Syracuse, NY – The owner of a grocery store that has been present at the Central New York Regional Market for nearly 40 years says she is forced to close with a 71% rent increase.

A sign at the entrance to Buda’s Meat & Produce near Park Street says the longtime market tenant serves many customers with food stamps and others looking for cheap groceries “Will close permanently” from January 15th.

Buda owner Vicki Griffith said the regional market recently increased its monthly rent from $ 6,115 to $ 10,492, retroactive to December 1.

Griffith said she couldn’t afford the higher rent or the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to dismantle and move her coolers and other equipment to another location. So she decided to just shut down, she said.

“I’m not going to pay him,” she said. “Had finished.”

She said that neither Amanda Vitale, executive director of the public authority that manages the regional market, nor anyone else in the market has provided a justification for such a large rent increase.

Vitale, in a written statement to syracuse.com | The Post-Standard, Monday evening, disputes this. She says Buda had several chances to negotiate a new lease, but did not.

“When the extension expired, a further extension proposal was given to the tenant,” said Vitale, who took over from his father Ben Vitale as executive director in 2019 after holding the position for 22 years.

“After being offered an additional possibility of negotiation during the last meeting of the Board of Directors, on December 14, 2021, the tenant chose to terminate his monthly tenancy of his own free will rather than negotiating.

Buda’s long-term lease had expired at the end of November 2020. Over two decades, that lease has increased Buda’s rent gradually each year on a scale linked to the rising cost of living, according to Griffith.

Griffith said the authority told him it was extending the lease for a year without a rent increase in December 2020 because the coronavirus pandemic had made it difficult for its staff to negotiate a new one. When the one-year extension expired, the authority sent the store a letter extending the lease for another year, but with the 71% increase in rent.

Vitale said the rent increase was a decision “made and voted on directly by the Authority’s board of directors, not a decision made by the current or past executive director.” There will be no further comments at this time.

Vitale did not respond to an email from syracuse.com | The Post-Standard asks how the board decided on the 71% increase.

Syracuse City Councilor Pat Hogan, who represents the neighborhood where Buda’s is located, said the store attracts many North Side immigrants who cannot afford to shop at full-price grocery stores.

“A lot of people from the immigrant population from the north side come to Buda,” he said. “It’s going to be really difficult for them.”

Hogan asked the regional market authority to negotiate with Griffith.

“A 71% increase is really maddening,” he said.

Griffith and her husband, Stephen, take issue with Vitale’s claim that they missed an opportunity to negotiate a new lease. They said they offered through their lawyer to pay 5% more rent each year for the next five years, but received no response.

Stephen Griffith said he and his wife attended the December 14 board meeting via Zoom and asked for an explanation for the 71% increase. He said no one responded after Ben Vitale, now a paid consultant to the authority, advised the council not to do so.

“He said, ‘We’re not here to answer your questions,'” said Stephen Griffith.

The minutes of the June 1 board meeting, however, give a clue as to the motivation behind the sharp increase in rents.

During the meeting, the council agreed that Amanda Vitale, her father Ben and market manager Rachael Ristau would work with council counsel to draft a lease that would raise Buda’s rent to an inclusive ‘retail rate’. between $ 10 and $ 16 per square foot per year and requires Griffith to make improvements to the “exterior appearance of the building.”

The Griffiths dispute this estimate. They consulted a real estate broker, who told them that the market rate for the store space – in a warehouse with exposed concrete floors and concrete block walls and an exposed metal roof – is only $ 5 to $ 8 per square foot. Vicki Griffith said the store paid $ 7.65 per square foot.

She said the market authority had done little to improve the building. He replaced the roof five years ago, but the roofing contractor didn’t install a flashing around a vent pipe, and the roof now leaks into the store when it rains, she said. declared.

Buda’s Meat & Produce at the Central New York Regional Market in Syracuse has been providing customers with deeply discounted grocery products since 1984. (Rick Moriarty | [email protected])

Formed in 1938, the Regional Market, best known for the farmers’ markets it hosts, is overseen by 13 trustees, made up of representatives from the counties of Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Wayne and Tompkins, and a representative of the counties commissioner of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Currently, the Central New York Regional Market Authority controls the campus on the north side of Syracuse which includes the Market Diner, Helena’s Mediterranean Cafe & Delia, a cat cafe, and the multiple buildings where vendors sell produce, meat and flea market items every week.

by Griffith His father, Mike “Buda” Musumeci, opened the store, originally named Musumeci Farms, in 1984 to sell the produce he grew on his family’s 100-acre manure farm in northern Syracuse, as well as products sold by other farmers.

The store has grown over the years to become a general meat and fruit and vegetable market that sells expired and expired (or nearly expired) food at great prices. Griffith said the store is licensed as a food salvage business, which allows it to buy surplus food or damaged food items from distributors and resell salvageable ones.

Buda’s, which is open seven days a week, has operated at three different locations in the regional market over the years. It is in its current location, behind the same building that has housed the Market Diner, since 2000.

Vicki Griffith, who took over her father’s store a year ago, said many of her customers participate in New York’s Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps low-income workers, the elderly , people with disabilities and others to feed their families. .

The store also attracts many Amish families and wholesalers to many small restaurants, she said.

by Buda

Buda’s Meat & Produce in the Central New York Regional Market in Syracuse has been providing customers with deeply discounted groceries since 1984. Owner Vicki Griffith said the store was forced to close due to a 71% rent increase compared to the market. (Rick Moriarty | [email protected])

On Monday, the store sold loaves of bread for $ 1, rib eye steak for $ 9.49 a pound, sirloin tip for $ 4.59 a pound, beef tenderloin for $ 9.99 a pound , boneless pork loin at $ 1.99 per pound and turkey breasts at $ 3.65 per pound.

“Your dollar goes a lot further here than anywhere else,” said Betty Geppner, of Pennellville, when shopping at Buda on Monday.

Briggette Moore, from Syracuse, said she enjoys the fact that Buda’s sells foods from Asia and other countries from other countries that she can try without spending a lot of money.

“It’s great here,” she said. “The price is definitely right, but there is always something here. You can explore different things without getting ripped off.

Michelle Rand, of Tully, said she has been coming to the store to shop for at least 20 years. Before that, her father regularly shopped at the store, she said. When asked what attracts her family to Buda, she replied, “Convenience and prices. “

Buda’s situation also caught the attention of state deputy William Magnarelli, D-Syracuse.

He calls on the authority to negotiate with Griffith and urged those unhappy with the situation to call the authority at 315-422-8647 and leave a message for Vitale and the board.

“It is unfortunate that a business like the one in Buda, which has been in the same location for decades, is essentially fired due to a rent increase of over 70%,” Magnarelli said in a statement. “I am very disappointed that the CNY Regional Market Authority did not see fit to negotiate a reasonable rent increase and a new lease that would allow this company to remain in the market.”

Rick Moriarty covers business news and consumer issues. A tip, a comment or an idea for a story? Contact him at any time: E-mail | Twitter | Facebook | 315-470-3148



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