Monday, July 30, 2007

Bright Food Shop

VANISHED: June 2007

Photo credit

Rising rents closed the Bright Food Shop after a couple decades in Chelsea. Honestly, I never ate there, but I loved the fantastic neon sign. It has been there since 1938 and the place has been a restaurant of one kind or another since 1907 (the original tin ceilings are still there).

Walked by today and noted the lovely neon sign is gone. According to this article, the owners have salvaged it—maybe they’ll make use of it somewhere down the road, should they find a spot in New York City where they can afford the rent.

7 comments:

Badecca said...

It's ironic - I consider the Bright Food Shop one of the first symbols of gentrification in Chelsea.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i agree--thanks for the comment

David said...

its now a q'dobo - yuck and yuck

donamaya said...

wow, i wish i had seen this site while we were closing bright. i was the co-owner and chef for the 17 years that we had it. i'm a bit shocked to see that there are people( 2 at least)that feel we contributed to the gentrification of the neightborhood. i don't know if you remember what bright looked like before we got to it- it was barely functioning-the neon wasn't- and the interior,especially the kitchen, was pretty scary.you don't want to know what we saw once we took it over.... true, it would have been great if it had been maintained all those years that it wasn't and could still be what it once was.....my husband, the founder of kitchen/market next door, and i knew we had to call our place bright food shop and keep the counter/stool format because it had been a part of the neighborhood for so long.we even wrote the history of bright and coffee shops in chelsea on the back of our menus.true, we did change the menu. BUT we restored a gorgeous neighborhood "landmark", created a viable neighborhood business that supported other neighborhood businesses, gave many people jobs, and i believe, by the overwhelming response of our neighbors even to this day, that we indeed brightened the avenue.one of the most devistating part of closing for me was taking the sign down. i leaned against the mail box and sobbed. it had been a beautiful part of chelsea for 70 years and how could WE be the ones to take it down after lovingly trying to keep it functioning..? we hired an expert to remove it with as little damage as possible and have it safely stored as mentioned. we just knew that no one else would want to keep it. hah- q'doba grill as the new tenent- it would have been trashed. at least they kept some of the tin ceilings that my husband probably spent 200 hours repairing/restoring.
my thoughts are with bright every waking hour now almost 2 years after we closed. i live upstairs and have to pass it every day.
thanks for letting me vent. i'm about to cry...

Jeremiah Moss said...

donamaya, thanks for writing in.

you aptly describe the irony of being one of the first in a low-income neighborhood to restore and renew. you help the gentrification process, then get swept away by it when it accelerates. it has happened to so many--florent comes to mind especially. and then we're left with the q'dobas of the world.

it must be painful to live upstairs from that. are you starting over elsewhere? any plans for that lovely sign?

Whitney said...

My Great-grandfather owned and operated this place for a number of years a loooong time ago. I live in Toronto, but had a chance to visit and enjoy it before it was changed into the sad-sack of a franchise that it is now. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and tasty... and a little emotional.
It survived a fire in the 50's but I guess, it couldn't survive fast food. I'm so sorry to see it go. DONAMAYA: if you ever need a home for that sign, I'm sure my family could help you out :)And thank you for all the great years you gave to this piece of my family's history.

stuart said...

Whitney- thanks for the note- I think that I might have met you or a family member who told me that their..dad? sold Bright because the neighborhood was too dangerous in the 70's. I believe he was then a victim of a violent crime at a restaurant in midtown.Sorry if this was your family....I still run into neighbors and former patrons who long for Bright's reincarnation...Any sponsers out there?
The sign is still safe and sound in Orange County,NY
And the neighborhood now!!!who would have thought 3 Starbucks in 8 blocks!