Co-Owners, Luna Brothers Fruit Plaza
Even though we are kind of new to the Market, Luna Brothers has been around as a family business in New York City for almost 40 years. At Essex, my cousin Jose and I run the show.
It’s like a little super market. We have lots of different fruits, vegetables, and groceries, all kinds of stuff. And when a customer tells me my stuff tastes great, that makes me feel great too. One person tells another and that person tells another and we get lots of happy customers.
It’s great to be your own boss and work with family, there’s a special pride. You work harder but you’re working for you.
Supervisor, Pain D’Avignon
A trip to Essex Street Market is like shopping in a European market where vendors and consumers meet on common ground. Essex Street Market is steeped in a rich history and we knew it was the perfect space for Pain d'Avignon's first retail space. Essex Street Market not only enables us to showcase our traditional, hand-made crusty breads but also helps us build relationships with our customers. We look forward to being at Essex Street Market for many more years to come.
Co-Owner, Ni Japanese Delicacies
I was a line cook for years and we heard about this place opening up so we took the chance. This is the first time I’ve had my own business, it’s been going really good. I do home-style authentic Japanese with my own little twist.
I live in the neighborhood, it’s home. My daughter, who is four, grew up in the market. The Lower East Side and Essex have an attractive mix of cultures. People down here are open to new things.
I do all the cooking here and cook seasonal dishes so I don’t get bored. When I’m not bored my customers are not bored. I feel great when I come to work.
I was a lawyer and got laid-off in 2009. I came to the Market for some coffee and chocolate, saw the empty stall, and in a split second it clicked—a bakery specializing in homemade Greek comfort food!
I’d say my recipes are a mix of the traditional. The spinach pie is inspired by my grandmother, but the spin I put on it is cleaner, lighter, and more modern.
When someone tastes my food I want them to feel joy, and seeing that makes me very happy.
Owner, Aminova's Barbershop
I’ve been here over 20 years, a long, long time. It’s just been me, which I like. I learned to cut hair back in my homeland, Uzbekistan.
The market is very nice, with all sorts of stuff: new shops, new people, and more people. It’s very different. Whatever you want, it’s full service.
When I came, I got to make this place my place. I collect clocks, I have over 50 here and they all work but I turn the alarms off.
Director of Retail Operations, Davidovich Bakery Shop
Our signature product is our bagel. The recipe comes from the Ukraine family of our owner Gene Davidovich. It’s been handed down for generations.
Essex is our first retail space. Everyone here is so supportive, proud of their product, and so positive. It’s also special because of the Lower East Side’s Eastern European history - the bagel came to this country through here.
The word of mouth has been great. People get so excited about our bagels. It’s like they’re having a positive heart attack.
Owner, Essex Farm Fruits and Vegetables
My brother and I started at the market over 15 years ago. My wife works here too. We started with a very small space, but over the years I’ve expanded to more than four times what we started with.
The neighborhood has changed. I grow with it so that I can have something for all my customers. Essex Farm is like a little grocery store—something for everyone.
My customers become my friends—we share stories and have a good time. It’s more than just selling to people, it’s getting to know people.
Co-founder, Luis Meat Market
My husband Luis and I have been at Essex as a family business for 17 years. We’ve seen a lot of changes. Things come and go, but we’re still here.
There’s this sense of community with both the vendors and our customers. It’s a special place and every day is like a new adventure—there’s always something.
And it’s a great feeling when our customers tell us our meat is fresh and delicious. 17 years and no matter how many times we hear that, it never gets old.
General Manager, Formaggio Essex
We sell all sorts of good food: cheese, charcuterie, pastas, olive oil, spices, etc. But we’re best known for our cheeses.
The market has vibrancy, it’s consistent, and it always works. You’re not assaulted by big chain garbage—for the most part, these are proud family owned businesses. It has that special feel of a public market.
Some of what we carry you can’t find anywhere else in the States. And when a customer eats and gets that ‘look,’ it just doesn’t get any better than that.
Founder, New Star Fish Market
I learned at an early age how to cut and prepare fish and taught my son when he was very young. It’s an art. We hand pick our fish so we know what we’re getting and what we are selling to our customers.
You can’t beat the people who live around here. They are very seafood oriented, so we knew this was the right spot.
We’ve had regular customers since the beginning. They’ve seen my son grow up at New Star. It’s the friendships, the bonds, and the small talk. We learn about each other’s lives.
Manager, La Tiendita/Lower East Side Girls CLub
I’ve been part of the Girl’s Club for almost my whole life. This is a program for the older girls to get real world experience.
Everything here, from the food to the aprons to the potholders is ‘girl made,’ and all the money goes back into the Girl’s Club.
It’s fantastic here. The vendors support each other and the community supports us. It’s an overall experience I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on.
Owner, Puerto Rico Importing Company
Peter of Porto Rico Importing Company says:
My friend Kenny Shopsin had moved his business from the Village to the Market, he called me one day and said “hey Longo, you gotta come check out the Market!”. So I did and decided I wanted in. I grew up going to the Essex Market!
Coffee is a wonderful thing. It wakes us up in the morning. It brings people together through talk and socializing. It gets us going when we need a helpful boost. But for me, the greatest thing about coffee is how it brings out the idiosyncratic nature of the people who drink it. We coffee drinkers are very particular about how we prepare our morning brew. It becomes part of our comforting daily ritual. It gives us all an opportunity to be individuals in a world gone mad with constraints.
Co-Owner with Ron Budinas, Rainbo’s Fish Market
My father was in the fish business years ago on Avenue C and he got me started at the market around 1976. My partner Ron and I have worked here ever since and Ronnie taught me more about fish than my father.
At the market, I know my customers’ names and they know my name. It’s like family. I thank my customers up and down when they tell me how good my fish is. It’s such a good thing to hear.
For me, the market is exciting. There are so many stories that I could go on and on and on for days.
Co-Owner, Nordic Preserves Fish & Wildlife Company
My partners Annika Sundvik and John Lavelle have been with me in the restaurant business on the Lower East Side for over 15 years, so Essex was a natural for us.
Annika inspired the Scandinavian food but we also like to have fun with the ingredients, many of which are sourced from the market.
At the market, I get to see the customers, their reactions and the feedback can be inspiring.
Owner, Roni-Sue’s Chocolates
I’ve been making chocolates for over 25 years and always had a dream to open my own shop “someday”. In 2007 I was finally ready and thrilled to discover a spot in the historic Essex St. Market— I fell instantly in love! This old school city market with its mash-up of cultures reflecting our diverse LES community turned out to be the perfect place to start my business.
At Roni-Sue’s we hand craft our confections using our own direct-trade chocolate from Belize – creating critically acclaimed treats for the discerning chocolate lover that delight and surprise! Our fellow merchants are a continuous source of inspiration, collaborative partners and a ready resource for ingredients from all over the world.
My greatest joy is watching the reactions from folks as they taste our chocolates, it doesn’t get better than that! I hope you’ll stop by soon to experience Roni-Sue’s Chocolates for yourself.
Co-Owners, Saxelby Cheesemongers
Saxelby Cheesemongers is proud to call the Essex Street Market home. Essex is a unique, vibrant and dynamic marketplace that is home to some of New York's best food purveyors. Its old-school and old-world energy makes it an ideal place for us to showcase delicious artisan cheese.
We were the first shop in New York City to focus purely on local cheeses, and are still the premier destination for anyone in search of this region's best. We sell farmstead cheeses and fresh dairy products sourced from small local farms, many of which you won't find anywhere else.
We pride ourselves on giving our customers a great experience, and of course, getting them the very best cheeses that we can find! If you're looking for delicious, top quality cheese in a fun, unpretentious and friendly environment, Saxelby Cheesemongers is at your service!
Owner, Peasant Stock
I worked in the restaurant business for years and always wanted a place of my own, so here I am. I do soups, everything from scratch, right on site every day: family recipes and some new ones of my own.
The Market has a great history and there are a lot of female entrepreneurs. We support each other and visit to see what’s cooking that day and how business is.
I use the best ingredients and make small batches daily. It’s made with love. Every day, people say my soup is amazing and that’s great. The market is my dream come true.
Co-Owner with Ira Stolzenberg, Tra La La Juice Bar
The neighborhood was changing, gentrifying with a lot of younger people coming here, so I wanted to open a juice bar and Tra La La. We also do specialty cakes that I bake. My partner Ira does all the decorating.
The market has a lot of history and it’s unique with the variety of things in here. It’s just gotten better and better and better.
I remember, one time when lightning struck the market and you could see it travel the pipes and it blew up the boiler– unforgettable!
Manager, Viva Fruits and Vegetables
I was born and raised in this neighborhood, it’s my roots and Viva is a family business with 14 years at the market. It’s this little jewel of the Lower East Side. When people come in here they go ‘wow!’
Our specialty is Spanish food. My dad gets up at 2AM every day to buy the stuff we sell—every day for years.
My favorite is our pineapples. If they could talk they would say, ‘I’m pretty and so sweet.’