How a Brooklyn Deli is Making NYC History

jesse's deli exterior
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You know that small local joint you go to grab your cheap yet surprisingly delicious breakfast sandwich almost every morning (or late night when you’re wasted off too many IPAs)? That same joint that has somehow stood its ground even when a Starbucks just popped up on the opposite corner and word on the street is J. Crew is coming soon? Yeah, I think we all know those spots. But then one day they disappear into thick, opaque polluted city air. Your hood is no longer what it once was because someone declared it the next frontier for gentrification. And with gentrification comes a whole lot of artisanal this and organic that (not saying we don’t love either), which in turn leads to a spike in prices; prices of your coffee, your peanut butter (since when is Justin’s peanut butter $14!?), your clothes, your rent, your credit card bills.

jesse itayim jesse's deli

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Jesse’s Deli is one of those places falling victim to an ever growing popularity in Boerum Hill, a quaint little Brooklyn neighborhood. But this deli won’t go quietly. When Jesse Itayim, owner of the 26-year-old bodega, was told his rent would increase 2.5 times by his landlord, it wasn’t long before he dove into efforts to save his business. Local patrons and lovers of the deli have flocked to support the cause, too. Campaigning against the rent hike, satirical ads went up all over the store illustrating a 2.5 price increase of regular products guised as extraordinary (an eventual outcome of most businesses that experience increased rents), like the “Slow Cooked Vintage Breakfast Sandwich” which would cost $10.99, “Bushwick Baked Vegan Cat Food” at $6.00, and the “Grass Fed Himalayan Tuna Salad” for $9.99.

jesse's deli airbnbodega

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Then along came the AirBnBodega, a follow-up to the artisanal makeover. Jesse Itayim and associates put together a makeshift bedroom within the deli to list on Airbnb for $329 a night. The nightly rate adds up to a whopping $10k over a 30 day period, the new rent price Jesse’s Deli was expected to pay (the previous rent only being $4,000 a month). As awesome as it would be to wake up in your favorite breakfast to-go destination, you can’t actually sleep there. But you can show up and cozy up in their bed with the AirBnBodega sign in one hand and resident selfie stick in the other and shamelessly post a selfie (with a cause) with the hashtags “#AirBnBodega and #SBJSA as many others have done, which has actually attributed to three Council Members announcing their support of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, ceasing the gridlock it’s been in for 30 freakin’ years. Now with 26 people (aka the majority) in support of the bill, Jesse’s Deli is calling on the NYC Council to vote in favor of the SBJSA, which would create a small business lease program allowing for 10-year commercial leases and fair negotiations.

people in bed at airbnbodega

photo via @pinijr

The cool part? You can get involved too. Show up to Jesse’s Deli (hungry, of course), get in bed (as shown above, clothing is optional), take a selfie and post it on your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or preferably all of the above. Then treat yourself to an egg sandwich for being a moral and responsible world citizen of change.

We’re a sucker for the underdog after all.

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For political action and a damn good sandwich, hit up Jesse’s Deli at 402 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY. 

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