Volume 81, Number 14 | September 1 - 7, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Hercules Dimitratos.

It’s last call for gourmet beer guru; Rent was too damn high

By Lincoln Anderson

Despite nothing less than a Herculean effort (how could it not have been?) after 24 years at 27 1/2 Morton St., Hercules Dimitratos says it’s over.

But he’s not crying in his beer.

On Monday, with an air of calm resignation, he said he would probably stay open only a few more days.

Although his store’s green awning says Hercules Fancy Grocery, in truth, it was mainly a place to get fancy beers — from imports to organic and everything in between.

For several years now, Dimitratos has been saying he was up against the wall and at risk of losing the store. Now, finally, it looks like the tap has run dry.

When he opened the place in 1987, his rent was $2,200, with an increase of 4 percent per year, he said. That lease expired five years ago. Now his rent is $6,444 — plus, he said, the landlord also wants him to pay toward the property tax, which was the last straw.

His current lease ends in November, but that’s moot now.

“We sell everything in the store,” he said Monday. “The only thing left is equipment.” He’s working with his lawyer to sell the equipment, adding, “otherwise, we just going to leave it.”

There’s no beer left for sale inside, but there were some assorted sodas, seven four-packs of Charmin, a few metal beer signs and several refrigerated display cases.

Asked if a performance-art project in May that was intended to help him did, he simply said, no. A group of artists bought up all his brews, chips and other goods and sold them at a gallery show for higher prices, but still, it wasn’t enough to keep Dimitratos afloat.

The merchant said his store’s closing is also a reflection of a changing neighborhood.

“A lot of customers are moving away,” he said. “They cannot afford the rent. Every day, we lose customers.”

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