I grew up in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. It was the same neighborhood my father grew up in. I went to the same school as he did. Caused trouble on the same streets. I knew my cornerstore man and the pizza shop gave me credit.
NYC’s streets felt like an abandoned movie set during the middle of the pandemic. Everything looked great but no one showed up. My hardest day was hearing that a local children’s charity was really undersupplied with food. My favorite sandwich growing up was peanut butter and jelly so instead of sitting around, my family and I did what we do best: We started making sandwiches for them – and later, for the first responders, hospitals and protesters.
During this time, I’ve learned that I’m as hard-headed as everyone has always said I was. If you spend a lot of time alone talking to a deli slicer, you get to know a lot more about yourself than you think!
The LES community has kind of disappeared… because a lot of people in this six-block circle aren’t from around here and have left. But diners and restaurants like Dimes, Kiki’s, Cheeky’s and Regina’s kept things going. As a family, we have a plan and are going to continue to build by expanding our operating hours and introducing a new menu. We’ll do it one sandwich at a time.
If you grew up in New York, this is the old New York. This is how shit was. A small break is good. I needed it. NYC needed it. And COVID gave the new New York a good smack in the mouth.
Follow Regina @reginasgrocery