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3. The Real-Estate Market May Be Punishing, But It Is Also Liberating

If you don’t mind airports and car washes.

The Grocery: $780K  

3a. It Really Helps to Buy the Building
By Vicky Gan

Husband-and-wife chefs Charles Kiely and Sharon Pachter opened the Grocery in Carroll Gardens on September 30, 1999. “We did 55 covers,” says Kiely. “It was a Thursday. I’ll never forget that day. I’ve worked my station every night since then.” It’s the epitome of a mom-and-pop shop: The couple has never expanded into another Zip Code or city, never pursued a hotel deal or spun off an airport kiosk. “We never wanted to make money that way,” says Kiely. What enabled them to stay small was the decision to buy the building 11 years ago. When they signed the lease, their rent was $900 a month for the first five years, then $1,000 for the next five. “We decided that if it didn’t work, we could live here,” says Kiely. “But in 2003 our landlord came to us and said that they’re selling the building and it’s this much money. We can take the deal or someone else will be our landlord and at the end of our ten years we won’t have the same protections. We didn’t have the money, but we did what we had to do to come up with a down payment.” The couple’s conversion from leaseholders to owners is quite possibly the reason they survive in a part of Brooklyn where property values have risen by 90 percent since 2004.

The Landowners
• Bamonte’s
• Barbetta
• Carnegie Deli
• Corner Bistro
• David’s Brisket House
• Ear Inn
• Heidelberg
• John’s of 12th Street
• Junior’s
• Katz’s
• Lanza’s Restaurant
• Le Veau D’Or
• Monte’s Trattoria
• Nom Wah Tea Parlor
• Old Homestead
• Patsy’s Italian Restaurant
• Peter Luger
• Rudy’s Bar & Grill
• Russ & Daughters
• Sam’s Restaurant
• Totonno’s
• Veniero’s Bakery