drivers. The stand was reinstated last summer.

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