Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Adiós, Evelia: The final sale for an Echo Park shopkeeper [updated]

ECHO PARK – The last day of business at El Batey No. 2 found the small neighborhood market with only some random bags of chips and snacks on the shelves and a small supply of beer in the cooler. Evelia, the 74-year-old woman who has tended the family owned business since it opened 48 years ago, has spent most of the day saying “goodbye” and “adios” to customers, some of whom returned to the neighborhood to wish her well.  After the store’s black metal gates are slammed shut tonight, El Batey will never reopen.

The store, which has anchored the corner of Echo Park and Delta Avenues at the bottom of a brick apartment building,  was forced to close after the new building owners wanted a steep rent increase.

From behind the counter, Evelia has greeted generations of customers and watched as the neighborhood went from a gang stronghold to a symbol of gentrification, where rising rents and property values have eroded the store’s once large base of Latino immigrant customers. Whites and other non-Latinos have also patronized El Batey but the store continued to struggle. The store might have been dark and dusty at times, but Evelia served as a welcoming presence. She turned her regular customers into friends, jotting down their birth dates in the store’s ledger and delivering home cooked meals to those who were housebound.

Evelia, who did not want her last name published, said she and her family tried to work out a new deal with the landlord that would have allowed the store to remain open or at least give it more time to to sell off inventory and wrap up her affairs.  But the final terms did not make it worth staying, said Evelia, who lives a short walk from the store. “It’s better to go now.”

* Update on June 6:   The owners of the building, M West Holdings, issues a statement regarding the closure of El Batey,

M West Holdings regrettably announced that local grocery, El Batey, will be leaving their Echo Park location on June 6th, 2014. M West Holdings has been working closely since acquiring the property in December, with the owners of El Batey, the Pack family, to find a solution for the unique issues facing the business and the changing nature of the community, but they were unable to reach an agreement. Moving forward, the Pack family has decided to close their business during the time period of the extended lease. M West will be working with the owners to facilitate a smooth transition.

“We regret the loss of this historic local business, especially this great market,” stated John Tronson, Principal at Avison Young, the representative of M West Holdings. “We honor the Pack family for their long-standing contribution and dedication to the Echo Park community. It is M West’s goal to include community focused, local vendors in the building’s future retail mix, wherever possible.”

In their six months of ownership, M West Holdings has already upgraded the property, which sat neglected for many years. They have added new front doors, a fresh coat of paint on the exterior, new lights on the façade, as well as all new sanitary lines and copper water supply throughout the building. They also renovated the lobby and the manager’s office and made long needed roofing and façade repairs.

Neighbors and fans of the store helped move out equipment on the last day of El Batey.

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  1. We love you and wish you well, Evelia! Hope to see you walking around the neighborhood so I can get my regular dose of your kind smile. So sorry it came to this.

  2. Evelia, I am so sorry you were treated this way by this wretched people. You have such a beautiful smile and way, I wish you nothing but the best for you and your family.

    Can someone post the names of the assholes that did this? It shouldn’t’ be hard to figure out who is the new property owner, I think pricks like this need to be unveiled to the community just so maybe the feel the heat a bit more when they act demonstrably towards neighbors that we all as a community care deeply about.

    • I’m sure at some point this group will make an appearance before the Echo Park Neighborhood Council. At that time community will be given the opportunity to “welcome” our new neighbor.

      • Great point Troy!

        I can’t wait for M West Holdings to make an attempt to get ANYTHING passed by the neighborhood council.

        I hope the community treats them with the same amount of compassion they extended to Evelia.

  3. Avg household income in the neighborhood went up, her sales didn’t. That’s never a good sign for any business. If she had increased her sales on pace with the demographic shift in the area, she’d have no problem paying the new rent. I’m a bit
    confused though why she didn’t provide financial statements and tax returns to the landlord to try and credit qualify for a new lease. Given her longstanding status with the property I’m guessing she could have negotiated a very competitive rent as she would represent an extremely low risk of leaving.

    Plenty of us in the neighborhood are savvy in these areas and offered our help.

    That said, I am sorry to see her go, she truly is a wonderful person.

    • Never mind why Evelia wouldn’t comply with conditions that would allow(?) her to pay the 300% increase on her lease. After all, isn’t THAT the injustice to begin with?

      • Not if she was already paying 700% below market rates

        • “My bad”. I forgot that everything, including human spirit and neighborhood character and integrity, boils down to “market rates” of some kind or other. It’s no wonder that the profile of the developers and the likes of “Dennis” is that of selfish, spoiled, greedy, and entitled outsiders. Essentially the prototypical villains in every movie ever made and the emerging villains in this real-life scenario.

          • Outsider this… gringo that… us latinos will be here long after you whitey go…

            We get it Mr. one-trick-pony. You keep saying the same thing over and over and over. Please. Really. We get it.

          • NO you don’t. You still think it’s about race(?!) but that’s YOUR history NOT ours or that of this community. At which point, your apparent guild and insecurity does sound conspicuously “gringo” but that’s YOUR issue NOT ours.

  4. Umm….I heard unami are considering this locale…waay better…much more in step with the times and the hood

    • Hey, 2009 called. They want you and umami burger back. Do you enjoy that hip new pinkberry too?

      Goodbye Evalia. You are a wonderfull person and will be missed.

    • You are totally lame .
      The problem with many people moving in to Echo Park these days is that they have an exclusive and not an inclusive attitude.
      The real gem of Echo Park is long lost at this point.
      And before you go in to your ignorant rants about how the hipsters came in and basically saved Echo Park like the Spanish to the New World, yes i grew up here and im still here and i am not a gang member or any other stereotype you created in your head about Echo Park before you moved here from the burbs or wherever on the Westside you could not afford to buy in .
      Apparently people want Echo Park to lose ALL of its flavor.
      What is happening to Echo Park is precicely what happens to old houses with good foundations and good bones that rather then being rehabbed are being deemed tear downs by developers .
      Echo Park will become just another overly gentrified tear down area and lose all its charm to greed and the idea of a lustre and shine.
      So glad i grew up here when neighbors were neighbors with no exclusive parking permits and endless complaints about anything affecting precious property values.
      So glad i grew up here when you could take the bus from Echo Park Ave. all the way to Santa. Monica with a group of friends.
      So glad i have so many childhood memories here .
      Seeing a neighborhood business whether it was dusty or not is super indicative of how people fly the ” i love Echo Park ” flag , but dont support the local businessess unless they are shiny and new.
      Evelia , so sad to see you go , you did not deserve this treatment .

      • You are hilarious.

        You start your rant explaining how everyone new moving in the neighborhood is lame. Accusing US of being exclusionary? HAHA you MUST see your hypocrisy, right?
        Eventually you will discover who the real problem is sweetie…

        • Of course you receive the first sentence of my comment as a “rant”.
          But do not read deeper in to the meaning of what i was actually saying.
          Your ignorance is what is hilarious.
          Your lack of understanding , is expected-sweetie.

        • ………in addition , had you actually read or understood my comment, the ” lame ” was in reply to jer… and i didnt say everyone was lame -sweetie

      • Fallopia Simms

        This is so on point. Unfortunately, it’s been codified in most of the new arrivals’ social DNA to be exclusive and not inclusive. From the reasons why their parents and their parent’s parents left the inner city to begin with had a lot to do with exclusivity and ethnocentricity thinly clothed as “safety” and “upward mobility”. And thankfully some of the new transplants get it. They’ve been able to study urban issues and its causes in the US in university or were self-taught and instantly recognize, acknowledge and attempt to mitigate the dark side of gentrification and lessen their own impacts. But probably tipping the scale of the majority are those that run around calling it “change”. Change is one thing, but when public policy directives and incentives are attached to “change” it’s no longer “change” but a “mandate”.

  5. Given all the vitriol and hatred spewed toward white hipsters in the other thread, I find it ironic that they seem to be the only people who actually showed up to lend Evelia a hand.

    • Ya , because all the latino tenants of the Del Mor are long gone!!
      But you wouldn’t know that would you ?
      The hipsters probably only helped her out to get her out as fast as they can so another over priced business can move in .

      • YAWN! Get over yourself.

      • On the contrary, I would know. I lived in the neighborhood for several years, and when I did, I patronized El Batey on a nearly daily basis for cigs, beer, snacks, and a newspaper. Why? Because unlike so many others, Evelia never once displayed an ounce of resentment or negativity toward anyone, regardless of skin color, social class, apparent hipsterism, or how long they’d lived in the neighborhood. She was without exception universally kind, sweet, and welcoming to EVERYONE who walked through her door.

        People like you and Proper Dos could learn a lot from someone like Evelia,

        The fact that she chose not to (or couldn’t afford to) adapt her business to the changing landscape is a shame, and she will be missed…not just by you, but by everyone who ever got to know her kind soul even just a little bit.

      • I would not mind seeing the jewish deli come back that was in that location FIRST. Yeah thats right JEWISH !!!!

        SORRY JOJO – but Los Angeles is ethnically diverse… its one of the many great things about it. I guess you were the last to hear…

      • LOL!!!!!!!!!

    • Guilty conscience(?)s. After all, they know that they’re exclusive and bland tastes is the primary reason that the character of EP is being gradually siphoned off. Meanwhile, how long will it be before we see another revolving door of pretentious businesses overpricing themselves out of the neighborhood? Fortunately, the traditional working-class foundations of NELA neighborhoods run too deep to be removed by pretentious fads or whimsical trends. I for one am NOT concerned about the gentry taking over the neighborhood. At the first urban detonation most will run for the hills like so many did in the 60s and 90s. Moreover, as the gentry ages, they’ll long for the peace and suburban quiet they grew up in. Conversely, for those of us who grew up here, the sound of freeways, traffic, sirens, and people is what I become sentimental for after long stretches of being unplugged in the burbs. We are ultimately city-folk at heart and in our souls. Why else would so many find it so difficult to stay away even after they’ve left?

  6. @Dingus – grow up

  7. Hey “really?talk about being out of step with time…”….actually a pink berry would be better than that rundown throwback of a mini mercado…..get with it will you….also your references would be better suited to late 2010….

  8. Yo listed……before you start getting nostalgic for “the good ol days”….rampant gang violence…depressed streets…rundown homes…..zero , cultural, gastro, activity….. I too remember those grim days of yore…Gerardo Reyes…Marshall class of 1978…..the echo park and even Silverlake lake past….is a place I guarantee….. you wouldn’t want to reset to….

    • “My bad”. I forgot that everything, including human spirit and neighborhood character and integrity, boils down to “market rates” of some kind or other. It’s no wonder that the profile of the developers and the likes of “Dennis” is that of selfish, spoiled, greedy, and entitled outsiders. Essentially the prototypical villains in every movie ever made and the emerging villains in this real-life scenario.

  9. Sad that this forum has become about mud-slinging. Can’t we all just wish Evelia our best in peace? She would prefer it that way.

  10. Trish..stop being a drama queen…she didn’t die… it’s just a healthy exchange of opinions

    • Cool, Jer. I’m all for exchanging opinions. Seems like every post on the Eastsider is rampant with the same opinions. Maybe we can just create a blog solely for that.

  11. Wait until House of Spirits becomes a Walmart Booze Distribution Center. That’s next.

  12. Yay!…bring it. better selection.. cheaper prices

  13. tyrone washington

    Beer, cigarettes, and junk food. Good riddance. Maybe the little kids in the neighborhood will have a chance of not becoming big balls of diabetes. Hopefully it becomes an organic juice shop or boutique pet store.

    • With regard to diabetes, juices – at least, fruit juices – aren’t much better for the body than soda. I say, stick to water.

      • Many don’t realize how bad fruit juices are for diabetes. Very concentrated sugar content cause high glycemic index. Fresh fruit is fine, It’s the concentrated juice that the doctors tell you to stay away from. Gatorade too!

  14. WOW, that John Tronson is sure some smooth-talking sleazeball:

    “We regret the loss of this historic local business, especially this great market,” stated John Tronson, Principal at Avison Young, the representative of M West Holdings. “We honor the Pack family for their long-standing contribution and dedication to the Echo Park community. It is M West’s goal to include community focused, local vendors in the building’s future retail mix, wherever possible.”

    Uh, gee M West, wan’t that goal already met when El Batey was there? So ungood.

    • M West Holdings is also getting rid of the pet shop on the corner. Gave them a few months to pack up and hit it. That prefab tin can building and the empty parking lot behind it will be the site of more designer luxury living loft condos! Yay!

      • Wait! Blue Collar is leaving? Is this for sure or just a rumor? As far as I can see, they are successful, friendly and informative, and have great use value for the community. Don’t make me have to go to Pet Co 🙁

        • Now I really hate M West holdings.

          • Yes. The petshop is also out. Its the future site of the new M West modern luxury condos with ground floor retail. . M West has no intention of keeping a rusty metal shed standing on a huge empty parking lot on what they envision to be a high end loft/retail block.

  15. You truely resent what this developer did? BOYCOTT THE NEW BUSINESS COMING IN. As much as I love Echo Park. I don’t shop Echo Park anymore. Don’t bank here, My Echo Park has died.Seriously considering selling the family home, our roots have been pulled up, family an friends no longer live here.

    • I’m sure the fact that Echo Park real-estate prices are at all-time highs have nothing to do with your decision to possibly sell your family home. After all, I’m assuming that you’re going to sell it at a reasonable price to a deserving middle-class immigrant family. We all know that you wouldn’t dare try to sell it for some outrageous price to an “outsider,” or even worse, to a developer. Right? Hello?

    • Your Echo Park. Let me see do you mean the Echo Park that was riddled with gang violence and crime? The Echo Park that was overrun with illegals and poor people who did not give a damn about the neighborhood or its appearance? You had better stop and take a long look before you sell because gentrification is going to consume the rest of the Eastside. Here in East LA gentrification is starting. Personally I prefer the hipsters to the gang members firing guns all hours of the day and night.

  16. Time for these disgusting little amigo markets to go. If Echo Park is going to be worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars people are laying out for houses then these places have to go. Over here in City Terrace we are starting to see the first signs of gentrification. The house flippers have invaded this neighborhood like a pack of hungry wolves. I moved here in 2009 and have seen my home’s value go up by 40%. Gentrification cannot happen fast enough for me here in East LA.

  17. The takeaway after 50 comments. White hipsters (whipesters?) saved Echo Park. All Latinos (especially young men) are gang members or gang related accessories. It’s ok to kick people out of their homes and businesses if the market deems so it’s called “change”. Yet Prop 13 is justified and ok. White guilt does nothing but continues to support white privilege. The new crop of people moving into the neighborhood are bland and will eventually blanch Echo Park as they do wherever they go because they were raised in exclusivity in far away places away from diversity and are starved and famished for what is a natural human longing which is to know the other. Ok, got it!

    • Yes white hipsters did improve Echo Park. It is ok to kick people out of their homes if they do not pay the rent. Prop 14 is justified and ok because it prevents homeowners from being taxed out of their houses. All Latinos are not gang members but the Latinos that inhabited Echo Park did nothing to make the neighborhood nice. I lived in Silverlake in the 1990’s and 2000’s and saw the dump Echo Park was. You could not walk around the lake at night or even walk the streets at night. When I drive through Echo Park now I am amazed at the transformation, New housing, new stores and restaurants and white people. Like it or not white people are going to make this neighborhood a good place again. The same thing is happening over here in East Los Angeles. White people are moving in. In 2009 I was the only white person on my street. Now there are 6 white families and Asians are starting to move here to. I am sorry but Latinos do not know how to keep a neighborhood nice. They throw garbage all over the place. I am constantly picking up trash from the sidewalk in front of my house. They have no consideration for their neighbors with the loud music and parties and the parking of their cars in front of people’s driveways. I have had 7 cars towed away for blocking my driveway.

  18. Oh my god. M West is scary. I feel bad for everyone on that block. From the Santa Monica Daily Press:

    FOURTH STREET — An owner and manager of a 60-unit apartment complex in Santa Monica accused of harassing tenants agreed to stop allegedly abusive behaviors or risk reopening an investigation, the City Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.

    The settlement requires owner M West Holdings, LLC., and property manager Scott Properties Group, Inc. to rescind restrictive new rules and exorbitant lost key fees and create better paths for communication between representatives and tenants regarding construction and tenant complaints, said Eda Suh, a deputy city attorney with City Hall.

    – See morehttp://smdp.com/city-settles-tenant-harassment-complaints/124771

  19. You can post comments on MW holdings Yelp page as well as the Grafton lofts page…..

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