Behind The Scenes On The Bowery

2004_07_26_BariFam.jpgAnother week, another pizza-related story from Jeff VanDam of the New York Times. This one not so much about pizza or pizzerias but about the folks who make our favorite food possible: the restaurant-suppliers, many of whom are located on the Bowery. As Mr. VanDam points out, they've got a front-row seat as they watch this once-seedy section of the city undergo gentrification:

... As the decade reaches its midpoint, the Bowery, formerly host to its fabled bums and the dark expanse of an elevated train platform, has become chic. A museum of contemporary art will soon begin construction on the strip's last parking lot. A large real estate development called Avalon Chrystie Place is under construction at the corner of Bowery and Houston. And down among the restaurant suppliers, actual restaurants have begun to open their doors.

Watching all of these developments carefully is the family that owns Bari Restaurant and Pizzeria Equipment [pictured above], a business that takes up 10 storefronts at Prince Street and the Bowery. As owners of one of the district's oldest shops, the Baris seem to know what's coming.

"I'm trying to envision it five, ten years from now," said Anton Bari as he sat on one of the restaurant chairs offered for sale in the Bari Gallery, one of the family's many enterprises. "I don't see the restaurant suppliers. I don't know if the reputation will still be here."

But the Baris will probably be around for a while, VanDam says, because they own their property and aren't as susceptible to the rising rents. Interestingly, they also own a small boaringhouse in the area, one of the few remaining flophouse hotels on the strip.

Nice kicker on this story, too: "It's not a street. It's not a road. It's not a boulevard," Mike Bari said. "It's just the Bowery."

For more on this area of the city, visit Lockhart Steele and Curbed.

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