GREENPOINT, Brooklyn -- Greenpoint-based Chef Edouard Massih started 2020 on a high note - his catering business was more successful than ever. When the pandemic hit, he had to do a 180.
With no catering requests coming in, Edy started cooking and delivering weekly quarantine menus. Meanwhile, an opportunity came across his desk when the owner of his corner deli, Maria Puk Grocery, offered to sell him the place.
"I came in here every day to get my coffee or drop some dips off for Maria to try," said Massih. "She would always give me an apple pancake or a potato pancake to try."
The storefront used to be Maria's Deli - a staple in the neighborhood that had been there since 1978. The pair created a beautiful friendship and bounced ideas and recipes off each other. They often joked about Massih taking over, but it was never a set endeavor.
"We had talked about me taking over the shop - as a joke - for many years," said Massih. "But I didn't think it would happen this fast."
When coronavirus hit, Maria closed down the deli and was ready to retire. Hearing this, Massih reached out and asked if this was the time to do this... and to his surprise - Maria was all for it.
From there, Edy's Grocer was born!
"It was a facelift. It wasn't a lot of construction whatsoever," said Massih. "We added new floors, painted the place white, painted the shelves.
The shelves were originally Maria's but Massih wanted to keep them. Part of the charm of the shop was these floor to ceiling shelves, so Massih gave them a fresh coat of paint, but left them intact.
"The shelves are such a big piece of this store, it's what I love so much about this store," said Massih. "I tried to keep as much as I could from her."
The Lebanese Grocer and Deli - with some odes to the Polish neighborhood and previous menu staples - officially opened in August. The menu rotates every two weeks, so it features Lebanese specialties at all times.
"I am keeping two Polish specials on the menu," said Massih. "And we do have some Polish groceries as well."
The spot will serve as a neighborhood go-to for prepared foods, made to order breakfast and lunch items, coffees and teas, and a variety of local and Lebanese-imported products filling the shelves.
"Not only do we have prepared foods, but we also have mezze - which is lots of different dips - which I think people have been excited about," said Massih. "We are packaging our spices, nuts, dried fruits, and more."
Massih said how beautiful it was that so many Lebanese people are seeking out his deli and coming in. Some hard to find items in your cookbook are most likely found here, so he is seeing all different customers from all different areas of the city.
What is so neat about Massih and Maria's story is that they both moved to this country at 10-years-old and open their delis in their mid-twenties.
"We both blossomed and brought our food and culture to the neighborhood," said Massih. "And just to see how much time and effort she put into the store - day in and day out - makes me want to work hard and show her that she gave it to the right person."
Only three customers are allowed inside Edy's at any one time and masks are required.
Edy's Grocer is located at 136 Meserole Avenue, at the corner of Eckford Street, and is currently open on Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.