Dean & DeLuca Is Holding An Auction At Its Last Location In NYC
After announcing a temporary closure of its SoHo flagship last month, Dean & DeLuca held an auction on Monday afternoon to sell most of the equipment and perishables at the massive retail store on the corner of Broadway and Prince Street.
The location represents the last remaining Dean & DeLuca in New York City, and has been nearly empty for months.
The auction, which was announced with a notice on the door and open to the public, drew a small crowd of mostly restaurateurs and members of the food industry on Monday. At around 3 p.m., an auctioneer, perched on a ladder, reeled off a laundry list of items that were once the part of what some in the city considered a gourmand’s dream. But the pots, pans and blindingly white dishware that had once been used to prepare and display the cornucopia of glistening pastries and fine delicacies were now reduced to as little as five bucks apiece. Cash only.
“It’s definitely sad to see it go,” said Ashwin Deshmukh, a 34-year-old restaurateur who owns Williamsburg Pizza and Short Stories, a cafe and bar in NoHo. He said he was there to see what he could buy for his restaurants but he also confessed having “a little bit of morbid curiosity.”
By most estimates, Monday’s auction looked like a going-out-of-business sale, with only a few large counters labeled as not for sale. Otherwise, most of the large equipment, from bread slicers to pasta makers to cash registers were up for grabs.
Those in search of Dean & DeLuca swag could buy wooden crates with the embossed logo. Perishable goods like large bags of coffee, teas and nuts were also for sale.
Last month’s closure of the SoHo store was seen by many as the final nail in the coffin for Dean & DeLuca, which has reportedly been saddled with debt. Owned by a Thai real estate magnate, the company abruptly closed both its midtown and Upper East Side locations this summer after suffering weeks of unusually bare shelves. Several employees said the stores were simply undergoing renovations.
Similarly, on Monday, a man who said he worked with Dean & DeLuca but who declined to provide his name, said, “We are just doing a little clean-up in order to prepare the phase of re-opening the store. We hope to bring in new stuff in 2020.”
However, he said he was unsure whether the new store would in fact be under the name of Dean & DeLuca.
One person in the food industry who asked not to be named speculated that the owner, Pace Development, was trying to sell the company, and did not want to news of a closed flagship to hurt its prospects.
On Monday, its website was down.
Brianna Plaza, a self-described home chef and food writer, said she decided to check out the wares since she worked nearby. Like some New Yorkers, she had been annoyed with the astronomical pricing at the store, whose offerings at one point included $19 per pound organic mesclun and $42 boxes of green tea truffles.
Still, she acknowledged the influence the aspirational company had on American food culture.
“But I think its cultural importance has passed,” she added.