New York City photographers James and Karla Murray have been using photography to preserve the disappearing mom-and-pop shops of the city for decades. The husband and wife duo traverses all five boroughs of New York searching for those hidden gems that might vanish at any moment. In their new book, Store Front NYC: Photographs of the City’s Independent Shops, Past and Present, they share images of long-disappeared icons and still-thriving favorite haunts. Here, the Murrays give us a sneak peek inside the book by sharing a few of their favorite lost and extant mom-and-pop shops featured, along with a bit of history about each spot!
Chapters of the book are organized by borough and all include descriptions and maps. The book’s introduction was written by Blondie co-founder and photographer Chris Stein! In a virtual talk the Murrays hosted for Untapped New York Insiders, they shared photos from the book, told stories of the storefront subjects, and gave behind-the-scenes insight into how they captured the best shots. Watch the video now in our on-demand archive!
Storefronts of NYC Photo Talk
The Lost Storefronts
1. Cheyenne Diner: 9th Avenue at West 33rd Street in Chelsea, 2008
The Cheyenne Diner in Chelsea was in business for 68 years before it was forced to close in 2008. Rising real estate prices caused the business to lose its lease. At the corner spot where it once stood, there is now a new condo development.
2. Lenox Lounge: Malcolm X Boulevard near West 124th Street, Harlem, 2004
Lenox Lounge, the iconic jazz club in Harlem where legends including Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis performed was in business from 1939 until 2012. The story behind its closure is truly one of the saddest. Owner, Alvin Reed was forced to close after a rent increase of $10,000, bringing the rent price to $20,000 a month.
3. D. D’Auria & Sons Pork Store: East 187th Street near Cambreleng Avenue Belmont, Little Italy of the Bronx, 2004
D. D’Auria and Sons Pork Store was in business from 1938 until 2006. Sadly, this mom-and-pop homemade sausage shop was forced to close after its 2nd-generation owner Mike could no longer run the shop (as told to us by Mike) and no younger family member was interested in taking over the business.
4. Zig Zag Records: Avenue U at East 23rd Street Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, 2005
Zig Zag Records was in business for over 35 years before it closed in December 2010. It was well known among record collectors for its vast selection of vinyl in many genres and for its owner Stan who was always helpful and kind to everyone who stopped in to browse.
5. 105 Hobby Shop: Jamaica Avenue near 105th Street Richmond Hill, Queens, 2010
105 Hobbies aka Hobby Shop first opened in 1964 and specialized in selling model airplanes and train kits. When the second-generation owner Peter Cernauskas took over, he shifted the store’s focus to radio-controlled cars and slot cars. It was known as a place where you could find both guys and young kids hanging out together on a regular basis, talking hobby. It sadly closed in 2018.
Existing Mom-and-Pop Shops
6. Yonah Schimmel Knish Bakery: East Houston Street near Forsyth Street Lower East Side, 2004
This iconic bakery has been in business since 1910 and is known for its knishes which became a popular staple of the Lower East Side diet because they are both inexpensive and filling. Their knishes are baked, not fried. Learn more about this historic Jewish spot here, and try the knishes for yourself on one of Untapped New York’s tasting tours of the Lower East Side!
7. Lexington Candy Shop: Lexington Avenue at East 83rd Street Upper East Side, 2019
Lexington Candy Shop is the oldest continuously operating luncheonette in Manhattan where you can still get an authentic NYC egg cream. It was founded in 1925 and is now owned by the 3rd-generation owner John Philis and his partner Bob Karcher. Entering the shop is like stepping back in time as it has a gorgeous vintage interior, which has not been renovated since 1948.
8. Addeo & Sons Bakery: Hughes Avenue at East 186th Street Belmont, the Bronx, 2006
Addeo is a family-owned Italian bread bakery that has been in operation since 1929 and is now run by the 3rd-generation brothers, Laurence and Tommy Addeo. Among their specialties is their Pane di Casa, an oval white Italian bread that is made from what Laurence described to us as “a long-term dough that takes as much as 8 hours of preparation in fermentation, scaling and proofing before it even goes into the oven.”
9. Schmidt’s Candy: Jamaica Avenue near 94th Street Woodhaven, Queens, 2010
Schmidt’s Candy in Woodhaven, Queens has been in business for almost a century and the third-generation owner Margie still makes all of the delicious chocolates by hand using no preservatives. For the holidays, including Christmas and Easter, she uses special cast iron molds passed down from her grandfather from the 1920s.
5. Court Pastry Shop: Court Street near DeGraw Carroll Gardens, 2018
Court Pastry Shop is an Italian pastry shop founded by the Zerilli family in 1948. They specialize in homemade pastries, cookies, and cakes which they make fresh daily. They also sell homemade Italian ices. Unlike many pastry shops, they make and bake each and every cannoli shell by hand before hand-piping in the filling!