02 June 2007

Kurowycky Meats in East Village to Close

This is a bad one.

Kurowycky Meat Products, the 52-year-old Ukrainian East Village butcher that made peerless sausage and ham, and one of the last working elements of the once robust Ukranian population in that neighborhood, will close today. Owner Jerry Kurowyckyj said in a statement:

It is with great sadness that I am announcing the closing of Kurowycky Meat products after 52 years. Today’s economic climate just does not support a small business on the scale that ours endeavors to survive in. Thank you all for all your years of support. We are closing as of this Saturday, June 2nd [2007]. It was a great ride and again, we thank you all.

An article in the Times revealed that a rent hike didn't do them in. The family owns the building. Profit margins have just steadily declined over the years, what with the changing nabe and changing eating habits. Slavic laborers eat ham. Artsy hipsters do not.

Every piece of meat I've bought from the timeless Kurowycky has been tasty and flawless. I had a friend once who lived around the corner. He said the butcher was the only reason he hadn't become a vegetarian. "The meat is just too good," he explained.

The business was founded in 1955 by Erast Kurowycky, who arrived in New York in 1949, having evaded the Nazis and Communists. His first store was located on Avenue B between 10th and 11th streets in New York City’s East Village. When Erast retired, his son Jaroslaw took over, and they moved to their present location. The shop is currently run by the third generation. Their website states that they "continue to operate one of the last existing smokehouses in New York City and still manufacture our sausages using the same methods that were used in Eastern Europe before the Second World War." Oh, and it's pronounced KOO-duh-vit-sky

Not any more. Enjoy your Boar's Head, everyone.


Meredith said...

This is so depressing. I've seen this shop numerous times and wanted to go in for some kielbasa. Well... I guess it's too late, now.

Jamie said...

Terrible -- I visited from time to time even though I live on the UES, and picked up ingredients (including their peerless kielbasa) for bigos to bring to a Wigilia dinner every year.

What's extra-depressing about this one is that the family owns the building, so it wasn't a rapacious rent hike that did them in. Also, the store was deservedly touted by Martha Stewart, a rare advantage for a place like this.

Changing tastes as the neighborhood demographic continues to shift clearly led the decline in the shop's fortunes. I lament the attendant lack of interest in and appreciation for a place as wonderful and irreplaceable as this.

Alas, the fact that a number of good Polish butchers continue to thrive in Greenpoint is cold consolation.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Meredith and Jamie: Good to know other people care about these places, too. I tried to get there on the last day to stock up on meats, but family obligations kept me in Brooklyn. Made me sad.

Unknown said...

Jerry is a great guy, and the Ham is the best I ever had..Best of luck jerr.

Dave C
Hartford CT

Mark Jensen said...

ok. I discover this news yesterday when I wanted a ham sandwich for lunch.

had to come cry about it somewhere.

so sad.

Anonymous said...

I am overwhelmed with GRIEF! I have a cooking school and restaurant in Hawley, Pennsylvania called Torte Knox. I have bragged on this ham and an amazing homemade mustard they had for years and years. I drove all the way from PA to their address in the village. Boo hoo and crocodile tears, I will speak of their ham and meats forever! I am grateful I enjoyed the best. Just a quick a side. I was standing in a very long line waiting to order my hams when Mr. Kurowychy's wife (senior Kurowychy) walked in behind the butcher counter (maybe 5 years ago) EVERYTHING STOPPED! Mr. Kurowychy put both his hands lovingly on her face and gave her a five second smooch on the lips! There were decades and decades of love in that one kiss! I will never forget that, not ever. How sad a loss for Manhattan. Obviously, people who love and eat well...The loss is all ours.
Sheelah Kaye Stepkin
Owner - Torte Knox Cooking School

Anonymous said...

Imagine our surprise when we pulled our car up to Kurowyckys for our traditional Easter food only to see them gone!! The sadness we felt was overwhelming since we would travel every year to this incredible kielbasi butcher that my very own grandparents came to. {When my grandmother moved to Florida,she still ordered from them.} What are we going to do, where are we going to go? Our Easter breakfast will never be the same! Please reconsider and open your doors again!!