With ninety percent of the bodegas in New York City, you walk in and just go "Ugh." The florescent lighting, the lowered acoustical tile ceilings, the bad tile floor, the thin walls. It's all so ugly, so uninspired. All I can think of when I walk around such places are the beautiful old wooden floors, brick walls and tin ceilings that have been covered up in the name of saving money on heating bills.
And so I was stunned and pleased when, one day last week, I walked into my local Stop 1 Food Mart, which I have been patronizing for a decade, and saw this! The proprietors, Mr. and Mrs. Lee, had ripped out the ceiling and found this. An extra eight feet of space. And, as far as I can tell, they did it entirely for aesthetic reasons, thinking what lied behind the awful ceiling was probably more interesting and attractive than the stained, off-white tiles. And it seems, aside from some sprucing up and cleaning, they intend to leave it that way.
I gathered from my conversation with Mrs. Lee that she thought perhaps there might be a tin ceiling lurking behind the tiles. (She owns the building and the apartments above have tin ceilings.) That wasn't the case. She doesn't intend to put one up. She'll live with the wooden rafters.
The most interesting part of the excavation to me was this large brick remnant of a chimney. Very likely it led done to a mantle and fireplace that is no longer there. It was a fruit and vegetable store before the Lees owned it.