29 December 2007

Matzo memories: Moving on out

Streit's Matzo Factory is leaving the Lower East Side for New Jersey after 75 years.

The family-owned company turns out 16,000 pounds of it every day, but the neighborhood isn't the same.

It hopes to get $25 million for the antiquated six-story building in a part of New York where tenements and sweatshops have given way to fine hotels and condos, expensive restaurants and trendy nightclubs.

"We're doing this with a heavy heart," said Aaron Gross, the great-great-grandson of founder Aron Streit, an Austrian immigrant. "We're America's last family-owned matzo factory."

Gross, 32, details some problems: Streets too crowded for the big tractor-trailers and complaints about noisy machines that prepare the dough before baking in steel ovens.

Many of the company's 60 employees have worked there for decades. Streit's does tens of millions of dollars in annual sales and garners some 40% of the US matzo market. Manischewitz is its main competition.

The Lower East Side, once home to 500,000 Jews, now has only some 30,000 Jews. The neighborhood has changed and old buildings (such as The Forward's 1912 structure) are now million dollar condos after major revamping and recycling.

Read the rest of the story here.

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