Earlier today, shortly after 10 a.m., a massive fire swept through a string of storefronts on the southeast corner of 14th Street and Avenue A. Four businesses were gutted, including Pete’s-a-Place and the Stuyvesant Grocery & Deli.
Pete’s was a longtime neighborhood staple, as attested to by the woman who stood surveying the damage and reminisced to a friend about how she’d gone there as a child. It sold a dependable New York-style slice, as well as Sicilian pizzas, heros, calzones, and buffalo chicken wings.
The Stuyvesant Grocery & Deli was likewise something of a local institution, a 24-hour source for coffee, cigarettes, beer, some produce, and flowers. Only the flowers remained untouched by the fire, sitting in their green plastic planters and looking paradoxically cheerful among the gloom. “That’s where Nicky buys his vegetables!” one young woman exclaimed to her companion. “Not anymore,” he replied.
A hair salon, tax business, and empty storefront were also gutted. Fortunately, there are not yet any reports of casualties.