Madison Avenue Business Improvement District works to bring both luxury and family-owned businesses back to the area

Empty store fronts littered Madison Avenue during COVID – the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District says there were more than 50 that were vacant.  But president Matthew Bauer says the district is back.

Ashley Mastronardi

Feb 15, 2024, 11:50 PM

Updated 64 days ago

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When you think of Madison Avenue, you don’t think of a big hunk of beef. But Lobel’s Prime Meats is to rib-eye what Gucci is to handbags. It’s been a family business for six generations and has occupied a storefront on Madison Avenue since 1954.
“One of the reasons we’ve been around so long is we appreciate our customers. My father always used to tell me to appreciate who is putting food on your family’s table, and we hold that dear, we cherish that,” Evan told News 12 New York. 
The Obsatz family also knows a thing or two about customer service – their business, Butterfield Market, has been a staple on 78th and Lex since 1915.  On a wing and a prayer, they opened another location on Madison Avenue at the start of the pandemic. 
“We had two windows that we opened up outside on 85th Street and we served coffee, sandwiches ... the day we opened, we didn’t know if anyone would come to the window to buy. We had 200 customers on the first day outside,” owner Alan Obsatz said. 
But not every business was as lucky as Butterfield.  Empty store fronts littered Madison Avenue during COVID – the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District says there were more than 50 that were vacant.  But president Matthew Bauer says the district is back, and 32 stores have opened or expanded in the second half of 2023.  He says retail vacancies on Madison Avenue between East 57th Street and East 86th Street have declined from 19% in March 2021 to 10% in January 2024. 
“We held a number of welcome-back events to the neighborhood ... we did a video where we had all of the store managers wave and welcome people back into the store. I think the key to the resurgence of the street is folks recognizing that people live here and the folks that live here are such an important component of their business and we’re counting on them,” Bauer told News 12.  The BID cleans the streets, removes graffiti and provides security.  To find out more about businesses in the neighborhood or if you want to open your own, you can click HERE


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