A love letter to NYC bodegas, the stores that keep the city running

As we look back on this challenging year and get ready for the holidays, it’s important to be thankful for the little things — especially those that can help make life easier. For many New Yorkers, that includes the convenience provided by NYC bodegas.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, many New Yorkers considered these local grocery stores an integral part of the fabric of New York City. Where else can you get an inexpensive, delicious iced coffee and bacon, egg and cheese on a leisurely Saturday morning? Sour gummy worms and microwave popcorn for a night binge-watching your favorite show on the couch? Extra milk and toilet paper at 2 a.m. when your toddler is unexpectedly awake and you realize you’ve run out of both? 

Thousands of NYC bodegas have remained open during the current public health crisis, serving as essential businesses and steady neighborhood lifelines to countless New Yorkers. These small businesses have provided an alternative for delayed grocery deliveries, long lines at supermarkets, and urgent last-minute shopping needs.  

To celebrate and herald NYC bodegas for their consistency through the years — and especially during these difficult times — we partnered with Pepsi to ask real New Yorkers to share what they love most about their neighborhood go-to’s. 

Scroll down for a range of anecdotes and experiences from across the boroughs that are sure to feel familiar for anyone who has frequented a New York City bodega.

Share your own positive stories on social media by using the hashtag #PepsiBodega

Best Hood Deli – 839 Trinity Avenue

Melrose, The Bronx

A few years ago, I stopped at a bodega that I used to go to for lunch all the time and the same guy was still working behind the counter. When I asked if he remembered me, he said, “Yes, the secretary from across the street!” We talked for a while. I told him about being in grad school and my new job; he said he missed seeing me around and how proud he was that I was doing well and gave me my favorite iced tea for free.

– Chanei P. 

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Andy’s Deli – 18th and Broadway 

Union Square, Manhattan

Like most New Yorkers, I’ve been limiting my trips out of the apartment, but I still like to swing by Andy’s Deli every few weeks for fresh flowers — an instant pick-me-up with everything going on these days. Pre-Covid, the team always did a lovely job turning my individual choices into beautifully mixed bouquets that made me feel like a pageant queen carrying them home.

– Shannon T.

Flatbush Smoke Shop – 377 Flatbush Avenue

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

I’ve left rent checks for landlords and keys for visiting friends with my bodega guy, Ali. He’s even unlocked the door after close to let me slip in and grab a candy bar when I get home from an evening shift.

– James C.

Niforos Corner – 35-60 11th Street

Long Island City, Queens

This is one of those places that you need to be a New Yorker (or a Queens native!) to know. Awesome breakfast and pancakes; they also had the best Philly cheesesteak I’ve ever had in NYC. The grill used to close at 3 p.m. so you had to be prompt. If you got through the door at 3:05, no cheesesteak!

– Amy C.

The Best of New York Food – 150 Water Street

Financial District, Manhattan

I used to find it hard to comprehend why and how bodegas are both open AND serving their full food menu 24 hours a day. But then I came home late (like 5 a.m. late) from a seemingly endless wedding gig in the Hamptons and the bodega down the street made me the best chicken parm sandwich I’ve ever had. I took it home and demolished it, and the final thought that went through my brain before I passed out for 12 hours was, “Wow, that bodega saved my life tonight.” That’s why.

– John C.

Bridge Coffee Shop – 73 Bridge Street 

Dumbo, Brooklyn

Pork, beans and yellow rice is a staple in my kids’ diet, and we go to Bridge Coffee Shop every Saturday after soccer to pick up takeout. The staff always asks my son how he played and if he wants “the usual.” He loves being treated like a regular! 

– Justin T.

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Richmond Fiesta Market – 896 Huguenot Avenue

Huguenot, Staten Island

The bodega by the Huguenot train station was always a stop for me and my friends before getting on the train to the Staten Island Ferry. Grabbing a cup of coffee and bacon, egg and cheese to enjoy on our long commute to Manhattan always made the ride seem faster! 

– Deanna T.

Eco Hoboken – 249 11th Street 

Hoboken, NJ

The owner here used to set aside my favorite items (caffeine-free soda and peanut chews) because he knew I loved them and didn’t want them to sell out. When the pandemic hit, he kept that up with toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning products.

– Nick S.

Million 84 Street Corner Deli – 1624 2nd Avenue 

Upper East Side, Manhattan

My favorite bodega memories revolve around waking up late after a night out to crawl down to the bodega for a bacon, egg and cheese. My friends and I would be so exhausted and would just eat the BEC so quickly!

– Sapna P.

Lucky Lottery & Convenience – 17829 Hillside Avenue 

Jamaica, Queens

The bodega outside the 179th Street subway station was the only place that my father would ever purchase his copy of the New York Post (especially for its sports section), candy and his daily bottle of soda. The owner always made sure that no matter how early it was, he would have a copy for my dad accompanied by a cheerful “Good morning!” Out of all the things I miss the most about our shared daily commutes, the biggest is starting my day with a smile and a laugh when Dad completed his favorite morning ritual.

– Stephanie K.

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Everyday Gourmet Deli – 369 Lexington Avenue

Midtown East, Manhattan 

When I started my new job, I wanted to make a good impression on my boss. Luckily for me, he had a similar appreciation for the art of perfecting the bacon, egg and cheese on a roll, so he was very impressed when I introduced him to the BEC from Everyday Gourmet. Those BECs soon became our version of culinary self-care, getting us through board meetings, work frustrations and cases of the Mondays.

– Gillian W.

TG Finest Deli  – 3211 Phillip Avenue

The Bronx

When the store owners become aware that any of their customers are sick or struggling, they deliver food to their apartments free of charge. 

– Francia V.

Lexington Avenue News – 1248 Lexington Avenue 

Upper East Side, Manhattan

Every week I look forward to visiting my “friend” at the north corner of 84th and Lexington Ave for fresh fruit and veggies. From blueberries and bananas to avocados — not only does the quality and price kill the competition at the expensive grocery across the street, but my purchase also comes with a smile and a mini conversation. Although brief, my greeting and the thanks that come with spending $15 makes this neighbor “my neighborhood.”  

– Erin D.

Penny Bridge Store – 82 Clark Street 

Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn

Back in college, I always used to go on walks with a girl whom I desperately wanted to make my girlfriend. We would walk the Brooklyn Heights promenade and before we went back to the dorms, we would stop by the Penny Bridge Store for candy and snacks. It was my way of extending our hang-out sessions a little longer before we had to part. The bodega owners always blasted music and cracked jokes with us. This past August, I took her back to that area to propose. She said yes!

– Paul P.

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2nd Avenue Farm – 940 2nd Avenue 

Midtown East, Manhattan

There are only two occasions that I purchase red roses for: the season premiere and season fin-all-ee (said in Chris Harrison’s voice) of “The Bachelor.” And when I do, I go to none other than my local bodega. On these most holy evenings, filled with suspense and drama, I greet my friends at the door with the question every girl dreams of hearing: “Will you accept this bodega rose?

– Jenny H.

Peas & Pickles – 55 Washington Street 

Dumbo, Brooklyn

We started recording in a studio at 10 Jay Street in Dumbo, in the late ‘90s. Back then, the area was desolate, especially at night, but Peas & Pickles had everything from sandwiches to hot meals and was the only place open 24 hours. Now, you have to push through all the people taking the requisite cobblestone street pic with the Manhattan Bridge in the background, but I’m sure the food is still worth it. Thanks for fueling our late-night madness!

– Karamba S.

Goodnature Deli & Grocery – 1045 2nd Avenue 

Midtown East, Manhattan

During my first year of college, I lived in Midtown Manhattan and the bodega on 55th Street and 2nd Avenue was my go-to for anything from morning coffees to paper towels. I’ll always remember the nights my roommates and I stocked up on potato chips, chocolate and iced teas for our all-night study sessions!

– Angela S.

Convenient Food Store – 289 Page Avenue

Tottenville, Staten Island 

This store donates bagels, rolls and bread to homeless shelters, churches and people in need. After 9 p.m. anyone can come in and take fresh bread products that haven’t been sold. 

– Frank D.

New York City bodegas keep the city running! Pepsi wants to shine a light on and give back to New York’s favorite bodegas this holiday season. Share your stories using #PepsiBodega