When George Esposito was eight-years-old, his first job at his Grandfather’s store was selling garlic by the pound for 25 cents. 55 years later, he’s now ready to close shop.
The over a century old and four generation family-owned G. Esposito & Sons Pork Store, located on Court Street in Carroll Gardens, will be closing its doors on April 10.
In an interview with the Brooklyn Star, Esposito said that he would have liked to keep the store open for the decades long customers who have enjoyed the store but buyers were intimidated.
“Lots of people were interested [in buying the business] but when they see what we do here – it scared them away. We make everything. You know this isn’t a Trader Joes,” he said. “This is a homemade family business that makes everything from scratch.”
Esposito’s & Sons Pork Store is known for a lot more than just their pork: they serve hot and cold sandwiches, are well-known for their sausage and rice balls, and offer everything from cavatelli to potato salad.
The store was originally founded by Esposito’s grandfather, Giovanni Esposito. Originally from Naples, Giovanni immigrated to the United States in 1922 and opened up shop on Columbia and Union Street the same year. The store moved over to the Court Street location in 1977 when the original location’s nabe started to get more dangerous, said Esposito.
Back then the menu was different: selling traditional Italian foods like lamb heads and calf lungs. Around the mid to late 80s is when the store started to sell more Italian-American dishes and added sandwiches to their menus, as the nabe changed.
“I’ll never eat sausage again anywhere. That’s a fact. I bought a shrink wrap machine just for myself,” Esposito said.
Since the announcement of the store’s closing, Esposito said he has been inundated with orders. For the first time in the store’s history they are running low on inventory.
“I have like 30 trays ordered. Whole trays that people are going to freeze. I don’t know if you like eggplant parmesan, but there’s okay and there’s bad and there’s great. Our’s is outstanding,” said Esposito.
“I was heartbroken,” Brian Geltner, a 20 year customer of G. Esposito & Sons Pork Store said in an interview while munching on an Italian combo.
Some of his favorite things to order over the years have been the sausage parm, the italian combo and the eggplant parm – “but it’s all good,” he said.
“Whenever I buy sausages here to make tomato sauce, the sauce always comes out better than any other place,” Geltner said. “I don’t know why, but I go out of my way to come here before work.”
Last week Brooklyn Beep Antonio Reynoso appointed Reverend Kimberly Council as Deputy Borough President.
The Deputy will serve as a surrogate for the Borough President as well as leading faith-based work for the administration, according to a Friday announcement.
Prior to her appointment she served as Assistant Pastor of Greater Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Crown Heights since 2021.
“Rev. Council’s history of specialized community service and faith-based work in Brooklyn will bring the work our administration has been dedicated to for the past year to the next level,” Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said in a statement. “Our borough and this city are facing serious challenges right now – issues like undignified and unaffordable housing, food insecurity, and the looming fear of violence and loss. For many years, Kim has worked alongside our communities to address these inequities and invoke change that people can feel in their everyday lives.
The former Sunday School teacher has worked on issues such as building affordable housing, fighting hunger through food pantries and violence prevention programs as the Executive Director of the Berean Community Center in Crown Heights.
She has also served as the President of the East Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation and sits on the Executive Board of Women of Faith Advocating Change – a group of female pastors, elected officials and community service providers. In 2019, she was appointed to the HBCU International Task Force
“I’ve dedicated my career to the communities and people of Brooklyn, focusing on finding ways to better lives and strengthen opportunities for all. Being appointed Deputy Borough President gives me the opportunity to carry this work out at a larger, borough-wide level alongside a colleague I’ve long respected,” Reverend Kim Council said in a statement. “Agreeing with Borough President Reynoso’s approach, policy priorities, and general strategy to reach the strongest, most sustainable future for all Brooklynites, I look forward to building that vision for the millions of people who call this beautiful borough home.”
The appointment will be effective starting on April 17, 2023.
With stickers, markers and post-its in hand, North Brooklyn residents set out to redesign some of the most widely used, and problematic, corridors in their neighborhood.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) hosted the revisioning event on Thursday evening at the Swinging Sixties Senior Center on Ainslie Street. With over a hundred community members in attendance, no seat was left empty. The strong turnout and vocal attendees reflected the desire for a long awaited redesign that prioritizes safety and accessibility in the community.
The conversation centered around three main roadways — Grand Street, Metropolitan Avenue and Morgan Avenue — which are heavily utilized by pedestrians, cars, bus commuters, bicyclists and trucks on a daily basis. The event directly showed that accommodating everyone’s interests is tricky, with several possible solutions to consider.
A presentation by Lauren Rennée, a DOT project manager, outlined the changes implemented at these three locations over the past decade to address usability, especially for the growing number of cyclists. A “toolbox” of possibilities to address the issues that remain included one-way car conversion, removing a lane of parking, reducing travel lanes and sheltering bike lanes with either parking or jersey barriers.
The area that encompasses Williamsburg and Greenpoint ranks in the top-third of high-crash corridors in Brooklyn, according to the DOT. On Grand Street, 22 people were seriously injured between 2016 and 2020. Since 2016, there have also been seven fatalities. The crash rates were only slightly lower on Metropolitan Ave and Morgan Ave.
“There are a lot of challenges with the current design,” said Jennifer Gutiérrez, Council Member of District 34 representing Bushwick and Williamsburg, in her opening remarks. “We’re also here because there have been very real collisions and deaths along these corridors. Our goal before anything is to prevent all of those deaths.”
The central complaint of the evening was that the majority of the time, the bike lanes in all three locations were unusable due to parked cars or trucks blocking them. With poor access and visibility, bicyclists are forced to either disturb pedestrians on the sidewalks or put themselves at risk by riding into car designated lanes. But some business owners countered that bike lanes pose curb access challenges for deliveries and limited parking for visitors.
“I bike on Grand St and it’s very problematic, depending on which way you’re going,” said Francesca Romana Caputo, a Williamsburg resident. “There is always something parked on the bike lane.”
Attendees were seperated into a dozen breakout groups where they spent 45 minutes discussing possibilities for solutions with a map of the area open between them. Using color coded stickers, they marked problematic areas with a corresponding note.
Each group had a DOT representative to guide the conversation, offer their expertise while another representative diligently took notes of popular solutions. It was suggested 15 minutes of discussion is allotted to each corridor, but Metropolitan Ave received the most attention, and complaints.
“We want to design streets that enforce themselves,” said Preston Johnson, a DOT Project Manager who led the discussion in one of the groups.
Metropolitan Ave’s current design bans parking on the peak direction side during rush hour west of the Metropolitan Ave Bridge. And over 1,700 vehicles cross that bridge during the morning rush, according to DOT data. And east of the bridge, the wider section of the road is separated by a median with just a standard bike lane in place.
Cyclists are growing at a fast rate in the city and are a central population that will be considered in the redesign. According to DOT data, 1.8 million Citi bike trips originated in Brooklyn’s Community Board 1 in 2022, not including personal bikes. It is also the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation.
A popular solution was to implement protected bike lanes that provide a safer dedicated space for cyclists. According to the DOT it is the “most appropriate treatment in areas with commercial and industrial activity.” Pedestrian injuries decreased by 21 percent and motor vehicle occupant injuries went down by 15 percent when protected bike lanes were introduced.
Grand St, which connects western Queens and Bushwick to Brooklyn and Manhattan via bridges and the BQE, generates high truck volumes and loading demand by serving commercial and industrial areas. Much progress has been made since 2008, when travel lanes had no separation or designation for bike riders. The following year, standard bike lanes were added and in 2018 they became parking protected curbside bike lanes. Last year, jersey barrier protection was also added.
Some bus riders complained that buses are forced to operate at slower speeds due to traffic, which leads to longer commute times for riders. They also complained that there is no enforcement of people illegally parking on bike lanes or blocking bus stops and lanes.
High truck rates stem from North Brooklyn being a hub for Industrial Business Zones. On Grand St, a lack of designated loading zones for trucks is a strong contributor to blocked bike lanes.
Many attendees proposed converting one or more of the three corridors into one-way roads to create more space for bike lanes and reduce congestion created by cars and trucks. Some attendees worried that by redesigning a large street as a one-way, smaller side streets that are currently favorable to biking will receive an influx of truck traffic.
Morgan Ave is one of the few north-south streets in Williamsburg that intersects Grand St and Metropolitan Ave. While a curbside bike lane was installed from Grand St to Grattan St in 2018, there is currently a bike network gap north of Grand St to Meeker Ave, Queens via the Kosciuszko and Pulaski Bridges.
Physically narrower roadways, one example of self-enforcing design, tend to discourage speeding that is present in wider roadways. They will also shorten crossing distances for pedestrians, a significant challenge for seniors.
Seniors make up less than 15 percent of the city’s population but over 45 percent of pedestrian fatalities. And 90 percent of senior and non-senior adult injuries occur at intersections. A proposed solution with seniors in mind is to include a halfway pedestrian island to split up intersection crossing into two parts.
”The other thing that no one has mentioned during this presentation is the pollution,” said Caputo, who lives directly on Grand St. She said that every morning a thick layer of black residue accumulates on the windowsill in her bedroom. “It’s insane. This is what we’re breathing everyday.”
The DOT plans to unveil their redesign proposal, created with resident suggestions in mind, at an upcoming Community Board 1 meeting.