The Last Days of a Polish Deli

Krystyna Godawa has run the Park Deli since 2007 (Photo by Wojtek Maslanka via Nowy Dziennik)

A popular Polish deli and eatery, located at 209 Nassau Ave., near McGolrick Park [in Greenpoint], will close down at the end of July because of rising rent.

Park Deli offers sandwiches, cold cuts, hot breakfasts and Polish comfort food. Since 2007 it has been owned and operated by Krystyna Godawa, an immigrant from Poland, who expanded the menu with home-cooked Polish chicken cutlets, pierogies, beef stew and much more.

Unfortunately, at the end of July, Park Deli will close down because the owner of the building, Hildegarda Daempfle, has other plans for the space. “A the end of April my 10-year lease expired. I used to pay $2,250 a month. The landlord has now raised the rent to $5,000 a month. This exceeds my budget. I am not able to get enough revenue in order to cover it. I tried negotiating the price but with no success,” says 68-year-old Godawa.

William Mullenbrock, the first owner of the building at 209 Nassau Ave. in Greenpoint, in front of his store, Mullenbrock’s Deli. The original “Delicatessen” sign can still be seen above the entrance to Park Deli. (Photo courtesy of Krystyna Godawa via Nowy Dziennik)

Since May she has operated the store without a lease. On the one hand, she was hoping that the landlord would reconsider the rent hike, while on the other, she was trying to expand the deli’s offerings in order to increase revenue. “On July 1, the landlord called me to tell me she has another renter and I would have to move out at the end of July,” says a disappointed Godawa.

Living in uncertainty for the past couple of months has been very stressful for her, but Godawa is now sad to have to close down her deli. Also sad are local residents and other regular customers who not only like the Polish food but also have made friends with Park Deli’s owner.

“Everything here is very tasty, fresh and well prepared. It is a pity Krysia [diminutive for Krystyna] has to close down the deli. She has put so much effort and passion into it. She knows the business inside out and has a number of regular customers who appreciate her service. It is shocking to me that the rent has to go up so high,” says Maria, one of the customers of Park Deli.

Godawa says she is not giving up and plans to continue her business in a new location in Greenpoint. “I have so many regular customers who come every day for breakfast or lunch; for example, the couple of dozen filmmakers from the Broadway Stages studio,” she says.

The deli has been a fixture at 209 Nassau Ave. since 1931. For the past couple of decades it has been owned and operated by Polish immigrants and before that by German entrepreneurs. The first owner was William Mullenbrock. It was he who built the German-style townhouse the deli is housed in, with characteristic wooden beams adorning the façade. On the first floor he operated a family store, Mullenbrock’s Deli. Until today a historical sign, “Delicatessen,” serves as a reminder of the history of the place.

It is not clear what business will move into the space on Aug. 1.

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