503 Main Street’s Identity Crisis – What Is It Now?


503 Main Street on Roosevelt Island: From wine bar to panini shop to high-end butcher and, today, an authentic Mexican restaurant/butcher hybrid. It’s a local problem, compounded by poor judgment.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

Years passed, and the only thing that filled 503 Main Street was uncertainty. First, during the wave of wine bar openings in the city, it would join the trend. But construction lagged. Permits were posted, then expired without a finish.

The local Pennysaver says they’re transitioning from butcher to beans, but the sign out front says it’s both. The Macelleria seems as well-stocked as ever, and the authentic Mexican has no Health Department license on display.

Next, a panini shop, and after that also lagged, Wholesome Macelleria opened. Macelleria is a fancy name for a butcher shop, but however dressed up, it was a questionable idea for this location on Roosevelt Island.

Far more densely populated areas in Manhattan with higher incomes can’t support one let alone a second meat market. Foodtown houses a butcher shop that’s far more convenient for many shoppers. Then, figure in the trend away from meat, and it just screams misjudgment.

The frequently customer-free store confirmed it.

503 Main Street’s Greatest Misjudgment

While the move from butcher to serving Mexican specialties, if that’s the ultimate goal, seems wise, opening up without a New York City Health Department License isn’t.

Although the location has been serving meals for a while now, a search of the Health Department website does not show any entry for 503 Main Street. They also need a Retail Food Store License from New York State Agriculture and Markets for the butcher shop.

Under current retail strip management, the absence of licenses is unfortunately common, as we’ve reported. And each repeat stirs the same round of finger-pointing.

RIOC, of course, shifts blame, calling the violations a Hudson-Related issue because H-R leases out the shops under contract. And Hudson-Related says they’re not cops, and it’s the store’s responsibility.

And the merry-go-round goes up and down. When it stops, all the adults have fled the park.

We’re looking hard for volunteers playing the role of “Responsible Adults,” but no luck so far.

In the end, a Mexican restaurant is a great idea if Roosevelt Island can handle one more food venue, but each new entry is more chancy. Regardless of the endless misinformation, the community claims 11,771 residents stretched out over two miles.

How many tacos can 11,771 mouths consume?


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