“Artisanal Roach Bombs” and More Could Save Brooklyn Deli from Rent Hike Doom

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Jesse & Co. MarketPlace, on Atlantic Avenue, has been one of Boerum Hill’s go-to delis since 1983. But after more than 30 years selling everything from sub sandwiches to Sazón Goya packets, it now faces doom: At the end of the month, Jesse’s rent will be raised by 150%, from $3,500 to $10,000.

There’s hope for Jesse, though, particularly if you’re interested in any of his new artisanal product selections, which include “hand-fried chicken cutlets” ($13.50), a “pasture-raised flash-frozen teriyaki bowl” ($21.99), “Bushwick-based vegan cat food” ($6), and “artisanal roach bombs” ($15.99). In collaboration with a band of locals, Jesse and his son Mohammad unveiled this mock rebranding as part of The Artisanal Landlord Price Increase Sale, a campaign to save their deli. 

Raising prices 250% and slapping products with “artisanal” labeling might be the only way to win over the crunchy yuppies taking over the neighborhood and compete with the borough’s proliferating artisanal mayonnaise, artisanal Spam, and artisanal everything shops. A sign at the deli told customers:

As we would love to continue offering our customers the same old products and prices, like we did for the last 20 years, we unfortunately have to experiment with a price increase. This price increase reflects the rent increase which will be 2.5 times our current rent. Still, we are happy to offer these new artisanal products and price points.

It’s a pretty smart way to parody the precious lifestyle-y products only a disposable income can buy and to draw attention to the perils of gentrification. As Tommy Noonan and Patrick McCormick, neighbors who designed the posters and helped stage the campaign, wrote in a statement:

It’s not a hoax. It’s simply to bring awareness to a bubbling tension in the Boroughs. It’s not a fight against the landlords. It’s something that could open up a conversation and maybe give them a little empathy. After all, this deli entrepreneur, Jesse, has paid about a million dollars rent to his landlord in the past 20 years.

The deli owners are hoping to spread word of the campaign on social media using the hashtag #JessesPricedOut.

Follow Carey Dunne on Twitter @CareyDunne

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