20 January 2011

A Kind of Landmark

When I first moved to New York 23 years ago, I lived a couple blocks from this Stop One deli on the corner of Allen and Stanton. I visited it from time to time, and I can tell you that it was a kind of beacon in what was then a stick foreboding and dangerous area at night. There was little else around it that stayed open late into the evening.

With all the changes the LES has gone through in the past decade, I'm surprised it's still there. It looks better now, slicker. The sign was clumsier in the early 1990s and the windows forever filthy. And it sure was calling itself a "gourmet deli." I like that it hasn't been shoved out yet by the onslaught of clubs, boutiques and bars. I showed there's still room for a shabby little New Yawky business on the Lower East Side yet.

While we're on the subject, what is the deal with the Stop One delis? You find them scattered across the city, though not many of them. And they're usually in the most ramshackle neighborhoods. Is this a chain? Are these franchises? They don't seem to be related in any way, but they bear the same name and sometimes the same signs. They're sort of the Ray's Pizza or Blarney Stones of the deli demi-monde.


Anonymous said...

Kennedy Fried Chicken is another example of a sort-of-but-not-really-a-chain business.


Unknown said...

In the mid-90s when I lived at Stanton and Eldridge I used to buy beer at all hours from the Yemenis who ran Stop-1 at the time. I loved how they had a photo of an 8-year-old holding an AK-47 taped to the plexiglass. At the time Yemen had just ended a civil war and had reunited North and South Yemen has reunited. I had a routine with the guys.

"So, where are you guys from? North Yemen or South Yemen?" I'd ask nightly.

"There is one Yemen! One Yemen!" they would respond.

So we called the place Stop 1 Yemen.

The other thing that sticks in my mind about Stop-1 is seeing one of the guys sitting outside on a milk crate on a hot summer night singing the chorus to the Montell Jordan song,"This is How We Do It."