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NYC Grocery Stores in Wealthier Neighborhoods Struggle as Locals Escape the City

Plus, Milk Bar cookies will be available for purchase on Amazon next month — and more intel

Workers can be seen moving groceries outside of a Morton Williams store
Morton Williams is diverting groceries from its Uptown locations downtown as demand there dries up
Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Grocery stores in NYC’s wealthy and low-income neighborhoods are struggling

Grocery stores in some of NYC’s affluent neighborhoods are evidently struggling right now, the New York Post reports, with many diverting employees and supplies to stores in lower-income parts of the neighborhood. Some of the pricier supermarkets in neighborhoods like the Upper East and West Side initially saw their shelves being cleared out as COVID-19 first arrived in the city. In recent weeks though, most residents in wealthier sections of these neighborhoods are staying indoors or have left the city entirely, staffers at the supermarkets tell the Post. Morton Williams, for instance — which has several locations on the Upper East Side and one across from Columbia University — reported packing groceries into vans and driving them to less affluent parts of the neighborhood, like to West End Avenue and 60th Street or First Avenue and East 72nd Street.

NYC’s low-income neighborhoods in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan have seen sales plummet too, but for a different reason. In these neighborhoods, many residents have lost their jobs and are still waiting on unemployment checks and SNAP benefits after spending them in the initial wave of panic-buying, according to the Post.

Instead, NYC’s middle-income neighborhoods are benefitting the most right now where folks are working from home and continuing to shop more or less as usual, albeit in gloves and face masks. To meet the growing demand in these neighborhoods goods like disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper are being diverted from wealthier and lower-income parts of the city, the Post reports.

Across the city, access to groceries has become increasingly strained. At the city’s big name grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, standing six feet apart in blocks-long lines has become the new normal. Meanwhile, customers are staying up through the night to place grocery delivery orders through services like Instacart and Fresh Direct — and even then, grocery availability can be limited.

In other news

— Fast-casual Chinese restaurant Junzi Kitchen is hosting its third virtual chef’s table series this Friday and Saturday, and this time it’s focused on Chinese-Puerto Rican cuisine. The $20 three-course meal is accompanied with plating instructions from chef Lucas Sin, available on the restaurant’s Instagram page beginning at 7 p.m.

— The Jewish Food Society is partnering with some of New York City’s top restaurants — like Katz’s Deli, Russ & Daughters, La Newyorkina, Nur, and Lamalo — to donate to-go meals to hospital workers.

— The team behind East Village wine bar Ruffian is hosting a series of online wine classes through Zoom. Their third, a course on big-bodied reds, is tonight at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $10 each.

— The Trader Joe’s store in Cobble Hill found itself at the heart of a Buzzfeed News investigation for staying open despite a worker testing positive for coronavirus. A week later, it’s temporary closed for cleaning.

— The Milk Bar expansion that Eater critic Ryan Sutton warned us about has arrived. The bakery will begin selling its cookies on Amazon starting May 1.

— New York City’s seasonal restaurants are pushing back, but not yet abandoning hopes for their summer openings.

— Sometimes DIY goes DI-awry:

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