Following last Friday’s troubling news that Jeffrey’s Meats was facing a potentially catastrophic rent hike, a few more details have emerged about the troubles facing the 71-year-old butcher counter in the Essex Street Market.
This weekend, The Lo-Down talked with both the shop’s eponymous owner, Jeffrey Ruhalter, and his colleague Danny McNeill, and learned that the rent hike is just part of a larger problem Ruhalter is facing. The fourth-generation butcher would like to find a financial backer for his shop, which has been damaged by both the recession’s effects on its customers and the neighborhood’s shifting demographic.
If an investor can be found, Ruhalter may try to open a companion restaurant to his shop. Since the news of his troubles surfaced, he has gotten calls from potential backers, and has received the support of Councilmember Margaret Chin, who has demanded the rent be decreased.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which is Jeffrey’s landlord, told Bowery Boogie that there is no $8,000 renewal fee, and insisted that the rent hike was partially justified by the market’s recently expanded Sunday hours. The NYCEDC claims it is willing to negotiate a possible decrease of Jeffrey’s retail footprint, but somehow that seems almost as ominous as no Jeffrey’s at all.