Bodega Getty Images News/Allison Joyce
By Enrique Grijalva



I’ve always said, “If the bodega starts selling anything other than Poland Spring water (FIJI, Smartwater, Voss, San Pellegrino, etc.) it’s a sign that the times are changing — and so are your neighbors.”

 

When the Bodega Starts Selling Designer Water

It’s sad to say but, up until recently, many people wouldn’t drink water. Many were kids I grew up with; then those same kids grew up to be adults who preferred a soda over water. We didn’t know how to “hydrate” back then. What’s worse is that we couldn’t even stumble upon the right foods or beverages, because the bodegas only carried sugary juices and carbonated drinks (I’ve been to bodegas that don’t sell water at all). So, if we were thirsty and on a budget, we’d drink Tropical Fantasy sodas or “quarter waters” to quench our thirst. It’s no wonder an illness like diabetes is so prevalent in the Black and Latino communities.

But when conscious eaters with money to spend (and no appetite for disease-in-a-bottle) start coming into your neighborhood, you have to switch it up. As a businessman you’ll make the effort to stock your fridge with healthier products for your new customers, or you’ll risk going out of business.

 

Craft Beers Have Replaced Your Coronas

Corona. Heineken. Coors Light. Presidente. Modelo. Those were the only beers served in the local bars and stocked in the bodega’s fridge. And, up until I started visiting bars outside of my neighborhood, I never knew there was a whole world of beer out there.

I didn’t know what a craft beer was. When the bodegas began stocking up on Blue Moon and Sam Adams, it was exotic in contrast to Colt 45 and Olde English. Now I see delivery truck drivers rolling in cases of Smuttynose, Stone IPA, Magic Hat, Abita, and more.

Gone are the days of finding the meaning of life in a Corona. Pass that Raging Bitch!

 

Corroding Real Estate Is Getting a Facelift

I’ve lived in Washington Heights for nearly 30 years.

The bus terminal in the neighborhood has been a ghost town for nearly five years. The small businesses — inside and outside of the terminal — have been steadily displaced for nearly 15 years. The terminal is now getting a renovation, just in time for new cutesy boutiques!

The street parking area two blocks from where I live is also getting renovated. Homeless men and the drunken overlords would call it home or the bathroom by night, and during the day, it was the home of the local street vendor market. Now it’s going to have trees, water fountains, and minimal space for vendors!

The High Bridge, one of a few bridges that connect Manhattan to The Bronx, was recently reopened. That bridge has been closed longer than the New York Knicks’ championship drought.

You’ve walked the High Line, now walk the High Bridge!

 

I Don’t Belong Here

Between work, romantic endeavors, fun, and more work, life can keep you busy. Time will fly away with the breeze, and one day you’ll look up and you won’t recognize anything or anyone.

The old ladies in your building are long gone, the little kids are now adults struggling to pay the rent, and the pit bulls and Rottweilers have been replaced by chows.

You sit inside your favorite restaurant or bar, a neighborhood staple, and you observe the people around you. Suddenly that feeling of home escapes you. You realize that some of the patrons inside are stylistically foreign…from their behavior to their slang and down to their look.

They love the food. You know this because they just can’t stop raving about it. They don’t know this, but their presence in the neighborhood will eventually drive that restaurant out of business. And it won’t be due to a lack of support from them. Nope. That restaurant’s location will soon become prime real estate, causing it to fall victim to big rent increases. Then they’ll wonder why that place shut down.

Meanwhile, the workers in that restaurant, who used to live in the neighborhood, will have been long gone. They would have also fallen victim to those excessive rent increases. And with the changes in the neighborhood they once called home, they would have felt lonely in a new world.

 

Allowing a neighborhood to evolve is essential to a community’s growth, and diversification is always welcome. Outside entities will always look to capitalize on the new “it” neighborhood, but when the people moving in don’t care about the natives or their struggles, that’s when resentment and disdain start rearing their ugly heads. And that’s when the locals start getting evicted.

So come in and make yourself at home!