A Taxi Stand to Save Punjabi Deli – But ‘There’s a Catch’

Kulwinder "Jani" Singh, co-owner of Punjabi Grocery & Deli, from Tribeca Film Festival video.

Kulwinder “Jani” Singh, co-owner of Punjabi Grocery & Deli, from Tribeca Film Festival video.

The Lo-Down has been following the struggles of a Lower East Side deli, owned by a devoted Sikh, to keep afloat after construction severely cut into its business, namely from some of its most loyal customers – taxi drivers. The latest news is that there might be some relief in sight but it’s not enough for the store owners.

In the summer of 2013 The Lo-Down profiled Kulwinder “Jani” Singh, the co-owner of Punjabi Grocery & Deli on the Lower East Side. Singh told the paper he had lost half of his business with construction on nearby Houston Street, started in 2010, hampering the ability of taxi drivers to stop by. In March Jashon Singh, Jani’s son, told The Lo-Down, the number has jumped to 70-80 percent in lost business.

In addition to a petition drive, The Lo-Down’s Ed Litvak writes in an article this week, that co-owner Satnam Singh (unrelated) and Jashon launched a “media offensive” culminating in a short film found on the Tribeca Film Festival’s website.

In the same article, Litvak reports that on May 12, Community Board 3’s transportation committee voted in support of a taxi relief stand near the deli. “But there’s a catch,” he writes.

The city says a decision on an exact location must wait until the end of the summer, when a long-delayed construction project on East Houston Street is expected to be completed. In the meantime, the city’s Department of Transportation has agreed to set up a temporary taxi stand on the west side of Avenue A, just above East Houston.

On the same day, supporters gathered at University Settlement at the Houston Street Center to show their support of the beloved small business. Ali Najmi, the Singh family’s attorney, did the talking.

While the owners respect the effort to create a temporary “daytime only” taxi stand for four cars on Avenue A, Najmi said, “it’s not enough.”

Why not? Read his arguments and what the store owners are asking for, as well as more from CB3 and the DOT, at The Lo-Down. The full community board vote will be held on May 26.

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