It’s 11 a.m. on a Monday morning and there is a gate pulled down over Steve’s Convenience store on Westchester Avenue.
Next door Quality Cafe and Restaurant is empty of both people and furnishings with the exception of a sign at the hostess station telling imaginary customers to ‘please pay here’.
Mona’s Eyebrow Threading in the adjoining building is in disarray.
These three small businesses at the corner of Westchester Avenue and Crosby Avenue in Pelham Bay have been forced out of their locations to make way for a TD Bank, which will absorb the corner site.
Quality Cafe and Restaurant has thrived on the corner for 30 years.
George Katsmanis, co-owner of the restaurant, said the landlord offered him $30,000 to end his lease a year and a half early so the property could be sold to TD bank, a proposition Katsmanis refused.
“He told me you can’t pay what they’re paying and wanted me to get out,” said Katsmanis, “Obviously I stayed until the end. I was a great tenant…I paid the rent on time and they kind of screwed me.”
The business will now move across the street to 1805 Edison Avenue and feature a new name – ‘Quality Grill and Gyro’.
Breakfast will be served until noon instead of all day because the space is limited.
“Hopefully it can become a dinner again, the business will suffer because we can’t do it the same way with the space now,” said Katsmanis.
Mona’s Eyebrow Threading has been in business for a good amount of time too – nearly ten years.
Sami Abdul, the owner of eyebrow threading business, is clearly determined not to let the move effect his profits.
The date is January 4, and although it looks forlorn and empty, its still open for business.
Abdul tells me they will close around 8 or 9 tonight, and re-open the next day at a new location, 1757 Crosby Avenue, just 240 feet away.
The store will be called “Sami’s Beauty Salon”.
Although the new location so close, Abdul said he is sorry to see the store go.
“The move is a little sad, all the customers know this place, but what can we do, the lease was over,” said Abdul.
The tenants were not given the option to re-new their leases, but Abdul says he was given notice and came to an agreement with the owner about leaving.
Lisa Sawicki, corporate communications manager of TD Bank, says the corporation sees potential in the Bronx.
“Although it’s corporate policy not to comment on the details of a site in development…what I can tell you is that we feel there is a lot of growth opportunity in Pelham Bay,” said Sawicki.
She said the location was chosen because it provides the bank with high visibility and easy access for customers.
Sawicki mentioned instant debit cards, seven day banking, a free Penny Arcade interactive coin counting machine, and local lenders as some of the perks the new business will bring to the area.
“Part of our philosophy is also to give back to the communities where our customers and employees live and work, and become an active community partner,” said Sawicki.
The bank is expected to open its doors in late 2016 or early 2017.