After Three Decades, Bodega Fined for Illegally Parking in a Garage

IMG_0641Evan Bleier

The city has whacked a bodega on Avenue D with a hefty fine, and not because it was selling “loosies” or illegal Four Lokos. Indeed, the Sergio Deli Superette’s stock resembles that of other bodega: Goya products, six packs, the daily paper. And that’s exactly why it’s in the city’s cross-hairs.

According to the Certificate of Occupancy that was issued in 1940, 127 Avenue D was zoned for use as a “garage for not more than five automobiles and storage.” When a city inspector following up on a complaint confirmed in December that the building was storing beer cans instead of cars, Bernard Margalit, the owner of the building, was hit with a $6,000 fine.

Asked why the city had waited until now to take a closer look at the bodega considering it has been operating as such since the early 1980s, Mr. Margalit said, “I have no idea. I’m asking the same question. I bought the place in 1982 when it was a storefront gaming room with ping-pong tables and all that.” He said he had no knowledge, then, that the building was being misused.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Margalit applied for a change in the Certificate of Occupancy in the hopes of getting everything on the up and up and hopefully reducing his fine. It’s uncertain whether the bodega will have to close during renovations. “It all depends on what needs to be done,” said Mr. Margalit. “If the deli needs to close, the deli will close.”

On his application, Mr. Margalit estimated that renovations would cost $37,500. He seemed resigned to the expense. “I can’t fight city hall,” he said.