Edy's Grocer Opens Amidst the Closure of a Brooklyn Institution

By Kendyl Kearly | Jaclyn Warren

By

Kendyl Kearly
Jaclyn Warren
At 10 years old, Edouard Massih visited an American supermarket for the first time—it absolutely blew his mind. The future chef had just moved from Lebanon to Boston and missed the homey foods of his family’s Greek Orthodox fishing village. “I had to start eating Starburst and Chips Ahoy; I didn’t like it,” he says. “When I first brought hummus to the sixth grade, I got made fun of relentlessly.” His version of the American dream was always to bring Lebanese food to America in the form of a grocery store.
 
It was far from easy. Suspended from school and financially cut off from his parents, Massih divided his young adulthood in New York between interning at Wine & Spirits magazine and working the line at Corkbuzz, punctuated by ramen meals. “Learning about yourself in a city that you are just a number in, you don't feel human,” he says.
 
 He learned the catering business at Poppy’s Catering and Union Square Hospitality and lived right by Maria’s Deli, a Polish institution operated by Maria Puk for 43 years. As Massih started his own catering company, he and Puk swapped food and joked that he’d take over her Greenpoint business one day.
 
Maria’s closed during COVID-19, so Massih reached out: Would she let him take over the space? No way. But as the pandemic continued through the spring, Puk was ready. Without any work of his own at the time, Massih cleaned out the deli with Puk, painted the floors, created more of a chef’s kitchen, and opened Edy’s Grocer five weeks later. 
 
Gone is the chalkboard advertising corned beef, cabbage and gulasz. Mechaalany pickled goods and Masters Chips from Lebanon replace the neat lines of Skinny Pop and Arizona tea. Shoppers can find Massih’s homemade green lentils and labneh toast, as well as a tahini hummus with duqqa to be proud of. But before she retired in Florida, Puk taught Massih some of her own recipes: beet borscht, mushroom gravy, sauerkraut, and kielbasa. Residents of the Polish neighborhood still sometimes wander in asking for pierogies, but at least Massih can offer a rotating menu with some of these comfort foods. 
 
“Maria moved here from Poland at the age of 10, and I moved here from Lebanon at 10,” Massih says. “It's different generations and different times, but she brought her cooking to the community, and I am bringing mine.”
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