A woman in a pink jacket with black glasses, surrounded by individuals in green shirts, claps during a protest being held to save the Morton Williams supermarket. In the background, there are blue signs that read, “Union Strong Local 342.”

The people and patrons of Greenwich Village’s local Morton Williams supermarket

Village residents shared how a recently-saved supermarket has impacted their lives.

On an NYU-owned lot in Greenwich Village lies a 22-year-old Morton Williams supermarket, which had been under threat of closure for years. While an agreement between the university and the city put the supermarket at risk of being demolished in order to make way for a school, local residents rallied around the community staple and were recently able to secure the Morton Williams’ survival for at least 13 more years.

A woman wearing a white shirt and a blue jacket and a woman with a pink shirt with a blue jacket stand side by side in a garden.
Co-chair of Save Our Supermarket Judith Callet and acting chairperson of LaGuardia Corner Garden Ellen Reznick.

Co-chairs of Save Our Supermarket Judith Callet and Alan Gerson, the latter of whom is a former New York City Council member, lead the call to action. Over the last few years, Callet, Gerson and several other community members organized protests and collected over 8,000 signatures on a petition to keep the decades-old grocery store on the lot. They also engaged with elected officials like New York Senator Brian Kavanagh to express their concerns.

“We’re ecstatic that we finally won something from NYU, no one ever expected this but we’re glad it happened,” Callet previously told WSN. “We’re happy for Morton Williams, and we’re happy for the community.”

In an interview with WSN back in October, Gerson emphasized the importance of the supermarket to Greenwich Village residents, noting that the area is home to a culturally and economically diverse population.

“We’re advocating to prevent the supermarket’s closure, ensuring it remains an essential service and facility for our community,” Gerson said.

Many NYU students and professors, along with local residents, rely on the supermarket for their daily food needs. Supermarket owner Avi Kaner told WSN in November 2022 that as many as 3,000 patrons enter the Morton Williams each day.

A man wearing a light purple shirt, dark blue pants, and a purple tie sits on a chair in an office.
Former New York City Council member Alan Gerson.
A man with a gray jacket and a black backpack stands in front of a supermarket.
Uber driver Lavega Osilmzz.

Lavega Osilmzz, a local Uber driver, frequently picks up groceries from the Morton Williams to deliver to homes in the area. Osilmzz told WSN they have been working near the lot for two years.

“It would genuinely mean a lot to me, and it would significantly affect me because I don’t have any other areas I could work in other than this supermarket,” Osilmzz said. “The job we do here in the supermarket is about helping the community, assisting the people around, especially the elderly, and we strive to make it work for everybody.”

Connie Masullo, 96, has lived in the Village for over 50 years. In an interview with WSN, Masullo said she visits the supermarket daily as a way of exercising and engaging with the local community.

“There’s not another supermarket in walking distance, actually,” Masullo said. “Gristedes is not here anymore. Where would we go, really, when you think of it?”

An elderly woman wearing a gray trench coat holds a red grocery basket in her left hand as she smiles at the camera.
Connie Masullo
A woman wearing a pink shirt with a blue puffer jacket stands in front of a garden with plants and flowers behind her.
Ellen Reznick

Next to the supermarket lies the LaGuardia Corner Garden, which Ellen Reznick — the garden’s acting chair — said has a strong connection to the garden and its community role. Reznick said that in the last 35 years, LaGuardia Corner Gardens has transformed from a passion project into a place for native plants and conservation. 

“I feel very strongly about advocating to keep this garden here for so many reasons,” Reznick said. “It’s just that break in your mind from the cement and the concrete and the hustle and bustle and the cars and the sirens. It’s like a time you can breathe.”

Pepino Clemenza, a Greenwich Village resident of 40 years and a regular at the Morton Williams, said the supermarket’s absence would have negatively impacted older residents. Clemenza said he tends to his own plot of land at the neighboring garden, and that his grandparents have lived in the area since 1968.

A man wearing a red jacket and a green shirt holding a plastic bag and an eggplant stands in a supermarket.
Pepino Clemenza
A man wearing a green t-shirt that says "S.O.S. Save Our Supermarket" and a black cap smiles in front of the camera.
Malik Latty

Malik Latty, who has been a deli worker at the supermarket for over a year, noted the broader significance of supermarkets as community hubs, saying that without one, the area would resemble “just a regular street in New York.”

“It’s not a guarantee you’ll get placed somewhere else, so that’s a big part of it,” Latty said. “This area needs this supermarket. For me, it’s my job, but it’s mostly for the community.” 

David Vazquez has worked as a butcher in the meat section of the supermarket for the past two years. Vazquez told WSN that without the supermarket, people would have to “travel far to another supermarket, which they don’t have around here.” 

A man wearing a red hat and a white coat stands in a supermarket.
David Vazquez

Contact Julia Smerling at [email protected].

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